Saturday, 18 June 2016

Interview: Trick Mist & Video Blue

Video Blue Trick Mist Crumbs Abound Disco Nap

Info: Trick Mist and Video Blue are the solo projects of UK-based Gavin Murray and Jim O’Donoghue Martin, respectively. The two have spent over a decade making music together. This split 7" single release offers the two a shared platform to showcase their differing individual practices. The sole connection between these tracks is the artist’s shared history as music makers. Neither has heard the others single. 'Crumbs Abound' and 'Disco Nap' are truly independent offerings.

The duo just started their mini-tour of the UK & Ireland with a show in London's Seabright Arms last night, an in-store performance today at Lion Coffee & Records, with the next show seeing O'Donoghue Martin (Video Blue) and Murray (Trick Mist) arrive in Dublin's iconic venue Whelan's on the 25th of June. The videos for both singles will feature here next week and I'm excited to share them, two fantastic tracks to say the least. In the interim I caught up with Jim and Gavin to find out more about the split release and what they've been up to and where they're going next. In keeping with the release itself where neither act had heard the others track until the release date itself, both were sent the questions separately and are only seeing each others answers now for the first time.

Remy: Firstly, tell us a bit about your joint UK & Ireland tour and the 7" split release?

Video BlueThe split single for me galvanises a longstanding working relationship between Gav and I, whilst also showcasing our solo practices. We'd both spoken about doing certain things together in the future, and the whole idea took shape over time. There's obviously a very practical element in terms of splitting costs too, a great indie tactic we've seen people we admire do.

It's been a very warm experience. It's like being in a band with Gav again, but without sharing the music. Quite literally! As you know we've decided to keep our ears closed to the other's work. I was dropping some of the singles into Cosmos Records in London the other day and I had to hot-foot it out of the shop as Derek in there was flipping over to Trick Mist's side on the turntable.

Of course the tracks and VB & TM themselves are very separate; and where we go next is really down to us individually..But it is such a pleasure and a treat to be sharing a lump of 45rpm plastic with Mr. Murray. Not to mention the live dates and instores we'll be doing; the icing on the cake! Without getting too mushy, we've collaborated on the whole growing up business as well as the music thing, so doing this is familiar yet brand new. We're still doin' our thing 22 years in!

Trick Mist: The idea to team up and put something out together is something that happened quite naturally. It’s an idea that we floated with each other quite early into our respective new ventures into becoming solo artists.Going it alone was something we both wanted but i think it was a steep learning curve. Ultimately we were identifying what was easier and harder within our new positions. Teaming up to put out a record and tour it made logistical sense. 

It also made sense in a less clinical way. We thought it would be a great way to showcase our very differing practices. Jim and myself have been writing music together for years and its very interesting to see just how different our individual sounds are. We have a history together as music makers but we wanted this to be the only connecting or unifying force between the music on both sides of the split. We wanted the release to reflect our independence. In this spirit of anti-collaboration we both refused to listen to each others single! I’m looking forward to hearing his. 

We will be playing some shows in London, Dublin and Manchester with some amazing artists joining us. We’re also doing intimate in-store performances in London, Liverpool, Manchester. The records themselves will be available in lots of stores in Ireland and the UK so keep an eye out for all the details.

Trick Mist - Tampering Happy (from 2015 'Jars in Rows' EP)

Remy: Were you aware at any stage when you played together as indie-rock band Bold Things that the other had intentions to venture into the electronic music side of things? Or were you even aware yourself that it was a genre you'd be getting involved in in the future?

Video Blue: I reckon we did yeah; I suppose we just didnt always consider we'd be doing it without each other. Within the band we did create electronic beats, there were samples used too, but the nature of our 4-piece band was that there was the staple ingredients revolving around guitars and drums. So when you're making music on your own, I think these days one somehow automatically leans to a more electronic area I guess.

Also, without the band dynamic and with a clean slate of sorts , I found it very liberating to mess around with sounds, ideas and production itself. Personally, Video Blue can be quite electronic on occasion, particularly with the ambienty instrumentals but overall I think it's more alt-pop by way of a laptop y'know? Disco Nap for example is the most 'bandlike' I've sounded on my own, and it was all done in me bedroom. So more electronic for sure out of necessity, but lots of other things feeding in. When the Video Blue notions starting taking shape in 2014 I was listening to an equal amount of Aphex Twin, Autechre, Neil Young & Taylor Swift, know what I mean?

Trick Mist: Yeah I’d consider Bold Things a very eclectic bunch musically so I would have thought that any of us would be capable of making lots of different kinds of music. Jim, like myself, has always been into the electronic side of things so it came as no surprise. I’ve always been into it too. It was like we were an indie guitar band with electronic music on our minds. As a solo electronic artist now I’m grateful for that background. It makes me feel like a bit of an outsider! in a good way.

Video Blue - Filmic (from 2015 debut EP, 'More Pop Troubles')

Remy: You've both featured on some of Ireland's top music websites and blogs such as, The Last Mixed Tape, & etc., over the past year or so, how have you found coverage in the UK where you are both currently based?

