Circuit Sweet Interview, Feature, Reviews

SIMON GORE “ÉN TI” DEBUT ALBUM RELEASE – INTERVIEW SPECIAL

November 6, 2016
Christian Blandhoe

Christian Blandhoe

Throughout summer this year we’ve been working hard with the talented artist Simon Gore, since we announced the addition of Simon to our management roster, we’ve been extremely proud to see his hard working efforts finally unleashed to the world. With proud local ties and a Norweigan soul Simon Gore has just released an incredible debut album- an instrumental and vital album of the most beautiful, minimalist, ambient electronic creations that resonates at a completely different frequency from all that has been revealed to the world before. Simon’s debut solo album is not to be overlooked as merely a side-project, his passion for developing more of an interest in noise than traditional, tonal music is set to impress all. In the run up to the release of the album, Simon has worked effortlessly to create his ideal physical release which is now available on cassette and a unique photobook.

ÉN TI is a substantial 7 track masterpiece that we urge you to listen to, take the album in -it will be your new favourite record. A privilege in hearing the release in full prior to the official release date and even more so to attend the official album launch. For those yet to discover the album- ÉN TI is an electro minimalist visceral projection which will play havoc with your emotions. The perfect score to a dark, eerie, nordic tale. Utilising sequences to format his minimalist orchestrations and polyrhythms, Simon projects a soundscape which will entice your imagination.

Simon teamed up with Cardiff Made for a special week long photography exhibition to coincide with the official launch of his debut album ÉN TI and photobook which was unveiled Saturday 22nd October. ÉN TI is Simon’s interpretation of Nordic landscapes, atmospheres and environments projected through obsolete and decaying technology, manifested in the form of a debut, full-length album and soft back pocket photo book. The exhibition showcased a selection of  unedited images from the book, taken on expired 110 film in Norway. With these incredible images adorning the walls of Cardiff Made throughout their week, they looked at home providing the perfect backdrop to Simon and his accompanying musicians on the live night/launch.

This project has been described as illustrating Simon’s absolute disregard for the disposable nature of modernity. Acknowledging the process of form becoming function with the evolution of tools becoming cultural artefacts. Recognising the technology used as an aesthetic and artistic equal to the image and/or sound its self – celebrating a forgotten frame size and vivid imperfections of the physical and analogue world as the fundamental substance within.

Now the release is available for all to hear, we spent some time to chat to Simon to dig deeper into all things ÉN TI, finding out more about the inspiration behind the release, the DIY values of the album, curating and finally performing live, teaming up with Oslo’s Looop Records and more…

You really don’t need a  introduction to our readers, but this is a new venture for yourself so give us a recap of you, your musical talent and your latest journey.

My name is Simon Gore, I’ve officially outlived Hendrix. I enjoy long walks on the beach, romantic candle lit dinners and noise music. I now simply consider myself to be an AV artist. I’m a “multi-disciplinary sound practitioner” which is pretentious asshole for “multi-instrumentalist”. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 7 years old. I’m a lifer in this game. I have dyspraxia and a bad back. I’m pretty like a princess, according to my infant daughter. My latest journey has been a debut solo album and photobook project called ÉN TI.

With the strong heavy nordic  influences that you’ve portrayed within the style of your music, tell us more about how this came about?

I’ll keep this as brief as I can. I discovered the Maelstrom album by JR Ewing when I was 16. It was a massive game changer in my life. It got me into music production, chord harmonies, high-pitched screaming etc. Between 2009 and 2011 I found more and more phenomenal punk/post-hardcore bands all from Norway with this fucking pioneering sound that I felt innately attracted to. I contacted a band called Rumble in Rhodos to ask where I could purchase their physical music. They put me in touch with Tiger records in Oslo. I ordered their entire back catalogue and received a CD titled Bransjevelter 7 – a compilation of contemporary, underground music associated with the shop and their label, Fysisk Format. I listened to it once and declared, “I’m moving to Norway”. I had never before been so instantly attracted to music. It was one of the biggest turning points of my life – certainly the most memorable. Anyone that knows me will know that my heart is and has always been with experimental music. Over the following 3 years I discovered the experimental music scene in Norway. I started getting into ambient electronica, black noise, industrial music and Nordic media soundtrack music. It took me 3 years to do it, but I managed to move there through the Erasmus exchange program at my university in December 2014. My wife let me do it on my own, 2 months after the birth of our daughter. I lived there for 7 months and became close personal friends with some of the biggest musical influences I have ever had. It is pretty overwhelming thinking about it, even now. ÉN TI was written predominantly in Oslo and partially recorded there.

