AUTOreverse, Issue 14, Summer 2011
JOHN ORSI of
KNITTING BY TWILIGHT
interview by Ian C Stewart
July 10, 2011
SO, JOHN…..DID YOU MISS AUTOreverse?
I did miss AUTOreverse! My immediate reaction to it’s absence was “Where did that great magazine go to?” It seemed to me that AUTO had the same sensibility regarding Music AND Art and Design that I was/am attempting with Knitting By Twilight. And so a kinship was lost when AUTO went away. And so Welcome Back!
THANK YOU, AND THANK YOU. TRICKY QUESTION FIRST: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THIS ALBUM THAT NO ONE ELSE KNOWS.
That the principle writer doesn’t know what the album all means yet. This is typical. Sometimes it’s months before it reveals itself, and oftentimes, it’s others out in the world that explain and interpret the work far better than I.
I SEE. WHERE/HOW/WHEN DID YOU RECORD YOUR LATEST KNITTING BY TWILIGHT ALBUM “WEATHERING”?
In my humble home studio. Nothing slick mind you, but I can ignore the clock on the wall. Better still, there is no clock on the wall. And of course, it’s a short commute.
IS THIS WORK INDICATIVE OF YOUR OTHER RELEASES?
I think so. A theme runs through them, or maybe it’s that they’re all thematic in approach.
ARE YOU FEELING ESPECIALLY MOUTHY ABOUT ANYTHING?
Indeed, the gadget technological malaise we seem to be encapsulated within. Honestly, much of it is helplessly over designed. Feature laden with features that have no function being featured. Makes we want to pitch most of it right out the window. Thus, ‘Oh waiter, only as much as I really need please?’
LET US TALK IN A SERIOUS TONE ABOUT YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES.
Influences. Loads of people really, too numerous to mention. Having said that, the work of Kate Bush, Bill Bruford, Evelyn Glennie and Harold Budd have a particular resonance. Early influences? My Dad’s Jazz and Pop albums. Miles/Frank/Ella/Nat King. Then on to Ginger, Giles and Bruford on the rock side.
Formative learning on the drum set.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR MUSIC HEADING??
Well I love what’s happening to me by way of the Hindi music my Indian friends have plied me with in recent years. Such an overwhelming joyful spirit in that music. Lovely melodies, and of course, the rhythms are tremendous. On ‘Weathering’, I so enjoyed having the one of the beat implied most of the time, rather than it being so deliberate. This changes everything within the arrangements, and of course, it’s great fun moving to the resulting circular swing and sway.
And so, I want to learn more about orchestrating the music in this fashion, and I’ll be curious as to how it plays out within the cinematic flair of Knitting By Twilight (read: frustrated film director/cinematographer).
HAH. WHAT LURKS IN YOUR HOME STUDIO?
The last few albums were taken through Sonar Producer’s edition. However, and please pardon my language here, I’m due for some knob twiddling, and less staring at sound waves on a screen a foot from my face.
BLEEDIN’ KNOB TWIDDLERS, YOU’RE ALL THE BLEEDIN’ SAME! ARE YOU HOPING TO UPGRADE YOUR GEAR ANYTIME SOON?
And so there are no immediate plans for new software. I have been poring over microphones instead, as my percussions rig does present some challenging mic type and placement. And of course, there’s that cymbal, that drum, that……
A combo of modern workstations and vintage gear. I still sometimes employ a 4trk cassette machine for example.
Love the sound of tape, even at that tiny width.
I’d like to record one of the next albums scheduled on two inch tape, as they’re are a few more studios offering that again. Tape gain and saturation are marvelous for bass and drums especially.
DO YOU WRITE ON KEYBOARDS OR GUITAR OR KAZOO OR CHAPMAN STICK?
Keyboards. There’s a great logic there that I can’t seem to assimilate on guitar.
HOW ARE YOUR SONGS TYPICALLY WRITTEN?
Rather depends on the album. Overall, I’d say that these days, there’s a fifty/fifty split between percussion based and chordal based composition. For Knitting By Twilight, I’ll usually sketch out a basic arrangement, and then turn that over to the stringed instrument players. When it comes back to me, I might add, subtract or mold what’s there. Occasionally, I’ll have the very great pleasure of having someone come to the house in person, which changes everything about the collaboration.
