Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Interview with Luke Younger of Helm

Helm is the solo drone project of Luke Younger, a prolific English musician who is also in the hardcore band The Lowest Form. Luke has been in noise projects before like Birds of Delay, but Helm is his first as a solo artist. He just played a lot of dates stateside during a rollicking tour with the boys in Iceage and impressed more than a few noiseheads, though he had been in the U.S. before as recently as May for 13 Torches for a Burn and before that to record at Heaven Street.

He's released a pretty impressive amount of material for the eight or so years Helm has been active, including a tape as a part of Ascetic House's January Program recently. In addition to Helm, and the Lowest Form, Luke runs Alter, which has featured releases from Richard Youngs, Damien Dubrovnik, and Age Coin. As Luke states in the interview, he has been able to concentrate on music at a full-time capacity, which is a blessing and a curse for him, and a definite blessing for us music fans. The dude never really stops putting out great content, whether he's on a recording or not. It's an inspiring example of success at a time when major labels and record companies are quick to chastise people for downloads and dwindling CD sales. Yeah, it's a terrible time to be a faceless fuck behind the curtain of a major company, but it's an excellent time to be a genuine artist who releases music and sometimes makes an acceptable wage doing it.

I can't wait to see what Luke keeps doing and from the following interview, it seems like we may soon have a new Helm LP on our hands. What a great time to be a music fan!

Jordan Reyes: You've been in a lot of projects/bands from hardcore like The Lowest Form to the drone of Birds of Delay and Helm, and a lot of these are still active! How do you find the time to do everything?

Luke Younger: It just sort of happens - it did start getting difficult earlier this year as the demand for both Helm and The Lowest Form to play live has become a lot greater. As a result of this I quit my job and now have all the time in world which is fantastic. Helm has always been something I can pick up and put down whenever I feel like it, but is now becoming my life's work to an extent so is consuming more of my time and general headspace. The Lowest Form is a band with three other people who also have very busy lives with a lot going on, so the activity of the group is very much dependent on when we can get together to do things.

JR: Your bands/projects embrace a lot of variety like in sonic expectation or even history, but do you find overlap or similarities?

LY: Not really, the two things feel very separate to me. Each of these projects operates in their own little pocket of space within my life and become active depending on my mood and headspace usually. The down side of this however is that there are times where obligation can get in the way, where I'm not in the mood for playing blistering hardcore and times where I am not in the mood for fucking around with patch cables, microphones and electronics - yet needs must. 

JR: Big, loaded, overblown question, but one that I'm interested in. What do you think makes a piece of music "good?"

LY: I have no idea. How you or I would define something as "good" is probably as different as Cilla Black, George W Bush or Dave next door would. It's too subjective to be worth discussing in my opinion.

JR: Do you think there's such a thing as originality?

LY: At this point in time I don't know and to be honest I'm not sure it really matters. I'm more interested in work that feels unique, singular and with a vision that's seen through to the end without compromise or any unnecessary outside interference. I'd say that holds more value than wether something is 'original' or not.

JR: Do you think that pastiche or imitation is something to avoid?

LY: I wouldn't actively go out of my way to pursue it. Put it that way.

JR: Let's talk about Helm. You've had releases from the project since 2006 or so. How has the project changed?

LY: In essence little has changed with regards to my recording process. I still record using similar techniques, in the same studio I always have done with the same engineer. However; the volume of releases has become smaller, the amount of time spent on each record has become longer, the audience has become a lot broader. I never used to play live either so it's gone from my bedroom and my friends studio to the stage.

JR: How has your equipment changed since beginning the project?

LY: It hasn't really, I still just use the same old shit just different variations of it. My live set up changes sporadically, but that's about it - I don't actually use any of that stuff to create the sounds / music.

JR: Do you have any set ritual before entering the headspace of making a Helm record?

LY: No. I generally feel like I'm always in a creative headspace, thinking about things that can relate to my work in someway. I'm usually always working on something as well and the records normally come out of that process fairly organically and easily. 

JR: I often associate drone with spiritual themes - I often meditate to drone specifically. Do you think there's an element of spirituality to your music?

LY: Personally speaking no, but that's mainly because I don't identify with being a particularly spiritual person. That's not to say it couldn't be perceived as such though, I do enjoy making music that retains a certain level of ambiguity to it for this reason. Many different people are able to listen and get something completely different from it, which is endlessly fascinating to hear about from my perspective.

JR: Are you working on more music for any specific moniker at the moment?

LY: No. At the moment I'm trying to finish the new Helm album which is about 75% complete. Aside from that I am listening to a lot of music that I missed out on whilst I was on tour - highlights of which being recent albums by Dirty Beaches, Oren Ambarchi, M Geddes Gengras. Also the Morrissey discography has kept me busy and a few things I discovered and grew to like whilst on tour with Iceage. Never thought I'd be a fan of the Pogues at age 30, but there you go.

JR: Any plans to come back stateside any time soon?

LY: No plans to play, but who knows what will happen?

JR: Anything else you'd like to say?

LY: Thank you very much.

No comments:

Post a Comment