Recommended: Visionist – M/Secrets

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One of last year’s most notable developments was the continued emergence of a wave of new producers able channelling the spirit of early grime and combine it with an astute sensibility for today’s listeners. Grime’s new school excited us a great deal; so much so that we even dedicated a new mix series to championing its key figures. A man often viewed as part of this new wave is Louis Carnell – better known to most as Visionist. 2013 was a busy year for the London based producer, seeing the release of singles on Berlin’s Leisure System and New York’s Lit City Trax. All this in addition to featuring on This Is How We Roll – the Keysound Recordings compilation which in many ways served as a teaser for what would come later in the year.

Visionist’s latest effort, on Ramp Recordings, nods more strongly towards a techno structure than much of his previous work. Opener “M” has been a mainstay at Truants HQ since we heard Pearson Sound play it on the Hessle Audio Rinse show way back in February. It carries an ominous vibe throughout – whether it stems from its menacing bassline, deft synth work or the re-pitched vocals Visionist uses to masterfully haunting effect. On the flip “Secrets” is awash with vinyl crackle and raspy vocal cuts. It’s perhaps the more floor focused effort of the two and the rolling swing of its moody bassline no doubt has the ability to do serious damage in the club. The single not only caps a strong year for Visionist but – having eschewed the 8-bar structure of some of his past work – offers a glimpse at what his output may bring us in 2014.

Words by Matt Gibney, 12 January 2014. Leave a comment

One on One: Towa Tei – Future Listening!

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Towa Tei is not a native New Yorker.  He moved to the city from Japan to study graphic design in 1987. A musician by night, Tei met Supa DJ Dimitry and Lady Miss Kier during his first three years of living there. They went on to form Deee-Lite, a dance trio that released the classic 90’s dance track “Groove Is In The Heart” off the album World Clique which featured a verse from the then hot-new-rapper Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest.  A couple years of partying later, “Jungle DJ Towa Tei” found himself back in Japan where he released his first solo LP Future Listening! in 1995.

Stream: Towa Tei – Technova

The obvious stand out track on this record is “Technova”, a track closely related to the shibuya-kei style of Japanese dance lounge music that emerged from Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district in the nineties. At the time, sampling was all the rage and different scenes around the world were developing their styles on the same gear. With jungle in London, and hip hop in NYC, this was the sound of Tokyo. The samples taken from sixties French and American pop, bossa nova, and jazz, tie “Technova” closely to the shibuya-kei genre, but it’s the distinct hip hop flow that sets this track apart from the rest of the scene, something he must have picked up from Q-Tip in New York City. A definite classic golden era hip hop alignment can be heard in how the samples have been incorporated into this track, from the subtle piano melody and break loop for the beat, as well as the sample from spoken word track “Fonky Thang” by The Dells (also later sampled by Yeezus himself). But it’s the Japanese sung chorus and space-jazz atmosphere that still keeps the futuristic vibes going strong today. If that chorus sounds familiar to you, it’s because A Tribe Called Quest flipped it on “Find A Way” a couple of years later. Speaking of flipping samples, you can hear a sample of the moon landing on “Technova” (sorry Daft Punk, Towa hit it first!) and in true dance-fashion, Towa dubbed his own tune into an epic two-part sample mecca titled “Dubnova parts 1 and 2.” Peep the too-90s-to-be-true video and album cover below and enjoy!

Stream: Towa Tei – Dubnova (Part 1 & 2)

Words by Joe Linden, 09 January 2014. Tags: | 4 comments

Truancy Volume 88: DJ Haus

Since his days in Hot City,  DJ Haus has continued to establish himself as a name who has his sights set firmly and only on the dancefloor – through both his productions and his Unknown to the Unknown imprint. Originally a YouTube channel (which, testament to his crazy work ethic, still uploads on a regular basis), its expansion into a record label happened organically after some encouraging feedback from Jackmaster. Although the label cannot be tied to a particular sound, it’s achieved a remarkable singularity thanks to Haus’ keen curatorial vision – the divergent arenas of Palace’s squelchy 2-step, DJ Stingray’s blistering electro and Slackk’s sino-grime all sound like quintessential UTTU cuts.

He hasn’t slowed down on the collaborative front, either. He produces with DJ Q under Trumpet & Badman, and teamed up with Matrixxman, Riton, Detboi and Drop The Lime for tracks on last year’s Thug Houz Anthems Vol. 1. Amidst his increasingly hectic schedule, DJ Haus took the time to provide us with our 88th Truancy Volume – an hour-long white-knuckle ride through the wilder echelons of bassline and garage.

