My Inspiration: Summer Night Air – Tomorrow’s Milk Today | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Ambient synthtronica duo Summer Night Air drop their new EP, Tomorrow’s Milk Today, a four-track release, filled with dreamy soundscapes mixed with sharp, vibrant rhythms that takes inspiration from the lesser-known US ‘Drum & Bliss’ scene of the late ‘90s/early ’00s.

Here Paul and Alex (aka Summer Night Air) tell us more about what inspired each track…

These Hearts 
Paul – The main inspiration for this track is Junior Varsity KM, and the whole Drum & Bliss scene in general. An American scene, active around the late 90s to early 00s, and spearheaded by Indie labels such as Darla, Fuzzy Box, & TBTMO, Drum & Bliss was a unique take on Drum & Bass, valuing pop melody, warmth, and lush shoegaze ambience, as much as the other classic elements of Drum & Bass. For me personally, I couldn’t get into a lot of Drum & Bass that was around in late 90s/early 00s. I found a lot of it to be too serious, dark, brooding, and just too in your face for my liking. Around that time I discovered lesser-known tracks such as ‘Rust A La Glare, by Flowchart, ‘She Likes to Sail’ by Monorail, and the pinnacle of the genre ‘You’re Fabulous!’ by Junior Varisty KM, which were a gateway into a looser, more playful interpretation of Drum & Bass, which I found more compatible to my tastes.

It’s Got Bits in It
Alex – Sonically, the main inspiration is the track ‘Summers End’ by Artsea. I really love the filter effects on the drums and the use of space and subtlety to create movement and melody. It’s a skilful track. I really wanted to try and do something similar – particularly with the filtered drums – so I had to really work on upskilling myself on the DAWs I use to record stuff. This meant that the technology we used to record and arrange the track was a big inspiration on it and had a huge effect on the finished sound of the track, as well as most of the creative decisions that went into composing and arranging it. 

Paul – The sample and title of the track are taken from a line in the original Mr. Men stories, read by Arthur Lowe. The softly spoken, warm tones of those recordings still take me back to a simpler time spent as a child, and as such are still an inspiration to me. 

Throughout this EP we also both used a Big Sky Reverb pedal for guitars and synths, in particular on some of the synth lines and pads I play on this track. The scope and quality of the reverb sounds offered to us was an inspiration in itself 

I Have a Bonsai Tree, Who Am I?
PaulOur general approach to music composition is to have fun and not take things, or ourselves, too seriously. This is especially evident on this track. This track harks back to a not dissimilar sound we had with a local Indie Synth-pop band we were in from 2005-2011, and, as such reflects some the influences that inspired me back then: playful late 90s/early 00s acts that combined modern electronica with 80s synth pop (in particular a band called Figurine, which featured Postal Service member Jimmy Tamberello). Alongside this I loved the earlier synth-y Magnetic Fields tracks such as ‘Deep Sea Diving Suit’ & ‘You and Me and the Moon’, and of course the classic 80s synth-pop bands, Yazoo, The Human League, OMD, Men Without Hats etc.

More recently I have also been influenced by the poppier acts on the PC Music label (Hannah Diamond, Planet 1999 etc).

Although there are no obvious similarities in sound, the band Beat Happening are a constant inspiration to my approach to music making. Their punk musical philosophy, that a lack of technical musical ability shouldn’t deter anyone from making music, is something I use to counteract the negative voice in my head that tells me I should jack it all in due to my lack of musical ‘skill’!

The samples on this track are from our children, their friend, and a family member’s dog – making the weirdest non-typical dog sound I have ever heard!

The International Year of Soil
Alex – I really love DNB as a genre and wanted to try and express that sincerely through all of the tracks, but particularly this one.  I felt that we’d managed to convey what we needed to during the other tracks and this one was a chance to cut loose a bit and see what happened. So in terms of artists, this one is inspired by all sorts! The heavier sections take inspiration from artists like LTJ Bukem, Marcus Intalex, Dillinja – real pioneers and people who got me hooked on DNB way back. The idea for the track to be longer and more meandering came from Junior Varsity KM’s ‘Taking Care Of You’ LP, and the last track on his ‘Style for Life’ EP, as well as the obvious longer electronic stuff by Aphex Twin and Global Communication etc.

Paul – The lush ambient ending is, unsurprisingly, inspired by lush ambient music! Artists such as Manual, Brian Eno, Transient Waves, Global Communication, and many more. Summer Night Air was started as a pure ambient ‘project’ in 2003, and we like to continue to add ambient elements to all our releases.

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