What did you originally want your solo attributions to convey and do you think you’ve achieved this?

Expression; it’s everything. With words it’s a lot easier and less interpretive than sound. It’s even easier with facial expressions. All of the best improvisers throughout music history have been great at putting emotive expression through sonic dialogue and I wanted to be able to do that with compositions.

Secondly, I choose to focus my efforts on the substantial rather than the superficial and wanted a piece of work that spoke for its-self, so that I didn’t have to rely on things that I consider menial bullshit such as facebook likes, photo shoots and media popularity to support it. Considering this, I knew it had to be a pretty impacting piece of work. I wanted to not only put my heart and soul into my musical performances and arrangements but also be able to convey emotion on a more primitive level. The aim was to create sonic atmospheres that bypass conscious and culturally influenced decisions, emotionally manipulating audiences on a primary level. What I find cool is that this has worked, even on the people that won’t allow themselves to “get” my music – and I’m pretty happy with that! Finally, when I had formulated and chosen the production model for the physicals, I knew I wanted to keep it sustainable and accessible whilst keeping its physical form desirable and aesthetically pleasing. I wanted to release it independently and keep it off social media. I am a sucker for numbered editions so I chose to use this model. The great silent film-maker, Joseph Bernard said that “the more accessible an art is, the richer the reward”. There are photobooks and albums that I want to own but cannot due to the inaccessibility and collectors value. I can’t afford a grand for The Enclave by Richard Mosse for instance, but I desperately want the book so I can experience the pioneering photography within, solely for its artistic value. I have a problem with this as I really admire him yet the book is out of print, whilst the work is still being exhibited. I understand that every artist needs their presence in the industry but the work is inaccessible for anyone like me – namely, other artists who can’t afford the collectors price tag. By making renewable additions I am keeping my work accessible and trying to improve the quality of each. By using recycled materials I’m keeping it within the project ethos and employing responsible methods for the future of the planet. If people want to collect editions they can, if people want to experience the work in physical form, regardless of when it was made, they can too. I’ve produced something that I believe is powerful and substantial enough to fulfill my goal and that’s very rewarding.

Enlighten us on both your writing and recording process.

As much as I can credit many artists for having an influence on my music, this project was about my interpretation of my surroundings. My inspiration came from my experiences of Norway – being alone in the wilderness, surrounded by dominating winter landscape, or the sensation of being alone in the early hours in the middle of a city and not feeling threatened etc.

As for putting it into the recorded domain, I was as influenced by the working methods and processes of early electronic music pioneers such as Delia Derbyshire and Louis & Bebe Barron as the recorded sound its self. I did a lot of experimenting with tape speed manipulation and room ambiences. I’m a child of the physical world, I’m obsessed with situational recordings and the humanization of technology. For instance, I watched a documentary about the making of OK Computer by Radiohead. It sounds like it was recorded in a haunted house because it was. The band were all out of their comfort zone and pretty terrified working in the place but they had to get the job done. That really comes through on the recording and I don’t think that emotive honesty would have been captured had they been working in a really warm, comfortable studio. With ÉN TI, some of the material was recorded in Oslo – mostly dry guitar signals and the acoustic piano on Thor is Unhappy Because he Misses his Hammer – this was a strange experience. I booked a practice room in Amatøren; a pub and music venue/rehearsal space just outside my Oslo flat. It was a really cold morning in February 2015. For no reason, I woke up and the world was coming to an end. I felt like absolute shit; anxiety, nerves, all manner of snot problems etc. I didn’t want to record piano, but I had to, as it was my only opportunity. My initial plan was to put a piano track on Hospital Clown but it just didn’t work, so I played an improvisation for about an hour. A couple of days later I cut up the file and made an arrangement from the material with the intention of learning the piece as a composition and rerecording it on a grand piano in Newport, South Wales. However, the more I listened to the original recording, the more I fell in love with it. It has such honesty, such humane imperfections, I didn’t want to risk losing that OK Computer-esq quality. So it stayed. It’s not mixed, compressed, gated, anything. Just the dry recording, as it was on that very strange and uncomfortable morning. I think you can hear the anxiety, discomfort and silence in the recording. You can certainly hear the character of the instrument and the room sound.

