The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Sounds From A Safe Harbour


leave a comment »


A selection of edition prints can now be purchased online from the following link:

Prints include commission work for Sounds From A Safe Harbour, Stargaze as well as a selection of work used on Fractured Air. New prints and work will be updated in the coming weeks and months. Thank you.




Written by admin

March 8, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Fractured Air 42: Cillian Murphy “Walking to town through Sunday’s Well (sounds from a safe harbour)”

leave a comment »

Irish actor Cillian Murphy has starred in numerous award-winning roles over the years; spanning the mediums of film, theatre and television. Murphy made his stage breakthrough in Enda Walsh’s ‘Disco Pigs’; the special collaboration has also resulted in 2012’s one-man show ‘Misterman’ and 2014’s ‘Ballyturk’. Upcoming acting roles include: Ron Howard’s ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ (December 2015); Ben Wheatley’s ‘Free Fire’; the Sean Ellis-directed ‘Anthropoid’ and the hugely anticipated third season of the Steven Knight-penned BBC gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’.
“Walking to town through Sunday’s Well (sounds from a safe harbour)” is a mixtape compiled by the Cork-born actor to coincide with the inaugural Sounds From A Safe Harbour Festival, curated by The National’s Bryce Dessner and programmed by Cork Opera House, which takes place across various venues in Cork City from 17–20 September 2015.



Fractured Air 42: Cillian Murphy “Walking to town through Sunday’s Well (sounds from a safe harbour)”

To listen on Mixcloud:

“The tunes work vaguely chronologically and run from when I lived in Sunday’s Well in Cork in around 1996, what I was listening to and discovering around then and then develop into stuff I’m into at the moment. I also tried to make it feel like a journey from one destination to another. Tried, Ha! For example, my wife used to listen to this classic Laurie Anderson tune all the time back then and I thought it was completely bonkers – but now almost 20 years later I have grown to love it. It was such a time for dance music, DJ Shadow blew us all away when we heard him for the first time, but at the same time I discovered Jeff Buckley, was still in love with the Traveling Wilburys and was obsessed with Stevie wonder – it’s all in there. Some of the contemporary tunes are meant to reflect back on those times I suppose.
Plus now we have this incredible groundbreaking festival of music about to take place in Cork City. Sounds from a safe harbour. Good times. Enjoy…”

—Cillian Murphy, September 2015



01. Laurie Anderson ‘O Superman (For Massenet)’ [Warner Bros.]
02. Beck ‘It’s All In Your Mind’ [K]
03. Elvis Perkins ‘Congratulations’ [ATO]
04. Jeff Buckley ‘Everybody Here Wants You’ [Columbia]
05. Nina Simone ‘Balm In Gilead’ [CTI]
06. Stevie Wonder ‘Power Flower’ [Tamla]
07. Sébastien Tellier ‘Le long de la rivière tendre’ [Lucky Number]
08. Ghostpoet ‘Season Change’ (feat. Doucoura) [Transgressive]
09. The Avalanches ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ [Modular Recordings]
10. DJ Shadow ‘Building Steam With a Grain of Salt’ [Mo Wax]
11. Alice Boman ‘Waiting’ (PAL Remix) [Adrian Recordings]
12. Peter Broderick ‘If I Sinned’ [Bella Union]
13. Brian McBride ‘Piano ABG’ [Kranky]



Sounds From A Safe Harbour is a festival of music, art & conversation, curated by The National’s Bryce Dessner & programmed by Cork Opera House, taking place on 17—20 September 2015 across various venues in Cork, Ireland. Tickets are on sale now. For tickets & full lineup:


Chosen One: Amiina

leave a comment »

Interview with María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Amiina.

“…I think we all felt that we wanted to broaden out to other things and playing with Sigur Rós was key to that: to realize that even dealing with string instruments we can do whatever we can and to evoke your own musicality in your own way is a wonderful thing.”

— María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir

Words: Mark Carry, Artwork: Craig Carry



“The lighthouse stands alone off the beaten path, transmitting a message out across the ocean. Sometimes, musicians seem to play a similar role: a message is being projected out into the environment, without any guarantee that it will reach its destination. It is impossible to say who will receive it, or to which uses it will be put.

Still, the only option is to keep on transmitting the message.”