Video Blue: The coverage in the UK has been kind and favourable. I've done some cool radio and met great people who are real music fans. Nice reviews. My tape cassettes are in shops. Coming from a DIY place on a shoestring it's been good. In terms of the big blogs and reputable taste-makers and gate-keepers its hard to get in there without some patronage, but it's early days (even at the ripe age of 28!) and I'm lucky to be able to do this. Whether you're a painter or a singer, that necessity is the most vital feeling of all.

Y'know I'm exposed to lots of great music and art in east London and its just amazing to be doing what I'm doing. But I'll still be rattling out them emails Remy! (Remy: keep em comin' Jim!)

Trick Mist: Coverage has been good in the UK absolutely but my stuff has got more coverage in Ireland for sure. I’m not sure why this is the case but I’m glad people like what I’m doing wherever they are. Maybe the Irish element to my music interests an Irish audience. 

Remy: What is the most important thing to you personally that you hope / aim to get across through your music currently?

Video Blue: Connection. Personally I hope to achieve connection, as clichéd as that may sound! I aim to be versatile, interesting over the course of a few minutes and emotionally direct. In a bio for Video Blue, I mentioned this project as being a 'rolling document of my life', and I think that's fair because the moniker has allowed me to experiment, attempt to genre-hop and kind of stretch my legs and work things out!

I had quite a high-turnover of material at first, and as I wasn't bound by agenda, or even playing live at first, I was dropping things which didn't always relate to each other; with varying styles and results. I view Video Blue as an umbrella term which fundamentally is me and whatever I'm doing at a particular time, but it can involve collaborators and other players too, whether musically or visually. So in a sense its more personal than a band yet very open and inclusive in a way that a band perhaps cant be, as paradoxical as that sounds.

I've always loved to see an artists development over time, and I appreciate a good work ethic; so I would like folk to enjoy what I do..
I like where I'm going, once I've put something 'out there' as it were, I dont really listen back at all once it's done; so where I'm going is where I'm happiest.
It's simple really, a tapping foot or a nodding head, appreciation of the words and stories. Enjoyment and stimulation is key, and I really want people to get that from what I do.

To toe the party line, I'll have to reference 'Disco Nap' here! With this tune I want to vie for an upbeat & positive mood. It's about moments of respite in the midst of difficulty. Its about surrender. The 120bpm foot-tappin' kinda surrender. 

Trick Mist: I would always hope that my music makes people think, feel and move in equally measure. How people perceive things is incredibly interesting so I like my music to ask questions and be quite open in that regard. The video series I did to coincide with my EP Jar in Rows was born out of my desire to amplify and sort of document individual perception. For this particular song 'Crumbs Abound' I tried to ask questions about love and valuing someone by conjuring images of them being absent and romanticising the small and mundane aspects of human interaction. Its got a bit of a Paddy Kavanagh buzz in that sense! My brother did a gorgeous video for the yes campaign in the marriage referendum last year. One thing it highlights in a really lighthearted, lovely way is that gay couples are just as boring and dull as heterosexual couples. ‘Who’s taking the bins out?’ kinda thing. It really stuck with me and definitely inspired the song. 

Video Blue and Trick Mist Crumbs Abound Disco Nap Vinyl

Remy: Jumping back to your joint show in Whelan's on the 25th of June, tell us how the performance itself is going to work and what can the revellers in attendance expect?!

Video Blue: Revellers! Ha! What to expect...well across the course of the night, which includes the amazing Participant (I don't view Stephen as supporting, it's like a triple-bill when you've got someone that good onboard, 'we're not worthy!') one can expect a broad range of mood and style from 3 acts who are solo yet don't go by their own names!

There will be friends there on the night who would have only seen myself and Gavin in the context of our old band, so that'll be interesting for us and them I hope!  I'm excited to see Participant for the first time live. Trick Mist is a wonderfully immersive and intense live experience. Video Blue will be playing with all my bells and whistles. It will be dancey, loud but intimate and a little naked. My set is well paced, shifting gears here and there. And I'll be focusing on unreleased stuff I'm excited about. And it'll be a celebration. 

Trick Mist: Yeah, can’t wait for it. We’re joined by the amazing Participant on the night which I’m also excited to see live. Video Blue has a big pool of material so I’m sure he’ll have a few surprises. In terms of how the performance is going to work. My setup is kind of a mix between what you’d expect to see from a solo songwriter and  an electronic artist. I like this twilight zone because It’s probably hard to pin down what I’m doing and what sound/sample is coming from where. That can be interesting to play with and exploit. I use a big sample pad a lot of drummers use because its big and its more physical than pushing tiny buttons. You have to hit this thing with sticks!

Participant - Shelter

Remy: Finally, in terms of writing and recording new music, can we expect any new releases in the second half of 2016?

Video Blue: Absolutely. I've been a busy boy! In early November last year unfortunately my home was broken into and 2 laptops of mine containing many musical projects were stolen, never to be recovered. I had stuff saved and backed up but inevitably I did lose a lot. So this kick in the stones not only spurred me on to re-create, but also go into some kind of hyper-drive mode with writing and recording. 2016 has been busy!

Trick Mist: Nothing concrete apart from a scribbled note in my to do list to put out another EP in the Autumn! So we’ll see. I’m actually relocating to Ireland soon so I’m really excited to see what impact that will have on proceedings. New surroundings are always good for writing new music so I’m looking forward to doing exactly that.
Video Blue Trick Mist Crumbs Abound Disco Nap Tour Poster

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