When I got back to the UK, I met up with Leone Vuetivavalagi in Cardiff to discuss mixing. He put me in touch with Joe Coughlan-Allen who was studying an MA at my university. We had very similar working methods and decided to work together to finish the project. He introduced me to some incredible processes such as re-amping acoustic signals. A lot of the electric guitar is dry-recorded in my flat in Oslo and re-amped in another space in Cardiff, I learned this whilst working with producer, Tom Woodhead in 2010. But the acoustic drums on ÉN TI all have a peculiar physicality to them as they were re-amped with a spring reverb. Many people would argue that it would be easier, and therefore better to just digitally replicate this effect, but we enjoyed the working process – and it DOESN’T sound the same just doing it with a plug in. It sounds how it sounds because it is what it is. The drums were mixed on 2 analogue studio consoles – a famous MCI that belonged to producer, Gus Dudgeon, and my beloved Studiomaster. I’m over the moon with all of it. I prefer the analogue domain and the unpredictable qualities, characters and intrinsic capabilities of analogue technology but for me, this process was not a matter of analogue verses digital. It was about doing the work physically as opposed to virtually. I can understand it, it works for me and I prefer the sound. It’s more fun and more rewarding – yet I know a lot of post-humans are going to have a massive problem with that. My tolerance of the digital society is decreasing with my maturity and I believe that it’s the physicality’s of this life that remind us we’re alive – they need to be celebrated somehow. I celebrate them by making music with them – that’s my thing.

The album was written and performed by yourself with the whole outlook of how you wanted to release it and on what format was all you too, how did you find having such control and vision over every detail of the record?

Inspiring but stressful – it would have been way easier if I had been less obsessed with every element. I’m a perfectionist – I always have been. I’m not willing to accept or provide half measures in my work. This mentality is OK if you have a label and a healthy bank balance and you’re commissioning other people to do all the hard work and detailing, but I didn’t. Although I can’t take soul credit – a lot of people have put in masses of time and effort to make this what it is. I feel honoured that some of the best arts practitioners I have ever discovered are my personal friends and to have them all involved has been incredible. I wanted everything to be as good as it could be so I got everything that I suck at covered. All of the graphic design and physical art direction was done by James “Wokker” Watkins, beat composition and acoustic drum performance by Nick Harrison of Sous Les Paves, ribbon synth performance by FOD brother, Lee Phillips of The Mountain Howl, studio engineering by Joe Coughlan-Allen and mastering by Matt Evans. Not to mention the assistance, support, enthusiasm, kit loans and guitar synthesis performances I have had every step of the way from Circuit Sweet! It’s been a massive effort for all involved. It’s been in the making for over 18 months and consumed the majority of my waking consciousness for over a year, and that’s no lie. I’m very satisfied with the physical product and I’ve not really had time to sit back and take it in yet. But I’m very proud, and that doesn’t happen easily.

What does the final finished album mean to you and what do you feel it captures?

Earlier this year I produced an EP for my friend Tommy Gregory. I played him some unmastered material from my album in one of our studio sessions and he said, “it sounds like a feeling”. I thought, “My work here is done”. I think it captures, projects and conveys the emotion and experiences I have put into it – at least from my perspective. I want listeners to be able to get their own interpretations from it, and their experience of it is not for me to decide. The entire project is a great representation of my ability, work ethic and creative vision and I can’t ask for more really – I certainly couldn’t have given any more!

Tell us about your song titles and the name of the album, where have these come from?