First up, you put out a single last month – tell us about it. “It’s the second in the Thug Houz Anthems series, just thick, stupid tracks that have one purpose: pump in the club.”

There is obviously a lot of shared musical perspective between you and DJ Q, but what are some of your differences? What do you bring to Trumpet & Badman that DJ Q can’t, and vice versa? “I think my tastes are more scattered. Like, right now I’m really focused on collecting UKG, Jersey House and 90s house from New York and Chicago, whereas Q comes from a more UKG background. It’s fun trying to push it and make some really fucked up club tracks with him.”

You’ve said in a lot of interviews that starting a label always seemed like the next logical step from being a record collector. With an unlimited budget and the potential to work with anybody you liked, what would be your next step? “Well I’m fortunate that I’m in a position to be putting out music from a lot of people I really admire. Next year I have 12s coming from some of my favourite artists, but I would love to do a Satin Storm retrospective – just CDs of all the original DATs. And his Satin House stuff which was great too! I was in touch with Travis years ago but unfortunately that was only through MySpace – since that has died I no longer have a valid email for him. He lives in Buckinghamshire now and rides horses, so I’m not sure how fussed he is about things like this anyway…”

How easily did UTTU transition from a YouTube channel to a fully-fledged record label? “That was pretty much due to the Rubadub guys. I had been sending Jack tunes to play out anyway and when I sent him the Marcus Mixx and Stingray stuff (which I was only putting on YouTube, Boomkat and Bandcamp at the time), he was like “let’s do a 12″. It’s pretty much grown from there!”

In XLR8R’s Labels We Love feature on UTTU, you said something interesting: “I’m not looking at this in a traditional ‘label’ format, it’s not like I’m trying to sell MP3s. I’m really excited by digital music. Everyone is saying, ‘It’s the end of the music industry’, but it’s just a different way of absorbing sound.” Do you feel like other labels are missing out by not utilising YouTube to the extent that you do? Do you feel like there’s a correlation between that and format purism? “Well I guess I’m not doing this in a business sense. You know a lot of labels don’t make money (even the ones that are pretty well-known), so I’m just having a good time and doing whatever I want as I’ve got nothing to lose, really. I guess everyone has their own agenda when starting a label.”

UTTU has been pretty prolific. Do you have any particular favourite releases – perhaps one that you thought was unfairly slept on? “I thought the Cestrian EP was AMAZING. Two of my all time favourite DJs play it: Errorsmith and Teki Latex. That’s all I expect to get from a release so that makes me happy. Spooky – “Baby” is a massive tune. It always gets like three rewinds, but it had little traction on radio so you can never tell…”


Stream: Spooky – Baby (Unknown To The Unknown)

UTTU has an unmistakeable aesthetic. You’re not solely responsible for the artwork – people like Pete Hellicar and Kwistax, as well as fellow Truant Soraya, also contribute. How do you maintain a consistent visual brand and what are UTTU’s reference points when it comes to design? “I’m pretty specific when it comes to the design. You know I’ll get a track and think, ‘this would be so cool if it was released *this* way and looks like *this*’, so I’ll have a vision of how that release should come out. I try to get as close to that with whatever resources I have access to at the time.”

You launched Hot Haus Recs this year, a sister label of sorts to UTTU. What was the impetus behind starting a second label and what’s your process for discerning whether something’s gonna come out on UTTU or HHR? “I’m fortunate enough now where people are kinda into what I’m trying to do, so with that comes more opportunities. I don’t want Hot Haus to be different to UTTU. There’s nothing that really sets the two apart, it just means I can release two records a month in 2014 – BOOMMMM!!!!”

You sent us your Truancy Volume without a tracklist; can you give our readers a couple of hints as to what’s in there? “Yeah I’m gonna up a timeline when I get home. A lot of it is speed garage and new music from Eomac, Checan, Willie Burns and more that’s forthcoming on the label. Plus music from Moleskin and other stuff I can’t remember right now.” Is this the sort of set you’ve been playing in clubs recently? “Yeah man, I play full-on peak time club music – nothing more, nothing less.”

We’ve just made it through an onslaught of end-of-year lists. What are three tracks that would make your 2013 top ten? “OHM – “Tribal Tone“, Jess & Crabbe – “The Big Booya” and Bicep – “Satisfy“.

