Mon, 09 Mar 2015 09:43:51
Sky City is more than just Amason's new album. It feels like a real place. The record's ethereal soundscapes and entrancing melodies bring it to life with true tangibility. You'll think you're there minutes after you hit play. That's what makes Sky City downright brilliant. [iTunes link]
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Pontus of Amason talks Sky City and so much more.
What’s your take on Sky City as a whole?
We didn’t really have an album in mind when we put out the last couple of songs. So, I think it grew very organically. We actually discussed this today. I think that’s the best way to do it because our brains are too small to hold the whole concept of an album in our heads and, at the same time, create new songs. We have to focus, not even on one song, but on bits of a song back-to-back at a time to do something of quality. That’s how I need to approach it. That being said, I think it will un-intellectualize the process and bring the members forward more. That will, in and of itself, create some cohesiveness that holds the whole work together. That’s my long theory.
So it’s more about piecing together each individual song for you?
I’ve been trying to make an album from different angles. By trying to think of a song as part of an album while doing it song-by-song makes the process too intellectual. Then, you try to think it out instead of just doing whatever feels right. It requires so much energy and work. It doesn’t end up as good as it would to just go with the flow and focus on what you’re doing right now and right there.
What’s the story behind “Clay Birds?”
Usually, the process is we just jam in the studio. Maybe someone has a piece of music with them, but typically it’s tiny. Then, we jam, we take lunch, a melody pops out, and by the end of the day we have a song. That was the brother or sister song of “Kelly.” The first ideas of those two were made during the same day. It’s quite simple and organic, actually. It’s just us throwing ideas back and forth. Amanda comes up with most of the lyrics. Then, we discuss them and try to piece them together. With the music, we just jam, record everything, listen back, and the melody ideas arrive. It’s definitely a group effort. The five of us are there during that process of making the music, and we all contribute to that part of the songwriting.
Why does it work like that for this group?
First of all, we like to hang out, and we like each other. We are really psyched about the fact that this group takes us out of our respective safe zones. No one is really doing what we’re doing by himself or herself. That’s what’s so exciting about it, why we like to do it, and why working together works so well. It brings out something new from all of us.
Is it important for you to paint pictures with the songs and tell stories musically?
I don’t know if we think so much about it, but it’s definitely a strong point of how, at least, I see music. It’s more than rhythm, chords, and melody. It has to have another dimension and soundscapes. It needs to take you on a journey.
Where did “NFB” come from?
It all steps from jamming. Usually, we just hook up all of the instruments in the studio, have one of the engineers in there press record, and it just came out organically. That’s usually the process.
What artists shaped you?
There are so many. Some of them are very obvious like The Beatles. Kraftwerk were very important. I was at my buddy’s place when I was ten, and I pressed play on his older brother’s cassette player. “Pocket Calculator” started playing, and it was overwhelming. I’d never heard anything like it. It was hard to know how to even react to it. There’s definitely that. My dad was really into classical music. That’s always been around. Also, I’d say Michael Jackson. It’s just everything. Pet Shop Boys was the same. I heard “West End Girls,” and fucking hell, that bass line!
What inspires you outside of music?
To me, it’s not really one source. You work around and bump into music, art, and movies. It can really be anything. I don’t have just one place where I go to. I don’t need to be inspired or in a special mood. If I’m not inspired, I’ll get inspired by something. It’s usually via attacking work from a different angle. I think we all work like that. It’s pretty pragmatic. I don’t know if you’ve read How Music Works by David Byrne. He explains it pretty well. There are probably lots of writers who wake up in the middle of the night and they have a phone or something to record what magically comes to them in the middle of the night. It’s that idea of how creative people work.
If Sky City were a movie, what would it be?
It would probably be if Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander took place in the world of Blade Runner.
Have you heard Sky City?