Taite Music Prize finalist Grayson Gilmour discusses his nominated album "Infinite Life!"
The winner of the Taite Music Prize, which aims to award the best album from a New Zealand artist over a calendar year, will be announced on April 15 at a media event in Auckland. Named after renowned local journalist Dylan Taite, the award comes with $10,000 in prize money for one of the 10 shortlisted nominees.
One of those finalists is Grayson Gilmour, the Wellington via Palmerston North musician who is up for the award off the back of his most recent album, Infinite Life! He talks about the catalyst for his new material, his approach to writing the album and his existentialist take on the world.
Can you tell us a little about the recording and songwriting process for the Infinite Life!?
Much of Infinite Life! was written from collages of samples that I’d collected over the past few years. I’d find interesting sounds and textures and gradually develop them into a song, quite a different process to anything I’d done before. New approaches keep things interesting.
Did you go into the studio with a vision for how you wanted the record to sound?
Sure, I wanted the songs, the record as a whole, to have a really unique sound, a strangely cohesive amalgam of instruments and sampled textures/rhythms. It’s funny, if not scary, to go back and listen to the painstaking detail thats in some of the tracks.
Was there a message you were trying to get across with the Infinite Life!?
At heart I’m a bit of an existentialist. As a solo artist/composer, I spend a lot of time working by myself, and as a result I ponder over absurd things like ‘the meaning of it all’. Infinite Life! muses over love, life and what lies beyond ... the kind of quasi-philosophical wonder that one should experience in their 20s.
What sort of challenges did you face when recording the album?
When first working with my own samples I hadn’t really considered the BPM issues, so when I eventually needed a click track to record to, it was near impossible to work out what the actual BPM was. Luckily I found an oddball music calculator online that could convert sample length into BPMs to four decimal places. ‘Silence & Youth’ = 64.6552, exactly.
What music or influences helped to shape the sound of the album for you?
Infinite Life! was inspired by sounds and textures that I found to be new and interesting ... hearing potential in different avenues and getting creative. I listen to a lot of different music, and find instances of these ‘eureka’ moments all over the place.
What’s your favourite song from the album, and why?
It’s tough to choose one, but ‘Lichtung’ is a favourite. Creating that beat felt like a step in a new direction for me as a songwriter, and it’s been somewhat of a catalyst for the new material that I’m working on.