What’s in store for you and the label this year? “Well I have two vinyl dropping a month in 2014, plus one digi release a month, so things are gonna go next level. There’s also gonna be more shirt design.”

Thanks for talking to us! What’s your drink of choice and when was the last time you danced? “I’m dancing right now! Drink of choice is a cold Amstel…

Truancy Volume 88: DJ Haus by TRUANTS

Tracklist:

EoOo – Battery Baby (forthcoming UTTU)
D’Marc Du Cantu – Size & Shape
Ron Bakker – Hellicopter
Supreme Mind – It’s Over
Mateo & Matos – MAW Basics
MK – Took My Love
Legowelt – Aquarian Sunset
DJ NG – Tell Me
Hitek – Round & round – So Solid Remix
2 Deep – U Dun Kno
Dave Riley – Wicked high
DFL – So Confused
DTI – At Night
Checan – Brick (forthcoming UTTU)
Todd Edwards – Odessey
DJ Haus – Addicted 2 Houz
DJ One Eye – Gangsta
POL Style, Vin Sol & Matrixxman – Angry Frogs
RSK – Can;t Stop The Groove
Moleskin – Clemency
SE62 – True Force
DJ Haus – Touch Yo Boody
Bicep – Satisfy

Words by Sophie Kindreich, 06 January 2014. Leave a comment

Announcement: The New Year

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Happy new year everyone! 2013 was a special one for us here at Truants so we wanted to take some time to look back at some of the articles, interviews, people, and music that made it so memorable. We appreciate every person that has ever contributed to the site, read our words, listened to our sounds, and put up with our bad (great) jokes. We’ve highlighted five Truancy Volumes, four interviews and three other articles below that we thought might be nice to revisit and relive; don’t forget though, there’s a plethora of stuff you can find if you look through the site. You can find all our rap and hip-hop related posts here, an overview of all our Sunday’s Bests can be found here, and if you’re looking for some mixes the crew are feeling, this link might help you. 2013 was also the year of our fresh, new SoundCloud; all our Truancy Volumes, Function of the Nows, and exclusive giveaways are always uploaded to our account so get checking! We’re really looking forward to 2014, with loads of new features, and a group of new crew members, here’s looking at this year being even better than the last.

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Truancy Volume 79: Shawn O’Sullivan. Shawn O’Sullivan is one of the more opinionated people in electronic music. On top of that, he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of little known or recognized strains of music. During our conversation, he referenced his angst filled teenage years and the various types of music that accompanied it; that explains why his music tends to veer toward brooding, borderline thunderous, techno. From gabber to industrial, his taste for sonically destructive forms of music balances his cool composure. Under a variety of alias including Vapauteen, Civil Duty (in conjunction with Beau Wanzer), Further Reductions (with Katie Rose), and his band Led Er Est, he keeps himself more than busy. What’s next for him isn’t entirely clear, but he’s in no way slowing down, musically. His most recent work comes via Anthony Parasole’s fledging imprint, The Corner and New York Staple L.I.E.S. (under Vapauteen.) With numerous collaborations and a few records on the hush, we can expect to see his name (or variations of it) crop up more frequently. Below, is an excerpt from our chat. He’s also dusted off a few records and contributed the 79th installment in our Truancy Volume series. Read more: Truancy Volume 79: Shawn O’Sullivan

Truancy Volume 66: DJ Paypal. DJ Paypal is one of those internet gems that seems hell bent on nothing more than unleashing his rapturous brand of good times unto the world. Stylistically, the largely anonymous producer is smooth and glossy, yet supercharged with hyperactive footwork percussion and a kitschified energy that radiates from each of his tracks. This is real, lightning speed, party music, designed for the giddiest cases of Saturday night fever. And hopefully all this will become apparent when you press play on the excellent, hour-long mix he has put together for us, jam-packed full of exclusives from Clicks & Whistles, Daedelus, satanicpornocultshop and, of course, DJ Paypal himself. Read more: Truancy Volume 66: DJ Paypal 