Hahaha, whenever I hear something that catches my ear, think of something ridiculous or re-arrange literature to something I find more appealing, I write it down. Once I had all of the tracks in demo form, I went through my list and assigned a title to each track by whatever I felt was most fitting. Most of the song titles mean nothing and have no relevance to the tracks at all. For instance, The Tenth Year of Forever – I remember waking up having just had a heavy night at Blitz and found it written on my phone. No idea where it came from but it sounds lush, and it fits the track very well. As far as the album title, it’s a bit more in depth and creative. The title manifested after I decided to present ÉN TI as an AV project. The visual side of the project is a photobook featuring unedited images of Norwegian landscape taken on expired 110 film. As the 2 projects were going hand-in-hand, I liked the idea of giving the two elements the same title. Essentially, the photobook is the visual representation of the music, but the album is named after the visual work. En ti, is a direct (but technically and deliberately inaccurate) translation of “one ten” in Norwegian.

Which has been your own personal favourite track taken off the record?

Sebastian Worley

You recently dropped the first single from the record ‘Flash Cube’ alongside a music video for the track. Did you have much input into the film?

I acquired the footage its-self accidentally. I was looking for something through Creative Commons to use as part of a final major project at uni and came across it. I instantly knew I had to use it so applied for it, got it and put it on the back burner. I arranged and edited the footage myself, then my brother, Paul helped me tidy it up. It fits with the project ethos perfectly as the footage has been repurposed – it’s the evolution of tools becoming cultural artifacts, holding artistic value in themselves as entities rather than just the produce they are used to create. When the footage was shot, it was never supposed to be artistic or even perceived as ‘scary’. It was only ever intended to be educational. Its form has become its function, just as the technology used on the album and photobook.

The physical release hit Saturday October 22nd on C60 Chrome High Bias II cassette tape and photobook which we are honoured to have them in the circuit sweet store. Tell us why the format you chosen was right for you.

Whilst living in Norway, I met a guy called Lasse Marhaug. I was very aware of his work and presence in the experimental music scene. I got to know him and he commissioned me to digitize a massive collection of music from the Origami Republika archive. This job was a massive honour for me – I moved to the country because of the music and now I was the first person in the digital age to be experiencing this incredible archive AND the one to bring it into the digital domain. I was the platform for its future accessibility and this was a real privilege. Almost all of the master tapes had been recorded with chrome tape. It has a very specific and attractive sound, it’s kind of like a HD version of the tape world. I started recording with it on various projects but wanted an excuse to use it further. When I observed the resurgence and appreciation in the cassette tape market I thought that releasing it on tape would be the perfect opportunity. However, it’s been illegal to duplicate on chrome in the UK since 1989 – it gives off cancerous fibers when cut and the waste is awful for the environment. Finding a duplicator outside of the states that was willing to provide the service I wanted at the quality I wanted was tough, but I got there in the end. As for the photobook – I’m a sucker for a good photobook hahaha. I had over 200 photographs of my time in Norway and thought I could put them to good use.
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The release is being distributed from Norweigan label Looop– how did this come about?

Pretty early on during my time in Oslo, I met Petter Flaten Eilertsen from Looop records. We got on really well and would hang out whenever time would allow us. When I went to work at All Ears festival in January 2015 we arranged to meet up. I discussed the project and played him some demos. I was looking for some people to offer it to for Norwegian distribution, not expecting my first choice to offer me something. Low and behold he offered to distribute it through Looop. I went home with a smile on my face that night.

Tell us more about how the photobook came to light.

One of my lecturers, Stefhan Caddick told me that my music was incredibly visually interpretive. I was happy with that as it was supposed to be. I was expecting to adapt the album tracks as visual media music but when Stef saw my photography he basically convinced me to combine the two. I only ever took the pictures because I really enjoyed the whole process of using expired film and never intended to publish and release them, but it’s how it worked out. I find that the best art writes it’s self, and this project certainly has. The ÉN TI project has formulated as my interpretation of Nordic landscapes, environments and atmospheres projected through obsolete and decaying technology, manifested in the form of an album and photobook.

