Rainy days can have a soundtrack, portraying their different nuances, North Atlantic Drift captures these different shades presenting us with soft, melancholic melodies and cavernous, crisscrossing paths with artistic impressions and sensations, which instigates our intellect in much stronger reasons than simple dialogue or aesthetic concepts, bringing what the ambient music should essentially have: almost palpable sensory investigation of the universe around us, as well as its different variables in scattered notes forming a melody
I was pleased when Brad Deschamps agreed to answer some questions about the duo:-
Can you please describe how Toronto’s ‘ambient music’ scene is?
There isn’t a large ambient scene in Toronto, we’ve come across a few like-minded artists whose work we really enjoy. The lack of a scene here was one of the reasons we decided to start our own label – Polar Seas Recordings – hoping to bring together some of these artists. Since doing so we’ve connected with Orbit Over Luna and Northumbria who are both based here and of course we’ve done some releases with them through our label. There are some other ambient artists doing great work in Toronto – The Gateless Gate and Oswego are a couple of other artists who have released some great records recently.
Dorian from Northumbria and I used to be in similar post-rock oriented bands that played shows together 5 or 6 years ago, there is a small scene for that kind of music as well. But I don’t think it’s anything like the ambient/drone/post rock scenes in Europe or elsewhere, we do get the occasional touring artists here and there are some great venues though! It does seem like Toronto is more of an indie rock city though, there’s definitely a large scene for that here.
How does Toronto influence your music, the way you write, create?
I’m not sure there really is a huge ‘Toronto’ influence in our music. We’re fortunate to live in a great city though, and we’ve definitely incorporated some of the sounds of the city in the field recordings in our songs. I think that’s an interesting juxtaposition, the relatively calm nature of our music and the chaos of city living.
The covers of your albums are very beautiful. How do you select the images?
Most of the images for our covers were actually photographs taken by Mike – Canvas, Monuments, and Resolven are all his photography. The cover for the recent split release with Northumbria was actually designed by Scott M2 (scottm2.com) who is also an ambient musician. As soon as Dorian from Northumbria sent over the images that Scott created we were blown away! We’re really happy with the imagery for that release, it really suits the tone of the album.
How were your new Split with Northumbria recording sessions? Hard times, funny times, challenging times?
We approached the songs for the Northumbria split pretty much the same way we’ve done all of our records, though we had agreed on a concept for the album as a kind of soundtrack to life in the arctic. So in that sense we definitely were going for a specific tone with these songs so it was a little bit more structured than the way we normally compose. It was a little bit of a different process but we also just finished up a film score for my wife (Shaleen Sangha)’s film “Nayan and the Evil Eye” and I would say that was definitely more of a challenge!
How did you discover “ambient,drone,etc” and thought "whoa, it's really good"?
I’m probably like a lot of people in that one of the first bands I heard that introduced me to this kind of music was Mogwai. It would have been around the time Rock Action was released, I was in high school, and it still is one of my favourite records. From there I discovered a lot of really interesting music, obviously some stuff that’s a little more subdued and more minimalist.
How are your live presentations?
We actually haven’t performed any of our music live! We’ve both performed with other bands in the past but so far North Atlantic Drift has just been a studio project. I guess this relates to the lack of an ambient scene here in Toronto, I mean most of our CD sales are overseas, so I’m not really sure there’s a real demand for our live show here at the moment!
You are very productive, so many releases in the last years. Do you sometimes have creative blocks?
We seem to have phases where we’re really productive, I think when we worked on Monuments and then Resolven we were really happy with most of the stuff we were recording, and we did both records in a pretty short time period. But we definitely have moments where we get together to work on music and nothing really comes of it. I think that’s natural, sometimes you need to get inspired, or once you get a couple of ideas for an album the rest of it comes together easier. We’ve recorded a few songs for the next album already and have a pretty good idea of how it’s going to sound, but it took a bit of time to figure that out. We actually almost had a full album of ideas done a few months ago, but decided to start again as we weren’t 100% happy with it.
What musicians are your medicines?
There are definitely a few artists I seem to regularly turn to. In turns of ambient music, artists like: Max Richter, Grouper, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Windy & Carl, Benoit Pioulard, etc. I also regularly listen to stuff by Marissa Nadler, the Pernice Brothers, Wilco, Low, and lately “Diamond Mine” – the album King Creosote & Jon Hopkins did together a couple years ago. It’s gorgeous.
Do you still listen the musicians you were hearing when you got into music?
Not really, I went through a lot of phases when I was younger, listened to a lot punk and hardcore when I was a teenager, but there are a few bands that I got in to later in high school that I still go back to on occasion. But generally the only things I still listen to from way back when would be the music my parents played a lot when I was a kid – the Beach Boys, Beatles, the Zombies, etc.
What are the mainly changes from “Resolven” to your new split?
I don’t think there’s a big change in sound from Resolven to this split release, but I think the songs we did for the split are a little bit darker because that was the mood we were going for. I think the production has improved a little bit as well, which is mostly to Mike’s credit!
As artists, do you think criticism is still relevant? Do you read it?
We do read music criticism. We definitely read every review for our releases and I do think it is relevant. As an artist it does help you become more aware of what you’re making, and I think some of those bits of criticism can seep in to the songwriting process, it might inspire you to try something different or try to create something unique. I read a lot of album reviews for other artists too, and in a lot of cases it is helpful in determining what albums I should be checking out.
Does Literature influence your music? If so, could you recommend us some authors that you like?
I think film plays a larger part in influencing our music than literature does. I find the mood of a great film can definitely influence the song writing process, some of the movies in the last few years that have really stood out for me (in terms of visuals and sound) are movies like Take Shelter, Prisoners, Mud, Inside Llewyn Davis. Generally pretty slow-paced films!
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