— taken from the sleevenotes to Amiina’s “The Lighthouse Project”.

Ever since their debut EP ‘AnimaminA’ was released in 2004, a plethora of transmissions have graced the earth’s atmosphere, direct from their homeland base of Reykjavík, Iceland. The magic of music-making and live performance is inherent in all of Amiina’s body of work, and with each new project and musical venture – scoring the works for Lotte Reiniger’s  fairy tale films is one of the more recent artistic explorations – showcasing (as ever) the band at the peak of their powers, projecting divine music to the world outside.

At present the band comprises six members – Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir, Hildur Ársælsdóttir, Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Sólrún Sumarliðadóttir, Magnús Trygvason Eliassen and Guðmundur Vignir Karlsson (aka Kippi Kaninus). The bands origins go back to the late 1990s when four girls studying string instruments at the Reykjavík College of Music formed a string quartet, playing classical music, but increasingly moving on to playing all sorts of music with various bands in Reykjavík.

In 1999 the quartet joined Icelandic band Sigur Rós on stage. The collaboration has continued ever since with amiina contributing strings to Sigur Rós music on tours and in the recording studio on the albums ( ) , Takk and Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. I first crossed paths with Ammina’s unique blend of music at Sigur Rós’ spellbinding concert in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre, in support of their album ( ). I gladly recall the power unleashed by their intimate performance, and just how quiet a space can become. Several years later, the band have returned numerous times to this island of ours, and particularly my hometown of Cork.

In much the same way as Lotte Reiniger’s utterly timeless fairy tale films, inspired by Chinese silhouette puppetry, the resolutely unique music of Amiina occupies its own wonderful and visionary world of sound whose trajectory points to where the land meets the sea, forever reaching new horizons.


Interview with María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Amiina.

I’m really excited about your upcoming live show in Cork this September. It looks very special in the way that it will be a live score to animated films by Lotte Reiniger. I’d love for you to discuss your love for this director and your reason for going with this idea?

María Sigfúsdóttir: Initially it was a commission or an idea from a theatre festival called the Branchage Film Festival asked us to look into scoring one of Lotte Reiniger’s films. And because we didn’t know Reiniger’s films before, as soon as we saw her work and her style and the whole setting we thought it was a perfect match. So after composing the first film we thought we might continue and throughout the years we have revisited that to add one more because these films are quite short; each of them is like ten or fifteen minutes. So we added throughout the years a number of scores so this time in Ireland we will be doing one new score – a brand new score – so in total we have made scores for five films so we’ll be performing three scores, among them will be one new one. So we are slowly building up a collection of scores to selected short films and we hope eventually we will be able to release with all the visuals because it is a kind of two-part thing because it is a fairy-tale, some of them are well-known and some are less well-known to us today. Since they were not silent in their original version so we need to narrate them through the music so it’s a kind of two-part thing. We always feel like we’re collaborating with Lotte Reiniger even though she has passed away.

For creating the music itself the process must be quite different from making your own Amiina albums or in a way it may not be all that dissimilar?

MS: It is different in a way that we totally follow the story-line and to be able to make it really clear even though it’s not exactly theatrical we try to take the meaning and atmosphere of each scene in the film and reproduce them in the music what we feel like. When you have a narrator, the story tells you what is coming up, if it’s a scary part for example and because we are skipping the narrator –we just have it on mute – we need to emphasize the story-lines in order for the whole thing to be understood. It usually comes really naturally to us, what feel or sound or instrumentation is suitable each time and also since that the stories are quite varied, some of them are from The Brothers Grimm which are more Nordic tales and some is from ‘One Thousand And One Arabian Nights’ which is a totally different world and sound world and heritage so it’s also fun to switch between those atmospheres in there. Usually we let the films tell us the music: we don’t try to compose it, we try to find the music within the films and extract it out without interfering too much.

It’s a wonderful match because even the music of Amiina across the different albums possess this sort of fairy-tale and magical realm in the music so it’s very fitting that this collaboration has come about.

