MEET THE ARTIST: HOW THE NIGHT CAME
On Meet The Artist, we want you to get to know the players on our label a bit better, so we ask them five questions-- some about music, some not, and get them to tell us a little more about themselves, their tunes, and what goes on inside those creative brains.
If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?
I really like this question, and I tested the waters by asking my son, “If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?” He instantly replied, “I’d be a piece of furniture ... is that it?!” Setting aside his deadpan answer, I’d be a bookshelf. I love books, and over the last few years I’ve read Homer, Ovid, Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Melville, and Proust. I’m currently rereading Italo Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller. There’s always a tension though. When I’m gripped by a book, I become fully absorbed in it and I don’t leave enough time in my life for music. Conversely, when I’m fully immersed in music, I don’t reserve enough free time for reading. I’m hoping that someday I’ll find a way to balance the two. (The solution may have something to do with not having such an obsessive personality!!)
What’s the overarching theme of your music?
I always think of my music as suggesting a narrative. I never have a clear story in mind — no definite plot, no specific episodes, no sharply defined characters — but I try to create moods or atmospheres or soundscapes that could set the tone during a storytelling session. Occasionally, when I’m at the cinema or watching a movie at home, I find myself taken in by the audio more than the visuals. At those rare moments, I just close my eyes and enter the world of sound. Perhaps that is the overarching theme of my music — a possible soundtrack for an imaginary movie.
What is your favourite instrument or piece of gear that you own?
My guitar pedal board. Does that count as one piece of gear or many? It’s many, right?! Well, if I had to choose just one pedal, it would be the Red Witch Pentavocal Tremolo, which I managed to pick up used on the outskirts of Tokyo last year. As soon as I play through it, I’m transported to a world of outlaws riding black horses through red deserts under a punishing sun. Which is odd, because I don’t like violence (too frightening), I don’t trust sand (too small and invasive), and I hate summer (too hot). I guess that says something about music and escapism ...
How does making music make you feel?
My feelings while making music go through four phases: time-consciousness, emptiness, recognition, familiarity. Initially, while playing or composing music, time seems to slow down: I’m often shocked when I glance up at the clock and realize how much time has ‘really’ passed. Then, at the end of the session, I feel quite calm and empty: there was an idea or image or mood inside me that has slowly emerged — through music — and become a thing externalized, now existing independently of me, thrown ‘out there’. Later, when I listen back to the recorded track, I get a growing sense of recognizing myself in the music: it contains a voice I’ve heard before, although that voice is nestled in amongst other, more alien, sounds. Finally, after hearing the song a few times, the music ceases to sound like an open-ended dialogue and becomes more like a familiar monologue: it feels like I’m talking back to myself. By this stage, a desire to do something different has emerged again.
What’s next for how the night came?
I’ve started work on a project entitled “(5x5)”. This will be a series of five EPs, each containing five songs. Each EP will be based on a colour and will explore a distinct musical style: RED (electronic), YELLOW (piano), GREEN (ambient), BLUE (solo guitar), and BLACK (noise). Several tracks are already close to being finished, and I have demos and ideas for a few others. I’m hoping that the (5x5) project will help me get clearer about my own musical direction, and open up new paths for me.
I would also like to do something with Jose Louis Borges’ stunning short story, The Library of Babel. Borges clearly plots the mathematical properties of the library, it’s books, and their script, and his math is ripe for musical exploration. For example, each gallery in the library is hexagonal, so one possibility would be to generate overlapping rhythms that plot out, play with, and undercut, the number six. These overlaid and looping structures would be part of an attempt to get at that creeping sense of vertigo, that spiraling promise of the infinite, that haunts Borges’ fantastic creation. Don’t forget your library card!!