2015 Artist Survey: Jacco Gardner

Gardner on Streaming, Mainstream Pop, Cover Albums, and the Being Fired

Jan 08, 2016 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our upcoming Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire's Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from Jacco Gardner. Gardner's latest album, Hypnophobia, is out now via Polyvinyl.

Top 10 Albums of 2015

I'm really bad at listing things order of preference, especially when these choices involve choices of people in my band, and are not all my own choices, which is the case here.

Jessica Pratt: On Your Own Love AgainThis album was listened to a lot when it came out, while we were on tour. Great music for staring out the window while travelling.

Beach House: Thank Your Lucky StarsGreat album that came out right after an already much appreciated new album. 

Ryley Walker: Primrose GreenThis guy has something that many artists lack nowadays: great skills on his instrument and using that as a complex and unpredictable tool for rhythm and melody, in the tradition of many greats from the past.

Panda Bear: Panda Bear Meets the Grim ReaperPanda Bear has a great blend of styles, all of which I seem to connect with. Frank Maston, keyboard player in my band, showed this to me.

Dungen: Allas SakDungen played on a stage I curated recently on festival "Le Guess Who?" in the Netherlands. I like the album, but live it was even better. The piano sound of the album was replaced by a nice warm Rhodes and the show was amazing.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Multi-LoveMaybe not my favorite UMO album but definitely worth mentioning. Some of it is just a bit of a fusion explosion, but there's great songs on it as well.

Mac DeMarco: Another OneAnother great album by Mac DeMarco and great to see him get so much attention. He's an amazing supernatural live performer as well who doesn't seem to back down for anything as long as it's not too serious, while his songs do feel very genuine.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Paper Maché Dream BalloonI liked their 2014 album Quarters, but this next one is also good.

Various Artists: In a Moment... Ghost BoxI always enjoy new Ghost Box releases, so it's nice to hear a bunch of great stuff on a comp like this. 

The Smoking Trees: TSTThis album has a lot of that mellow psych pop vibe that I enjoy, and executed pretty well. Good songs but also nice production.

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

I think the highlight of this year was either our show at The Echo in L.A., or playing on Panache Bookings' Bruise Cruise, which was on top of a moving boat at SXSW in Austin, even though we only ended up playing 15 minutes there. Low point was probably driving back from London to Amsterdam after playing a really fun show at 100 Club. Our van broke down and it took so long to get back that we came back the next morning, after which we had to play another show, pretty broken. It was a cool show though!

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

First there's a bit of touring through Europe planned and after that I am getting back in the studio to record some stuff. I've been working on some new stuff together with drummer Nicola Niggebrugge, who plays drums in my band, but also on my own. I feel like some things are nicely coming together now that I'm just becoming aware of, so I have to go with the flow for a while and see what next year will bring me exactly. It should definitely be a year like no other!

With the launch of TIDAL and Apple Music in 2015, there are more streaming music options, but the same issues of adequate artist compensation persist. What are your current thoughts on streaming and which service would you most like to have your music on?

To be honest, I use Spotify the most. I've discovered a lot of new stuff through it and I've just learned so much about music through it. I usually don't really listen to myself on it, but I'd like my music to be discovered in the same way I'm discovering a lot of good music right now.

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?

I haven't given this matter a lot of thought because it's a bit more complex to predict something like this than one might think. If albums come out on the same day by accident I'd say it doesn't benefit the album sales, but if a specific release day raises awareness of new releases, like a TV show that is aired once a week, it could help, but to decide such a thing asks for a lot of assumptions to be made. I'm mostly digging for old music anyhow, so the release date awareness doesn't do much for me.

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?

I am sometimes pleasantly surprised when I find out that a song I like became pretty big, but I'm not sure if that says anything. It almost never happens, but I'm too disconnected from Top 40 pop music to make any kind of distinction like that, I guess. I don't even know what Top 40 means anymore nowadays. I see a lot more people taking control over what they want to listen to without being too influenced by big pop media. The part of the media that ignores this change and keeps playing only the most predictable hits can take on extreme forms sometimes, but that happens with every movement, I suppose. It's always good to see people be unafraid to try original, completely new ideas and become successful with it. There was a lot more of that in the past, it seems, so it's nice to have a couple of (even if small) revolutions going on.

What are your thoughts on how the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is shaping up?

Bernie Sanders should win, but I'm not an expert on what his chances are. Some people say he's got a serious chance, others say he doesn't. I guess I'll wait and see. But whatever the outcome, it's important that his views are heard and it could be the beginning of a political revolution in the U.S.

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift's 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist's album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?

I don't like the idea of covering music too much myself, although I've done some that I'm not unhappy with. I have a specific love for mostly older music, which I often perceive as perfect in its own unique way. I already take these recordings apart when I listen to them, so when working on something, it's this process of putting together thousands of tiny fragments of sound stored in my brain. When doing a cover, this also happens, but there is just a huge focus on one of those influences. And covers are too often used as a promo tool, which I'm bothered by. Some TV or radio stuff you can only do when playing at least one (often even classic rock) cover, just to make the music more accessible to the people watching/listening. I see a lot of artists do this and it rarely feels sincere. 

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?

Yes. I was working at a tent manufacturing studio for camping supplies and stuff. I got distracted too easily by thoughts about a future far away from that place, so I got fired after a month or so. But they were also not the nicest people to work with.

What's your earliest music-related childhood memory?

Playing videogames and listening to the music in them. I remember loving the basic beep sounds that would be generated by the computer itself. I always found it magical that the computer was playing the music itself, like an automated live performance on a synth.

What outrageous request would you most like to put in your tour rider as a joke?

Weed. Which is outrageous even though it shouldn't be at all!

What's the most disastrous date you've ever been on? 

I don't date very regularly. The ones I've been on, which I can count on one hand, were all nice.

Which Star Wars character are you most like?

Han Solo.

Following the terrorist attack at the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris do you think that security at music venues should be improved and do you now worry about something similar happening at one of your shows? 

More security in this time can't hurt, I think, as long as they don't bother the people that come to the shows too much. There's no use being afraid. If it happens, it was probably always going to happen, or at least it's out of our control. Concerts shouldn't be about being afraid just because it happened at a concert. Actually, it should be a liberating experience where fear has no place at all, which might be more needed than ever in this time.

www.jaccogardner.com

 



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