Deep in the heart of the Alternative Electronic scene is a world that seems to hang on to a distant memory. Pioneered by cult status record labels, both web-oriented and established businesses, these musical types are far and between each other, but always come out disturbingly pristine and layered with gorgeous melodies and brilliant compositional work. Jason Dowd, known as eyesix, contributes to this multi-genre with his two releases – a self-titled EP and his latest record Limerence.
Luckily enough, I was given the opportunity to hold a small question and answer session via email with eyesix for the 2020k blog. What transpired was a great conversation about the inner psyche of electronica, as well as what inspires, and what makes up the music and individual who is Jason Dowd.
Have a read below and give the record a try..you won’t be disappointed with either.
eyesix? Do you have six eyes?
Just the two, I’m afraid. Although, I nearly lost the right one a couple of nights ago at a friend’s going-away party, in a “fight” with a table. Escaped with a few stitches, a tasty scar, and a trip to the emergency room.
There’s a thick line between infatuation and limerence. Considering the magnitude of the latter word, what caused your debut LP and title track to be called Limerence?
That’s a tricky one, ha. I had planned to name the album “Maryland”, after another tune, but the guys at Sparkwood Records much preferred “Limerence”, and I felt that was the strongest track I had for the album. So I agreed without much thought – I liked the sound of the word. But it does have a personal meaning to me, especially when the track was done. I had never heard of the word, but it felt fitting at the time for the track, and for myself. I’m glad it ended up being named what it was, not a lot of people know what the word means. I think I got it off some ‘Word of the Day’ type thing, but it was fitting to be fair.
In the liner notes for your record, you thank the Twoism family. Seeing as though this is a nod to the Boards of Canada community, it’s apparent the Scottish duo has influenced your work. What other muses (musical or otherwise) have guided your creative work?
Yeah, I met a lot of good people through Twoism. A lot of friends that have helped me out, and guys I have worked with. I love the community there, cool meeting place for people with similar taste in stuff as myself, so I’m a frequent visitor. Boards of Canada, Christ., Freescha, Twoism-heads etc. have all been major influences. I listen to a lot of psychedelic stuff from the 60’s also, before I got into electronic music. I’m a huge fan of Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd, but I remember discovering Boards of Canada with “Everything you Do Is A Balloon,” and it just seemed to settle into all the right neurons – I was hooked and have been since. Boards have been a huge part of my life, more so than a lot else.
Electronica music is known for being abstract, both inside the musical nature and of the artist itself. If you could tell the world anything about yourself or the music you make, what would you let the listeners know?
For me, I think it would be if you want to give it a go, grab some software and keep at it. You don’t need thousands of quid worth of gear, and I certainly don’t have it, but I tried to make tunes years back when I was skating, on Reason, and they were god-awful, so I quit. I picked it up again about 18 months ago and that’s my main tool and I’m glad I got back into trying to make electronic music, although I’m very uneducated on the tech side, I think anybody can have fun and get tunes going if they want. No excuse with all the information at your fingertips these days, except laziness, which I’m guilty of too, ha.
One of the tags on the Sparkwood Records Bandcamp page for the record is nostalgia. Is it a conscious or unconscious decision to recall the past inside of your music?
To be honest, it’s just a sound or a theme in a lot of music that I enjoy and so I do deliberately try to emulate that, for sure. I love things that sound dusty, old and degraded, yet beautiful. I do try to achieve some aspects of that, but I don’t feel like I have yet… maybe in time, ha. It definitely appeals to me very much, and I can’t pinpoint why, as I’m sure so many others can’t who find that sound so intriguing. I think that’s part of the mystique – you feel something, but it’s hard to know exactly what, or why. There’s also incessant background chatter that can be heard through the stereo images of several tracks off the record.
Speaking of the background chatter, are there any specific soundbites on the record (vocal or not) that contain a certain significance to you?
None hold any real personal significance. I just source them online and use them where I see fit, to try create a certain tone or atmosphere. I think it’s most evident in “Sunsets on Skyscrapers”, especially combined with the video I made using edited footage from the brilliant Koyaanisqatsi [film]. It was an attempt to convey the pace of modern life, in a major city, that never really sleeps, and people repeat the same routine, day-in day-out. But mostly it’s there because I think it suits the tracks in some way or another, even if it’s just that I think its sounds nice, and works.
Is there any sort of insight in regards to how the music comes about? In broader words, how do you see creativity?
I studied graphic design in college, and worked as a designer for a while, and probably will again, and I see a big comparison between both worlds, for me at least. I sit at the familiar computer and try to sketch out an idea from my head and go through several drafts until I get the one to call the ‘final’. But at that stage, you’re sick of listening to/looking at your stuff, that you can’t critique it at all, so I usually ask my friends for advice, or wait a few days for fresh ears/eyes.
Are there any musical go-to processes you gravitate toward when creating a song?
Always a melody or some pads for me, that’s where I find I get the rest of the ideas, and sees the directions a track could go in. It’s always that way for me, I’ll fiddle about drawing some notes or mess with a midi keyboard and the rest comes secondary.
“Maryland” and “Idaho Transfer” both reference United States locations. In addition, they’re seemingly two of the more funereal songs on the record. How do geographical concepts get chosen to be represented on an eyesix project?
To be blunt, they don’t. “Idaho Transfer” is the title of an old sci-fi film, I believe, [though] I’ve not even seen it. I tend to just make a track, and if I pick up on something after, or sometimes during, that suits, I just name it that. Not a whole lot of thought goes into the titles to be honest; I just try to pick something interesting and suitable.
Tell us about “Drifting” – it seems to be shaping up to be quite a great project!
“Drifting” is the new collaboration track between myself, and the super talented Shane Anthony. It was great to work with Shane, having been a big fan of his previous work. We decided to work on a track together and perhaps submit it for the next volume of ‘One on Twoism’, which we did. We were both very pleased with the outcome; Shane did some great work building on some of my small ideas. We are working a bit on a second track now also, and hope to put out an EP at least, we have a theme in mind, and we work well together and think alike, I think! So I’m excited about that and what may come from this project. I’ve done a video for drifting as I always like to have visuals for the tracks I enjoy, but it won’t surface until the track is chosen or not.
What’s in the future for eyesix? We see you’ve submitted to the One on Twoism compilation series for the 2014 year. Any thing else coming up in the future?
Hard to say man, we submitted our aforementioned collaboration tune and I submitted one of my own. Still have a lot of sketches for tunes, but personally I would like to continue to, over the course of the next few months, build a release with Shane, perhaps under a pseudonym for our collaboration project (which we haven’t discussed). Other than that, just chilling, waiting to get my stitches out and a move away from the Green Isle may be on the cards.