I’ve been a fan of Craig Taylor-Broad‘s work for some time now, and it’s been always a great pleasure to see and listen him exploring rich songwriting, embedded within waves of dark, mimalistic, depressive, ambient and folk. “Grief Thief”, his newest offering under the name The Noises We Make When No-One Is Around, delivers one of the darkest, bleakest, and most heart wrenching, as well as intimate records released in 2018 so far, and I am pleased to share it with you, along with a quick chit-chat with Craig, who offered us some details on his newest work, plans for the rest of the year, and his other passion – photography.
Craig, what prompted you to release new music under the ‘the noises we make when no-one is around’ umbrella? What happened to your previously released records?
I basically deleted the old records. Over the course of 2016 and 2017 I battled like many creative people do to get heard. The place where I live isn’t what I’d deem as a supportive music environment and that had an effect on how I viewed myself and my creations. I’m an incredibly anxious person and I’ve always written songs that are incredibly personal so playing shows to people, releasing music and getting so worked up about how I’d be received was fundamentally making me ill. I’d play a gig and not be able to leave my room for a few days after. And when that show is to 5 people and none of them like your vibe then it feels like that anxiety is a waste. I guess what happened is that I lost sight of the fundamental purpose of creating in it’s most organic sense and that is that it creates something positive in you. It’s taken me nearly a year to figure out the simplicity of it all.
As for using that name, it wasn’t a conscious decision, almost lazy infact, but it makes sense now. I think before, in using my own name there was not only added pressure, but also an assumption of a singer-songwriter (which i kind of hope I’m not). Not to mention it confuses people who try and find my photography and end up watching a video of some guy running into the sea soundtracked by a sad and out of tune song. As well, the noises we make was the name I used when I first started writing songs on my own. I didn’t care how bad they were, I just wanted to write and get the feeling out there. In some senses this record is a u-turn into that feeling.
The record is an absolutely stunner from front to back. What motivated and inspired you to create this particular set of haunting tracks?
I’m glad you enjoyed it. For me it’s the most self indulgent record (or ep or whatever) that I’ve created. But I was also very aware in picking tracks that I wanted an ebb and flow of chaos and calm, destruction and beauty. In the songs I created under my own name I avoided distortion or noise, wanting to bend beautiful guitar melodies around haunting lyrics. I guess I wanted people to like me and my creation. With this I’ve just embraced fuzz pedals and really experimented. What I’ve been left with is something that’s probably going to be a difficult listen, I doubt most will get to the vocals on the first track.
Lyrically the whole thing is basically my life for the last couple of years. The opening track is definitely inspired by political events such as Brexit which was such a massive thing for a lot of people. To me it was the biggest indicator of how far removed politically I am from all of my family. It was certainly a time (and still is) where it almost felt like the country falling apart and an isolation in that because my view differed from the likes of my parents. I think politics aside, the last two years have been filled with isolation, loss, a feeling of not fitting in, feeling trapped inside my own body, dealing with miscarriages, bad mental health, potential homelessness. It’s been a tough couple of years and the songs reflect that.
What are some of the further experiences you’ve managed to explore through this project and its creative phase?
I think the main exploration is within sound. My early music is very stripped back. I think I had one pedal and an electric guitar and that’s it. Initially a song has to feel emotive for me but once the bones were there for me with these songs I definitely explored sounds; delay, reverb, distortion, and how sounds can impact the outcome of a track just as much as it can lyrically. Fleshing out the guitar and seeing where that goes is certainly interesting. The recording process was great as well because the thought process was basically, it doesn’t matter how many layers it has or whether I can play it live. What matters is that ot works almost as a theatrical classical piece.
Music wise, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
To be honest there’s no pressure. I don’t intend to play live ever again. And it’s not like I’m ever going to get signed. I’m currently just enjoying playing guitar again and the process of it all. I’ve recently moved back to creating solely on an acoustic first so I’m seeing what that knocks up.
I just wanted to release a bunch of songs I was proud of. Hopefully other people will listen to it and get some enjoyment from it, or be able to relate to it. I’m not expecting it to go anywhere from here on and I’d be very surprised if I wrote another record.
Records aside, please give us some details on your current photography projects?
I’m currently working on a portrait project where I photograph people who suffer with mental illness in their homes. I’m treading the line between it being artistically rewarding for me whilst also being an honest depiction of the subject. I guess very much like this record, I want it to be a combination of sad, harrowing but also beautiful, but I don’t ever want it to feel contrived or forced, which is difficult. I’ve been working on it for like six months now. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish or if I’ll ever release it but then that’s exactly what I said about this album.
Alongside that I just keep plugging away at portraits alongside music photography. I’m still trying to build up a portfolio of images from tour and studio documentary. It’s pretty tough getting bands to pay me to do that though.
How has the relationship between photography and composing evolved for you personally?
I don’t really think they have, or that there’s a correlation between the two. Photography has definitely overtaken music though. There’s always a wave of inactivity in music when I have a lot going on photography wise and vice-versa. It’s hard to balance the two.
I’m still constantly at odds with everything I do creatively though. I often feel like there are so many people who can just pick up and instrument or a camera and everything they do is great. I have to work hard at both to do things that are probably pretty average in comparison. I think it’s definitely harder to justify picking up a guitar and playing when I view myself as a terrible guitarist in comparison to picking up a camera which I view myself as okay at. That’s probably part of the reason I completely removed my earlier work in music. There’s always a sense that I could do better.
I guess I’m not even answering the question anymore, sorry!