MS: Well I feel it is a good match because fairy-tales in general, they are timeless even though they originate in a certain time they have traveled across centuries and over and over when you tell the same story it becomes timeless where you have a feel of something ancient but because it is in the now it’s kind of timeless. Lotte Reiniger’s technique of the silhouette animation was also timeless, it’s something that was done in Indonesia like the shadow puppetry have been in Indonesia for centuries and it’s something that is global and also her language of imagery is timeless – it’s not set in time like when you see 80’s cartoons they look like 80’s cartoons and they don’t look like anything else – and with Amiina’s sound quality it’s kind of the same. We don’t rely on technique or a style that has tied us with a certain bracket in music so all of these things; the storylines of the fairy-tales and Lotte Reiniger’s technique and Amiina’s sound world, they are all referring to past and present so it is open and it’s not referring to anything else in itself which is nice, we don’t have an electric guitar that is in a way an 18th century painting from a tale set in Germany or whatever. So I think it’s made it fairly easy for us to access the work in that way.

Even the instrumentation that you have, there is so many possibilities between the wide array of instruments you use, for example the saw. There’s always so many wonderful elements in the music.

I’d love for you to go back to when you and the other three members originally met at the College of Music and first formed Amiina?

MS: Basically we – the four girls – started out as a string quartet and in music college we were probably all open to searching for new energy even though we didn’t realize back then. So after having worked together, we found that it was really important who you work with and what energy and the energy was so relaxed that we didn’t need to decide on or speak about actively on things, it just happened so we decided on working further and taking things further. After playing with Sigur Rós as a string section, I think we found out that it’s probably the energy that we liked within the string quartet was similar to what people feel like when they are in a band, you know things happen easily without too much discussion and you get that musical flow.

So we decided on trying to make our own music and trying making music on other instruments than the strings because our focal point and point of view and all the music we had done before that had been through the strings. And with the work with Sigur Rós, we discovered that there are so many ways of making music even if you have this one instrument: the sound quality and sound production and the whole context of it; it matters. So basically we had been in classical music trained like the classical music trains you – you are specifically dealing with very specified kind of music and your focus is really specified. There is nothing wrong with that but I think we all felt that we wanted to broaden out to other things and playing with Sigur Rós was key to that: to realize that even dealing with string instruments we can do whatever we can and to evoke your own musicality in your own way is a wonderful thing.

So we just decided to start by playing around with whatever we had and in the beginning it was weird because we decided not to make songs on a guitar, bass and drums because we didn’t know how to play those instruments. We thought that there are so many bands in the world who play those instruments and know how to play them, it’s kind of a waste of time for us to do that because we are probably stronger in other things. We decided to take up things that were not particularly used on as instruments and that’s where all this started with the glass spoon and the saw and bells and all of these things that are not typical in a band but is more just out of curiosity and the fact that we didn’t know how to play the guitar and drums. We found out since we started that it was really free also to approach another instrument or something that produced sound we were not experts on because we had been training quite hard with the strings and with so much knowledge of what is good and bad on an instrument it can be limiting.

So if you have no idea of what you are doing sometimes you just let go of all those things so I love when people who are musicians approach an instrument that they don’t know how to play I think that is the most natural sound that are produced is when people are not so self-aware of themselves and that’s where we started. Then when we had collected a bunch of weird instruments we started forming more into the direction where we are today and we still do have a lot of other instruments – when travelling we can’t travel with all of them because of the airline business [laughs] – so we bring half of the instruments and it always compromises what we can bring with us.


It’s always lovely looking back over a band’s discography and particularly with Amiina where each album tells its own unique story. For example, the Lighthouse Project must have been a very interesting experience?

MS: Yeah that was really interesting. I think for us with a point in time when we took a couple of steps back from complicated sounds and production into less is more through the fact that we happened to have this series of lighthouse concerts. I guess it’s similar in Ireland, our lighthouses are really small and there are many so if you want to play a lighthouse sometimes you might be fitted in a tall building that has many floors but with a really tiny ground floor. Some of them might be acoustically brilliant and reverberating and some of them are a boxed shape and you might be playing within the machinery – these places don’t all have electricity so they need to have old oil machines – so you might be seated in a totally different setting but all of them are quite small. So, the audience is crammed really close and the feeling of the end of the edge of the land where the land meets the sea and the feeling of this intimacy and the feeling of the purpose of this building – a lighthouse which is to produce light to guide the ships – so we got really surprised how strong that feeling is and I do know that a lot of people fantasize this about lighthouses since it’s also something from the past when people used to live in them and run them so a lot of them are automatic but these places there is nothing really like it because they are buildings in a place where people wouldn’t choose to live because they need to be there because of the navigation of it. So they are quite amazing I think.

