THE NOISES WE MAKE WHEN NO ONE IS AROUND, a solo lo-fi ambient dark folk act, is uveiling its forthcoming EP titled “entitled “the black box contained nothing but our deaths” today, on September 29th! This trip through the nightmare of disturbing folk sounds introduces a veiled encounter with approaching death. Minimal, atmospheric, and kind of controversial and intimate.
I sat down with the author of this DIY recording and tried to unveil more about this dark room horror. Close your eyes, put your headphones on, and enter into this spooky dimension.
THE NOISES WE MAKE WHEN NO ONE IS AROUND and “The Black Box Contained Nothing But Our Deaths” might be one of the frightening pairings I’ve seen in a long time. Merging it with the haunting sounds of thirsty ghouls and creepy, bloody tortures, the whole thing make the atmosphere very intense. Tell me about the idea and the concept behind your newest EP.
The idea of this project is to vocalise issues that I encountered in my younger years when I didn’t feel I could verbalise them.
The ep itself is based around a concept of being trapped in a plane as it plummets towards the earth. Every song is a secret. Every song is a dark part of my childhood. These experiences are my final words into the black box before the plane crashes and I perish. Thus, the experience of creating this ep, and hopefully listening to it, will be haunting, harrowing, uncomfortable but ultimately unashamedly honest. The black box… is the death of a small child. No death should be without sadness and regret.
Why did you choose this particular musical niche and how would you describe your style for someone who has not ever heard TNWMWNOIA?
The style wasn’t ever a conscious decision. I was in a dark place and my writing took a dark haunting turn where I knew it wouldn’t fit in my band. That’s part of the reason why this solo project was born, out of necessity. If these songs weren’t born then I feel that perhaps I might have destroyed something beautiful, and there is nothing more beautiful than the self. When you’re in a low, reclusive place there is never the thought ‘how should this sound?’. It is what it is. No decision, no device. Natural.
This controversial form of expression may cause some listeners and reviewers to question it. For example, have you seen this opinion? :) What’s your take on critics who think you’ve exaggerated?
I don’t think that the review there felt that I had exaggerated, but more that they felt it was of poor quality. In fairness to Yack, while I don’t agree with some of the points of the review, the recording of the single that they reviewed isn’t particularly good, it’s a live one take recording. My debut EP is still very much lo-fi. I still record standing in my bath tub, but now each instrument is tracked and recorded individually and hopefully the quality will show when people hear it. I’ve actually sent it to Yack to review, but after hating the single so much I don’t think they will do it.
Back to the point though, I don’t think that music should be easy. I’ll leave easy music to COLDPLAY and Rihanna. I’m in the position where I don’t make money from this, so the only person I have to convince is myself. The worst thing that a reviewer could do is say that this is ‘nice’, or ‘okay’. Art, whatever medium, should divide reviewers, challenge for good or for worse, and sure, Yack said that my last single was utter balls, but then I had other reviewers saying it was stunning and one of the most original things they have ever heard.
Basically, reviews can make or break an artist (whether they realise this I don’t know). I can work on music for a year and have some person behind a computer screen destroy it with a review that’s taken them thirty minutes to write, putting a hundred plus people who read their blog off me before they’ve even listened to the track. But at the end of the day, it’s all subjective. If you’re a music fan you need to put your trust in one person, yourself. Stop reading the reviews and start using your ears.
Ha! Exactly! It’s all very subjective, no doubt.
Do you have any favourites in similar sub-genres? Are there any musical insporations you’d like to share here?
Musically I’m a big fan of Keaton Henson, THE ANTLERS, XIU XIU, SIGUR ROS, DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, DEFTONES, UNDEROATH, THURSDAY. I’ll listen to most things. I think it’s important for everyone to be open to the idea of anything. Say yes to every experience and then decide whether you want to give it a second go after.
What environment do you reckon is best to dive into this EP?
I think there are probably two ways to approach the EP. Either in your bedroom, with the biggest headphones you can find. You can curl up into a ball on your bed, or curl into a corner of the room. Or go for a walk (again with headphones) after there has been a storm.
What instruments do you use?
I use a shoddy guitar, a shoddy voice, and fist to occasionally punch noises out of myself.
How about all the moaning and whispering? Whose voices did you use? Are there some third-party howls included? :)
The moaning and whispering is all from me. There’s a screech in the song three years which was a nightmare to record because it involved a sharp inhale of breath whilst punching myself in the stomach. I actually think that the sound I created makes that track though.
Ok, so back to the meaning of the record, are there any personal philosophies blended into your composition? Or it’s more like a form of art?
I don’t think there are philosophies so much. I’ve never followed any real group of thoughts or religion. The ep is a very selfish one in that it’s literally me exorcising demons of my past, but then perhaps music should be selfish?
There’s certainly a lot of truth in it. Can you share some details on the idea behind this disturbing cover art?
For the ep artwork I wanted a bit of a crude drawing. I’ve always used photography as an album art medium before but not any form of drawing so I wanted to try something new. I told the girl doing it (Laura Gilbert) that I intentionally wanted it to look bad, as if a child had drawn it on a train. I’m pretty sure she hated me asking her to colour out of the lines, but I think it kind of suits the ep.
What is your vision of feelings and pictures that your music evokes?
I can’t say I’m sure what feelings my music evokes. Music is, and should always be a personal experience. I know that a couple of people who have heard the prerelease have said that they found it scary, whereas I grew up watching horror films and I can’t hear anything scary at all. I’ve always wanted to make people pull their knees into their throat and rock back and forth, but I don’t know whether this is the release that will do that.
How do you produce your music? What was the creation and recording process for this new record?
The creation process consisted of doing nothing but creating for a stretch of time. Playing Ghost was already complete but production wise I had to change it up because it had already been released as a single. Black Box was the last track to be written and I think it marks a change in song composition and playing style which may hint to future releases, or may not.
My recording technique is very simple and revolves around a camera (and camera mic) and myself standing in the bath playing. I can’t see it being a technique that major recording studios will be using in the future!
How do you release it?
The ep will be released online only and in a downloadable choose what you pay way. It will be available via Soundcloud, Noisetrade and Bandcamp.
Do you perform live?
I am not yet performing live. I’ve had offers recently, but I’m not sure how I can do it convincingly without looking like a singer songwriter. If I’m going to perform these songs it needs to be in the right way and in a setting that will enhance the music, not detract from it.
Alright then. Looking forward to seing you live with some additional musicians perhaps? :) What are your future plans?
If there becomes a call for it then I will make it happen. I don’t ever want to play for the sake of it. The songs are so personal that I think that it would be too difficult to play to a crowd that doesn’t give a damn and talks through the whole set.
Right now, the emphasis is on getting this release out, and seeing how well it does online. Currently there are a whole bunch of blogs who are refusing to write reviews for it, whether it’s because it’s terrible, or because it’s different I don’t know, you tell me. So I implore you, if you read this interview, listen to the music and like it, then lets go oldschool, lets send links to your friends, lets put it on a CD and share it around.
Thanks for your time! Feel free to add your last words! Good luck!
Thank you for the interview, and thank you to anyone who listens to my ep.