SlowPlaceLikeHome - Interview & Cork Show
I had the pleasure a few weeks ago of seeing SlowPlaceLikeHome play live, when they appeared at the TDC space of Triskel Arts Centre in Cork as part of a kind of fringe to Cork Film Festival. They've only played a handful of times live but you'd think they'd been at it for years, such was the confidence and poise of the sound.
I also interviewed Keith Mannion (the main brains behind SPLH) in advance of that gig for WeAreNoise, to ask him about the upcoming debut album, Romola, his recording process and some other stuff. It was particularly interesting to hear his thoughts on how sounds take shape and suggest themselves into something enduring. Here's an excerpt.
After your three EP’s last year, Coastal hubs for chivalry, Post-hoc and There go the lights again, will the album consist of new material?
Totally new material. I think I have gone through a dozen different drafts of the new album at this stage and up until I pass it on for mastering, it’s quite possible I’ll keep scratching at it.
Over the course of those three EP’s, you covered a broad range of sound. Can you talk me through how the sound developed from your point of view?
At the beginning of all this SPLH stuff, I just wanted to have some fun messing with noise I liked and trying to produce some modicum of interesting patterns. With some new methods for songwriting, it has slowly developed into something very new to me.
And can we expect a radical departure in terms of sound for the album?
Perhaps not radical but definitely different. For one thing, there are a lot more vocals employed throughout the songs. For good or for bad (I’ll let the listener be the judge), these new ventures required voice.
What are Coastal hubs for chivalry by the way?
I live in the forest. On my strolls, I had a Mexican stand-off with a badger a few times. Ask him!
Can you tell me about your recording set up? How do recordings generally take shape?
They don’t take shape, as much as they just appear, like finding an old penny. Some play in the head, as middle of the road rubbish and some like a Frank Zappa track played in reverse. It takes a bit of sorting.
If a tune could be performed on one of those dreadful current television feiseanna (you know the ones!), I bin it very quickly!
Basically, I make sounds from some pretty awful equipment and play with it like the proverbial cat and a ball of wool. My surroundings are very conducive to my noodling. Part of the charm.
As someone who makes instrumental music, do you think certain types of sounds are more conducive to creating tone or atmosphere?
I reckon the element of surprise usually wins over most of the time. I mish-mash different instruments, very badly, to see if they will cohabit a chorus or a bridge. Not that a song necessarily requires a certain structure but I’m either enlightened or disgusted with my efforts.
Of course if you set about making a piece of music in order to create a distinct mood, you at least best be brave. No point in trying to be a poor man’s Mike Oldfield, or a Boards of Canada bastardization.