What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
When I became musically proficient enough to do it on my own. That’s the short answer. I was also tired of playing other people’s music, and felt I was ready to add another voice to the symphony of disaffectation that is the current post-punk climate. I’ve been teaching high school English for the last three years, which has certainly taken me out of my comfort zone, and inspired me to write.
One weekend, it must’ve been July, 2017, I thought, “Screw this, I’m just gonna do it all alone, I don’t need other people to write and record an album!”. Before that, I’d been halfheartedly sending tracks to my mates on bi-monthly basis. They were mostly first takes recorded in a hurry, and they never liked them – I could tell. It didn’t help that I didn’t like them either.
The frustration of doing of everything yourself, and trying to make it sound like a band is the reason I’m doing this interview, because it’s always a work in progress, and I guess it’s at the stage where it’s listenable rather than merely serviceable – I’ve got something to say, whereas before I was simply parroting the way I thought other people felt.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
My second LP, ‘Birdsong’ was released via Custom Made Music on cassette last July. I worked on it everyday after work, obsessing over the finer details and hoping it all paid off. It was also informed by the shock of teaching in the UK for the first time. So it’s a more assured and nuanced album compared to ‘Idolatry’.
Projection, my third album takes on a decidedly more synth-oriented direction. It’s out March 15 via Icy Cold Records.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Non-musically: Parents, bosses, colleagues, mates, Paul Auster
Musically: Ariel Pink, Drab Majesty, Miles Davis, mates
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
I was lucky enough to get jazz lessons from the age of fifteen. I used to play bass in small ensemble groups in high school, but disliked the more traditional big band stuff. I have never wanted to sound ‘nice’, which was readily apparent in the atonality of my walking bass-lines. One time, the other bassist I had to play with, unplugged me during rehearsal because I messed up the chord change. I thought it sounded fine!
My bass teacher taught me all about modes and improvisation, which has greatly benefited my songwriting, and allowed me to experiment. When I record individual instruments, I’m mostly improvising, making mistakes and doing what ‘sounds good’ instead of adhering to any rigid guidelines. I do a lot of takes. This process, along with my love of jazz, post-punk and new wave, makes for an unconventional, oft discordant sound, indicative of somebody rolling with the punches, rather than putting up a fight.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Albums: The Mary Onettes – Islands, Keith Jarrett – Treasure Island, Herbie Hancock – Empyrean Isles
Books: J.G. Ballard – Concrete Island, Albert Camus – The Stranger, Donna Tartt – The Secret History
Films: Prisoners, Chinatown and The Island (2005)
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I used to prefer studio recording, but now I enjoy both equally both processes. If anything, I want to be putting on a show that people remember, and connecting with like-minded individuals. I’m ready to venture out of my bedroom.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
I’m still coming to terms with ‘industry speak’. You know, chatting to promoters, labels and other artists and trying to read between the lines, figuring out whose opinion you should trusts, and whose you should flat out dismiss.
I uploaded ‘Birdsong’ to Bandcamp partly out of frustration, and because the 5th of July is my birthday. I needed to get it off my chest, and it was causing me a lot of anxiety. I needed that catharsis.
A week after I uploaded it, Dave Allison of Custom Made Music contacted me via FB, and told me he was interested in doing a tape run, which I thought was cool. I’d bought tapes from him as a teenager, and was a fan of Screen Vinyl Image, and Ringo Deathstarr.
Ultimately, I feel the best stories are non-musical anyway. I’ve got plenty of them, but that’s for another time.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
‘Not There to be Around’ from my upcoming LP. Ethereal Gothic in a similar vein to Dead Can Dance.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
To keep busy, and avoid musical stagnation. I live for music, whether it’s meeting other musicians, writing reviews, producing albums, or writing my own stuff, it’s what I want to do. That’s all that really matters. Oh, and spending time with loved ones.
Oh yeah, I’ve also formed a new group under a different name, which is exciting. So that’s a thing too.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Do you ever think about giving up on music and returning to the stability and satisfaction of being a full-time high school English teacher?
Photo credits: Doug Reich-Rimes (1st one), Jack Foreman (2nd one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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