Land of Light (London-based collaborators Kyle Martin and Jonny Nash) play a rare live set in London this Friday 5th April at the Grosvenor in Stockwell so the chaps from Field Work caught up with Kyle to talk about influences, making music and the live show.
Before reading the interview you should press play below and hear the guys in live jam mode to get a taste of what to expect.
How did Land of Light come about?
We actually met through George Thompson (Black Merlin) whom I do Spectral Empire with. When Jonny (Nash) moved to London from Japan we realised that we lived about two minutes walk from each other and we shared both taste in music and the ideology of how to make it. It was a natural process to start recording together. Could you tell us a bit about the process of making the album (which took three years!)? How did the music evolve throughout the process?
We had been blown away by mixes and records being played by Chee, Chris Kontos, Tako etc. and the way they were pushing things. A lot of 80’s european electronic records, things like Innovative Communication, Mark Isham, Dave Brock, Ghostwriters and a lot of the Japanese new age artists. The original idea was to try and take those influences and come up with something new and up-to-date.
In terms of technically how we approached making it, we were really influenced by Ralf Beck, a friend from Dusseldorf who releases as Der Rauber Und Der Prinz and Unit 4. Jonny was lucky enough to spend a few days working with him on a track in his studio and he would spend hours and days putting sounds through this effect unit or that one, just to get the right sound. We felt that if we didn’t cut any corner or compromise in any way we could hopefully come up with something sonically a little more special. We are lucky enough to have quite a bit of outboard equipment so it is possible to work like this but it takes a long time! How do you know, after such a long creative process, when it’s finished? Did you end up where you thought you would?
We are getting a bit quicker these days but during the making of that album our process involved a lot of building a track up, deconstructing it, building it back up in a different way, deconstructing that and so on until it feels like it’s finished. It can be quite a wrench to delete something you’ve spent a bit of time on but we felt it’s good to be ruthless about what goes in the trash! We are interested in the same areas of music so there was always a general area we point towards. The end results are just a result of working together and the sounds we recorded at the time.
Are you writing new music at the moment? And if so, what can people expect – a continuation, or a departure from the sounds on your album?
Yes, we are. It’s important for us to try out different methods and processes, so we are in a real experimentation period at the moment. Something is dragging us towards a more pop direction with vocals, and also a greater focus on arrangement of live instruments.What goes into the mix – what other musicians, artists, or writers do you feel a kinship with, or inspired by?
There are so many, too many to list. Obviously all of the artists we have worked with over the years on various projects as far back as school days have influenced us. DJs we have shared turntables with at various parties over the years have influenced us tremendously. The artists that make the records we like, again, so, so many!!
How important is silence, or at least leaving sounds out, in your music?
It’s always a constant quest to make more space in our music and make it more minimal. It can be quite challenging as individual sounds become really exposed and really have to count. When working with microphones especially, the way they are recorded really matters when the sounds are so naked. It’s definitely a case of less is more.
How important is the visual side of a release to you, and how did you go about choosing the artwork?
Mario Hugo designed the artwork, he designs all of the ESP Institute covers and we are both really into his stuff. The visual side of things is really important as it creates part of the identity of the project and artist. I think the minimalism is captured really well, which is what we wanted.
What can people expect from the live show at Field Work on April 5th? Has it always been the plan to play live from the beginning and how do you change/translate your music to a live setting?
We just decided to do some live work as we were nearing the completion of the album. We have done a few shows now and realise that you have to have a different vibe for each setting. We have done some ambient sets and club sets but this sets ourselves up for a lot of work in the preparation stages. We are going to make the set for Field Work much more uptempo as we hear it’s a black room with lasers. So basically a work out of drum machines, synths and guitar. It will be unique to that performance, as we seem to rework it each time we play and there is a certain amount of improvisation involved. Today, people receive information all the time and it can be really difficult not to be distracted and develop a short attention span. Your music feels like an antidote to that and really rewards careful listening. How do you see your music in relation to the modern world?
It provides all of the functions that it has today since the dawn of time, but there is just less linear listening due to our increasingly short attention spans. If our music can help people and encourage people to listen in a deeper way, then we are happy!
Land of Light playlist: 5 tracks for rewarding listens…
John Hassell – Charm (Over Burundi Cloud)
John Abercrombie – Timeless Gigi Masin – Call Me
Laraaji and Blues Control – FRKYWYS Vol 8 (excerpt)
You can buy advance tickets at a reduced price of £5 here ahead of the weekend. Thanks to Laurence at Field Work.