@skopemag Q&A Featuring – Jude Gwynaire New Album ‘Music From Slate Bird’

With its 25 tracks, Jude Gwynaire has just released his lengthy new album, Music From Slate Bird, and takes some time to tell us about it.

Skope: What’s the significance of the album’s name, Music From Slate Bird?

Jude Gwynaire: ‘Slate Bird’ is the name of my recording studio/musical retreat – an enchanting old cottage built somewhere on a hill in the middle of the countryside. ‘Music From Slate Bird’ is a celebration of my recent music – hence the title. The album is an eclectic blend of folk, rock, ambient, electronic and minimalism. Does the physical house exist in ‘real time’? That would be telling!

Skope: Do you write and record songs with an album in mind, or do you create an album when you have enough songs to make one?

Gwynaire: Good question. Both really. It’s all dependent on time and money. Ideally, with unlimited time and funds, I would sit down and compose music for an actual album, and maybe release a few compositions from that album as singles later on. But what normally happens is that I compose a track, release it as a single, and eventually put out all my releases as an album – as long as they fit together to some degree of course. Three such forthcoming albums are ‘Stingray Island’, ‘Space Princess’, and ‘Hot Pineapple Sushi’. Each album has a different theme, so whatever I compose, each track will fit in somewhere. The ‘Sushi’ album, for example, will be more abstract, and contain a variety of styles. I don’t have a recording deal, so I can do what I want really. I’d prefer to have a recording contract, of course; but because so many people are making music these days, that dream seems pretty unlikely.


Skope: There are multiple mixes of “The Orb Forest” included. Why was it important to also include these various mixes?

Gwynaire: They’re not actual mixes of the same track, they’re completely different compositions. The ‘Orb Forest’ is a sci-fi thriller I’m writing. I wanted to compose a soundtrack to accompany the book – a soundtrack that could also be used for a film version of the story if that ever materialized. The musical side of the ‘Orb Forest’ hasn’t been an urgent priority so far, so only a few tracks have been released as singles over the months. However, I feel these tracks have somehow been ‘lost’ among all my other releases, so I thought it would be good to present them on the new album. Parts 1 – 4 appear on ‘Slate Bird’ and provide a sort of electronic/ambient alternative to the more ‘folk’ and ‘rock’ orientated tracks that dominate the album. More ‘Orb Forest’ compositions coming soon!

Skope: After compiling this album, does it add up to any theme? If so, what would you say is the album’s theme?

Gwynaire: Although the album’s content is fairly diverse, I think there’s a strong ‘organic’ feel to the album. There’s plenty of real instruments, as opposed to just synth and keyboard work. I’ve played a lot of acoustic and electric guitar on the album, which has been fun. I think I’ve been too lazy to do this in the past – it often seems easier just to turn on your synth than rig up your acoustic guitar with mics etc. I think there’s also an underlying ‘folklorish/mythical’ feel to the album. Check out ‘Fingal’s Cave’ and ‘King Sol and the Merwoman’. I think these tracks and, also, ‘The Swordfish’ and ‘Saturn-by-the-Sea’ have a strong connection with the sea/ocean, too. My favourite track is the opener ‘Blue-Eyed Girl From Kilkenny’, which, along with tracks like ‘Palaeolithic

Spirits’ and ‘Sirens of Atlantis’, take the listener to a storybook realm, far away from the reality of everyday life. There’s also a futuristic feel to the album, evident in the ‘Orb Forest’ tracks. The actual title of the forthcoming novel is ‘The Orb Forest – Where Androids Have Souls’. This full title is carried over to the tracks. A further connection with androids and ‘futurism’ can be heard on the track ‘This New World of Androids’.

Skope: Spotify includes a whopping 25 songs. This would at least be a double album (if not more), in vinyl terms. Is it because you just couldn’t leave anything off? Why the long length?

Gwynaire: My albums do tend to be long; I know! Because I like to release compositions as singles first, by the time I get around to releasing them on an album, there’s quite a few tracks to deal with. Last year, I solved the problem by releasing two new albums. But you’re right, I don’t like to leave anything off. If a track has been released as a single, it’s going to end up on an album somewhere. Very often, new material has to be written too – not to fill out the album, but to make all the tracks fit together better. ‘Music From Slate Bird’ has quite an organic feel, I think – primarily due to the inclusion of newly recorded acoustic guitar tracks, which reinforced the rock/folk feel of previously recorded tracks.

Skope: Speaking of double albums, what are some of your favorite double discs?

Gwynaire: The Beatles: The White Album. Fleetwood Mac: Tusk. Miles Davis: Bitches Brew. Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti. Incredible String Band: Wee Tam and the Big Huge. Bob Dylan: Blonde On Blonde. The Smashing Pumpkins: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland.

Skope: How long have you been planning to release an album?

Gwynaire: I released a couple of albums last year, so there’s nothing new in me releasing albums. I think this is my seventh or eighth album, give or take a couple that aren’t available right now. I had a little extra time on my hands, so it seemed like a good idea.

Skope: In this age of streaming, why do you think albums are still released and important?

Gwynaire: I’ve thought about this recently. I’m not so sure they are as relevant as they once were. But it’s nice to group a selection of tracks together, and make some kind of artistic statement with them, rather than just have single releases.

Skope: Have all these songs been previously released as singles? If some were not, which ones were these?

Gwynaire: Many have been released as singles, yes. As an album, however, I think they fit together very well. Many tracks that have been released as singles recently, were also composed with the album in mind. I like to release tracks with bespoke artwork. This brings them to life I think, giving the listener an extra image (other than the album cover), with which to create a story around the music. I’m thinking most of these tracks have already been released as singles. Like I said, each single has new, original artwork, which further reinforces the composition, giving it further dimension.

Skope: Do you have plans of releasing this album in vinyl, CD, or any other format? If so, which ones?

Gwynaire: I don’t have the funds to do this. I did release a compilation CD a few years ago but found most people prefer downloads. I’m not like that myself, I always prefer a CD, and will normally buy a CD rather than a download. I think ‘Music From Slate Bird’ would be too long to fit onto a CD as it is. I love the cover, however, and would love to see it in the shops one day!