Very rarely will I classify something as ‘incredible’ but Mark Wardale’s ambient project Row Boat is downright amazing. It feels very much like a soundtrack and ETT is an expansion of his previous two releases, building layer upon layer of sonic drones that set you up for dramatic listening. It’s simply beautiful noise and must be shared.
Skope: There are so many layers of sound in your music, do you play all of the instrumentation or do you have collaborators?
Row Boat: I started out as a drummer many years ago in my first original band but began to write some of the lyrics and music for some of the songs. That’s when I picked up the guitar and bass and added some Keys so that I could lay down some very basic ghost tracks to take back to the other band members. From that point, I carried on writing and picking up new instruments. It would be unfair to the many other great talents out there to say I am a multi-instrumentalist, but I know the basics of a fair few now. I’m quite active when it comes to remixing and mastering other peoples work at the moment, it’s been quite a busy year so far. I’m currently trying to get other active musicians to collaborate on my future EP release which will be out probably towards the end of the year.
Skope: What type of studio setup do you use to record and what type of tools are involved?
Row Boat: At the moment, I have a cabin, which I have most of my instruments (drums, guitars, bass, violins etc) in and hooked up to Logic Pro. I use a lot of Freeware too like Audacity. This helps me with alot of the streche’s and reverses that create a lot of the layer’s in my songs. I play a lot of the reverbed guitars with Violin bows to create that soundscape effect which seems to bring out the layers.
Skope: How would you self describe your music?
Row Boat: Lots of people have described Row Boat in many different ways, but it usually comes down to the same thing, a combination Ambient and Post-Rock. I would describe it this way, but certainly ethereal and layered too. I think it’s always been about combining many different layer’s of instrumentation and experimenting with different sounds to make one complete track. The hope is that the listener’s pick up on something different every time they hear a song and also make there own interpretations of what the song means to them, not just to me.
Skope: I definitely can hear your songs as part of a film soundtrack, is that part of the concept of what you do?
Row Boat: When starting out with Row Boat, no, that wasn’t the idea. Then, it kind of crept in. It sounds vein but I always wanted to create something that I could go back to and say yes, I’d listen to that. It’s what I listen to in musicians like Sigur Ros, Amiina, and the more underground artists like Apta and umber. The first 2 EP’s ‘Romance’ and ‘Svaret ar ja’ were picked up by an LA based sinc company for Film and TV so by this point I knew it was the right direction to be going.
Skope: When are you expecting to release ETT and where can Skope readers check it out?
Row Boat: The album is ready to go and will be available in the late summer. It will be readily available worldwide as a digital download from the usual places like iTunes and Amazon, but were also working on the physical limited editions at the moment. I’m very active on bandcamp too so all the discography including the new album will be there for purchase.
Skope: Aside from ETT, you have two other releases [2009’s “Romance” and “Svaret ar ja” in 2012]. How is ETT different from your previous two?
Row Boat: Ett is a great combination of the 2 E.P’s. It combines the early ambience of Row Boat to the added Post-Rock era which it’s now entered. Romance was really a start point of experimentation of ethereal sounds and the coming together of melodies. Svaret ar ja was stepped up a gear and along with the ambience, beats and arrangement took a forefront with songs like Vinterhimlen. All these elements still remain within the new album, it’s more of a celebration of the genre’s combined which obviously work so well together.
Skope: Do you perform live as Row Boat?
Row Boat: There’s been talk of live show’s over the past few months with various other musicians. It’s something that I think will come up pretty soon all being well. There’s certainly been a lot of interest this year and Row Boat has definitely picked up a much bigger following this year.
Skope: What inspires you to write this type of music? Do you have any favorite composers?
Row Boat: I think most people that hear Row Boat immediately make comparisons to Explosions In The Sky, The Album Leaf and Sigur Ros. These are definitely inspiring bands to be compared to,but I listen to such a mixed variety of artists from Talking Heads, Bjork, Jimi Hendrix and Agent Fresco. I don’t feel it has to be the same genre to make you want to write something new. For example, I take a lot of inspiration from landscapes and geographical references too.
Skope: I can hear comparisons to Godspeed You Black Emperor or Sigur Ros. Who’s an influential part of your craft?
Row Boat: It would be a complete lie if I said I wasn’t influenced by Sigur Ros. The natural feel and reverb that comes from there music is captivating, not to mention there visuals. They are a creative band, pushing boundaries, rolling with the times and creating concepts we all wish we had thought of. Then on the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s Agent Fresco. There are fairly new band from Iceland and play Jazz-Metal Fusion. The technical abilities of the musicians combined is quite simply mind blowing. There vocalist Arn–r Dan Arnarson just featured a lot on Ã®lafur Arnolds new album and his lyric writing and transferring between genre’s is unique and very influential.
Skope: Any parting words of wisdom?
Row Boat: Yes, buy the album! And if you don’t then at least stream a track, come and see what it’s all about. The first EP is currently available for free on bandcamp to celebrate it’s 4th year and the pending new album release. There’s much more to Row Boat than meets the eye I promise you.