Truancy Volume 77: Asusu. Releasing his records in an unhurried pace, Asusu released five records over the last three years. His first two, “Small Hours / Taurean” and “No Kya” (including an F remix), were given a home at Project Squared, and he later collaborated with the the Berlin based techno producer Furesshu on a record that came out on Immense Records. His last two releases (“Sister” and “Velez/Rendering“) found a home on the principled Livity Sound label, which Stennett co-runs with Kowton and Peverelist. Other than running the label, Asusu, Kowton and Peverelist frequently collaborate on music and started playing live shows together more recently. As a little taster of what to expect from his sets, Stennett jumped in the mix for our seventy-seventh Truancy Volume and dispatched about an hour of garage, jungle and other styles of music mixed together. Find out yourself and hit the play button below while reading our interview with Asusu, where he touches on topics like his love for sounds, Livity Sound’s upcoming projects and their live show and of the newest instalment of our Truancy Volume series itself. Read more: Truancy Volume 77: Asusu


Truancy Volume 84: The Range. When we heard from the guys over at Donky Pitch that their boy The Range was releasing an album on the label a couple of months ago, we jumped at the opportunity to speak to him and were delighted at the chance to have him feature as our eighty-fourth Truancy Volume. James Hinton, the man behind The Range, has been causing quite a stir recently, especially with the much anticipated Nonfiction LP dropping in October. Albums like Nonfiction don’t come around very often; by which we mean, the ones that hit you in a way you never expected at 4pm on a grim afternoon in Yorkshire, or blindside you on the bus as the all too hurried world passes you by. Because that’s what James does, he stops time. Not in your conventional ‘Bernard’s Watch‘ kind of way, but in a way that makes you more aware of your surroundings, that makes you consider them in ways you might not have before. It’s so meticulous, so perfectly rendered that it’s obvious to even the most unattuned ear that this project is one to take notice of. As you can imagine then, everyone at the Truants Mansion were pretty happy when the tracklist from The Range’s Truancy Volume hit their inboxes. We managed to catch up with him after his first UK/EU tour and the release of his beautiful second album ‘Nonfiction’, which meant we had an abundance of questions to throw his way. James waxes lyrical about the English accent, talks about the album format, and presents us with a mix that is both punchy and delicate; proving to us (like we ever needed proof) that he is one talented man. Read more: Truancy Volume 84: The Range

Truancy Volume 74: munno. In the spring of 2012 munno released his debut EP “Early Idle” through his Bandcamp. The EP received little fanfare initially but gained prowess as his name circulated among some of the breakout acts of 2012, specifically Evenings and Ryan Hemsworth. With his “Based Remixes“ – an impressive reimagining of some of the Based God’s more memorable tracks – and a strong mix released by The Villa, we talked to munno about his influences, Montreal and the Truancy Volume he kindly mixed for us. Described as coming “straight from the heart piece” by the man himself, this mix touches on genres from all over. Notice the R. Kelly drop 13 minutes in and don’t sleep on the fthrsn (previously featured here on Truants) tune 40 minutes in, not to mention the featuring of his friends and Montreal kinfolk in Evenings, Ryan Hemsworth, Tommy Kruise, and Malky. Read more: Introducing: munno

interviews

Interview with Surgeon. It is almost an unworkable mission to write a befitting preamble to a conversation with Surgeon  that encompasses everything the frontiersman of techno has done in his career. It is not because we do not want to write a circumstantial opening statement, but rather  because there is an inordinate deal of to his back catalogue and musical passage we could rave on about for days. Starting out from his original home in Birmingham in the early nineties, Anthony Child has constantly kept himself in harness; a few projects being the releases of his six full-length outings and his collaborative work with Karl O’Connor as British Murder Boys, to the birth of Dynamic Tension Records and co-running the House Of God events for two decades. Child’s output has been as strong as ever: this year alone saw the reformation of the British Murder Boys for a one-off gig in Tokyo, the twenty year anniversary of the House Of God parties, the emergence of his alliance with Blawan under their Trade moniker, an album of mesmerising experimental ambient on NNA Tapes and a monthly show on the London radio station Rinse FM. We briefly caught up with Tony over e-mail to speak about his reunion with Regis at the start of the year and its location, why it is that Coil stands out to him and a handful of other topics.  Read more: Interview: Surgeon

