3epkano – Music vs Film

Despite the lofty nature of what they do, 3epkano are not your traditional musos. “Myself and Cameron (Doyle, guitarist) don’t have any formal background in music, we couldn’t sit there and go through something too formalistic. We couldn’t because I can’t read music and so we had to find a different way. I think that different way has helped us retain a respect for the film at all times because there’s no fear of over-cooking what it is we do.”

Collectively they seem to have that lack of ego that is so important to work like theirs, choosing their moments of impact carefully and never being afraid to step back and allow the film to work its magic. Their scores are loose compositions, road-maps open to diversion along the way and Nolan believes this is what makes their performances special. “There’s always a risk of over-thinking what you’re doing, over-intellectualising what you’re doing and I think you’ve got to trust your gut. I think if you do trust that kind of process, and it can be a scary thing, then I think it will pay dividends as it has for us. I think we’re getting better at interpreting ourselves, if that doesn’t sound too wanky. It does, but you know! When you leave that scope for improv, things can get very exciting.”

This centring of the film is vital for Nolan and even during performance the screen draws him in. “It’s a lovely way of watching a film,” he says, somewhat disingenuously. “We set up under the screen, in a little arc so we’re not watching it in a radically different way to most people in the cinematic or theatrical space. For us, that creative interaction or dialogue is really important. There have been cases where we’ve been quite removed from the screen and for us that screen-musician proximity and interaction is really important for performing and we’ve felt that distance somehow cuts us off from what we really like to do. The film directs us, which means there’s an indeterminate element. Every time we go in something new will happen. For me, it’s really exciting to hear a piece take on a slightly different life to what it had before, to be re-interpreted and occasionally fall on its ear!”

Their new album, Hans the Reluctant Wolf Juggler, is a ten-song collection of various pieces, all but one of which was written with some film scene in mind, including a couple from Pandora’s box. Nolan points out one of the band’s primary concerns with the album was the need to make the music something in and of itself, “For the album we took time to impose a kind of shape and arrangement on the pieces with the end of making them stand alone as pieces of music and not necessarily need a film accompaniment. Although I think, if you could find the scenes that they were intended for, they might take on a different resonance.”

With the group getting somewhat longer in tooth, and the jobs, families and questions of security that that implies, the question of where 3epkano go now is certainly pertinent. Nolan is, as ever, philosophical about it. “I think eventually this will be a collective that just gets together a couple of times a year to do some really nice shows,” he explains. “We’ve built some lovely relationships with institutions in the States and I hope that with the release of this and the distribution of this those relationships will extend and we’ll see what happens. We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve gotten away a couple of times to play abroad, which is no mean feat for a seven-piece band! It’s hard enough to get to Bray, never mind anywhere else.”

Of course, this unhurried attitude to band life allows Nolan and his cohorts the time to develop at their own pace without having to worry about media attention or even CD sales. “It’s put us on a slightly different time-line. This thing can have longevity but only if we don’t flog it,” he says, showing off a wildly different attitude to your average band on the make. “We all have reasonably stable kind of jobs, as far someone can have one these days. There’s been ups and downs for people in the band, financially and personally over the years, but I think it’s geared up for having a long shelf-life. I’m hoping that in the new year, we’ll just be that bit smarter again about how we operate. I’m excited about having the album out and looking forward to hearing what people have to say about it, good or bad, as long as people are willing to engage in some kind of dialogue.”