вторник, 3 мая 2011 г.

DDb Interview Series (1004) - Cloudland Ballroom

One more great interview's on!
Many many thanks to James for his time and thoughtful positive answers.

1. Tell about your musical background. What music you were brought up on?
Country & Western, Mantovani and other easy listening was the music my parents played when I was growing up. I’m not sure how much of a subliminal influence that had on me...I didn’t start discovering my own sonic tastes until my early teens; I remember a music teacher at school playing a recording of Penderecki’s “Threnody For The Victims Of Hiroshima” which blew my young mind. I’m so thankful to him for that. Soon after I discovered an LP of “Ricochet” by Tangerine Dream in a local library and intrigued by the photograph of the Moog and the list of strangely named instruments on the back of the sleeve promptly took it out on loan. My mind was blown for a second time. This was around the mid-late 1980’s. Hearing those things was like finding the start of a trail of musical breadcrumbs which I began following and which I’m still following today.

2. Currently you have cassette-only releases and If I’m not mistaken the forthcoming stuff will be put out in tape format as well. Is it a coincidence or your preference?
Not a preference, more of a coincidence related to the type of music I’m making as Cloudland Ballroom. Certain sounds just lend themselves to the analog format, the medium suits the message. It’s all about creating a particular feel. When cassette releases are done well they are beautiful and there are some labels currently creating works of art within the format. My personal preference would be vinyl, I grew up listening to music on it and nothing beats the feeling of putting an LP on the turntable whilst fondling a beautifully designed 12” sleeve, it’s all about the total experience, which you just don’t get with an MP3 download.
3. I am in love with your project name. What does it tell about your music?
The name came from an album by Anthony Moore, “Pieces From the Cloudland Ballroom”. It’s just such an evocative name, it stuck in my head. The Ballroom was actually a real place, in Brisbane, Australia, an entertainment venue, which opened in the 1940’s. It was demolished sometime in the 1980s.
But I think my Cloudland Ballroom exists in some alternative dimension, or it’s like the haunted ballroom of the Overlook Hotel in Kubrick’s film of The Shining, except the one in my mind is populated by the ghosts of a future which never came to pass…

4. Do you have any prejudices in terms of music styles or maybe cover art? What will definitely put you off in a record store?
I have a very broad taste in music though naturally there are some things I’m just not very interested in. But I’d rather focus on the type of music and art that I am passionate about. Generally people spend too much time and energy being vocal about what they dislike and I don’t find that very interesting or constructive.

5. Tell about the future releases. Will the sound change somehow?
The sound is always changing. For me it has to, that’s just the way it is. I’ve never understood the type of artist who continues to plough the same furrow over and over again. I have a need to  be constantly experimenting with sounds and ideas, when I get drawn in a different direction I have to follow. Currently I’m interested in mixing more organic sounds with the electronics, and that could be anything from guitar and piano to wind instruments or percussion. Also, I’ve been experimenting with very short, abstract pieces. There is a high chance that Cloudland Ballroom is going to mutate into a much different project in the not too distant future…

6.What equipment do you use in your music?
A very basic set-up; Korg synth, an old GEM organ/drum machine, a few FX , loops and cassette multitrack. That’s it. I don’t really use a computer much, mostly just for mastering the finished tracks.

7. What about touring? Any plans? Will you consider Russia and/or Ukraine as a place to come to play your stuff?
I’ve been asked to play live on a few occasions and I’ve so far refused. Hopefully this will change in the future when I can figure out how to technically present my music in a live setting. Currently working on it. If I do start playing live I’d certainly consider coming to Russia/Ukraine or anywhere else where someone would be willing to help me with the costs, feed me and provide a reasonably comfortable sofa to sleep on at the end of the night.