Interview with Gifted & Blessed. For a decade Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker has released music on labels such as Sound In Color, his own Gifted & Blessed imprint, Eglo Records, and more recently Wild Oats. On every record and with a multitude of names his work ethic and ability to carve out ear-perking synthetic melodies has shown through. Ahead of his appearance this Friday at Tape we spoke with him under his most widely known alias Gifted & Blessed. Our conversation touched on how his upbringing and siblings shaped the types of music he listens to and creates today, as well as his constant struggle to remain free from tags or pigeonholing genres. Having come up with some of LA’s finest producers and musicians, Whittaker has worked vehemently to distinguish himself as more than a beat maker or analogue music aficionado and so far has succeeded by masking himself in layers of aliases. If anything became clear in our chat it’s that he prizes his freedom – in music and in life. His tour schedule has led to a production spontaneity many musicians strive for, but have difficulties executing – making quality music on the road. His plans for this year are exactly what you would expect from a ego-free musician – release more music, tour, and enjoy life, which includes a move to New Mexico. Read more: Interview: Gifted & Blessed 

Interview with Nosaj Thing. At the beginning of the year, Nosaj Thing broke his three-year radio silence by releasing his much-awaited “Home” LP on Innovative Leisure after his first record “Drift” was released on Alpha Pup Records in 2009. In terms of how beat- and melody-driven “Drift” was, Jason Chung’s sophomore effort did not pick up where his debut left off musically. His followup “Home”, however, still resonated with the driving factors of the Los Angeles-based producer in his ability to create music that is emotion-driven, enchantingly layered and simply beautiful to listen to. Still, the ethereal album is evidently not a necessary indication for what we can expect from Jason in time to come. His recent collaboration with Chance The Rapper curated by Yours Truly SF displays both his firm grasp over a variety of sounds as well as his defining hip-hop influences. We had the chance to speak with Jason a while back in Amsterdam during his first European tour for “Home”, and caught up with him about the making of his latest record, his new label Timetable, vocal collaborations and Los Angeles. Read more: Interview: Nosaj Thing

Interview with Best Available Technology. Often abbreviated as BAT, Best Available Technology is the alias of Portland based producer Kevin Palmer. First appearing in 2012 on Stephen Bishop’s now highly prolific label Opal Tapes as a split release with OND TON; BAT then went on to put out the impressive Excavated Tapes 1992-1999, Vol. 1 the following year on the always on point Astro:Dyanamics. Delving deep into a massive cassette collection he found when clearing his loft, the release featured some of the audio explorations he produced and recorded to tape throughout the nineties. Despite some of the tunes being made more than over a decade ago, BAT’s sounds operate effortlessly between approximations of warped techno, house and industrial noise rhythms that comfortably fit alongside the productions of some of his fellow label partners. With a seven track EP also released on Further and his recent contribution to the excellent BASH series on Style Upon Styles we had a long chat with Kevin about his formative years listening to hip hop, the Forbidden Planet soundtrack and his video creations among other things. With the news of a forthcoming EP on a well respected UK label and the prospect of some exciting collaborations too, Best Available Technology might be one of the most humble yet interesting producers to emerge in the last two years.  Read more: Interview: Best Available Technology

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Review: DJ Rashad – Rollin EP. After years of ruling the battlegrounds of Chicago, DJ Rashad has, in a surprising yet hugely appropriate turn of events, stepped up for British superlabel Hyperdub and presented a set of the most forward-thinking footwork that you’re likely to hear in months. If you’ve experienced one of Kode9’s inimitable sets in the past year or tuned in to the Hyperdub Rinse slot, you’ll be familiar with the labelhead’s ability to effortlessly assimilate the genre into the labyrinth history of British dance music as well as the idiosyncratic sound of his label. That ability carries through into this release, where Rashad, in parallel, imbues his mongrel sound with a sense of melancholy, thus fitting in comfortably with Hyperdub’s tendency to thrive on depleted serotonin levels. Read more: Review: DJ Rashad – Rollin EP 

Track-By-Track: Drake – Nothing Was The Same. It may come as no surprise to our readers that most of the crew are huge Drake fans. Imagine then, the conversation around the Truants mansion for almost the entirety of September, it seemed pretty natural to put these discussions into words for the rest of the internet to read. You’ll read controversial views like: “the chip on Drake’s shoulder has definitely gotten bigger and my tolerance for it is getting lower”, and love like “By being hyper self-reflective, he and his team have managed to recognise his own weaknesses and manipulate them into working in his favour, knowing where to use which talent.”. Read more: Track-By-Track: Drake – Nothing Was The Same

