DOORSTEP INTERVIEW: Waskerley Way | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Welcome to Doorstep Interview, where we find out more about the amazing bands and artists we have right here in the north east. This time, Waskerley Way tells us more about his hip hop inspired sound and his place in the local scene.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from?

I’m Michael and I live in Newcastle. I’m originally from Consett, County Durham. Waskerley Way is the name of my project.

What inspired you to first start making music?

At risk of throwing up a cliché, I’ve been messing around with tape recorders and things since I was really little, so I can’t say what initially inspired me as such, but I’m a believer in music being a powerful means of communication that transcends the fixity of language. It’s a massively important project that will never be completed, and necessarily so. This is what makes me want to continue at least.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

Waskerley Way’s biggest influence is probably hip hop production at large, not that it’s particuarly gainly to bracket it as a single thing. For my money, its most remarkable facet – and this has been evident since hip hop and B-Boying first came about in the late seventies – is how it thrives through people being resourceful with very limited technological (and indeed social/spatial) affordances. In lieu of “proper instruments” or whatever, hip hop’s pioneers have built a palpably social musical paradigm that takes mass culture’s musical ephemera (turntables, commercially-released records, samplers, etc) and does something radically different with it all.

I try to be similarly resourceful with actual sounds, sometimes building entire tracks out of maybe just a few seconds of source material. It can be a bit like solving a puzzle, trying to find the most salient aspect of a sound, isolating it, and then figuring out how it can be deployed. It’s a matter of coaxing the music out of sounds as opposed to trying to crowbar sounds into a predetermined structure and confining your work to a system of fixed pitches and metrically-ordered rhythm.

“It’s a matter of coaxing the music out of sounds as opposed to trying to crowbar sounds into a predetermined structure”

How would you describe your sound?

I don’t think I could adequately describe anyone’s sound in words let alone my own! I think words deal in secondary, semantic information whereas our production of/ responses to sounds constitute primary, more emotional information, therefore the best way to make sense of music is to just listen to it. I suppose it seems a bit arsy to put it like that! If you held a gun to my head I would say that Waskerley Way sounds like someone pretending to be several people at once – sometimes they get along and it sounds peaceful, sometimes they don’t and it sounds a bit choppy.

Where do you see yourselves fitting into the local music scene?

For a small-ish city I think Newcastle has a lot of great stuff coming out of it. My last album was released by Box Records; their catalogue is definitely worth looking into. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Beauty Pageant, Richard Dawson… all great! Whilst Waskerley Way doesn’t sound a whole lot like anything else on the label, I like to think that we all prioritise music and community over any careerist aspirations. I’d much sooner hope to see whatever “the music industry” is these days disintegrate than try to work within its apparatus.

Tell us a bit about your live performances. What can we expect from a gig by Waskerley Way?

I’ve only recently assembled a set-up that I actually enjoy playing live with! There’s not a whole lot to see with it just being me with a computer, a keyboard controller and a microphone, but I try to make the music as dynamic and propulsive as possible with lots of contrasts and dancey bits peppered across the durations of my sets. Since my sets are improvised to a fair degree, you’ll never hear the same one twice.

Can you tell us what gigs you have planned in the region in the near future?

I’ll be supporting The Declining Winter at the Head of Steam in Newcastle on Wednesday 5th August.

What do you think has been your biggest achievement so far as an artist?

I think my last album Junk Playground is the most striking music I’ve been responsible for so far. Aside from that, I’ve made lots of friends from different backgrounds through playing shows and sharing my recordings; that’s what I feel like I should be gunning to “achieve” through my music.

Have there been any major challenges so far in your musical career?

As a white bloke living and working in Newcastle I don’t encounter too many problems when it comes to getting onto the odd bill or asserting my own legitimacy as an artist (the simple fact is that by and large, the scene for independent music in Newcastle isn’t as diverse as it could and should be), so I can’t say I’ve ever felt challenged as such, but ensuring that Waskerley Way remains gratifying on a personal level has been something I’ve wrestled with in the past. I’ve been working under this moniker for six years now!

What else have you got planned for the future?

I’ll be releasing more music in due time, as well as getting some remixes done and hopefully playing live a lot more before the end of the year.

Waskerley Way is supporting The Declining Winter at the Head of Steam, Newcastle on Wednesday 5th August.

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