Interview about Trans Venus Express

Jakob was interviewed by The Bohemian Club label’s Alistair Read regarding the Trans Venus Express EP which is going to be released by The Bohemian Club, digitally, on November 15th.


When did you realize you had the beginnings of your sound?

I haven’t yet. It’s a pretty evolutionary process. Moonwood material is all over the map too from acid-folk and psych-improv type stuff to the fairly techno krautrock that’s on Trans Venus Express. And what I do in BABEL is very different again. Also what I do in BABEL ranges from minimalist chamber pieces to guitar noise experiments to musique concrete type stuff (as TRANZMIT). All over the place. I don’t think I have a “sound” per se, production-wise, but there are certain phrasings and motifs that pop up across all my work in my playing.

It was probably about fifteen years ago I started embracing my “style” instead of abandoning those ideas because they didn’t sound like anyone else. Which was a breakthrough as a player because I wasn’t really conscious I was doing that. The work I’m most proud of is recognizable as being me, no matter what genre, or sound, it happens to be wrapped in.

What music inspired the ep?

Honestly, my previous album Trans Martian Express was the original inspiration. ‘Venus’ began as the follow-up LP for Pleasence Records and I was aiming for something similar in approach. I soon felt it was straying too far into EDM territory. There’s a bit of ‘80s gloss to the arpeggiators and the drums sounds and I wanted the electronic elements on the LP to be more organic in nature. Also I wanted Jacqueline more involved.

It just happened Bohemian Club contacted me right as I was about to abandon the sessions and start over so I ended up finishing the four tracks, and allowed the sort of ‘80s Maimi Vice textures to evolve. I definitely thought, “What would Jan Hammer do?” a few times during the recordings—something I’d never normally allow myself to do.

Do you play out at all?

We do. Not often, probably a half dozen time a year. We’ve been using live-looped electronic percussion and drum machines but are looking to add a live drummer and bassist. I think we’re jamming with some this weekend, actually.

What are your listening habits like—any guilty pleasures or treasured gems?

My listening habits are pretty eclectic. My all-time favourite band is Pet Shop Boys but then my second favourite probably has to be Swans. Of course, I listen to neither very often. Nor do I listen to as much kraut or psych-improv as you’d expect. I certainly own a lot of Moonwood-ish stuff, but if you looked at what’s on my iPhone you’d be as likely to find Da Lench Mob, Lana Del Ray, Slayer, John Lee Hooker, Carly Rae Jepsen and about a million shoegaze songs as something like Six Organs of Admittance or Neu! or Kraftwerk. In fact, I don’t own a single Kraftwerk album, which surprises some people.

I think Sigue Sigue Sputnik probably counts as a guilty pleasure and a treasured gem. Third favourite band, easy.

Whats next in the pipeline for Moonwood?

We’re working and re-working the LP for Pleasence Records I mentioned before. I’ll be another Trans Express krautrock album. The planet hasn’t been decided yet, but I suspect it’ll be Saturn or Jupiter. One of the big ones. It has a bit of Erkin Koray by-way-of Dick Dale feel to some of the tracks. We also have some acoustic acid-folk songs half in the can. There might be a live cassette from recent shows and radio appearances. Also, that working with living drummers and bassists experiment.

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