S. Peace Nistades – Interview

We recently sat down with a bunch of artists from the Stencil label, with our next chat being with S. Peace Nistades. Nistades has just released a new album, and you can read more about that below!

By Jane Howkins

How is 2019 treating you so far?

It’s been a good and busy start to the year so that’s always nice. Hope your 2019 is treating you well so far!

Have you released any music so far this year? If so, what can you tell us about that?

Yes, my first solo album In a Forest Dark just released on January 12 so that’s been very exciting. I say solo album as the previous album (and albums) I’ve released have been either compilations of my work in film or self-contained scores from various film and fashion projects so this is my first standalone album so to speak.

The album really is the first time I feel I’ve been able to fully establish a sound that lives in the present as opposed to the nostalgia of the past. And I mean that musically. Coming from a classical background and then working in film music for the past decade, it is very easy to be ‘stuck’ in the romanticisms and nostalgia of past sounds and musical structures and as much as I do love them, I’ve been needing to wrangle myself out of that into something that to me feels engaged in the present tense. A lot of this of course also came out of the past few years I’ve spent working on a novel which deals with events in the recent past and present in my home country Thailand and that combined with the ever present question we’re faced today socially—the struggle between the past and present in society—became the underlying framework for this album.

Of course, I realize that can sound a bit academic. Truthfully, this whole project began as an accident. I really wasn’t planning an album at all. I was simply experimenting with using Sampler in Ableton Live to process and create new sounds and instruments from various recordings I’ve done over the years of random noises or cello hits and things like that. After the first few hours, I’d ended up with basically what is the first track in the album. Something clicked for me so I kept exploring it and slowly it went from a single to an EP and ultimately an album, the structure and breadth developing as I went. It was a very organic process of discovery.

Are you working on any new music at the moment? What are you working on, and when will it be released?

I’ve been working with concert pianist Christopher McKiggan for a few years now on a new take on the traditional ‘solo piano’ album where all the sounds in the album will be taken from organic recordings of a piano but manipulated to create a plethora of sounds that most may not first think came from a piano. Ultimately it’s an extension of what this album, In a Forest Dark, is in that it’s about exploring the inner consciousness. It’s a very internal sound I’m interested in, much as in Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable, it’s pretty much exclusively internal. Such a profound work.

I don’t know when it’ll be released yet but hopefully within the year or early next.

Have you got any upcoming tours planned? If so, where are you playing and where are you looking forward to going most?

I haven’t got any upcoming tours planned yet but I would like to explore what I can do with bringing this album onto the stage, into a club, into a way of immersing the audience within the music itself. Something like the 4D Sound system is very inspiring in this respect.

Once the piano album is complete there are of course plans to do that live and Chris and I have already done a preliminary performance with some of the early material from the album in Houston, Texas back in 2015.

Who/what has influenced you the most as a musician?

My biggest influences, particularly in the new sound I’ve cemented for this album, oddly perhaps, come from literature. The core influences, if you will, apart from my own personal experiences and memories etc, on this album are writers from three different centuries: Dante and Petrarch, Thomas De Quincey and William S. Burroughs. I’ve always found influence and inspiration more interesting and ultimately more useful coming from a different artistic medium, or a different discipline altogether from the one you are working in. It often can allow you to look at your own artform in a very different way and frees one from the technical jargon that is often associated with what one does: in our case, chords, melodies, orchestration, sonata form, the drop, etc.

Musically I’ve loved a wide variety of musicians and composers as you can see from who I’ve been listening to recently.

What have you been listening to recently that you can recommend to our readers?

Thom Yorke’s Suspiriascore, in my humble opinion is the best score and song (Suspirium) of the year. Radiohead’s A Moon-Shaped Pool, Penderecki’s String Quartets, Berlin-based electronic artists Objekt and Stimming; I particularly love Stimming’s Alpe Lusia album and Objekt’s latest album Cocoon Crush is pretty inspiring.

Why do you think people should pick up one of your records or come and see you live, and what can people expect from one of your shows?

My strong belief has always been that art is a mirror we hold up to our times and our societies. That can sound pretentious but I humbly believe it to be true. The artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers I love are the ones who are able to bring you into another point of view, another perspective you may not have considered or felt or experienced in quite that way before, allowing you to see things in a new light, much like my influences from other mediums or artforms. I think there’s a fine balance between letting the work, in this case music without language, speak for itself and using it as a platform to discuss and exchange ideas. I hope that the work can speak to people today, that it can perhaps offer some place of solace, not of resolution necessarily, but a place in that musical sonic space where the listener can feel at home, not judged, not needing to put on a front, not needing to feel okay, or vindicated or loved, but simply to be. And I don’t think that that place can only exist in traditional tonal music.

Any last words for the fans?

Thank you for listening.