I love how in more recent years with the added elements of drums and electronics there are new dimensions to your own music and sound world.

MS: Yeah it’s quite a few layers now that we can travel between. I think we would love to be able to keep hold of the various forms of Amiina so we can switch between the intimate into the larger settings as well.

I wonder actually María what are your thoughts or would you have ideas for the next Amiina record?

MS: Well it’s an interesting question because Amiina has been on a really slow pace in the past three years because we’re all having kids and we’re at the stage where family life takes more time so really we can do whatever we like, there is no channel for it. We have been wondering and we are quite excited actually to see what happens next. I guess we will just try to let it happen naturally, we’ve never taken a conscious step before and it’s been really good for us not to push things because if it’s too calculated – in a way we’ve tried this to be like, OK we have done this and that and it was really cool to do more of this – and when you force things into a direction it hasn’t been working really well with us. So I think we’re just really looking forward to seeing what we create – because now we’re obviously older and everyone has experienced different things and that will all probably affect how we make and what music we make – so it’s just interesting to see.

It must have been a nice sense of nostalgia when a few weeks ago there was the anniversary of those very special shows with Sigur Rós. It must be very nice to think back on those particular moments?

MS: It was both nice and scary and weird because first of all, I do not feel like it’s been fifteen years and I think that’s really scary [laughs] and it brought back really good memories of this time where I and we all – both for the band Sigur Rós, Amiina and all personally – were discovering and experiencing a lot of things for the first time like entering a venue where there is a thousand people cheering. The feelings like that you forget just how thrilling it was and bonding with the audience and bonding with each other, with Amiina and also Amiina with Sigur Rós which was a really strong life-changing experience to feel that strong musical bond, it was just amazing. Also what I found was weird was my memories of how we played the music was totally different because this release concert – the first concert was the very, very first time we played with the guys – and then we toured with them for eight years and obviously everyone had changed their style of performance – so I found it really funny to hear Jónsi’s voice being not as trained and finding the string playing I found it much more classical than I remembered because we all matured throughout the years. So I found it actually quite funny to hear [laughs], it was just cute, I found it interesting to hear how beautifully humanised it sounded. There is also going to be a release of the concert later this year.

Well I didn’t see those very first shows but I remember seeing you and Sigur Rós in the Olympia Theatre in Dublin during the untitled album tour. And I remember how special it was seeing Amiina first and then how you obviously stay onstage and Sigur Rós come on. It was so powerful to witness the whole journey the music takes you on.

MS: I guess it must have been special because I didn’t think of it at the time. A lot of the times it is odd to have a supporting act that has a totally different style and then there is a break and the main act comes and it’s kind of schizophrenic and into the next chapter. We didn’t think of it at the time but it must have made it a bit more completed as a whole or something. It was quite special and for us it was amazing, I mean we were performing music for three hours each night for years, you know it kept us in shape.

One last thing María, in terms of books or film or music are there certain things you’re a big fan of lately?

MS: There has been some new things. For example an artist that I am always fond of is Marissa Nadler, she is this American singer who has this timeless style of singer-songwriting that I really love. As for books – I’m thinking of what’s on my bedside table now – I have a little collection of short stories by Alice Munroe called ‘Family Furnishings’. Also a book about the birth of the modern world as in the modern science, I find it quite interesting because the first scientists were thinking a lot like philosophers or artists whereas in science if you look at it now it’s almost like the opposite of art. In the beginning they needed to be so creative about their thinking that you can almost feel like they were trying to create a song or music so that’s interesting. As for film, I’m really looking forward to seeing a recent Icelandic film called ‘Rams’ which got some prize in Cannes recently and I think it will be travelling internationally quite a lot so I think you will be able to catch it somewhere in Ireland.



