OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS Q&A with Evin O’Brien of Rynx Laneran
- Interviews / Q&As
The development of a musical work begins a long time before an audience sees it, with inspiration, creation, choices, and many hours of work in rehearsal, practice, recording, and organisation. We love hearing the stories of how albums or concerts get from their initial seeds of thought to the final production, and how different musicians think about their creative process and work they do. Other Side of the Tracks gives us insights into this process from a range of musicians, and provides some fantastic perspectives on music, inspiration, work, and life.
The latest EP from Rynx Laneran “Morphology Pt.2” was released on 21st February 2021, and bandleader Evin O'Brien shared some of his experiences and thoughts with us, on influences taken from his classical background, the role of improvising in composition, and focusing on creating mood and atmosphere.
Each track of Rynx Laneran’s latest release illustrates a significant stage in Evin O’Brien’s development and influences as a musician, composer and music fan. Subtle references re-contextualized within original compositions, explored in-depth through the process of collaborative improvisation. This EP is a reflection on how this ensemble has matured over the course of a year of performing together. Rynx Laneran produce three distinctive “scenes” over the course of this EP, moments of intense groove and interplay ensue.
Aoife Doye's singing can evoke memories of the sophisticated, velvet tones of Ella Fitzgerald, the earthy, sweet lyricism of Patsy Cline or the straight-up country clarity of Alison Krauss. Backed by Johnny Taylor’s subtle piano, Andrew Csibi’s inventive bass and Dominic Mullan’s sensitive percussion, the band has won much deserved critical acclaim.
Q. Could you tell us about the inspiration behind this EP?
The band was beginning to gain traction in 2019 as we were performing regularly. We were really coming along as an ensemble and I wanted to capture the sound we were refining as a group. I’m very lucky to have assembled the guys I have playing with me. Andy, Alex and Craig are an extremely talented bunch of lads and it’s a real blessing to get to work alongside such skilled and enthusiastic musicians. I think we work well together and we have a lot of fun at rehearsals. This ensemble provides me with a unique opportunity to present my original works and express my musical ideas.
I intended for each track to have a distinct personality of its own and set out to create music that took influence from the music that I love and inspired me to want to compose. I was raised on Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and got in to bands like Radiohead, Portishead and Massive Attack. Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics have been a huge source of inspiration in terms of how they present their material as a live ensemble.
I’ve practiced classical guitar since I was about 18 and this has contributed largely to the techniques I use in my guitar playing. Through classical guitar I gained an appreciation for Villa Lobos, Barrios, Tarrega and musicians that bridged the gap between jazz and classical music like Astor Piazzolla and Roland Dyens.
I’m very much intrigued by music found in television and film score. I’m a huge fan of Bernard Hermann. This in turn led me to develop an appreciation for neo-romantic music as well as impressionist composers like Debussy and Satie. I’m particularly fond of the chamber music by Shostakovich and Bartok. I tend to favour music with either a little more going on in the harmony department or a more exotic/ambivalent sense of tonality. This really helps to narrow in on a specific mood when creating music.
Q. Musically speaking, how do you go about taking the steps from initial inspiration to a finished piece/album?
Usually I’ll begin by improvising by myself on guitar till I come across something that resonates with me, it could be a sequence of chords or a piece of a melody anything really... I’ll scribble down a rough sketch of the idea before meeting with the band. We normally jam out the new piece, improvising around the original concept. There is a lot of room for experimentation and input from the other members at this stage in the development of a composition.
I record everything!- every gig, every moment of every rehearsal. I’ll listen to countless re-iterations of new compositions, seeing what does and doesn’t work, imagining what to add and deciding the overall length and shape of the composition.
When a piece is ready we take it for a test-run and perform it live as part of our set, this is generally followed up with some finishing touches before heading into the studio. Some pieces take months before they feel complete whereas others go from initial concept to fruition in virtually no time at all, it’s just the way she goes. I very much enjoy the process of collaborating with others and the challenge of striking that fine balance between improvisation and what’s written on the page.
Q. What is the most important thing to you when making music?
In a word – atmosphere. I’ve always been intrigued by music that has a focus on mood and atmosphere and I try to create music that has that. I’m fascinated by the concept of qualia and the ineffable nature of the reality that each of us experiences, the distinct way significant moments of our lives, our dreams and memories feel. Composing music gives me a medium within which I may distill these concepts and convey them to others where words would not suffice.
Q. What would you like listeners to experience when listening to the album?
To be honest I’m just chuffed that anyone takes the time to listen to our music and enjoys it. I suppose ideally I’d like them to engage with this music on an emotional level. I love hearing what images or emotions my music inspires in the minds of others, I’m fascinated to hear their perspective on what they get out of it. The recording of this EP was a huge learning experience. I know now a lot about that I would do differently next time round, when we get round to releasing an album. We also learned a lot about what works when trying to best capture our live sound, hopefully the progress we have made is apparent to our listeners and this EP represents a significant step forward in our path as an ensemble.