8. What inspires you most and what makes you feel cranky about music?
Again, I rather focus on the positives. There is too much good music which inspires me. I’m still following that breadcrumb trail from years ago and every so often, just when I think it’s reached an end I’ll stumble across something which takes me down another path and causes me to re-evaluate my ideas about music, what it is and where it can take me. I’m just thankful that after many years of listening to music I can still find these little glowing moments of epiphany. Long may they continue…

9. What about the process of writing and recording music? How do you make tunes?

I wouldn’t call it “writing”, more a process of discovery. My ideas come from experimentation and improvisation. I try and create each sound from scratch, playing around until something clicks, record, then find something complementary to that initial sound and so on. Recording is all done on cassette multitrack, which often forces me to accept mistakes and accidents as part of the working process. It’s just too much bother to go back and correct things on tape. Some of my favorite tracks have come from these happy accidents (or is it subconscious intent?).

10. Next question I will ask to every person in DDb interview series.
What have changed in independent music world with the developing and spreading of the Web? Any positive improvements? Any negative repercussions?

I’d split it 95% positive and 5% negative. The obvious thing is how it has allowed independent musicians like myself to get the music out there. The internet has fully delivered on the DIY promise of punk and the independent record labels from the late 1970’s on an epic scale. The means of production are now well and truly in the hands of the musician and I wouldn’t shed a tear over the slow and painful death of the “Music Industry”.
But, leading on from that, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the endless stream of music that can be tapped into these days. The whole history of recorded music, only a click away. There is just too much available from the combination of online records stores/distros and labels, MP3 blogs, file sharing etc. I have hard drives full of MP3s and shelves full of CDs, tapes and records. Far more than I could ever hope to give my full attention to. Sometimes I feel a yearning for the days when I owned only a few albums and knew and loved each of them intimately. Even the feeling of anticipation, the thrill of trying to track down an album, spending months or even years attempting to hear something, that’s all gone now, replaced by instant gratification. I’m probably showing my age here!

11. Do you prefer to live in present time or you’re rather a long-term thinker?

I’ve always been and will continue to be an unrepentant daydreamer.

12. What are you dreaming about thinking about future?

I don’t think the future is going to be a very pleasant place to inhabit for many reasons. That’s a fear which possibly influences the kind of music I make as Cloudland Ballroom; but it doesn’t filter through as a dystopian sound, more so as a sound tinged with sad longing for a certain vision of the blissful utopian future we have been denied…

13. You also compose and release music under another moniker - Black Mountain Transmitter. How this project differs from Cloudland Ballroom aesthetic?

After years of being a reclusive bedroom musician, Black Mountain Transmitter was my first public project, born back in 2007. It’s a different beast to Cloudland Ballroom, darker, more abstract; a result of my years long diet of classic horror films, a love of the unknown and supernatural, fiction by H P Lovecraft and other Weird writers, the seeds sewn by that youthful acquaintance with the likes of Penderecki, soundtracks from old VHS “video nasties” and subsequent discovery of early Industrial and noise music.
I sometimes imagine the two different projects like Yin and Yang, opposing yet complementary. Dark and light, both those sound-worlds are part of me and I don’t believe in indulging one at the expense of the other.
BMT has been lurking in the background this past year whilst I’ve been working on Cloudland Ballroom material, but the stars are in alignment and I’ve been feeling the call again…I’m currently working on an album release for later this year, provisionally titled “Playing With Dead Things”. There are other ideas in the works too…

14. You run a small label Lysergic Earwax. How the things are going on the label?
What do you expect from it in the future?

My label was originally started as a way for me to put out releases by Black Mountain Transmitter, starting with “redShift” in 2008. I wasn’t in touch with any other labels at the time and just wanted to have a go at doing it myself. So far I’ve done five limited edition BMT releases on Lysergic Earwax (all sold out) and managed everything myself from the handmade packaging to getting the stuff out in the post. Hard work and rewarding at the same time. Two of the  albums were subsequently picked up for reissue by other labels; “Black Goat of the Woods” is now an official CD release on Aurora Borealis and “Theory & Practice” is coming out as a blue vinyl LP edition on Static Noise Audio sometime this year. I’m looking forward to that.
Currently Lysergic Earwax is on a bit of a hiatus while I’m working on stuff for other labels, but the website is still operational as a blog and shop. Someday I’d like to put out releases by other artists, but that is something I just don’t have the time or finances to do at the moment.

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