Thursday, 8 August 2013

International Observer Interview

Tom Bailey is probably best remembered for his pop success with the Thompson Twins in the 80’s. But if you’re reading this, then like me, you’re probably more interested in reading about his International Observer moniker and the Dub Reggae he’s released in the last decade.

1)     After achieving success with 80’s pop hits in the UK charts you’ve now released four Dub Reggae albums and a number of E.P.’s, what was your inspiration to compose music of this genre?

I suppose that much of the work I've done in its various forms had its roots in a time before the pop period of the 1980s. Success has a funny way of preventing you from following experimental ideas, so a backlog of frustrated ideas builds up. But when I got down to making dub records, it seemed totally natural. I also did it along side projects involving North Indian classical music, experimental electronica and film music, for example. It's just a series of ideas which interest and inspire.

2) Traditionally Reggae has revolved around the bass guitar and although your music contains deep bass chords it is occasionally balanced with melodic strings and guitar. Was this a pre-mediated sound you wanted to achieve? And do you play all the instruments yourself?

I play all the instruments, so I become fascinated by the way notes and sounds go together, interlock, and play off each other. I know my dub sound is not stripped as bare as some others - and maybe that's the reason.
Dub is still an experimental form and has no fixed rules.

3)     You’ve just released the E.P. “More Tales of the Dungeon of Dub” through Dubmission Records. As you’re progressing through these releases are you exploring new technology? Or do you prefer to stick to more traditional and tested methods?

This is the second set of tracks in the "Dungeons of Dub" series and it's something Jasper at Dubmission encourages me to do with tracks which, for one reason or another, not been released in other formats. So there really is no plan for these tracks. Albums tend to be different because there is often an overriding theme or concept for a body of work which is done for a CD album release.

4)     You’re also involved in a multi-media side project with astronomer/visual artist José Francisco Salgado could you tell us about this project?

The BSP collaboration is with José Francisco Salgado who is and astronomer and film maker. We started making events which show his films with my music, usually with a live component, in order to close the perceived gap between art and science. We've done many short films together and it's been great fun, partly because it's a really creative collaboration which involves us both learning about each others fields of activity

5) Which artists have impressed you lately?

I live in an isolated place, so I'm really not as plugged into the latest things as most people are but, as a chance example, I've been impressed with the poetic qualities of an "Americana" folk-group from the north of England called Grassoline. Not my usual area of interest, but something that caught my ear.

6)     What tips would you give for any inspiring young producers wanting to create dub reggae?

I feel that dub is essentially a rebellious kind of music, so don't be afraid to take risks and see where they lead you. Listen to the great recordings, but also spend some time not listening to them so you can be relatively free of influence. I think this is important for many musicians otherwise, we all converge on the same sound and the world needs a broad range of art to address all its concerns. I feel lucky to be involved in so many different areas of music. I know it may mean I never master any one of them, but they inform each other and suggest things which may never occur to the single-minded specialist. So that's become my overall way of working.

Thanks for the interest in International Observer and all the best with the blog.


1 comment:

Olly said...

I've always been intrigued about the musical input for International Observer material and often wondered if session players were drawn in or whether it was a one man band.

Thanks for clarifying that.

Interesting Blog.

The anticipated "Further Tales From The Dungeons Of Dub" is good news and a good surprise for followers considering how recently "More Tales" and "Maya" were released coupled with a world tour announcement.