Black Needle Noise is the brainchild of iconic underground producer John Fryer whose sound you may recognize from his work with acts such as Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Cocteau Twins, Cradle of Filth, Love And Rockets, and The Wolfgang Press. Also known as one half of the influential This Mortal Coil, Fryer has been releasing singles one by one under the Black Needle moniker in a taunting lead-up to the release of his next album. Recent tracks feature the vocals of renowned artists such as Mimi Page, Jennie Vee (on the ethereal track Heaven), Jarboe of Swans, Zialand, Omniflux of Puscifer, Andrea Kerr of Colt, Betsy Martin, and many others. His most recent song, ‘A Shiver Of Want’, with Bill Leeb was released on the 9th of April.
You’ve become a renowned producer in the past few decades and are known among other things as a pioneer of ambient sound. How did you start out with production work?
Back in the 80s when I started out in the studio, you started at the bottom of the food chain like all my contemporary producers of my time and you had to work your way up. Just like the magicians apprentice, now we all weave our magic in the studio.
How do you think it’s easier to get started as a producer nowadays with the music industry we have?
Well, I think nowadays, a lot of people with a computer and music software think they are a producer. The same with film editing and Photoshop. They are now film directors and photographers. It’s just the times we live in.
What inspires you when you get into the studio?
Life inspires me, the good and mostly the dark times. I think a lot of the best art has come out of pain and suffering.
How did Black Needle Noise come about? You’ve been putting out tracks once a month (sometimes twice) since the beginning of last year, so this is still a fledgling project, is it not?
Black Needle Noise came out of my other bands DarkDriveClinic and Silver Ghost Shimmer. The singers from both of those bands for one reason or another didn’t want to continue on with me making music and I wanted to carry on and it just felt like the right decision to move forward but in a different direction. Black Needle Noise is not fledgling it is fully grown and flying.
What were your thoughts behind the decision to release single after single towards this latest album? To tease us all senselessly?
Well, with Black Needle Noise I would have thought it would be less of a tease as you don’t have to wait a year or two or ten to hear new songs, you just have to wait a month or less. So you should be happy I’m working this way as you have new music all the time.
On your recent release ‘Swimming Through Dreams’, it features Mimi Page’s haunting vocals. How did this collaboration come about?
Last year it was the release of the Delerium album ‘Mythologie’ Mr Leeb had invited me to the live on Facebook listen party and Mimi was there as she lives in LA and she was one of the collaborators on the album. We didn’t speak so much there but became friends on Facebook and one thing lead to another and we decided to work on a track together and you never know there might be another.
How do your collaborations usually work? On most of your tracks the vocalist, such as Ana Breton of Dead Leaf Echo on your song ‘And Nothing Remains’, also write the lyrics. Do the lyrics come first and then you have your hand at the sound or does it work in the reverse?
With Black Needle Noise, the music always comes first. I write the music and then send it to the amazing vocalists. They do whatever the track inspires them to do, where ever it leads them. I know it will be wonderful as they are all so talented.
‘Heaven’ (featuring Jennie Vee, currently the bassist for Hole) is probably my favorite song out of your most recent ones, I’ve played it on repeat for more than is acceptable. Could you tell our readers a bit about this track?
Ha Ha, everyone has their own favourite or favourites, it’s different for everybody. That’s the beauty of Black Needle Noise, as long as you like at least one of the songs then I am happy and have done a good job. If you are talking about the lyrics you will have to ask Jennie.
Are there any artists that’ve caught your interest lately that you haven’t collaborated with and/or don’t have a plan to collaborate with yet but would like to?
There are lots of artists out there I would love to work with. It’s all a matter of time. To name a couple, Chelsea Wolfe, Lorde, Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Annie Lennox, Alison Shaw, Lady Gaga, Chris Cornell, David Bowie but alas he is no longer with us. Well the list is endless really but I am so thankful and humbled by all the singers who have worked with me so far. Black Needle Noise would not be what it is without them all. Thank you everyone.
Speaking of piqued interest. How about any artists you’re liking the sound of currently? What’s on your playlists right now?
I think I kinda answered that in the last question.
What else are you up to? It seems like you’re always busy creating!
Well I’m here in LA working on new Black Needle Noise songs, writing for some movie trailers and theme tunes for movies and mixing for some other bands songs + co writing with some other artists. It never stops, but if anyone out there needs some mixing done. Please don’t hesitate to contact me. The door is always open as they say.
Have you planned on performing any Black Needle Noise gigs at all? It seems a bit difficult with so many different singers.
This is the question everyone is asking. I would love to do Black Needle Noise live and are thinking about how it could come about. We/I might just have to use one singer to sing all the songs and just get other singers to join us when we are in their home towns.
I’m going to speak to a booking agent right now and see what’s what.
Photo credits: Hanna Roskaft