For all information on upcoming tour dates, discography & news updates for Amiina:


Written by markcarry

August 19, 2015 at 11:37 am

Mixtape: A Safe Harbour Vol. 2

leave a comment »


A Safe Harbour Vol. 2 [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:



01. This Is How We Fly ‘Lonesome Road’ (excerpt) [Playing With Music]
// Bryce Dessner ‘Interview’ (excerpt) [Fractured Air]
02. This Is The Kit ‘Vitamins’ [Brassland]
03. Amiina ‘Rugla’ [Bláskjár, Ever]
04. Iarla Ó Lionáird ‘Scathán Na Beatha’ [Real World]
05. Julianna Barwick ‘The Harbinger’ [Dead Oceans]
06. Linda Buckley ‘Error Messages’ [Heresy]
07. Donnacha Dennehy ‘Misterman’ [Heresy]
08. Richard Reed Parry ‘Quartet for Heart and Breath’ [Deutsche Grammophon]
09. Seán Mac Erlaine ‘Buried Light’ [Ergodos]
10. Sam Amidon ‘Blue Mountains’ [Nonesuch]
11. Lisa Hannigan ‘Flowers’ [Hoop Recordings]
12. Skuli Sverrisson ‘Volumes’ [Sería Music]
13. This Is How We Fly ‘Pelargonens Död’ [Playing With Music]
14. Bryce Dessner (Copenhagen Phil, cond. by Andre de Ridder) ‘St. Carolyn by the Sea’ (excerpt) [Deutsche Grammophon]
15. The National ‘Sorrow’ [4AD]

Listen to ‘A Safe Harbour’ Vol. 1 HERE.

Sounds From A Safe Harbour is a festival of music, art & conversation, curated by The National’s Bryce Dessner, taking place on 17—20 September 2015 across various venues in Cork, Ireland. Tickets are on sale now.

Mixtape: A Safe Harbour

leave a comment »


A Safe Harbour [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:



01. Amiina (ft. Lee Hazlewood) ‘Hilli (At the Top of the World)’ [Everrecords]
02. Sam Amidon ‘Saro’ [Bedroom Community]
03. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh ‘big mammoth’ [Diatribe]
04. The Gloaming ‘Samradh Samradh’ [Real World]
05. Kate Ellis ‘Aisling Gheal’ (Trad. Irish. A Setting by D. Dennehy) [Diatribe]
06. Seán Mac Erlaine ‘Turaghlan’ [Ergodos]
07. This Is How We Fly ‘March For A Dark Day’ [Playing With Music]
08. Valgeir Sigurðsson ‘Big Reveal’ [Bedroom Community]
09. Julianna Barwick ‘Prizewinning’ [Asthmatic Kitty]
10. Mina Tindle ‘Plein nord’ [Believe Recordings]
11. Nadia Sirota ‘From The Invisible To The Visible’ [Bedroom Community]
12. My Brightest Diamond ‘This Is My Hand’ [Blue Sword (ASCAP)]
13. James McVinnie ‘Hudson Preludes: Follow Up’ [Bedroom Community]
14. So Percussion ‘Music for Wood and Strings: Section 3’ [Brassland]
15. This Is The Kit ‘Bashed Out’ [Brassland]
16. Amiina ‘Leather And Lace’ [Sound Of A Handshake]

Sounds From A Safe Harbour is a festival of music, art & conversation, curated by The National’s Bryce Dessner, taking place on 17—20 September 2015 across various venues in Cork, Ireland. Tickets are on sale now.

Chosen One: Bryce Dessner

leave a comment »

Interview with Bryce Dessner.

“I think that music is the great collaborative art that musicians exist in dialogue with each other and also in community with the audience.”

—Bryce Dessner

Words: Mark Carry


Sounds from a Safe Harbour is a brand new festival of music, art and conversation, curated by Bryce Dessner of The National. Two years since its inception by Bryce and Cork Opera House CEO, Mary Hickson, Sounds from a Safe Harbour will bring a huge international creative cast to Cork this September to celebrate the port city’s place on the world’s stage in a unique setting.

Alongside Cork’s spectacular harbour environs, themes of waves, water and movement have been the inspiration for the festival, and will be explored through many new commissions and collaborations specially programmed for Sounds from a Safe Harbour. The festival will activate the City through many art forms including visual arts, conversation, dance, film and music. Collaboration and shared experiences are strong themes in the festival, and audiences are encouraged to immerse themselves and form part of the conversation.

