Fiercely original and off-kilter, Arvo Party’s debut LP was one of 2017’s strongest Irish records. This is simply the beginning.
This project is something of a move from the music you've historically created, what prompted the change of pace?
I suppose my recent work is a departure from some of the things which are on my CV but it doesn’t feel like a change of pace to me; more of change of state or a relatively natural development. It certainly wasn’t a conscious decision to do the opposite of ‘rock music’. Music is music to me, regardless of genre. The gap between LaFaro or GOONS and Arvo Party was a decent amount of time for the ideas in my head to develop. Some of the songs that made it onto the record were kicking around in my head as feelings or ideas for years anyway, I just needed to take the lid off and pour them out.
How have you found the reception to your album, the NI music prize nomination and general excitement around the release?
I must admit to having been very pleasantly surprised by the reaction. I guess I had harbored some hopes and desires for it originally; I want it to be well adjusted and to eventually go to university, so it’s starting off in the right way by making new friends and showing such ambition. I was, and am, very aware that it is not particularly radio friendly so to get any attention from that direction is nice. I am very proud of it but I certainly didn’t release it in the hope of any validation. That said, it is gratefully received and also, in some way, a nice nod in the direction of the idea that I may not be completely insane.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process behind writing and recording your debut full-length?
It wasn’t particularly structured or planned, it never is. I mostly see it as an attempt to experiment with whatever ideas I have and to occupy my mind, if something comes from that, great. I spend every free second that I get thinking about, or making, music. I don’t know why, I’m not trying to, it’s just where I feel comfortable I guess. Some days there is nothing, other days full tracks pour out. Some of the tracks on the album (‘Zoso’, ‘Lubo’, ‘Pye’ and ‘Z-reprise’) fell out of an improv session with my housemate’s Korg Minilogue and are mostly one take recordings, some were written in the back of the Therapy? tour van, others in American libraries or airports but whatever comes will come, I didn’t know how it would sound when I started it because I didn’t realize I had started it.
The combination of piano, cello and drums seems to lend itself to a dramatic approach?
Absolutely. It’s important for me to have both powerful and delicate elements in my music and the instrumentation certainly helps to portray that dramatic contrast that I want to achieve, particularly in the live shows. I think this approach also stems from the Classical influence that I try to incorporate into the sound, which also helps create a more dramatic and dynamic sound.
What, if anything, has had the most impact on you as a musician over the past 12 months?
Probably parenthood. Or the overwhelming feeling that the end of the world could be but a breath away, these days at least. That and the wonderful music being released by other people, which helps me realize how far I can push things.
In 2018, how do you see Arvo Party developing?
I have plenty of 2018 plans for Arvo Party. I’ve been producing other people over the past year so hopefully some of that will emerge along with the remixes which are waiting to go and, with luck, another album. Hopefully some more sound design and soundtrack work too as I really enjoy that (and it pays bills). There’s a lot of dark, dark music coming out of me these days so whether that makes it onto any release or not is another question entirely…
“Hit me up for a violin/electro collab. it's what Arvo would have wanted.” (Dowry)
“The three of us boys could definitely lose the run of ourselves to this…” (For Foresters)