DO YOU RECALL, WHY YOU DECIDED TO START MAKING MUSIC IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Hmmm, I suppose to articulate thoughts, ideas and emotions that I couldn’t describe in conversation. And of course as an instrumentalist, there became a great want and desire to give life to, in my case, percussive ideas as a basis for getting on with others in a given combo. I mean they naturally look back at me to get things started anyway, and so I aim to please.
THAT’S A GREAT ANSWER. DO YOU PLAY OUT IN YOUR TOWN?
I’ve been in and out of the local scene at various times. Never in fashion particularly. The problem with trying to be forward thinking, is that by the time the general population hears what you’re on about, you’re bored and you’ve moved on due to lack of interest in what you’ve just left. The constituency for Knitting By Twilight is I’m happy to say, all about the world. I’m rather more for this than as popular scenester I think.
SO TRUE. AND ARE YOU LOOKING TO ADD ANY COLLABORATIONS TO THE OLD DISCOGRAPHY?
Whomever’s voice would further the music along to fruition. There are so many splendid players out there, and I hope to meet more of them. And better still, that they hear/feel something in the music, and would like to collaborate.
WHAT OTHER BANDS ARE YOU EXCITED BY, DOES ANYTHING NEW APPEAL TO YOU?
Honestly, I haven’t sought them out. There’s so much work to do in the music room. Kate and Evelyn are still working, and I keep eyes and ears open for them. Bill and Harold have retired. Most of my other listening time has been reserved for film scores and these fantastic compilations friends have made for me.
QUITE. SO, WHAT’S NEXT ON YOUR AGENDA?
The next two projects scheduled are: with Incandescent Sky, (the other active combo I belong to) – a follow-up album to last years’ Four Faradays in a Cage (noisynoise/it’s Twilight Time) is planned. And the other going into rehearsal in two weeks time is a Knitting By Twilight offshoot project called suspiciously enough, Twilight Orchestra.
WHAT DID I FORGET TO ASK YOU?
My favorite color. Blue, I mean Red…arrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!! (insert Monty Python footnote here.)
WHAT’S THE AVERAGE WINGSPEED OF AN AFRICAN SWALLOW? OVER THE YEARS I’VE NOTICED THAT YOUR WORK HAS A CERTAIN … (INSERT PROVOCATIVE-SOUNDING WORD HERE)…. HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THAT?
Whimsy. Darned if I know. A personality trait inflicting itself on the music. Or is it the other way round?!
WHERE CAN PEEPS FIND YOUR MUSIC ONLINE TO PURCHASE OR WHATEVER?
Our label : it’s Twilight Time www.itstwilightmusic.com CD Baby and all the usual digital platforms. iTunes. Amazon etc.
WHAT SERVICES DO YOU USE FOR PEOPLE TO DOWNLOAD YER STUFF, AND DO YOU LIKE IT? SHOULD I USE IT?
We have a digital distribution network set up through CD Baby. Although I can’t fathom how people listen to music on what is really inferior sounding (at least to me) format and gear, I also know that it’s the way of the world. In contrast, it’s Twilight Time is beginning (and ‘Weathering” is the first example) to design and lay-out interesting CD vessels for those who still very much enjoy the physical album.
WHERE DO YOU FIND THE ENERGY TO KEEP CREATING AFTER ALL THIS TIME?
It still keeps me up at night, and won’t let me out of the shower.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
Completing this interview, and a good diner dinner.
VERY GOOD. THANK YOU, JOHN!
Knitting By Twilight
Riding the Way Back
An Evening Out of Town
Someone to Break the Silence
Heavy Hearts & Safety Nets
Knitting By Twilight
Four Faradays in a Cage
Paths and Angles
Moments of Suspension
it’s Twilight Time Compilation featuring:
Knitting By Twilight/Incandescent Sky/Overflower/Blueshift Signal
Water On Mars
Flora & Fauna
Under the Ivy
the waterside ep
Richard Bone & John Orsi
A Survey of Remembered Things
Johanna’s House of Glamour
Surface & Features CD Re-release with Bonus Tracks
The Most Comfortable – A Fair Weather Guide* cassette only release
*A compilation of selected tracks from cassette only releases by myself, The Walters and It Play.
Surface & Features cassette only release
Session work and subsequent appearances on releases my memory can’t fathom at the moment,but a lot of work was done with Spindle Shanks and Mary Ann Rossoni to name a couple of significant others.