Archive for the ‘barn owl’ Category

Interview: Barn Owl

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

The new Barn Owl record, V is influenced by dub, musique concrete, library music, and minimal techno, and sees the duo leaning heavily on analogue synths and post-production to create sounds.

Ahead of their first Australian tour, Jack Midalia caught up with Jon Porras and spoke about the process of creating V, synths, and what Australian audiences can expect live.

Barn OwlThere’s a very large electronic element on this record, there’s a lot of synths that are very prominent. Was that a conscious decision when you started making the record or did that happen naturally?
This was a very conscious move on our part. In the last few years Even and I have been really excited about analogue synthesis. It really opens a tonne of new doors as far as sound design. We’re able to create much deeper low end, much more intense, textured high end, and it’s those new sound design elements that we wanted to incorporate on this new record. So yeah, it was a very conscious decision.

One of the things I noticed was that it’s often difficult to work out what’s actually making the sound. It’s hard to tell whether it’s a really processed guitar or a synth — I think that creates a really interesting effect. Was there a lot of post-production happening?
Absolutely. WIth analogue synthesis and that added ability for sound design, if you have a sound in your imagination and you want to create it, you can. And I think guitar is very limited as far as frequency range, and it can only occupy a very specific space tonally. So using electronics and using analogue synthesis, we’re able to open up our palette and create textures and atmospheres that are richer than what we’ve done in the past.

There’s a very strong rhythmic element to the record, even through there’s not really a lot of overt rhythm — there’s not really strong drum tracks — but there’s still that rhythmic feel to a lot of the record…
That is also something that Evan and I were consciously trying to bring into this new record. We didn’t want to make it explicit, we wanted to create rhythms with delay settings and with our loop pedals so the rhythms themselves are organic and a little bit more off the grid and unconventional.

So you had click tracks or guide tracks that you took out?
No, no click tracks or guide tracks or anything like that. We were creating rhythms in real time in the studio with different tools. There was a tonne of post-production on the new record. That was something we also consciously did. It was an idea we borrowed from all the dub music we’d been listening to. In the dub world, the lines are sort of blurred between producer and musician, and artist, that kind of becomes one role in the dub world. Evan and I wanted to try to experiment with those ideas and take the live recordings that we tracked in the studio, bring them to our home studio, chop them up, process them and edit them and create this new artefact.

Obviously a lot of thought and effort went into the sound design element of the record. Your music is very meditative, even hypnotic. What sort of a state are you in when you’re actually playing it? Are you very conscious of what you’re doing from a technical point of view, or do you just get in the zone and almost meditate?
I think it’s a balance. My performative psychology is a balance between letting yourself go and letting your imagination flow between your technical skill and your creative skill. And kind of abandoning the ego and letting yourself go with it. That’s an integral part of improv, but it has to be balanced with self-awareness. I want to be very aware of where I’m at, what I’m playing, the notes I’m playing, how it sounds, how what I’m playing reacts to what Evan’s playing. So it’s this balance between letting yourself know and giving in to the hypnotic states that the music induces, but also being incredibly focussed and self-aware. That’s what I love and I don’t really get that sensation from anything else besides music, and I think that’s what continues to pull me towards making more music and performing live is being fulfilled by that balance between precision and giving in to a creative power outside of myself.

While Barn Owl can be enjoyed at low to moderate volumes, I’m assuming you don’t really hold back when you’re playing live?
Volume is a huge part of our live set. It’s important that our music has that physical element — that you’re actually feeling the tones as they’re being played. I think that there’s something really powerful about that synesthesia and it’s something that we absolutely will bring to our Australian shows.

What’s your live setup like now? Do you even bring guitars on tour now?
The tour we just did in Europe was all synthesisers — Evan and I were both playing analogue synths. I think we’re going to do something similar for our Australian shows. We’re still in the process of rehearsing and piecing together our set, but it is going to be focussed on analogue synths.

This is your first time in Australia — any expectations?
You know, I’m trying to greet Australia with as little expectations as possible. I’m very excited — I’ve heard a lot of graet things about Australia — the people are friendly, the weather is beautiful, the countryside is beautiful, and I’m so thrilled that we could make this happen. It all happened so quickly that I can hardly believe that it’s actually happening. I have no idea how we’re going to be received — how the audience will receive our music, but I’m looking forward to it.

And then once the tour’s done, have you got plans for then?
Yeah, we’re doing another tour of Europe in September. We’re going to do some Eastern European dates and some Scandinavian dates.

Another record?
So the set we’ll be playing in Australia features about 60% new material. So that new material hasn’t been recorded yet, but it will be some time between now and the end of the year.

Barn Owl out of the cage for Bakery gig

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Barn-Owl-Electro-Drone-Band-ParisReeking of intoxicating genre lines and the smoke of avant garde metal wafting over their heads, BARN OWL are ready to show the world that they’ve come a long way from ‘that indie band’ from 2010. August 9th at the […]