©Katherine Stewart
FNMDJ (Paul Archibald is on the left, sleeping) ©Katherine Stewart

As promised, more Free Nelson Mandoomjazz. This week sees Paul Archibald (who hits things in order to produce beautiful sound) answering the same questions alto sax-er Rebecca Sneddon did seven days ago.

1. What was your first musical instrument, and what did it mean to you?
An old piano, which is what I first learned music on as a young child. Learning (classical) piano means long periods of time of sitting in front of a large resonant wooden box for hours on end, and you develop a very peculiar relationship with what is otherwise a large clunky piece of furniture. I remember when it was time to get rid of it to make room for a newer, better piano, my dad took it apart with a crowbar to throw it out the window, and I remember hearing the noise of it breaking and snapping… it was horrible to listen to.

2. What’s your ‘guilty’ listening pleasure? (i.e. something you listen to in secret?)
Cyndi Lauper ‘She’s So Unusual’. I love her voice, and her image/fashion in the 80s.

3. What are your non-musical influences?
I’ve sat here for a full five minutes trying to think of an answer to this.

4. What’s the balance of preparation vs. improvisation for the average live set or recording?
A large amount of time is spent, separately, thinking about ‘large scale’ ideas: timbre, instrumentation, sound-space, themes… When we get together the ‘small scale’ preparation (structures, riffs, i.e. actual music played) is surprisingly short – sometimes the hour before laying down a track. And I like it better that way round, because I think often the large scale ideas are not thought about as much in music. It depends on the genre, of course, but for what we do, I like the large proportion of improvisation.

5. What have been the best and worst moments playing live?
My favourite gig with FNMDJ has been Jazz Fest Berlin last year. I haven’t had a worst moment, currently our living situations only allow for one guaranteed tour per year, so I enjoy all the time we have while gigging.

6. Where do you stand on the streaming/downloading/file-sharing/musicians-not-getting-paid-for-their-music debate?
I feel digital piracy is always going to happen, and it’s unrealistic to spend time and money fighting it. As long as music is digital, even legitimate avenues like legal streaming will always undercut musicians, even if their intentions are good. The only way to fight this is to bring music back onto a physical medium where piracy is impossible. Cassette tapes and CD’s were both able to be copied and this ultimately undermines the value of the product, which is why I’m glad to see a revived interest in vinyl records. This brings value back to recorded music, value that cannot be taken away through pirating or copying. I like to see bands selling vinyl, and it’s the way I collect/play music. If it means not having instant access to everything at once then so be it – saving up to buy only one album per month makes you think more carefully about music and consider your options more carefully, and makes you value the sound you listen to even more. I hope vinyl continues to grow in popularity.

7. What’s next? (musically, geographically, recording, tours, ensembles, anything…)
We should be recording a new album in the first half of next year, and touring in the second half. As for exciting geographical conquests and collaborations, there are a few ideas in the works!

“Awakening of a Capital” and “The Shape of DoomJazz to Come / Saxophone Giganticus” are both available from RareNoise Records.


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