JOYFULTALK: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Squint and plop school of electronic composition
File Next To: The Books, Morton Subotnik, Aphex Twin
Playing: Camp Wavelength, Sunday August 30 @ Artscape Gibraltar Point
Get your ticket here!

JOYFULTALK is the complex and intricate work of electronic composer Jay Crocker. The sounds range from eclectic sound-collage to subtly dancey bricolage. An avid user of analog synthesizer and homemade instruments, this project is in many ways beyond categorization. Wavelength’s Adam Bradley shot a few questions his way to learn more of his ways.

The title of your new record is MUUIXX. What does it mean or stand for, if anything in particular?

When I was composing the music for the record, I was able to really tap into a place in my mind and stay there for extended periods of time without distraction. I eventually ended up calling this place…MUUIXX.

I understand that you use a variety of home-built instruments. What’s the nature of these and do they have names?

Before moving to Nova Scotia, I grew up in Calgary, and became pretty involved in the noise and improv scene there. I started building instruments to discover new sounds in which to improvise with. When I moved to Nova Scotia, four years ago, I started composing strict arrangements for 14 instruments that I modified or created. The colm-over, the cheedle, pink dolphin, etc.

Seems you have a penchant for analog electronics. What draws you to this method?

When I first started really getting into recording and modifying, analog equipment best suited this process and was available and pretty cheap. I’m definitely not an analog purist or anything. “Just make some stuff” is kind of the best approach.

Who would you say is your favourite analog synth musician and why?

There are quite a few. Everything from the electronic serialist works of Milton Babbitt, or early krautrock stuff like Harmonia. Philip Glass, Stevie Wonder, I mean the list could go on… it is the way they compose, it is the manipulation of energy flow… kind of like plumbing… should I list my favourite plumbers of all time…? Ha.

Your first release Sappy Tape was released on cassette, which is great. Do you have a particular interest in the medium or was it a matter of convenience?

Tapes sound amazing, are still cheap and a very durable archive. They have become almost like trading cards amongst the independent creative community…

Your album was recorded in Crousetown, NS. What’s the town like and what’s the Prism Ship?

Crousetown is a tiny village on the south shore of Nova Scotia, so it is not really a town per se. It is about an hour-fifteen from Halifax, a five-minute drive to some really nice beaches, it’s quiet and relaxed and I can kind of do what ever I want. The Prism Ship is the name of the studio I built.

Being based in Nova Scotia, do you find it tricky to get out and play in other provinces? Do you have a job that allows you to travel or do you just make it work?

Over the last few years I have be able to grab some funding to pursue my compositional ideas and projects. I also have the studio, where I do some production work for other artists, so this is kind of a full-time thing. Living in rural Nova Scotia rules. It is a beautiful place. I find it to be close enough to Ontario and Quebec to make it a viable home base.

Traveling and touring to cities is great, especially when I can come back to the country afterwards. The province is kind of crumbling economically right now, which for me is kind of scary, but mostly very exciting. I believe that all the most creative ideas are born out of a lack of resources. Having less resources around you will increase resourcefulness. And the East coast has a very strong DIY culture already…I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.

JOYFULTALK play Camp Wavelength Sunday, August 30 at Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto Island). Get your single day tickets here! Or better yet, join us for the whole weekend and get a Festival Pass!