Reccommended: Mssingno – Mssingno EP. You know a release has really resonated with you when it dominates your listening time disproportionately; receiving a battering on loop for days-on-end despite all the other music you should probably be discovering, writing about or whatever. You know its special when it garners a track ID request from your usually resolutely disinterested girlfriend for the first time in months, and its ability to incite emotional breakdowns is noted all over Twitter (a little tongue-in-cheek of course but you get the picture). MssingNo’s self-titled debut EP is one of those ones, an emotionally-charged rollercoaster of swooning highs and deep-rooted lows that tugs on the heart strings with reckless abandon, whilst retaining the edge, bite and rhythm to work within club sets. The beats themselves bang hard in places, but where these tracks really come through and hit the spot is with their disarming harmonies; synth-rich blankets of sound interwoven beautifully with sparkling cascades of icy melody, wandering vocal loops and swaying basslines assembled with near-classical music levels of composition. The ear and musical aptitude required to build melodies with such a powerful emotive effect is no doubt an innate talent, and one that he has in abundance. And whilst these skewed R&B-come-grime tracks aren’t anything particularly new or ground-breaking on paper, MssingNo quite simply does it better, smashing most other efforts out of the park and carving a sound as rare as the Pokemon glitch he is named after. Read more: Recommended: MssingNo – MssingNo EP

thank you

(In no particular order) Riccardo Villella, Jon Alcindor, Cayley MacArthur, Aidan Hanratty, Sindhuja Shyam, Sam Billetdeaux, Simon Docherty, Tim Willis, Stephanie Neptune, Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura, Soraya Brouwer, Jess Melia, Eradj Yakubov, Sophie Kindreich, Maya Kalev, Jack Murphy, Gabe Meier, Warren O’Neil, Oli Grant, Kyle Brayton, Matt Coombs, Donny Marks, Ian Maxwell, Michelle Myers, Tobias Shine, Oscar Thompson, Gabriel Herrera, Meaghan Garvey, Matt Gibney, Joseph Jackson, Sven Swift, Givenchy, Alan, Zora, Phil Krogt and Subbacultcha for the infinite good vibes, Colors, Justin Bieber, Joe Kowton and the whole Livity Team, Ryan Hemsworth and Aeneas and Charlotte all the blackout crew, Dave Grinnell and the Donky Pitch bros, These Guys, Ross J. Platt, TAPE and Rush Hour, Nino and Daniel at Riff Raff, Riff Raff himself, TJ and Milo and Power Vacuum, Voiski, Guy Andrews, Dane Bradshaw at Two Plates, Ajay Jayaram and Dolan Bergin at Broken and Uneven, Rob Booth at Houndstooth/the Fabric cru, Oli Marlow,  Jacob Martin, Tony Surgeon, Fallon McWilliams, Jackmaster, Tom and Maya and Lauren and the whole Dekmantel crew, all Hessle everything, O.U.R. F.I.R.S.T. L.O.V.E. L.I.E.S, Bendtner and Arshavin, Semtek, Jack at Hotflush, #1 Best Norwood Cassette Library, Phil Canty, Tri Angle, Tommy Kruise, Pariah, RVNG, Beatnick, Brick Squad Monopoly. <3

Words by Truants, 06 January 2014. Leave a comment

Introducing: Talbot Fade

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Talbot Fade is the musical project of Joe Moynihan, who is also part of the YRZ collective. Describing his music is a challenge as simple words don’t cover the depth of emotion inherent in his tracks. Ambient interludes inspired by periods of heartache and introspection, ghostly pianos sitting over fog-like drones – evocative and resonant of feelings real and imagined. We’re privileged to present to you a long-form work he’s composed for us, entitled November Is So Alive For Better And For Worse, inspired by and composed during the penultimate month of 2013. So wrap up, grab a G&T, turn down the lights and read this compelling interview while you get lost in the heart-breaking tones of this beautiful piece.

First of all, could you tell us as much or as little about yourself as you’d like. “Hello, hi. My name is Joe and I sometimes make these sort of sad and quiet tunes under the name Talbot Fade. I think it became a thing about two years ago when I was really fucking hungover one morning and decided the best method of dealing with it would be to make some textures that sound like the wind blowing over some sort of wharf and just have that on loop forever.”

Like many people today you work full time but dabble in a lot of musical spheres (composing, DJing, writing/reviewing) on the side. How important is this outlet to you? “As necessary as having quiet moments to yourself really. This particular pastime is inherently a lot more therapeutic than the others, not just because it’s me trying to make sounds I think are nice in some way, but because I’ll use each track as an opportunity to really explore an idea or memory that makes me feel something. Happy, sad, fearful, regret, grief, love, whatever – something meaningful. It’s almost like flicking through old photos, or re-watching films you liked when you were younger. It’s all a bit introverted and wanky, yeah, but it’s the introverted and wanky things we do that make us not go completely fucking insane, right?”

