Your work with Kyle Martin as Land Of Light was praised in all quarters, what have you been doing since its release in late 2012?
After releasing the Land of Light album, we ended up doing quite a lot of live gigs. Preparing for these took up a large part of 2013 actually. Neither Kyle nor I had any experience playing electronic music live, so it was a real learning curve and took a lot of preparation. It really did open up another side of music to me though, and I realised how much I like performing live and improvising with other musicians! This lead to a bunch of other unplanned and improvised collaborations like the Spirit Bear Mezcal Ensemble with Thomas Bullock and Tiago, improvised jams with Diego Herrera (Suzanne Kraft) and an all analogue project with Kyle and George Thompson (Black Merlin). Each project taught me something new and allowed me to look at things from another perspective. The live stuff meant I had less time in the studio, but I was still trying out ideas and taking ideas from the live stuff back into the studio.
Why the move back to “Jonny Nash” and not more Land Of Light?
It’s not really a move back to Jonny Nash, in the sense that I am still working on Land of Light stuff with Kyle. We are about half way through an album, which I am really excited about. Working with Kyle is great as we have a certain balance and relationship that works really well, it`s very natural. I do however enjoy working alone as it allows me a different perspective, and I think it is important to have a balance of both.
Why start a label, when you already have a strong relationship with ESP Institute, and I am sure plenty of others would be very happy to have you on their roster?
I think I wanted to develop something of my own, something beyond the music, a home for a certain unique aesthetic I suppose. It is my hope for Melody As Truth that as it grows and develops, this aesthetic will really become clear. For now the label is primarily a vehicle for me to release my stuff, but that might change if I come across other music that I feel fits the vision. In a practical sense it also allows me total control over things such as release dates, distribution, etc., etc. ESP Institute is a like a “tribe” or “gang”, and it`s great to be a part of that too. As with working alone and with collaborators, again it`s good to have a balance. Perhaps that`s the Libra in me?
I`ve listened to the E.P. and I`ve told you that the music sounds like a definite progression, more “mature”. How would you say “Phantom Actors” differs from the music you have produced before?
I think it differs in a number of ways. Definitely after Land of Light and the production involved in that, I became interested in space, silence and a more minimal approach that you can hear throughout “Phantom Actors”. This EP is also very much about melody and texture as opposed to rhythm and percussion. It also differs perhaps as a result of the way I produced it. My ancient PC died last year and I switched to using a Macbook. These tracks all started as sketches I made whilst on the move, which were then developed in my studio later on along the process. This had an influence on the end product, definitely.
What would have been its influences, what were you aiming to achieve and do you think you succeeded?
The one thing that stands out is actually ambient Detroit stuff, specifically Neil Oliveira aka Detroit Escalator Company. I re-listened to his album “Black Buildings” for the first time in years and it sounded so good. The whole vibe, the world that the record evokes was really appealing to me. I started messing around with that idea in my head, to create a textural world that is strangely neutral but not in a sterile way, a way that leaves things very much open to the interpretation of the listener. I guess it remains to be seen whether or not I have achieved this but I feel like the whole EP does works together and has a certain mood.
Comparisons that I can pull in are Japanese artists, such as Jun Fukamachi, and their take on Debussy, Vangelis, a more restrained Steve Hillage, and Gigi Masin. The record almost sounds like Land Of Light slowed right down, allowing each piece a single theme, where in the past you might have been guilty of showing us all of your ideas at once. Am I out of line in saying any of this?
Yes… I can definitely see where you are coming from with that. I think I am learning more and more about the power of restraint and silence. It`s something I am really aware of these days which perhaps I wasn’t so much in the past. The track “Vision Partially Obscured” for example, literally fades in and out from silence. Although I must say, I do also love a lack of restraint and throwing a bunch of ideas all together for the raw energy of it too! Tracks I have done in the past like “Journey To The Centre of The Sun” with Tako, thats literally a totally unrestrained ball of energy and I love that kind of feeling too. (That Libra balance thing going on again)
Would you care to explain any of the enigmatic titles? “Vision Partially Obscured”, “The Year Of The Wooden Horse”?
The titles are mostly phrases and fragments that I’ve just had in my head for a while. I can’t really say how and why they came about, they are just there and refused to go away. “Year of The Wooden Horse” is a calendar year for a particular branch of Tibetan Buddhism known as the Sakya sect.
Who, what are the “Phantom Actors”?
Phantom actors are unknown forces that alter the course of events in our lives.
Why “Melody As Truth”?
Because there is a beautiful truth in melody when it is played from the heart.
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