Del Osei-Owusu interviews Shelter Calm…
Congratulations on the pending release of Initial, describe it in three words.
Long. Time. Coming.
What are your three favourite tracks from it?
Haha! You can’t ask that! Having said that, I can actually answer that quite easily – Giraffe Radar, SQWD, One Last Thing.
How did Shelter Calm start?
It was very much a reaction to lockdown, and not being able to meet with the rest of my band, Time In Antarctica. Despite having quite a few releases under my belt, I’d never released an album, and with time on my hands, it seemed like a good opportunity to rectify that. I also realised that I had a lot of musical sketches that were more electronic in nature and wouldn’t really fit Time In Antarctica, so I decided to focus on these. I liked the idea of working outside the band to give myself a new perspective on making music, free from any constraints of what it should sound like. It was basically a blank slate, with the only thought being that it would be synth and beat-driven.
What did you listen to growing up?
I first encountered music through my mum’s records. Electric Light Orchestra’s Discovery was one that grabbed me. I loved sitting down with the vinyl sleeve listening to the record and reading the lyrics along with the music. Later, I got introduced to Pink Floyd’s Delicate Sound of Thunder by a friend at a Saturday morning art class, and that sealed the deal, and led me to pick up a guitar.
Your sound is electronic based, what was your first experience of electronic music?
Listening to Jan Hammer (specifically his Miami Vice soundtracks), Art Of Noise and Jean Michel Jarre. Later on, I saw bands like Orbital and Prodigy, and went to a lot of clubs while I was at university. I think seeing Sasha in Brighton was one of my first club experiences.
You are very active on the music scene with EMOM, how did that begin?
The whole idea of EMOM (Electronic Music Open Mic) was started by a guy called Martin Christie, as a reaction to most Open Mics being geared towards singer/songwriters with an acoustic guitar, and there not being the same opportunity for electronic artists. Since his first events, he has taken the idea around the county (and also the world, with events in Berlin and Amsterdam). Pretty much everywhere he’s taken it, it’s caught on, and local artists have set up their own versions, almost always with Martin’s blessing. I went along to the one he put on in Nottingham. I thought it was a great idea, so I wanted to be involved with keeping it going here. Someone else had beaten me to that, but I got involved anyway! We have held regular events at the Chameleon here in Nottingham, and have also put on a stage for 2 years running at Hockley Hustle, but COVID has obviously put paid to that for now.
You have a launch event on the 5 August, how’s the organisation for that going?
Slowly, but surely. It’s a very different prospect from Time In Antarctica shows, so it’s taking some figuring out to represent the songs, but also have a live performance aspect to it. Not there yet, but I’m sure as the date approaches I’ll figure something out!
2020 was a time to reflect, what did you learn about yourself?
That I do actually like performing! I’d always seen it as a means to an end to support the music I’d made (and making it is the part I like), but I got to do a performance as Time In Antarctica between lockdowns, and it made me realise how much I’d missed it.
COVID has impacted the creative industry in a big way, what has kept you motivated?
Part of the reason for doing the album was to keep myself productive and focused whilst I was unable to work or gig. Starting a new project overcame the issue of not being able to gig, because it was entirely a studio based conceit to begin with. But is getting frustrating now with festivals being cancelled for a second year running, both as a punter, and as a musician. I’m a bit concerned that it’s going to be tough to get gigs post-lockdown, because there will be a lot of dates rescheduled taking up potentially new slots, and also lots of folks dying to get gigging again. But then that could work in our favour too, as I think there will be lots of folks wanting to attend gigs again.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Right now? If These Trees Could Talk. I tend to flip between genres as my mood takes me. I’ve also been listening to Dom and Roland a lot lately, and also I’ve rediscovered Muse’s Origin of Symmetry which has just had a re-release.
Being the host of the EMOM event, what acts have caught your ear?
Staying local, and I’m slightly biased as he is the drummer in Time in Antarctica and a label mate, but Rezzonator. He’s last 2 releases have shown a real (for me) development of his craft. But the great thing about EMOM is that there are events all over the country so it allows me to be part of a bigger community, full of lots of people making interesting music.
What are you looking forward to next?
Music venues being open! But more specifically my debut Shelter Calm gig on the 5 August in Nottingham as a launch event for the debut album, released on the 30 July.