Q&A with Roger Eno & Jon Goddard
We're excited to share that composers Roger Eno and Jon Goddard are featured artists in the Liquid Cinema catalog! We were lucky to sit down with them and talk about their musical influences, how they approached collaborating for our library, and their creative process.
Can you tell us a little about your musical backgrounds?
My younger sister and I had a room in the house that was ours with which to do whatever we wished. In it was a sand pit, we could write on the walls, draw strange pictures and there was also an old piano which we could batter...
At twelve I realised I'd be a musician as I got a note out of a cornet. I then took lessons, joined a brass band and was immersed in a world of Village fetes, Christmas Carols and Summer Concerts.
It was a great introduction to music....
I started off in the classic British Rock manner. I got a cheap acoustic guitar and learned ‘Granchester Meadows’ by Pink Floyd the first day... my first album purchase was ‘Fresh Cream’. Over the years I explored every avenue from Nick Drake to Ornette Coleman, fromArvo Pärt to Mozart or Gillian Welch to Keith Jarrett. What happens is you gradually discard the influences you no longer like or more importantly don’t need. So you end up with a much smaller palette of musical colours and rules to draw upon.
How would you describe your style of music?
I now describe myself as 'a decomposer' due to the sparsity of notational content in much of my music. I was lucky enough to have an extremely adept piano teacher at college who allowed me to emulate his remarkable 'tone' and pedalling technique, rather than force me into scales etc. Rather than flamboyant display, it is the quality of timbre and sustain that characterizes much of what I do.
Our music has become increasingly focused. We tend to use and like the same sounds. If you gave us a brand new synth and we went through all the presets we’d probably only like about 10 and we’d most likely choose the same ones. Neither of us are fond of excess, in my case I try to play as few notes as necessary to imply the feeling and mood we want. Any pieces I'm working on have a sense of rural Geography about them, it may be a real or imaginary place but the feel of it will inform all the decisions about pace, instrumentation and timbre.
Your album 'Beds and Moods' is both a relaxed yet simultaneously intense, involved listen. How do you achieve such complexity?
If I told you that I would have to kill you.
The overall test for the music that we ended up with was: if an emotion was implied, then extra notes or colours may not be needed. We didn’t discuss this, it just happened. There were several minimalist ideas that Roger sent to me where I actually cut notes from an already frugal composition and then worked with what was left. So the intensity is unspoken, much like an awkward silence in a conversation. This generally isn’t the case in contemporary popular music which tends to be loop or pattern based on several layers and therefore comfortingly predictable. We didn’t want that.
What was the story behind the album-and how was that reflected in the writing process?
We had no fixed plan as to direction but as Jon and I have known and worked together for years. We have enormous trust in each other's decisions. My whole ethos is that of sparseness so that meant, for example, that there'd be no songs on it, there would be no circus acts of solos and so on. So I suppose we came to what we did, not by deciding what to do, but by deciding what not to do....
There were no rules or guidelines set, the initial objective was to see what would happen. It soon became apparent which ones we liked and so the writing process and subsequent discussion really wrote its own story. We just gravitated towards and honed in on our combined path. The album showcases some of those results.
When collaborating with each other, where do you draw the musical/creative line?
I work much faster than Jon in that I treat things as sketches that can then be modified. Jon is far more of a perfectionist, in a certain way and so it's often that I'll come up with an idea which Jon then makes something of. But he is very far from being 'merely' a technician - he comes from a different musical place to me - elements of Americana are apparent for example, so when Jon 'instigates' a piece I often picture myself in some bar from 1876 which reeks of whisky and smoke.
We don’t really draw any lines. We’ve been friends for so long that each tune is just like having a chat. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. So our series of ‘conversations’ are based on that with occasional sorties into uncharted territory, just to upset our musical apple cart from time to time. These jolts sometimes produce remarkable results, or at the very least make you rethink your compositional process. Roger likes to work very fast and often the best ideas appear that way, so I’m also a fan. But like he said, I’m a perfectionist and don’t have a problem spending a long time to achieve a better result. It’s nearly always me that does the mixing and mastering.
What considerations do you take when writing music for motion picture, as opposed to stand alone music?
I view music in film to be as essential as dialogue, lighting and photography. Music can utterly alter the mood of the film. Hence one must firstly immerse oneself into the existing atmosphere of the film and then attempt to highlight that.
We are both able to watch a moving image and almost immediately know what the music will sound like. I find the main problem is trying realize in your recording what is in your head. A slight delay or amendment early on in the process can have a dramatic effect on the final product and you end up in a completely different place (which of course can be good). The best way is to get the initial idea down as fast as possible before it’s lost. Then you can go back and change and add instrumentation. I believe that good Film and TV composition inherently has a similar pulse to film editing which tends to have a musical tempo about it.
We have both written for Theatre too, but that’s another story.
Get The News
Discover all the latest from the world of LIQUID CINEMA & INSIDE TRACKS right here. New releases, hot placements, artist interviews, video content.. and more!