For Fans of: Oh Sees, Joy Division, Killing Joke
The Æther is a singer-songwriting super producer with heaps of talent that are put to use in a way that helps him bring in aspects of rock alongside hints of electronica with a slight of pop to liven the mood. What he does is so well is take the lo-fi sound that is so in right now and flips it so that it sounds as contemporary as ever and will help him to spread his music and gain fans across the board. The Æther's debut album was released a while back to high praise and I got to chat with him about the release of that project and what lies in the future...
The Æther: I'm grateful and overwhelmed at all the kind comments from people. I didn't want to make a big fuss and just hoped there would be a word of mouth type effect that would build organically. I want to go on a journey with my audience and feel a connection with people that will hopefully last for life.
Q. How does it feel putting so much work into a project, building it from the ground up and then letting the world see it?
The Æther: It's quite surreal hearing the songs on radio or when I see people playing the vinyl. There are probably millions of alternate realities where I'm working in a record store but in this one I'm being sold in record stores! It may all end tomorrow and I would have only made the tiniest splash of one droplet of water in an ocean, but it's still exceeded my expectations as I don't really have any. I have no interest in becoming a massive mainstream artist, that was never the goal. I want to make music from the soul and I will continue to make music that I love no matter what happens.
Q. Does it feel like the music, in a sense, isn't owned by you anymore?
The Æther: Yes that's probably right because I have let the music go out into the world to fend for itself. It's sometimes puzzling to know when a song is ‘finished’ enough to release, as there are so many layers you could add or roads you could go down. But at a certain point I intuitively know the track is ready. I am continually writing and recording music and this continued straight after the first LP was finished. I have already recorded a new EP and enough material for a second album or a run of singles. Not sure how it will play out but the way things are set up around me I am just focused on music & life. I work hard and enjoy the journey.
Q. How long have you been preparing for this album?
The Æther: I started writing songs in college when I was 17. The album, to me, captures a moment in time and a stage in my life and listening back I think this is evident throughout. I spent the last few years working on my songwriting and production techniques so I have the ability to independently create records. This was always a huge aspiration of mine and I'm developing my techniques everyday. I have written a whole catalogue of different songs but as I grow older my taste in music evolves & changes naturally and as I learnt to play new instruments I have added to the sound. So there are some songs I started writing a few years ago and some songs I wrote a few weeks before the release. IDWD was written last of all.
Q. What was the hardest part of making the album?
The Æther: Actually everything flowed really easily and naturally. Being a nurse or doctor or firefighter etc is hard work. Fighting in a war is hard. Making music is a privilege and I never forget that.
Q. Which song gave you the most trouble to complete?
The Æther: Carefree was written and recorded during a tour of Zimbabwe where I was taking really powerful anti-malaria medication. The insert said that possible side effects included ‘losing touch with reality’ and basically I had an out of body experience. This was a very difficult time for me but I was able to channel that energy and create, in my opinion, a song that portrayed these feelings very accurately. It might of been a difficult time but you never know when inspiration is going to hit and thankfully in one of my darkest moments I was able to channel that energy into a song.
Q. Who were your biggest influences on this album?
The Æther: I wanted to create something unique, different and that I could listen to endlessly. Something I hoped I could still be proud of in my later life so I didn't really have any influences in mind. Of course I am influenced by everything I hear whether it's watching Twin Peaks and Blade Runner or listening to my friends’ music. I found myself spinning Portishead & Nick Drake vinyl endlessly. I love all kinds of music from Warren G through to Sam Fender who is a fellow Geordie I hope to write & play with some time.
Q. What have you learned from this album that you are taking into the making of your second?
The Æther: Everything and nothing in a weird way. My songwriting is evolving all the time and alongside this I am learning more and more about production. I really like artists like Jon Hopkins and his style of production, and want to learn Ableton and immerse myself in that production environment but also long to record an acoustic style album in Pro Tools with an invisible production style so it's just me, my Martin guitar and nice tube microphones.
Q. What are your immediate plans with your music?
The Æther: I'm still in a writing and recording phase and have just finished an EP called A D D E N D A. It is a continuation along the same trajectory as the first album, but I have also recorded some singles that sound almost nothing like what has come before. I want to create different albums for different moods that we all feel and these singles form a kind of summer heatwave type collection in contrast to the more introspective autumn type debut album. I'll release the singles in the next few months over the British winter but I know it’s always summer somewhere! After that I'm planning on an unplugged guitar/voice type of album where it's just me, off the click and an analogue type of thing. Also really keen to work on soundtracks and collaborate with my friends.
I know how deeply personal music is too people as I feel that intensely myself but I'm not the type of artist to make one style of music with a limited mood palette. I'm on a journey and there are no limits or preconceptions. I'll follow my instincts and listen to my heart. I don't want to be tied down or have too many expectations holding me back or let anyone down that may have expectations. Listening to other artists music I wouldn't have made it through this insane world and I hope I can give something back, touch people & make their life cooler. Artists like The Smiths or Matt Corby have that effect on me, almost like a non-pharmaceutical medicine. If there was genre called musical reiki that's maybe the only genre I'd want to be filed under. No categories and no limits is the plan.