Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep: Last Days Interview

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Last Days Interview

n5md artist, Last Days, released one of the outstanding ambient releases of the year back in September. "Sea" recieved almost universal critical acclaim from all corners of the globe and has become a real find for the excellent n5md label. Igloo Mag said "Sea" was a "meshing of the acoustic and the electric... employing strings, gentle chords and lulling beats...". While you can read what I had to say about "Sea" here. Over at Evilsponge, Brett Spaceman felt inclined to remark that "Sea" "might become the album of our existence". Last Days', Graham Richardson talks about his experiences and influences when recording the album. It details a passionate and aspiring musician who has achieved a life long dream of releasing his music.


How did you become interested in writing and producing music?

I had always wanted to make music but not much had happened apart from playing drums in a couple of bands in my late teens. After getting the PC, guitar and microphone in 2000 things started properly but it wasn't until about a year ago I felt I was ready let anyone hear the music

What is the idea behind the name Last Days.?

It's a name I came up with about 6 years ago. I'd always been aware of a certain sinking feeling when important times are ending, this is probably something we all share, it could be the final days of a relationship, holiday, university, moving home - these are always times when we're sad or confused but there has to be hope or a little excitement to get us through. So I hope the music reflects as much last days as it does new beginnings.

When writing "Sea" what were your main influences?

My main influences are memories and landscapes, I try not to have any obvious musical influences, but I guess in recent years Jasper TX 'I'll Be Long Gone Before My Light Reaches You' and Sigur Ros ' ( ) ' have both been hugely inspirational. With 'Sea' having a story it automatically had parameters set which I couldn't really deviate from, so the main influence was just me putting myself in the characters shoes

On the bio on your website, it states that live instrumentation and programs were used to create "Sea". What was used exactly?.

I have some really basic software which I use mainly to record with, as well as a couple of old cymbals, acoustic guitar, child's accordion, glockenspiel, midi keyboard and software synths. I've only just bought an electric guitar so I expect that to be a part of the next record.

There is a narrative that runs through "Sea", concerning a disillusioned character who sets sail form his homeland to find a new life, was this theme always intended?

No, not at all. I think I had 3 recent tracks when I was aware of them feeling remote or like part of a soundtrack to somewhere isolated. It was then I came up with the idea of a narrative, it seemed a good way of tying the ideas together. It also made the writing process easier as there were now boundaries set keeping me faithful to the mood of the story. He's not so much trying to find a new life as escaping the one he has, but he's not exactly thought it through.

"Your Birds" is probably the most accessible track on the album, it is quite different to most of the others, what influenced this piece?

It was a late addition to the record as "Sea" wasn't feeling quite right, it was good to get one more track with a 'tune' just to break up the more abstract numbers. I'm not sure what influenced it, probably my love for textural music, like Sigur Ros, Port-Royal or Slowdive. I like that track and some people have said it's their favourite, but I feel there's something about it that doesn't sound like 'me'.

Song titles such as "Arriving At Jan Mayen" and "The Norwegian Sea" hint that the character is heading to Scandinavia, why this location?

I love many parts of Scandinavia and have been there many times, I live in Scotland so planned his journey in waters I knew or places I'd like to go myself. The north can be so empty and cold so it had to take place there! Looking at maps I found some isolated islands in a straight
line above the uk. After a little reading and looking at photos, the Norwegian owned Jan Mayen it looked like the obvious place for him to take his first break only to find nothing. I wanted him to feel a sense of excitement and hope on approaching the first land in days but once there he realises there's nothing, no people, no trees, no shelter and the only hope is to go back out to sea in search of something better. In reality it's actually a 30 mile long meteorological research base with a handful of scientists living there but it's still a bleak and harsh place to be.

The album ends with the lonely piano sounds of "All The Lighthouses". It has left me wondering what became of the character?

The previous track (Fear) is about the character returning home to his family after having been rescued (Dying Minutes). He's happy to be back but has doubts if the same need for escape won't happen again. On 'All The Lighthouses' I pictured him driving out to lighthouses in secret,
perhaps breaking into them just to satisfy his cravings for the sea.

"Sea" was released by n5md in September, how did this relationship come about?

The label manager Mike Cadoo spotted me in Port-Royal's friends list on their myspace in February this year, he said I should pass on any more tracks if I had them. At that point I had about 8 or 9 tracks done, so it was good timing to say the least. Right place, right time, I couldn't quite believe it was happening. With the thousands of good unsigned artists on myspace I'm aware that I'm very lucky.

You have relocated to Edinburgh, did the city enhance or deter your creative process?

I relocated from Brighton but I'm originally from Newcastle, so the move up here made me feel more at home. Brighton is too sunny to make miserable music! I think with the winters up here being so dark and cold that's reflected in the music as a lot were made during that time of

The artwork of "Sea" captures the mood of the album perfectly. Were you involved in choosing it ?

Yes, Liam Frankland the photographer responsible spotted me on myspace and we both liked eachothers work. When the album was done I knew he had lots of coastal shots which would be suitable so he kindly let me have what I wanted. I selected 12 or so and both Mike and I decided between us on the final 4.

Have you been happy with the reactions towards "Sea"?

For years I'd dreamt of having an album out, now it's happened it's hard to expect anything more. With that goal fulfilled it's a little difficult to set another, so to get good reviews and people buying the album is amazing and unexpected, so yeah I'm very happy!

Do you have a favourite artist on the n5md label?

Bitcrush. Maybe because I identify with it the most with it having live instruments, I'm looking forward to the upcoming Tobias Lilja and Subtractive Lad albums too.

You have your own blog (Babystar) that has detailed your listening habits over
the last couple of years. What albums have caught your attention this year?

here's a little top five for 2006 so far...
1 Yasushi Yoshida - Secret Figure
2 Julian Fane - Our New Quarters
3 Film School - s/t
4 Tunng - Comments of the Inner Chorus
5 Sheriff - sail, sail, sail away!

Would you consider performing "Sea" live and would it be using computers or with live musicians?

I've never played live and don't have any plans to, there's actually little keyboards or guitar to sit down and play live, a lot of the sounds I use are home made audio samples providing textural backgrounds, something I'd struggle to recreate live. There's probably some way of doing
it but I actually have little interest in music technology which doesn't help! I could always get a laptop and some visuals but I've been to many shows to watch someone operate an i-book not quite knowing what they are doing. Rather than play live I'd like to just concentrate on
recording and get an album out at least every year and a half.

Is "Sea" a one off release or can we expect to see more of Last Days in the future?

I've started on the next record and have a couple of tracks finished, there's also a couple of remix projects happening too. So, hopefully 'sea' is just the beginning - fingers crossed.


At 15 October, 2006, Anonymous mike said...

Nice one Michael! Thanks for championing Last Days and n5MD!


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