One of the festival’s centerpieces will be ‘Wave Movements’ – a new composition by Bryce Dessner and Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) – performed at Cork Opera House by the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and accompanied with film by the celebrated Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Also on the truly inspiring programme will be the award-winning seminal Irish ensemble The Gloaming; The National’s Aaron Dessner’s collaboration with universally-acclaimed Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan; Shara Worden’s My Brightest Diamond; celebrated English organist James McVinnie; New York So Percussion and Nadia Sirota; Icelandic producer and composer Valgeir Sigurðsson with Icelandic compatriots Amiina,Ragnar Kjartansson, Kjartan Sveinsson and Skúli Sverrisson; Swedish / Irish fusion outfit This Is How We Fly; Parisian new-wave multi-instrumentalist Mina Tindle; US choral-based sound sculptor Julianna Barwick; American songsmith Sam Amidon; Kate Stables’ endearing folk outfit This Is The Kit plus many more. 

Interview with Bryce Dessner.

The announcement of Sounds From A Safe Harbour was wonderful to see and a truly special lineup awaits us in September. It shows the spirit of collaboration and how over the last few years, there’s been so much fascinating and adventurous music. I’d love for you to discuss this whole aspect of collaboration as it’s something you’ve always been doing.

Bryce Dessner: I think that music is the great collaborative art that musicians exist in dialogue with each other and also in community with the audience. I think this is what pushes us forward, it opens new creative worlds for us as musicians. And also what’s interesting to me about doing this in Cork as a place is that in Ireland being a place of such tremendous music culture – for a small country it has such a huge global reach – of traditional music and the great bands and singers that come from there and all that. And then Cork being this gem of a city, this small city that feels like a village with so many beautiful venues and spaces, and the harbour and canals. The idea of bringing artists there is as much as about them bringing their music to Cork as it is Cork opening its doors and being a place for the musicians to discover, especially to interact with the Irish musicians who will be there. I mean that’s the stuff that makes me really excited and the driving force in my creative life is collaboration and community and embracing this more creative style of music.

I can’t wait to see your live performance of ‘St. Carolyn by the Sea’ because it’s such an amazing piece of music.

BD: Thanks. ‘St. Carolyn by the Sea’ is a significant piece for me that I wrote for my brother and I to play with orchestra and it’s very much about how we play music together but pushing it quite far structurally and formally and something quite ambitious with the orchestra. It’s going to be really fun and It’s not something we can do very often and to do it with such a great orchestra and conductor is a really amazing opportunity for us. The festival has a lot of these rarely heard before performances which I think is a big part of what’s exciting to all of us and hopefully part of the draw for people to come is for the stuff you’re not going to hear elsewhere.

I wonder Bryce in terms of the writing process for a composition like ‘St. Carolyn by the Sea’, I can imagine it evolved over quite a long period of time? It feels like it did as there are so many different aspects to it.

BD: I mean the actual writing of the piece which takes six months or so and then the music itself takes a lifetime in a way where the sounds and ideas that may have been somewhere in me or developing somewhere back then so once it’s time to write it down, it almost feels like it’s been there and you just have to figure it out. I always wonder how many of these pieces one has and how many more of them I can do but that piece has a lot of colours in it that I am proud of.

Another highlight will be the new piece you wrote with Richard Reed Parry, ‘Wave Movements’.

BD: Yeah that piece is a commission for the festival and there is quite a few commissions and new works that we’re doing. The Irish sisters from Cork, Linda and Irene Buckley are creating a new piece; there’s a more electronic group Eat My Noise who are doing a big collaborative work and there’s a couple of visual artists who are doing some new projects. I think that side of the festival is super important to us. Richard Reed Parry and I are really close friends and collaborators and we wanted Mary Hickson at the Cork Opera House who talked about the harbour and the theme of the water and sea is a big part of the Cork identity so we wanted a piece that would respond to that in some way. So, ‘Wave Movements’ is a string orchestra piece that all the rhythms are generated by the ocean. We actually spent time recording the ocean, I spent time in Cork on the sea there and spent time in the city thinking about the role of the sea there. It’s a sixty minute piece but what’s significant about it is in addition to co-composing it which is not a very traditional thing to do but incredibly fun and interesting process. The whole thing as a visual side of it, Hiroshi Sugimoto who is an amazing Japanese photographer did a film for it. It’s a really, really stunning piece of work and I think there’s a trailer up so you can see what it’s going to look like.


