Bearcraft: ‘Nick Cave demonstrated the force of duende’
aaamusic | On 07, Aug 2010
AAAmusic chats with the talented Bearcraft and discovers many interesting things about this year ‘one to watch’!
AAAmusic: Tell us about the album: what has inspired you, what is the concept behind it?
Bearcraft: Yestreen is the consolidation of my different inspirations and excitement in different musical genres. I am really inspired by making electronic music; this is how I started making music when I was a young lad, but I was raised on folk music, and Indie music is also in my blood. For a while I struggled in the wilderness with these competing influences, before realising that they’re not actually competing at all. As soon as I had this realisation I felt free to make the album I’ve always wanted to, and that is Yestreen. It’s dancey, poppy, complex and evocative, and hopefully takes the listener to different landscapes, real and imagined.
AAAmusic: Can you tell us something about the creative process?
B: I’m not sure whether you want me to talk about the ethereal desire, to create form where there is void, or the practicalities of creating music. So I’ll do both?
The creative process is incredibly important to me. It fulfils an inexplicable desire. I don’t know where that comes from or where it goes, but it’s an important part of my existence. And although it doesn’t serve any practical purpose on a surface level, my life would be unrecognisably different without it.
Although I am a songwriter and serious about my song craft, rather than writing songs I would say that the songs happen to me. They seem to just appear in my consciousness, ready for me to sculpt into a digestible form. I think a large part of the creative process is simply stepping out of the way and allowing the idea to come into existence.
In practical terms, once the idea has occurred I put it down onto musical score and fit the parts together so they complement each other, but are unique melodies in their own right. I think this bit is responsible for the “complexity” that is often attributed to my music. Once I’ve got it arranged then I’ll start putting it down in Pro Tools, then with the beats, synths and live instrumentation. Then come the vocals and harmonies. And then I mix it up and mess it about until I go crazy, leave it for a few days, and then voila, a bear pie.
AAAmusic: Which artists have inspired you and guided you in your career?
B: Michael Jackson got me dancing before I knew how to walk
Simon Cooke allowed me think of a computer as a musical instrument.
The Stone Roses and Is She Weird gave me the inspiration and confidence to pick up a guitar.
Billy Bragg taught me the love song.
Steeleye Span made me rebel against folk acoustica.
Fleetwood Mac revealed how to make different sounds have sex inside a single waveform.
Green Gartside showed me the importance of the unconventional.
Natasha Kahn showed a master class of minimalism and unresolved melodies.
Nick Cave demonstrated the force of duende.
Kate Bush inspired me to dream my music and music my dreams.
AAmusic: Any European tour plans?
B: Aside from an invitation to gig in Berlin, no. I really want to get touring again, and would love play in continental Europe again. At the moment I’m gigging in the UK, and hopefully next year I’ll travel further.
AAAmusic: If you could choose an artist with whom duet, who would you choose and why?
Tim Ten Yen – he’s just such a brilliant performer and enthusiastic songwriter. I asked him to duet with me on a cover of “I knew him so well” and he turned it down, on the basis that he doesn’t do covers. He’s principled.
I’d love to duet with Kate Bush. I can’t imagine Kate Bush duetting with anyone, but that’s great because we should strive to make music we can’t imagine.
Green Gartside has mentioned that he would be interested in lending some vocals to a Bearcraft track, and I really miss playing with him in Scritti Politti, so it would be wonderful if we could get that together. Such a gifted soul gracing on one of my tracks would be unbelievable.
AAAmusic: What’s coming up next for Bearcraft?
B: I’ve almost completed an E.P. which focuses on the emotive side of Bearcraft, and is an investigation into traditional folk, but on synths. I’m also collaborating with a few artists, and hopefully touring next year. I’m keen to keep remixing other artists too, as it’s so much fun and there’s much exciting music out there to get involved with.