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Music Interview: orphans

Words by: Laurent Shervington

So how did you all meet and when did you start creating music together?

We all met through study at WAAPA. We played in larger ensembles together at various times and then we formed this trio at some point in 2013. We’ve been playing regularly since then, always improvising, often discussing improvisational concepts and narratives to work with.

Roughly how long has the idea of ‘the consequence of following’ been around for?

The initial idea was to get into the studio and play together. Create something in the moment. The narrative element was developed through the editing process, we had 4 hours of recorded material to weave into a cohesive album.

I understand that the release was created from a day of improvised takes and parts were edited together to form cohesive compositions, did you find this method of recording best encapsulated the sound or overall feel you were aiming for?

The whole ide a for the orphans group is to create something in the moment, really work hard together and carving out a tune or flow of sound. So when it came to recording it had to be the same. Approaching it as a blank canvas to be filled, then standing back and looking at what we’d created. The aim was to go through the process of recording, and the result was this sound.

One thing that stood out to me about ‘the consequence…’ is the gradual build­ups from ethereal soundscapes to more melodic sequences (the middle point of ‘excusing yourself from the séance’ for example), do you think that having both atonal and melodic sequences helps to accentuate certain moods in your music?

We used repetition extensively on this album and it is something we often work with. The idea of having three strong voices and locking them together requires that patient development to be fully realised. The atonal and melodic, and grey area in between, add to the tension and release of the album. Sometimes we build through tense atonal passages and release into a very tonal melody. Other times we hit a very tonal, harmonic section and find resolution in a more textural, atonal soundscape. Some of the more interesting times are when the trio is split, two instruments locked in harmonically and/or rhythmically and the third independent of that.

What kind of influences (be them musical or non­musical) do you think went into the release?
We all have our own influence obviously, I like a lot of the trumpet players from Australia and music from the Brooklyn improvising scene, like Kirk Knuffke (cornetist), and the trumpeters like Nate Wooley and Peter Evans. But my listening is fairly eclectic. As a band we often discussed filmic imagery, the work of Kurt Russell was a prominent influence on ‘the consequence of following’.

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Image credit: Tone List

I understand the compositions form a multi­sequence narrative about “self­examination and change”; can you speak a little more about these sequences and how they relate to the theme?
In our minds it’s the journey of a person who gets swept up in a series of unusual events when they follow follow a thread in their life. Through the conflict and adventure that ensue the character is given a new perspective on their life, leading to examination and change, a deeper knowingness and the weight of future conflict. The different tracks describe these stages.

How does the title relate to the theme?
The story stems from the initial moment when the character follows this path. The consequence is the remainder of the album and possibly future work.

‘the consequence of following’ is Tone List’s second release so far, how do you see the label developing in the future?

Tone List is about getting music from Perth to be heard by more people, to build a creative culture that finishes its work and gets it out there. In terms of its sound, it will be defined by what people are improvising and thinking about in the scene. You can see by the first two releases, TL001 ­ IN/EX and TL002 ­ the consequence of following, there is no clear direction yet, they are very different releases. The commonality id there use of improvisation as the fundamental creative tool.

Do you feel as though orphans will adopt a kind of flag bearing role in its development?
I’d hope Tone List has a flag bearing role for orphans, haha. I think that both orphans and Tone List are still young, developing entities. They do each other a great service in many ways.

Next Thursday (25th of August) at Paper Mountain is the launch of the release, what can we expect from that show? Are you aiming to play ‘the consequence’ in its entirety or will you be going for a completely freeform approach?
We have some great supporting artists on before us at Paper Mountain, Pedro Alvarez, Lee/McPherson, Tourist Kid and Indiana Coole. This will set a creative, open, exploratory vibe for the evening. Our set will be improvised. ‘the consequence of following’ was a moment in the band development, we are happy it was captured, but we’re always trying to develop. There will of course be textures and elements from the recording that will come out at the show, that’s the nature of improvising. We’ve never headlined a show before, so I guess we are looking to leave it all out there, really dig in and get something done.

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