With his latest album ‘No Mind’ releasing tomorrow, Nick Turner returns to the RTR blog for the 16th instalment of The Maker. The Chicago-based experimental musician previously appeared on these pages for The Listener #4 back in April; this feature comes at the end of a very busy year for Nick. Under the name of Tyresta, Nick released albums on Neologist Productions, Aural Canyon Music, Past Inside The Present, Obsolete Staircases, Endangered Species Tapes, Warm Gospel Tapes and Otherworldly Mystics in 2019 alone, it’s exciting to hear from the artist himself about where his inspiration comes from.
Nick talks about how Post-Rock introduced hime to ambient and drone music, his practice of Zen as inspiration to create, avoiding too much planning, and the cassette medium in experimental music.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
In my late teens and early 20’s, I started listening to bands like Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, and Sigur Ros. I feel like post-rock provided me with a nice gateway into ambient, drone, and experimental music. I was then introduced by a friend to Brian Eno’s music and labels like Kranky and Root Strata (RIP) and it expanded from there. Instrumental music gets at part of the human experience that transcends language, which I find to be really fulfilling both as a listener and as a musician.
What inspires you to create a new body of work?
I practice Zen, which places an emphasis on acceptance, openness, and being present with things as they are. For better or for worse, there is a lot to be inspired by in the present moment!
I felt compelled to start releasing music under the name Tyresta in late 2016. That year was full of highs and lows for me. I got engaged/married and went on an inspiring trip to Sweden with my partner (Fun fact: Tyresta is a forest within the city limits of Stockholm). On the other side of the spectrum, my mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer a month before the wedding and everyone knows what happened with the 2016 election here in the U.S.
Music creation provides me with a context in which I can work through life experiences in a meaningful and productive way. Even if I don’t have words for what I’m experiencing, I can usually convey it through music.
How do you approach working on a new release?
I typically start with a blank slate. Going in with too much of a plan tends to crush my sense of creativity and wonder. Like many people, uncertainty and discovery are key elements in my process. Working with modular and semi-modular synthesizers is fun because you can patch them in a way that allows for some randomness and unpredictability. From there, I typically incorporate other elements/instruments like the Micro Mellotron, guitar, found sounds and field recordings to give the songs more depth.
Can you tell us about your favourite new release from the last 12 months?
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: What attracts you to the cassette medium?
Cassettes are an affordable and unique (at this point in time) way to release my music in a physical format. Streaming and digital are great but I value physical mediums like cassettes and vinyl. I also think that tape adds an interesting character/quality to experimental music, which is not the case for all genres.
Tyresta – ‘No Mind’ (RTR023) comes out tomorrow on Rusted Tone Recordings, limited to 40 copies on cassette and as a digital download.