MOUNTAIN RANGE INTERVIEW
Stuart Thomas, the man behind Mountain Range, creates aquatic & beatific songs (without samples). Twinkly. Structured ambience. Cinematic. He released his first EP, “A Heart Upon EP” a few months ago & I highly suggest your checking it out. I spend hours listening to it & it never ceases to space me out and make me feel.
Find it here:
I had the chance to catch a brief interview with him. Read what he has to say about “intimate bits and bobs” & Wes Anderson’s new film.
MatthewSherling:What do you love most about music?
Stuart Thomas:Well, some days I hate it; it can be so frustrating. Both writing and listening to it, but it’s such a part of my life! The thing I love most about it is how comforting and familiar it is, no matter what I’m doing or where I am, music fills me with such a feeling of contentedness.
MS:How would you describe your approach to making songs?
ST:Really really slow! It takes a long time to finish a track, days and days! I try and avoid sampling other work; there’s something about starting from a completely blank canvas I like. I try and play as much raw sound in first as well, like piano and guitar, before adding the more electronic stuff. Then it’s just a case of adding as many layers as I think something needs. I’ve been collecting a big bank of found sound up over the past year that I try to add in. It’s a slow process! I know a track is done when I can fall asleep to it without thinking something isn’t right.
MS:Who and what inspires you? And what type of found sound are you drawn to?
ST:That changes so often. I get kind of inspired by new stuff everyday! Other music is a big inspiration, especially softer less electronic stuff. Whenever I get stuck for inspiration I always find myself listening to Sigur Ros/ Riceboy Sleeps, Peter Broderick and Bon Iver. Those are my big three! And films, I watch and listen to lots of films and soundtracks.
In terms of found sound, I really like short percussive noises, like clicks and claps, as well a textured sounds, crackles and intimate bits and bobs.
MS:I love the layered nature of your music, and this notion of “bits and bobs.” I’m reminded of Baths when I listen to your music. Has he been an influence?
ST: Hell yes he is! Such an inspiration, both live and on record. He’s managed to break down the wall between the laptop performer and the crowd, you can connect with him live. And he used the MPD32 in such a unique and exciting way; I couldn’t not replicate some of his ideas when performing my own stuff live. On record he’s great as well, such a clash of ideas that work so well together!
OK, enough about Baths, I’ll stop gushing!
MS: Do you ever play shows? If so, what do you see as the limitations and freedoms involved between recording and performing?
ST:I’ve started to get some more gigs trickling in, but I’m still not 100% happy with the set up. Because there are so many layers, a lot of stuff has to be pre-prepared and mapped out, so the shows are just me with a few MIDI controllers messing with the music in Ableton. I get a lot of freedom in the set order and repeating parts of songs, but I would rather be able to actually plays parts in from scratch on instruments people can connect with, and not just me and a laptop! That would mean having multiple members though, and I quite like doing it myself at the moment!
MS:How do you see the internet affecting art // music // our generation?
ST:Oh massively, it’s changed everything really. Not all for the best though. The level playing field the internet provides is both great and awful, for the music fan it’s never been better, but trying to get discovered as an artist is getting harder and harder. The internet is just so swamped with bullshit. And the pressure to give music away for free is paramount. The way artists create work can also feel biased now; everything has to appeal to as many people as possible as quickly as possible, and you can upload as much as you want all of the time. Previous generations (concerned with music and art) talk about how great the industry is for new artists because of the internet, how it’s so easy to gain an audience without a label and build a career, but that’s only because they didn’t have the internet back then. It’s just as hard to do those things now, maybe even harder, there’s no filter. I don’t want to sound too bitter of course! I mean, if it weren’t for the internet I wouldn’t get to do what I’m doing at all, or at least, no-one would know about it. I think live music will become more important for us, especially financially.
MS:Very true. As a last question, can you recommend a film for the reader?
ST:The new Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom. I think it’s one of my favourites by him already!
MS: I saw that & loved it too! What did you enjoy about it?
ST: Wasn’t it great? I really love Wes Anderson’s films, these little worlds you step into where everyone is so charismatic and blasé. I really loved Edward Norton in this one; he was so great, his character was so bumbling and sad. All the child actors were really good as well; I like that he’s changing it up a bit and using kids, especially after how good Fantastic Mr Fox was.