Your music seems to exist in a place between waking and sleeping, something the Sami people call “adjagas”. I am wondering how you achieve that, what is your actual recording process, and is it generally just you layering all of these sounds? That’s interesting. I mean, I think that’s a good way to describe my music. In a lot of ways it does exist between reality and memory, between the waking world and the more insular experience of dreaming. It’s hard to say what it is about my actual recording process that creates that effect, but I would say that it has quite a lot to do with the fact that I was the only person writing and recording the material. Just knowing that makes sense of it in my eyes. It was an inherently insular process, and I would spend quite a while layering different sounds and parts. It’s a blurry album in a lot of ways. My goal was always to create songs that blended different parts as seamlessly as possible. I wanted the whole album to kind of wash over people.
Have you ever had a problem with sleeping, since you seem to have such a deep relationship to that world? No, I wouldn’t say I have a problem sleeping. But my schedule does get a little strange. I go to bed really late for the most part, like around four o’clock in the morning. I think your brain just operates different in the middle of the night. Things become enhanced and sometime seem more dire than they otherwise would. I get a lot of my best ideas during that period.
I remember once you saying you are very interested in getting the “cleanest” recording you can – what does that mean in terms of production? I just mean that in the simplest sense of recording. I didn’t intend to make a lo-fi album, it’s just really dense. In my mind though, everything is where it should be, everything is cleanly recorded to the best of my ability. It just means that I spent time on it, making sure things weren’t in the red [laughs].
Your recorded music is so lush and expansive, how have you find this translating in the live context? It must be so difficult. Have you had any bumps in the road?
Yeah, it’s extremely difficult. We had to eventually accept the fact that it’s a different world, and the best thing for us to do was to treat it like a different world and let the songs exist in a different form. I am at peace with it all, and when we go on tour next we will be able to do more to bridge that gap I think. For me, I just think that the album isn’t intended to be heard in a live setting. It’s a record that was born from writing while I was recording, and it never even once crossed my mind how the songs would sound live. It’s not like a band that has a practice space and pounds out really intense music that is all about the visceral experience, about how music feels as it is happening. With that being said though, I think we have found a way of bringing it to people that want to have that kind of experience with the album. And as I write the second album, I am thinking far more about how it can be presented in a live environment.
Since Wild Nothing began as a solo project, recording in your bedroom, and ostensibly still is in terms of creating, how do you find playing and being with the other members of your live band? Does it bring in another element of collaboration, giving you more ideas for the future? It’s great, but it’s just a totally different experience. There is a certain kind of joy that I get from playing the songs with other people in real time that I never got from recording them, and vice versa. My mind is incapable of bridging them currently though. They’ve been separate for so long. I think in order for me to truly collaborate with other people it would need to be started totally fresh, something totally new and different than what I’m doing now. Wild Nothing is the kind of music that I make as one person, I would approach music very differently if other people were involved.
My Bloody Valentine come to mind in relation to you, in terms of the layered composition, and the fact that at their core they have great, melodic pop songs – they are in one sense a great pop band, as well as this post-rock monolith. What are your thoughts, and do you remember how you first came across them, and the kind of impact they had on you? I would totally agree with all of that. Thinking of My Bloody Valentine as a pop band is what excites me about them. I remember getting Loveless when I was in high school and just totally not getting it. I was too focused on the pure sound of the songs and I wasn’t really knowledgeable enough at the time to recognize the pop sensibilities that existed underneath. I came back to the album when I started university, so it was through Loveless that I got into the band, but it wasn’t until I started listening to Ecstasy & Wine and Sunny Sundae Smile that I realised how much of an exciting history they had. They’re one of my favourite bands as a result.
Which bands and musicians are really precious to you, and that you constantly revisit from the past and present? Definitely My Bloody Valentine, The Smiths and The Go-Betweens. They’re kind of my big ones. But more recently it’s just like, all over the place, I dont know. Clan Of Xymox, Prince, The Church, Fleetwood Mac, Sonic Youth. I just think of myself as a find of music. Anything that I can call pop music. I am really interested in what pop music means to different people and what you can do with it. I think all of these bands have pop songs.
You studied Communications and Creative Writing at college, how was the course, and do you think that it really benefited you as a musician? Communications maybe did involuntarily. I took a lot of interesting film classes that could have been influential in retrospect. Creative writing was helpful too, more just for establishing some sort of creative process. I don’t write stories or poems the same way I write songs. Music will always be its own world to me, the most important world.
Do you think that your relationship with Gemini has changed over the course of the last year or so, since you have been touring? Sure, I think my relationship with the album will always be changing as I grow older. Depending on where my head is at any given moment it can be a really positive or negative thing. Sometimes I will go back and listen to the album and get really excited about what I was able to accomplish with so little, but other times I already feel so disconnected from those songs. It’s been nearly two years now since they songs were written, and there’s a few that we have never even played live, so they’ve begun to feel largely representative of that time in my life. It can feel kind of foreign these days.