Tell us about the name Talbot Fade. What does it mean to you? “It stems from a convoluted in-joke my mate Charlie made up about a fictional brand of jeans made in Port Talbot. It was one of those phrases that just sticks with you forever for some reason though, you know? Port Talbot is an odd place too, but wonderful. You can climb this shitting massive hill and look out over the steelworks and the sea and it’s just so bloody grim and beautiful. I guess those things connect to the project – seeing as most of the tracks I’ve made are smothered with field recordings of factory noises, or rain, or waves and all that – but the name ultimately just really fit with the tunes I was making. Then after a year I clocked that William Henry Fox Talbot was related to the family that opened a dock in Port Talbot in 1839 and I almost died. Old, faded photos drive a lot of my creative work so seeing that my adopted name is loosely connected to the bloke who invented the calotype process stokes me out more than is probably healthy. Honestly mate it sent me flying.”

I came across the Talbot Fade album when I mentioned on Twitter that I was looking for some dark, downbeat music to listen to in late autumn/early winter and you shared it with me. You posted it on Bandcamp in April this year, but a note on the page says that “the tunes … were all recorded at various points throughout 2012 while i was laying down, probably hungover and definitely sad”. Can you tell us about that period, if it’s not too painful? “I suppose it was just one of them years. Lot of personal changes, working an office job for just the right amount of time so that any sort of ‘real’ happiness or sense of belonging seemed a distant, probably imagined memory, drinking more than ever, all sorts of gubbins really. This emerged as the best way I could cope with, you know, living. Some people go hiking, raving or get really into bicycles, videogames, photography or something and, well, I do all of that shit too I suppose… but have a bigger attachment to gently automating looped textures that remind me of something on an overheated laptop in my bed for some reason.”

The album comes with a different photo for each track. In a world where many people (myself included) listen to music on their phones, this is a novel approach – not unlike the enhanced podcast option offered by sites like XLR8R. How did you connect photograph to song? “I used to shoot loads of photos while living in Wales and on the rare occasions I got to travel, but I never got round to doing anything with them. Those particular shots, from a lone trip to Tokyo during which I had both the best and worst time of my life, just so happened to fit the image of the tunes I had in my mind already. I love linear notes that you used to get in CDs. Remember Stanley Donwood’s art in old Radiohead albums? I could spend days looking at that shit, listening to the tunes… so I guess the idea of having a photo for each track stemmed from that. I couldn’t afford to do the whole shebang or there’d have been one more poorly selling CD out this year, but doing it digitally was fun. And yeah, the whole listening to stuff on your phone thing – I always add pictures to tunes that don’t have artwork because I fucking hate the little green picture of a note that comes up in that space. It’s just nicer to look at something a bit pretty innit.”

talbot-fade-survival-truants

“I don’t know, there’s something important about a tune’s additional context too. Like, think of something really significant to you and you’ll remember everything your senses went through at that time don’t you? You’ll think of your Nan’s house maybe and maybe then you think of how it smelt like ginger biscuits, how there was this cheap, probably broken organ that sounded sad no matter what you were playing on it, how cold the pavement was outside even in the summer. My favourite tunes are ones you forever associate with what comes with it, or where you heard it – so I guess I was trying to replicate that as best I could.”

Moving forward in time, you’ve sporadically been sharing tunes on your Soundcloud page, with evocative titles such as “Forever, We Weren’t Here” and “The Unending Dark That Comes Before We Live” (both of which feature in the mix, as it happens). What piqued my interest was the fact that both were tagged ‘November’. Can you tell us what this particular month means to you? “November is just that month ain’t it? You tend to, whether you want to or not, reflect on what’s happened during the year, all the good and bad things and then maybe start panicking about sorting all the bad out next year or celebrating all of the good. It’s introverted as all fuck, and a bit sad. It’s like the annual ‘quiet time’ for everyone and I quite like that.”