As you say too Bryce, it must be this fun element when you’re working with close friends and family obviously with your brother, that’s the beauty of it when you’re sharing ideas with each other and creating something from that.

BD: I always say that my brother and I were born to collaborate- we’re twins and we’re playing in a band and it extends beyond just collaborating with one another. Aaron is writing a new set of songs with Lisa Hannigan, the Irish singer for the Cork festival and we being brothers that have always worked together, it really helps us and something we’ve learned from an early age on how to be good collaborators. And ultimately when you think of creative people there’s always the creative ego and the desire to express oneself but actually the stronger part of the creative life is being open and learning from other people and that’s why I do it and it’s always so interesting to learn from other musicians and other artists.

Another beautiful thing with The National is all the wonderful collaborators that are involved, for example some of the Bedroom Community artists and guest musicians who work in the studio on your songs so you can feel that special spark in all the National recordings too.

BD: There’s the five of us but then there is this really broad community of people like Richard Parry or Sufjan Stevens or Sharon Van Etten. There’s many many different people who have been a huge part in our career. The music itself is a good vehicle for that. In a way, The National sound is singular, it sounds like nothing else but it’s the sound of many voices and it’s not just us. I think that collaborative power of music is definitely part of The National story.

In terms of scoring music, it must be a lovely feeling when you hear an orchestra such as the Copenhagen Philharmonic performing the music that you wrote?

BD: Especially in our current world that is so digital and so virtual and the experience of the internet and always being online, the actual performance of things and the live event and the communal aspect of coming together to hear something or to play something or to experience the notes that are written on the page and then there’s the notes that you hear in the theatre and the things that aren’t written or sung in our minds and that aura of performance and there’s nothing to replace that. I think something like Sounds From A Safe Harbour is very much about that and like I said it’s very much about the artists as much as it is for the audience. It’s important for artists to have that opportunity to come together into an intimate environment to really have the possibility to work together, to work with different musicians and to encounter a new culture in public. I think that’s what pushes the creative world forward and hopefully offers people something new and some kind of transporting experience.

It definitely will, there’s no question about that. I wonder are there certain records you’re listening a lot to lately in the last few months?

BD: As far as things I’m listening to recently is a record that I worked on by a friend of mine, Sufjan Stevens new record ‘Carrie & Lowell’ which has been my soundtrack when I drive upstate a lot in New York, I have a little house in the mountains and I always put that on. I just think he is one of the most interesting musicians of our generation and that’s a record that I love. Also a record by a young singer This Is The Kit who will be playing in Cork as well- that record my brother produced, it’s called ‘Bashed Out’ and it’s a really, really beautiful record.

The whole aspect of scoring music and this idea of collaborating, it’s great too because as you say with the current age of downloads and digital, there’s a lovely sense of being in the moment and taking risks as well in obviously the best possible way.

BD: I think so. I think it’s always interesting when you spend a lot of time working on something, it’s like tending your own garden and then it becomes like reading your own palm and something that’s so familiar that maybe you’re missing. It’s always interesting when someone comes to me from outside and says, ‘Oh did you notice that at all?’ that little corner over there and you haven’t seen it before. To me that’s the beauty of collaboration is hearing the way other people respond to your work and that’s also the role of an audience and how they respond to you. It happens so often with the National songs where you get people developing their whole own personal narratives to a song and tell you after and I’m like ‘I never thought of that before’. But it’s a really beautiful way to make work is to share.

For instance, working with classical musicians who spend their lives playing instruments and really have developed such a fine ear, the way they tune and that’s part of having strings on a National record is that you spend six months working on a track and then to bring in just for a day, a really good group of musicians and have them channel their musicality at it and even just the way they would interpret the pitch or tune against it really gives it this human element that’s been really important to our recordings.

I love too how witnessing The National’s live performance how you are struck by the energy and rawness of the performance.

BD: I think we never felt the need to duplicate the records like the experience of us live is different from the album and I like artists that feel that freedom to make something new for the live show.





‘Music For Wood & Strings’ is available now on Brassland.