Gaussian Curve enter the next phase
The ambient trio gear up for a rare live performance at Red Bull Music Academy Weekender in Sydney.
An early pioneer of ambient electronica, Gigi Masin was elevated from cult status when Amsterdam label Music From Memory issued a retrospective of his deeply emotive music in 2014 titled ‘Talk To The Sea’. Guided by an ethos aimed at “giving overlooked and unreleased music a second chance,” the fledgling imprint was an ideal outlet for the Italian composer’s unique music, and the brilliant compilation sparked a renewed interest in his mostly forgotten works.
In a fortuitous turn of events, later that year Jonny Nash and Young Marco – two electronic producers with a shared love of Masin’s repetoire – found themselves jamming with the Italian maestro deep in the heart of Amsterdam’s red light district. Following an inspiring weekend-long recording session, Gaussian Curve was born, and the fruit of its labours was the beautiful debut album ‘Clouds’ - heralded as one of 2015’s finest long players.
Continuing to ride their wave of success, the trio are now entering into the next phase of their career - the live sphere. With a rare performance coming up at Red Bull Music Academy Weekender Sydney this month, we speak with one third of the band, Jonny Nash, about the Gaussian Curve journey.
Let’s go back to that weekend in Amsterdam in 2014. What were you three looking to achieve musically during the ‘Clouds’ recording sessions? We went into it with very open expectations. We’d had a 20-minute jam in Marco’s previous studio the year before, which was great fun and enough to feel like there was some chemistry between us. We certainly didn’t expect to come out of that weekend with a full album. But the energy between us was really good – we enjoyed playing together and we all complemented each other musically.
Apart from Gigi’s past material, were there any musical reference points you guys agreed upon? No, not really. Sometimes when you’re making music with someone, often you’ll sit down with them the first day and talk about music; discussing each others’ tastes and what kind of sound you’re aiming for. But that didn’t happen with Gaussian Curve - it was literally just let’s switch on, have a jam and see what happens. All of us have our own specific style and how we like to play live and come up with music. Gigi is a master when it comes to suspenseful chords, and myself and Marco played off of that.
In an interview last year, you said you grabbed your trumpet last minute as you were walking out the door on the way to the airport. I love that, because even though it was such an impulsive decision, its use in tracks like ‘The Longest Road’ and ‘Red Light’ makes it feel like it was meant to be. It just works so well. Totally. There were a lot of fortuitous little things like that which happened. One of the guitars we borrowed from one of Tako [Reyenga] and Marco’s friends – which had this specific vibe to it - was a right-handed guitar…and I’m left-handed! So I was playing this guitar the wrong way around, which resulted in a different style of playing. It actually worked really well with the long, single, meandering notes that feature on that album. It definitely limited how I could play, but that ended up creating a really nice vibe.
Of course everyone has their own interpretations when it comes to music, but to me the album doesn’t feel like it was born out of a city. Yeah, the only track you could maybe get it on is the last one, ‘Red Light’. We stuck a microphone out the window and managed to get this really low ambient noise of people talking. And the bells of an old church ringing in the background and the bustle of people. And also the weather – it was quite moody on one day and sunny the other, which had some affect on the sound. The environment really helped to shape that record, for sure.
You also described the experience as follows: “All we did for most of that weekend was hang out, talk, listen to music…we really hit it off. He’s such a beautiful person, but how could you not be given the beauty of the music he makes?” Are you a firm believer that the type of music someone creates says a lot about their disposition? Yeah I think it definitely does, however it doesn’t always work out that way unfortunately. People are complicated creatures - they can be beautiful deep down, but right bastards on top! But with Gigi, his personality and vibe is beautiful all the way through.
Do you remember how you felt when 'Clouds' became one of RA’s top voted albums of 2015? It’s fantastic that the album has received such a great response. But charts are a funny thing, because it’s such a strange way of judging music. At the same time it’s fantastic that people connected with the album and also to receive that kind of recognition.
You have to give music like this the right environment and setting in order for it to work
You’ve got your debut Gaussian Curve live shows coming up at Obonjan Festival in Croatia, and then in Sydney for RBMA Weekender. How have you guys decided to approach performing the album in a live setting? Will it be true to the album recording, or more improvised? We’ve been doing a little bit of planning ourselves individually, and we’re also meeting up soon for some rehearsals. The nature of the album itself was very much improvised – a lot of one-take jams almost. So the music lends itself to being formed in that way too. We have the chords and the chord structures and then on top of that the kind of music that it is allows for a certain amount of freedom and improvisation.
I’m really looking forward to the dynamic of playing with other people, because I play a lot of live solo stuff where I’m having to man a lot of different instruments, and playing in a band gives me the chance to concentrate on just the one thing.
Will the surrounding environment be a key part of the show? I know Gigi will also be performing a solo live set inspired by the Sydney Harbour location. I think it’s definitely important for music like this. You have to give music like this the right environment and setting in order for it to work. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a beautiful outdoor location like what we have planned for Sydney and Croatia, but I think it just needs to be a space where people can feel relaxed and get into the music.
It wouldn’t so much suit a noisy club environment. Even before we lined up these gigs we were always very clear that the venue would be incredibly important for playing live. We didn’t want to take it around to just any old place. So we’re really excited about the venues we have coming up to play at, and that they’ll really add to the sound and experience.
Gaussian Curve will perform live at Bradleys Head Amphitheatre on Friday September 9. Tickets are on sale here.