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For anyone else in the same boat as you, writing, recording their solo record on their own- is there any advice you can give?

Don’t listen to anyone. Don’t be afraid to take risks or present what is the most honest of your expression, rather than the most universally pleasing. I think I take this to the extreme a little bit, as I don’t even read reviews of my own music. Art is an output only process for me and I don’t want to get stuck in a feedback loop of self-assessment. Make sure you have good tea and nice food to keep you ticking over and don’t procrastinate. If you find yourself procrastinating whilst making an album, you should reconsider why you are making an album. Be a realist – don’t take out a loan to make 5000 copies of a record that may only sell 50 copies – be realistic with quantities and expectancy. Make realistic deadlines and stick to them – even if it means breaking your self, or your budget. The show must go on. If it doesn’t take effort, it’s not art and it’s not worth doing. And for fucks sake, be humble and be original. Most importantly, the journey is as important as the destination, so enjoy it.

On the same day you released the album you also held a launch party for the album and the photobook at Cardiff Made- how did teaming up with the venue come about and why was this the right place for your event?

I have an improvised, electro/noise, hardware AV set with visual artist, Jack Rees (now living in Leipzig), titled Origami Reinkarnasjon. I have used sampled tape noise taken from the Origami Republika master tape archive that I digitized. It fits with the Origami Republika ethos perfectly and it’s great fun to do. We performed it at an event at Cardiff MADE, which was very well received by the staff and punters. We got along really well and I started attending the gallery as regularly as I could and performing there on a couple of other occasions. When I told them about the ÉN TI project they offered me an exhibition and launch party. I was pretty flattered to say the least.

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Tell us about the evening (planning/promoting/exhibition/support/live performance etc).

Absolutely fucking ridiculous. I’m one for multi-tasking, burning the candle at both ends and putting my all into things, but installing a 20 print exhibition that takes up the whole gallery, organising the event, playing and recording it was enough work for 4 people and I managed to do it all. I’m a sucker for my own punishment but it’s satisfying and stimulating. I played electro-acoustic adaptations of the album compositions with Hervé Girardin and Jimmy Ottley. I have played with Hervé in Nevsky Perspective and we have been close friends for 3 or 4 years now so we knew each others performance style very well. However, I had ran the set only once as a band with the guys, and it was only the 3rd time I had met Jimmy. We had the amazing Form Constants providing live visuals for the set that was just outstanding. It was brilliant – just what I wanted. What made the event extra special is that MNTZ supported with no recorded material or solo live experience. It was a first for us all.

How would you describe the reception to your live presence?

Confused and liberated.

Glyn Owen

Glyn Owen

To see the release available for all and to perform in front of friends, family and fans- what did this mean to you?

The world. My friends and family are my top priority in life. For most of my closest UK friends and family to have had such heavy involvement with this project and rock up to support the release party was truly humbling and heart warming. It makes me proud that this project is a joint effort and everyone is so proud of their work. I love you all.

We wish you the best with this astonishing release, we’ve watched you work so hard with this and wish that so many can discover this attentive album. What else can we look forward to?

I’m doing a few things at Cardiff Brickworks festival in November – I am doing the sound art for an installation with Zoë Gingell. I will be doing a solo performance of the album track Sebastian Worley with live visuals from Form Constants on the 12th. The following night I am screening a film collaboration I have done with a film-maker from Detroit – this is one of my proudest collaborations to date. I will put all the info on my website www.simongore.co.no In December I have an album production job on that I cannot wait to get started with and I am relocating back to Norway with my family in the near future. No date as of yet but watch this space.

Any final words?

Takk for alt, har det bra.

Once more an absolute pleasure to hand over the site to discover more into the creative mind of Simon Gore. It’s an honour to not only work alongside Simon but to also stock both the album on cassette and the photobook release in the Circuit Sweet store. Be sure to grab your copy of the release and support this talented artist.

Listen to the album in full below-

Grab the release via Oslo’s Looop Records  and from the circuit sweet shop shelves now- http://circuitsweet.bigcartel.com/ each order comes with download code and free goodies!

www.simongore.co.no

https://simongore.bandcamp.com

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