Stream: Talbot Fade – Forever, We Weren’t Here

When Burial’s second album came out I listened to it a lot but it didn’t really connect with me. But I had an epiphany of sorts when I listened to it the following summer and it just made no sense, but I could feel the previous winter in my mind, and realised that it had been the perfect setting for it. I feel that there’s a certain darkness and an oppressive feeling in the air that makes this kind of sombre, emotional music so appropriate for this time of year. “Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s my favourite time of year because all the tunes I like the most sound even better. That, and it’s fucking cold. Burial’s a shout for this time of year too – when Kindred dropped I loaded it on to my phone and went and locked myself in the goods elevator in my building for a couple hours quietly going bananas, it was absolutely fucking wicked.”

Can you tell us about the experience of making this mix, and about your process in general? “The first tunes I ever made years and years ago were sketches serving as transitional tracks in mixes, so the idea of almost making loads of them but giving them more prominence so that the mix plays more like an album of sketches has always been appealing. Especially if it had a narrative. Nearly all of the tunes on this mix were written during November, and half were written while making the actual mix itself, initially serving as transitions with some evolving into entire ‘tunes’, sort of. I like that the definition of ‘tune’ is ambiguous at the moment. Anyway some of the bits are original pieces, three are remixes of tunes my friends have made while a couple are reworks of tunes by people I’ll probably never know. All of them in some way represent the good and bad reflections I’ve had during the month, which I guess is how all the tunes I’ve made begin really; I’ll think of something or someone or somewhere and try and reduce that idea to a couple of simple sounds or melody or field recording or sample or all of the above, then explore it as much as I feel is necessary. If you think that sounds really shitting pretentious then oh boy, wait till you read the tracklist, hehehehhe.”

How does life in London affect your musical output? Can you imagine what it might be like if you lived in a more rural space? “I think I’m just compelled to make more of it living in London. It’s an escape to a sort of more rural, empty space, even if that imagined emptiness is somewhat sullied with pollution and rain and fog and crying. Living in Wales I made very different tunes because I had other imagined places I needed to escape to, I guess. Who knows now though, I might be equally driven to make some given I’d have the perfect environment to walk around and listen to them in.”

I noticed shades of acts like Global Communication and James Leyland Kirby (as The Caretaker) in the mix. Who inspires you, and what were you listening to as you were putting this together, if anything? “I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to those last two Caretaker albums. I’ll flick through my records and when I reach one of those it’s curtains for the rest mate. So of course he’s an inspiration – those loops are just so fucking sad and wonderful and alive. As for what I was listening during November, probably the same as always… old videogame soundtracks, tunes my friends have made… those are what inspire me the most I think. Anything else would just be great tunes that make me feel a little more all right about being awake.”

Without wanting to be too reductive, your tracks often take the path of a succinct piano melody that anchors the decaying sorrow around it, or else they will have more of a more abstract feel, drifting and wallowing in something less tangible. What determines which direction you’ll go in? “The former happens when you can’t stop thinking about something. The latter is when the fog comes in.”

Do you have any plans in the way of working with a label or releasing music on a wide scale? Or is this project too music of a labour of love for that? “Sort of. I don’t really like sending tunes to people in the direct sense but I like the idea of them being out there for people to stumble across. So there’ll be more things coming out at some point definitely, physical too if I can ever afford it – but they will always be quite small I think. I think I’m just attached to the idea that if you speak quietly the people that choose to listen will really listen, innit?”

In a flip on our usual closing questions, what is your favourite drink to drown your sorrows? “Gin. Unbelievably I only gave it a proper go a couple years ago, but now I think I’ve consumed more gin than I have any other liquid in my entire life.” And when was the last time you cried? “Right now, you bastard – remembering the exact reason behind the last time I cried.”

Talbot Fade – November Is So Alive For Better And For Worse [Truants Exclusive] by TRUANTS

Tracklisting:

Lakeside
A Descent
The Unending Darkness That Comes Before We Live
November Is So Alive For Better And For Worse
The Voice Of The Emptiness Below Us Which Tempts And Lures Us
Somehow We Know The Moments We Live Through Will Carry On Happening Again And Again
Flashlight (Afterimage)
The Pale Tone Of One Year Passing
The Air Retains Your Image, You Haunt Me
February’s Echo
Forever, We Weren’t Here
See You Again, Lily
Her Guidance
The Desire To Fall, Against Which, Terrified, We Defend Ourselves (Reprise)
Thence We Came Forth To Rebehold The Stars
The Sea Of The Longing For Memories
Cracks In The Ocean Blue, Where The Light Gets In

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 27 December 2013. Leave a comment

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