Interview: Meltwater | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Based in Leeds but originating from Hartlepool, Meltwater (Jon Gibson) has made music under various guises for over a decade. His latest offering, Distractions in Digital (out on 24th November) is a self-recorded and produced five-track EP that fuses melodic guitar, bass-driven electronica and soulful vocals. We find out more about the new release from the man himself.

What are the themes within your debut EP Distractions in Digital?
Musically, I bring together two aspects of my music taste and practice in Distractions in Digital.  The first thing I learnt musically was to play the guitar. I’ve always been into intricate, melodic guitarists – as in The Smiths, This Town Needs Guns and American Football, to name my most formative influences.  After playing for a while, I got heavily into production and electronic music – percussive, rhythmic and bass-driven stuff. Distractions in Digital tries to bring the two things – guitar and production work – together in a way that works.  I’ve tried a couple of times in the past to combine them and the outcome has been limp, but hope and feel Distractions in Digital strikes the right balance and doesn’t try to go over the top with either. Holding back and not over-egging the pudding has always been and still is difficult when it comes to making music.  Lyrically, I wrote about all sorts. Brexit, guilt, affection and trains – they’re all in there. If you can figure out which song is about what, then hit me up for digital kudos.    

Who are your musical influences? Do they come through on the EP?
Darkside, James Blake, Mount Kimbie, Ben Hayes, Lapalux, John Martyn, Bon Iver, Dorian Concept, Portico Quartet, All We Are and Sir Was are the main musical influences.  There are tonnes of other artists that have inspired me over the years, but the aforementioned are probably most relevant to the EP. Each artist pulls together different sounds, samples and instruments and showed me, each in a different way, how broad compositions could be texturally. In terms of social influences, the town I’m from – Hartlepool – is full to the brim of people making music in a poorly-resourced but eternally blossoming music scene.  Everyone’s at it. Check it out.  

Who did the artwork for the EP? What does it represent?
I came across a guy via Instagram called Sam Blackwood (https://www.instagram.com/sj.blackwood/) who is dead good at portraying our North Eastern sub-cultures in a realist, abrasive and unapologetic way.  He looks like an edgy craftsman, so I asked him to get involved in the EP and he said aye. The artwork itself doesn’t embody deep, consciousness-defying meaning, but does the job in juxtaposing the digital with the material which tallies up with the music.  Then there’s Jordan Armitage, my friend from Manchester who is incredibly handy and talented with a video camera.  He made the video for Lines in the Sand, which looks class.   

What is your creative process like?
Each song started with a fragment of a rough idea.  It might have been a lyric, a melody I accidentally hummed in my head or a guitar line I stumbled upon.  From there, each song evolved from a protracted period of improvisation, chopping and changing and experimentation.  The beauty of working with Ableton is that it gives you the ability to change everything and experiment with different instruments, samples and basically anything sonic.  When it came to mastering, my friend Mark Cowley did a stellar job on the final master, for which I’m super grateful.  

Have you got any shows coming up to support the release?
Yup, two:
Friday 22 November, St Dominic’s Catholic Club, Newcastle. Late Night Drum Club label launch.
Monday 30 December, Hartlepool Town Hall.  

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