Australian musician and all-round creative soul Ben Frost creates music that, as the title of his latest album (By The Throat) suggests, seizes you by the jugular. With each -song’ (truly, his music is as un-song-like as imaginable) he pulls you deep into the woods, subjecting you to layers of ambient, electronic and piano-led noise and startling and unsettling you along the way.
Based in Iceland and signed to the fantastic Bedroom Community label, he will be playing as part of the Whale Watching Tour II, alongside labelmates Nico Muhly and Sam Amidon, and label founder Valgeir Sigurdsson, on Wednesday 21 April at the National Concert Hall. Expect beautiful moments to be experienced at this very special gig.
Ben Frost spoke to State about the tour – and why collaborations are similar to one-night stands.
Hi Ben – you’re set to play in Dublin as part of the Whale Watching Tour – last time you played here, in Cork, I believe parts of the venue’s ceiling started falling down’¦are you looking forward to playing here, and can we expect similar destruction’¦?
All depends on the building – I enjoy finding resonant frequencies in air conditioning ducts and overhead plumbing – live music for me is like a Tesla experiment. But generally I behave myself sonically a little more in the WWT context, which is both a good and a bad thing – I suppose we probably explore the more ‘subtle’ aspects of my work more in this format than I do on my own which is actually really exciting for me – because it makes no sense to use playback in solo shows, and it’s great to not have complete control over everything – also, not everyone in our little family enjoys 120db of onstage sound.
How do you approach collaborations – what differs between collaborations between label-mates, and other collaborations?
I suppose it’s like the difference between a one night stand and fucking someone who you have gone out with for years – it’s always better, and things usually get weirder and more interesting faster…
Is there anyone – living or dead – that you would like to collaborate with?
You’re from Australia – but live in Iceland. How has this changed you and your work?
My work is constantly developing. I have always, and will always keep pushing it’¦ I don’t think that is geographical. I live in Iceland because I love I found home here. I don’t live in Australia because I don’t belong there.
You’re often referred to as -experimental’ – but that’s a pretty catch-all phrase for music that doesn’t fit into an established genre. How would you describe yourself – or do you think descriptions even matter?
They don’t matter at all, and especially in a live context – blind, deaf or otherwise, I doubt you can’t miss what my work is about – emotional subtlety is not my strong suit.
Your music, to me, feels very visual – do you have particular visuals or pictures in your head when you create the music?
Yes, very much so. I would go as far as to say that my work is intrinsically linked to visual images and shapes and colours. I am mildly synaesthetic.
What do you love most about Bedroom Community?
The cooking, the laptop parties, and Steinar Ã“lafasson.
What is the significance of wolves on By the Throat? Are they an animal that fascinate you; do you feel any affinity with them?
They represent the part of me that is incapable of reason and unified in pure instinctual needs and hunger. There is no malevolence or malice, or calculation – only strength and solidarity.
Is there a fine line for you between how much natural and processed/electronically created sounds you use in your music?
There are no lines. I don’t give a fuck what a sound is or isn’t, just what it does.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Ireland’s finest actually’¦ Altar of Plagues – -White Tomb’.
What projects are you working on right now?
Today I am plotting out the remaining gaps in my summer to maximize the amount of fishing I can do in between touring. I am writing music for a German dance work, and I just started re-scoring Tarkovsky’s -Solaris’ with DanÃel Bjarnason for a premiere in October.