RTR regulars will be familiar with Tiago de Almeida from his appearance in one of The Listener features last year. In addition to creating and performing ambient and drone music under his own name, Tiago also runs the Berlin-based tape label Inner Space Travels, launched in early 2019. IST has released music from the likes of Luis Mielich, The Last Ambient Hero, and The Leaf Library, with stunning visual support from collaborator Bettina Gackstatter.
In this feature, Tiago discusses finding inspiration in these uncertain times, keeping up with new music releases, the supportive independent music scene, and the importance of checking in.
How have the widespread lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 crisis affected your music making?
In a way it ended up giving me a bit of a push. It was tough to find the sweet spot between maintaining my day job from home along with family life, but eventually it’s kind of worked. I’ve been building a modular setup, so at the moment I’m not too worried about having something to release, but I decided to make regular short live streams in order to keep myself in check and get something done. The release schedule on Inner Space Travels was paused so that gave me a bit more time. We’re picking up pace now though. I might be getting better at playing guitar too, let’s see how that works.
What music, new or old, have you been listening to lately, and have your listening habits changed as a result of the current situation?
I seem to have less time for active listening. But there’s been a fair amount of very quiet sounds from Richard Chartier and some of his Line back catalogue. Stephan Mathieu, Orphax and Yann Novak have also had some rotation. At the same time, I started a Friday night DJ stream on Twitch, initially to entertain work colleagues, but it became a way of going through my very eclectic record collection, which has been amazingly refreshing and great fun.
Consequence of Sound reported the worst week of album sales since the 1960s (28th March 2020). Do you think the coronavirus outbreak will have a lasting negative effect on the music industry?
It’s surely driving a lot of people out of business, which will definitely have a lasting effect. Record stores closing down, artists not being able to support themselves and having to take up day jobs, venues closing, also people like stage and tour crews, so many aspects of the whole music ecosystem are severely damaged. And of course, not forgetting the amazing musicians that have passed due to the virus as well.
On a more positive note, it could be argued that by some people having more time, maybe they’ll spend more in music, either by streaming or buying digital files, maybe even buying more music gear. Some might be buying music in order to support artists they like, which is something that could be good in the end, more direct artist support. The whole world will be a very different place, I think.
With more musicians live streaming from their homes than ever before, do you think this trend will continue once things improve?
Possibly yes and why not? I don’t think it’ll steal from the real experience of going out dancing or to a concert. But for some people it could definitely become a new way of reaching out to more people or an avenue for extra income. Also, from a listener point of view, it gives someone the option to watch or listen to something that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Obviously, there’s just too much of it but that would always be the case. The peak will eventually tail off, but some will keep streaming. That’s a good thing in my opinion.
What do you think we as music makers can be doing to create positivity right now?
We gotta keep creating, sharing, streaming, buying when possible and most importantly, supporting each other. Not all of us will be in the best position to keep on creating, be it financially or psychologically, through these very testing times. Check in on the people around you, we gotta keep the vibe alive!