In an effort to continue with regular content while the 2020 RTR release schedule is on hold, The Maker interview series follows up with artists who have appeared on the label over the past two years. In to releasing the album ‘Weta & Weta’ on RTR back in November 2018, Tampere-based musician and sound artist, Edward Trethowan, releases music and sound experiments under the name of Net. Ed’s RTR release is one of the most varied to date, combining organic sonic textures, haunting soundscapes, and dreamy song writing. In addition to creating music as Net, Ed runs the label Tavern Eightieth / TVEI, with releases from Phil Maguire, Project Mycelium, Dino Spliluttini, Matt Christensen, and many more.
In this feature, Ed talks about Radiohead providing an introduction to ambient and experimental music, organic matter as inspiration, unapologetic enjoyment as a method of creating new music, and the musical benefits of the cassette medium. Ed also provides a wealth of listening recommendations that show off his wide ranging influences, from synth-pop to lowercase music.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
I owe this probably to Radiohead most of all. As a teenager, I discovered in their music some of the potential both of electronics for conveying atmosphere, and of prodding at and mixing genres a bit. They seemed to split rock music prismically into different directions, which was exciting.
What inspires you to create a new body of work?
The main references in my music for the last decade or so have been the organic textures of wild landscapes, ancient detritus and small animals, and a sort of crude fetish for sacred choral music, affectionate church community and bells. I’m fascinated by compost and spend more time thinking about and photographing it than I might care to admit. References I make to such stuff are usually some interaction of synthesised and real sounds. I’m inspired to work with this stuff on one day or another for ordinary reasons: some new tool or method, the need for catharsis, ennui, renewed confidence and energy.
How do you approach working on a new release?
It depends on what I feel I ought to be doing in my own artistic continuum. With ‘Weta & Weta’ on this label I tried some new things: concentrating more on hardware and live takes than on meticulous softsynth fine-tuning, layering only a few things at any one time, and no longer troubling with consistency of theme and style throughout the album. Hardly radical stuff, but enough for me to feel creatively refreshed. I did a sort of electro-acoustic pseudo-blues song for it as well, because I’ve rarely dared to express myself in song (and felt like indulging a little vanity). The blessing of sub-radar squalor is that the risk of artistic failure is scarcely threatening enough to be consequential at all. The less I’ve troubled myself with pursuing momentary exposure (as flattering as a review always is) the more I’ve been willing to experiment by my own standards, entertain myself more with my music, and above all have a good time with it all.
Can you tell us about your favourite release from the last 12 months?
It’s probably Tamaryn’s ‘Dreaming the Dark’, an album of feisty, eighties-esque synth-/dream-pop. She’s fantastic. Her voice is all energy and pathos. If you’d prefer my mentioning something closer to ambient/drone/experimental then: Phil Maguire’s wilt (singular minimal electronics), Nicholas Maloney’s ‘Sombuse’ (organically textured lowercase), Wojciech Rusin’s ‘The Funnel’ (autotuned and vocoded chamber music – as amusing as it is credible), Dino Spiluttini’s ‘Heaven’ (gnashing bodily and spiritual yearning) and, of this label, Andrew Sherwell’s ‘Approaching’ (a few of the best choral loops I’ve heard in years).
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: what attracts you to the cassette medium?
Well, it isn’t the plastic cases vulnerable to cracking in the post. How about nostalgia, tape texture and recording artefacts, affordability and petite physical dimensions?