Jason Van Wyk: In Conversation

Hey Jason! How are you? What are you up to right now?

Hi Ian, I’m well thank you! I’m currently at my home in Cape Town enjoying this cold weather that we’re currently having.

Can you tell me a little bit about your background in terms of music?

I started with music quite early in life. I grew up in a musical household with my mother being a piano teacher. I took up the drums at around seven and got into producing music on the family PC not long after that. I had my first single signed in 2004 and then a number of electronic and club tracks released over the following years on numerous labels. In 2013 I released my first album, Days You Remember. My second album Attachment was released last year on Eilean Records, and my third album Opacity has just been released on Home Normal.

That’s so interesting you released your first music at just fourteen. Are you still making more electronic based music alongside your more recent work?

I am. I actually have a new EP coming out soon which is 100% electronic. Although not club centric like a lot of my older stuff was.

What was your first instrument? Why did you start playing said instrument?

The drums. I’ve always been drawn to rhythm, so it seemed like a natural way to go.

Some of the most talented artists I know were originally drummers actually. There is something about the obsessive discipline of it I think that helps to lay the foundations for incredibly disciplined and learned musicians. 

That’s very interesting. I definitely agree on the obsessiveness of it and I do think learning to be that focused on something early on has helped in other aspects of life, including the work that I’m doing now.

Do you still play the drums? Beyond rhythm, is there anything else those early days of learning drums or other instruments has stayed with you? What lessons would they be?

I haven’t played in a couple of years. I wish I had the space in my current studio to set them up.

As for lessons learnt, I think the discipline you mentioned before is a great example and to stay focused and keep developing.

What are some albums you’ve been enjoying recently?

There’s so much great stuff out there. Off the top of my head; Tarkovsky Quartet’s Nuit Blanche. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s async. All the new material thats come out for the third season of Twin Peaks. I’ve also recently got back into Jonny Greenwood’s score for The Master which I think is just brilliant.

That’s really interesting that your first instrument was the drums. Are there any drummers whose work possibly influenced you when you were younger?

Actually no, I wouldn’t say anyone particular. There were bands and drummers that I liked, but for me it was always about the playing and improvising.

If you had to pick one piece of gear from your studio that you just could not live without, what would it be?

Synths and outboard gear aside, it would probably be my upright piano, which is a Grotrian Steinweg from the 1920s.

Oh gorgeous. How did you end up with this piano? What recording techniques do you use to capture its sound? Have these changed between ‘Attachment’ and ‘Opacity’?

I managed to find it by chance on a local classifieds site. The seller was moving to Europe and couldn’t take it with.

The techniques didn’t change much between the two. I did however upgrade to better mic preamps between records. I wanted Opacity to feel like a continuation of Attachment in some ways. “Shimmer”, being the first track on Opacity, picking up where “Depart”, the last track on Attachment, leaves off and then venturing into new ground.

How would you say your surroundings influence your music?

It contributes a lot. Cape Town is a beautiful place with a lot of great scenery which has always been inspiring to me.

Do you feel that your current work has a strong tie to this environment or scenery? There is such a calm and contemplative nature to your work, I wonder if this mirrors the environment somehow?

I think so yes. If I was living somewhere else in the world I think my music would still sound more or less similar, but not the same. It’s an interesting thought.

‘Opacity’ and ‘Attachment’ are such different albums in many ways, despite the main focus being the piano really. How did you want to move on from ‘Attachment’ with your latest work?

I try to not repeat myself to much. I try and experiment and get out of routine with each new project. There are some similarities between these two though as some of the tracks from Opacity were started while I was busy with Attachment. And some tracks from Attachment that didn’t make the cut evolved into what they are on Opacity now.

www.homenormal.com
www.jasonvanwyk.com

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