Swedish Lidl released an album of field recordings from the supermarket
There are those songs that my mom played, songs by Jimmy Page or whoever, that I heard before I can remember. And hearing them again goes beyond nostalgia. I grew up in rural Canada, in middle of nowhere, where there wasn’t any power. There wasn’t any traffic or whatever but it was close to a lake. Everything echoed a lot. You’d hear these loons [diver birds] calling across the lake and it would sound like ghost voices. I’d just lie in bed and hear these loons calling and the trees scratching and feel so scared. But everything echoed and I think that’s why I like delay so much.
There were also lots of thrushes in the woods when I was a kid, and I got rally, really into that Grandmaster Flash song The Message and it’s meant to be this really gritty, urban song, but that pheeewew sound is exactly the same and those thrushes calling. It reminded me of that delay and those bird sounds, it just takes me back. My brother has this custom guitar pedal, and one of the sounds is called “The Camp”, because whatever you play through it it sounds just like the woods when we were growing up.
It’s weird – it’s a very man-made sound delay, but it always sounds like the echoing off a canyon or a large cavernous space. I just think it does something on a subconscious level. I don’t know what it is about delay – it’s hearing birds on a lake but it’s also like telepathy – like a microsecond of time that you experience again – like time as a manipulatiable thing that you can repeat. It’s really trippy, like looking at aftereffects on your hand visually. Very psychedelic. I’ve always thought it weird that “great songwriters” are never people like Can or Sonic Youth, it’s always someone like Elvis Costello. There’s this notion that a song is a unique melody and a nice riff and some lyrics but at the same some of my favourite songs have been by those bands, and the fact that it;s a drone doesn’t stop it making you feel excited and feel an emotional connection.
I used to work in film editing and we were still working with magnetic tape and when you went forward and backward looking to sync voice and so on, it sounded a lot like scratching on a turntable. I heard it and I though “This is incredible!” – I mean, I’d heard of people playing a synchroniser to mix the sounds, but never just the sound of the rushing tape. When they threw out all the tapes I drove up in my station wagon and took them all.
Grandmaster Flash, breakdance music and Eletric Avenue and stuff like that made me flip out when I was younger. In rural Canada it’s a lot about Neil Young records and woodland music and you’re hearing that stuff for the first time that sounds like the tie-fighters from Star Wars – like that growling Doppler effect that’s intense like “WOAH! How did they do that?” Every little kid loves robots and I believe that scratching and turntables is what robot music would sound like. Music that was robotic was really exciting. Sonic Youth’s ‘Washing Machine’ is not one anyone would cite for any reason, but I think it’s a great record, and hearing the song itself Washing Machine and when the psychotic wailing all of a sudden gets a bit trancey, a bit meditative, and then the wall of guitars comes in and the drone just goes on and on. Whenever my friends came round and we’d want to hear something psychedelic and cool, we’d put that on. Something really peaceful took over.
What songs made me flip out when I was younger? When Metallica went from the really heavy stuff to the medieval shit. Loved that. Like “Listen Dad! They’re not always heavy, they’ve got some classical parts!” My Dad always liked Metallica because of those bits. I get a lot of nostalgia for sounds, for sure. I like lush, pastoral, scape-y sounds. The first moment that I got that feeling was on the school bus and I heard that Enya song, like “Sail Away” or whatever. Orinoco Flow – Ed I was just like “What is that?” That sense of space is amazing. All nature sounds are pretty pleasant. It’s ingrained in us, I’m sure it’s part of our DNA. I grew up in the suburbs so going out and getting to hear those sounds was a novelty for me.
The only synthetic sound I can think that I really, really like is from when I used to work in this graffic design store and they had an engraving machine that they used on sheet metal. It the most musical thing I’ve ever heard in my life because it used to have these tones like “dowdowowow” [sings a scale]. I never recorded it but I wish I had.
Anything looped sounds amazing. If you hear something over and over you can really pick it apart and your mind can take every detail in. I like drones too. Drones are calming. They go back centuries.