Friday, 30 August 2013

Week #35 | The J. Arthur Keenes Band - Lost Bay

Week #35 and we are visited by the incredible one man band, The J. Arthur Keenes Band, bringing more of his astounding song writing prowess to this week's track, as well as providing an accompanying bonus track hidden within the 2013 download! So, make sure to go grab the track here!

Weekly Treats: How did you first come into contact with the chip scene?

The J. Arthur Keenes Band: I first found out about people making music on actual videogame hardware in 2006 when I was 14; I believe I actually read about it on Wikipedia in an article about gameboy music, found the best sounding name in the list of artists (Bit Shifter) and proceeded to have my mind blown on first listen of "Particle Charge" from his then recently released, now legendary "Information Chase" EP.  After that I found a buttload of great music that was being put out at the time on 8bitpeoples and otherwise: Anamanaguchi, PeeR, The Depreciation Guild, Tobiah, Random, David Sugar, etc...The idea that people could make music on real consoles and it could sound THAT good was incredible to me.  I started by sampling NES game sounds and using them in FL Studio, soon moved on to an LSDJ demo in an emulator, then I manned up and bought a cart.  In my youthful naivety I of course decided that everything I did had to be heard by everyone, so In looking for places to do such a thing and places to find new music I found 8bitcollective, micromusic, and probably a few more places no one remembers.

WT: Who or what would you consider the main influences behind your work?

TJAKB: My influences at this point are for the most part great pop music; the kind of music that I love most is music that is both great pop and great art music.  I also love artists/albums that are very eclectic with styles and instrumentation from song to song and/or within songs -- on that same point I also love many different types of music and find myself wanting to do everything, that's a big drive for me, I have a desperate need to do many different kinds of music.

And of course if we want to go this route some of my musical gods are Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Zombies, Phil Spector, Joe Meek, Caetano Veloso, Prince Buster, George Gershwin, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Billie Holiday, Buddy Holly, David Bowie, the BBC Radiophonic crew, Neutral Milk Hotel, Erik Satie, Stephin Merritt/The Magnetic Fields, The Velvet Underground, Os Mutantes, I'm probably missing some big ones...

WT: What is the story behind the name The J. Arthur Keenes Band?

TJAKB: The story behind the name is so terribly uninteresting that it must be locked away and never known!

WT: Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and what you use to create your music?

TJAKB: My writing process varies, but it generally just involves either coming up with something in my head or whilst playing an instrument.  In the past I always came up with songs out of the blue and elaborated on the initial idea, but more recently I have tried specifically to write songs, starting from titles or with a style or mood in mind.  Both can be successful, though I think that since I started trying to write songs I have gotten much better at it; it mostly seems to have to do with letting your ideas flow, getting them down, taking chances and knowing and integrating a happy accident when it occurs.  Spending too much time on something can also ruin something or make the process agonizing without much return; I have learned that the hard way several times and I probably will again.  Making something great has a lot to do with luck, but I think I can always make something to a certain standard if I put the effort and time in, one can't forget there's a craft to music and it's important to keep working towards being a better composer/songwriter/musician and never feel like you have to sit there and wait for some inspiration to hit you.

I have a large and ever growing collection of instruments, audio equipment and other music things so I have a large musical palette to work with. I still primarily use LSDJ for the chip elements of my stuff, but I've drifted more and more towards making more varied sounding music so it's nice to have a big pile of music stuff to find sounds.  I love recording music so I try very hard to get the sounds I'm looking and of course the sound of a song, it's instrumentation and it's arrangement are just as important as the song itself, I love and take pride in being responsible for every part of the process, though sometimes it can be a headache.

WT: You recently released Mighty Social Lion, could you tell us a bit about this album?

TJAKB: Mighty Social Lion was terribly difficult and stressful to make, took much longer than I thought it would and I'm very proud of it, though I probably won't be listening to it myself for some time!  I think that it achieves what I set out to do with it; I wanted to make a good, eclectic pop album with twists and turns and lots of twists and turns that flows well and I think it turned out well. I think it took what I had done with the first 3 EPs to a much higher level and capped off what I've been doing for the past few years;  I feel it's a very complete piece of work.  I think that finishing off this album opens me up to explore different things and look for new ways to make music.  Mostly I think it's a good pop album that hopefully is nice to put on and enjoy with your friends, but also makes you think and feel things when you listen to it alone...

WT: What went into writing Lost Bay?

TJAKB: This track I started writing on vacation and finished shortly afterward;  Lost Bay was a canoe destination with an intriguing name, though it did not turn out to be a very interesting bay at all. I wrote and recorded it very quickly as I've taken to doing recently.  I won't get into what the song is about as I like to leave these things up to interpretation and maybe I'm not quite sure what it's about myself.  

I recorded it on a 4-track cassette machine which I've grown very fond of lately; I've recorded on digital my whole life, but the lure of going analog in a bigger way is very tempting.  The quaintness and crunchiness of a cassette recording is also very appealing to me though and I think it suits this song well.

WT: What does the future hold for The J. Arthur Keenes Band?

TJAKB: I have decided to make music all the time, make it quickly, on a whim, do lots of projects, experiment a ton, do anything I feel like doing and release lots of music often.  Mighty Social Lion was a big strain to complete, so It's exciting to be excited about making music again, hopefully others will be excited as well.