Answered by: Christopher Bono, composer and founder of NOUS

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.

I was in love with baseball growing up, fully dedicated to playing in the major leagues from the age of 4 to 21. After being drafted by the Seattle Mariners, and while playing at the University of South Carolina, I broke my foot and tore my shoulder in the same month, needless to say it was a bad month. While recovering from these I began turning to music. My Mother was a professional musician, and I was exposed to it a lot growing up, but wasn’t engaged till I found solace in the sadness of losing my childhood passion. I transposed the love of baseball to music, it was a great choice.

I do a lot of various projects that I release through the label Our Silent Canvas. NOUS was founded after I had completed a large orchestral project, Bardo. I spent 3 years on the composition and production of Bardo and was yearning for a direct playing experience grounded in the present moment. I’ve always had a deep love, wonder and interest for improvisational music so I designed NOUS to really be a deep dive into improvisational exploration.

Provide us with some info about your latest release…

NOUS III is the last of a three album series from the first incarnation of NOUS that featured an extraordinary group of 12 musicians. All this material was recorded at Dreamland studios, as part of a music social experiment/retreat where for 6 days we explored a book of various improvisational ideas I had concocted, from minimal modular writing to lead sheets, to conceptual cues. Amidst this we also just had some open jams that turned out as great tracks on the albums. The last album from this group is a collaboration with New Age legend Laraaji, it is a very special release probably coming out late 2020.

Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?

Personally my greatest influences are Bach, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and classic rock (Pink Floyd, Beatles, Zeppelin etc.) But for NOUS I was listening to a lot of 50s-70s jazz, the free period of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman. Lots of Krautrock, (Can, Faust, etc.), John Cage, experimental 50s/60s electronic music, Terry Riley, and other noise, minimal and jazz stuff. Of course the results though are dependent on the group’s listening and playing habits which are very deep.

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’m very contented with how NOUS is being perceived. It has elements of Post-Rock, Kraut Rock, and 70s prog almost without any intent to ‘sound’ that way. I think it really had to do with the backgrounds of the players, and some of the ideas I presented that got us there. The thing that stands out about NOUS is its deeply improvisational, and really not prepared except for guides, so it stands a ways from some of the bands it gets compared to because of this spontaneous ethos.

Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…

Bach- Well Tempered Clavier, Dark Side of the Moon, Beethoven Symphonies.

Books: Pali Canon, Leaves of Grass, Yoga Sutras

Movies: Shawshank Redemption

Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?

Studio, only because I have a family, a young son I want to be available for as much as possible, and I enjoy the act of writing more than anything. I also enjoy living in nature, and thrive in a rural environment a distance from contemporary society.

Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?

Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?

For NOUS, I think my favorite track is “Here in my Chest it is What it is”. This track just turned out in my opinion really well. It was guided by Modular cellular musical ideas, influenced by Terry Riley’s modular writing in the 1960s. It’s a great kind of middle track for the project, that shows the improvising and player dependent quality of the track, but really driven by a piece, that itself is a choose your own ending kind of work for the players.

Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?

Our Silent Canvas is putting out a bunch of albums in the coming year. NOUS & Laraaji as I mentioned, a second album from Nous Alpha, a project I do with my dear brother Gareth Jones, a Scandinavian neo-folk project Gabbarein recorded in the arctic circle, a 3 album release from Experimental Music Summer Camp, new Ghost Against Ghost and more.

Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…

Hmmm… not a question but a side note. I believe everyone should try and engage in a music/sound practice. Whether chanting or banging on a drum, or an instrument, learning songs or just making noise, working with sound can be an extraordinary therapy and way to release pent up energy in the body. There are many paths to learn about this, but literally just putting aside 15-30m sometime in the day to chant to a drone or beat on a drum, it doesn’t matter if you know what you’re doing just explore your voice, explore the sound, and incorporate dance and movement as well if possible. I believe this is a wonderful thing for everyone to do every day, especially in these very intense times.

Photo credits: Emilia Sauaia

Curated by: Christos Doukakis

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