I have a terribly difficult time discussing the music of Jom Comyn. When asked or reminded of Jom Comyn I don't want to talk I just want to hear his music. A year and a half ago Jom Comyn released a masterpiece called 'Comynge Tegythere'. It's a varied beautiful album... rather than talk further I'd like to invite you to listen to the few excerpts that follow. Who knows I could be completely wrong about Jom Comyn being so extraordinary.
I've been listening to this man's work since discovering him thru Weird Canada and am excited to have him here in London on Saturday. Jom Comyn... Jom...
Mike Bot: I'll be as simple as possible here - what made you wanna make music?
Jom Comyn: My dad was a really big influence in that respect. He's been a musician forever, playing different rooms and bars around Alberta and western Canada. He built a studio at our house, and I could always go in and play drums to practice. He gave me my first guitar, my first amp, first bass, first 4-track, 8-track, etc. He's pretty opinionated on music, so I definitely got a good education in the fundamentals of rock/pop stuff as a kid.
I find it tricky to describe your music. The album I'm most familiar with is 'Comynge Tegythere' and it kinda runs through a lot of territory....
The music is pretty minimal, 2 or 3 or 4 chords, but I try not to play "normal" chords too much. I like to try to take jazz chords and make them sound crunchier. Lately I've been starting to do alternate tunings, so that adds another element to keep the minimalism from being boring. I'm always trying to get a little moment and use repetition to build it into something. I guess maybe it works like hypnosis, just limiting the range of perception. You only have a few chords, you set a pretty definite, contained, manageable little universe, and within that, you can explore a feeling you have, an emotion or an intention that wants to come through in music and words. For me, I need to keep it simple and manageable, so that I can focus and something can come out.
Tell us about Edmonton Alberta?
The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that it is a small city. Nobody comes here to "make it" in the arts, and I don't think that's a coincidence when you consider how vibrant--relatively, with the low population and low density and lack of cultural infrastructure, etc--Edmonton is. Hearing from friends in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, the scenes seem to be a bit more competitive, less encouraging. In Edmonton, there's a bit more of a feeling that we're all equals, we're all in this together, the only dividing line is whether or not we like each other's music, whatever your cup of tea is.
There are actually a staggering amount of musicians in this little city, from open mic/ basement/ weekend warriors to "serious" bands, and even in the category of "serious" bands, there are so many in so many different genres, little pockets of scenes that usually aren't aware of or interested in one another. Sometimes it feels like everyone knows everyone, but really it's a huge, sprawling, dislocated arts scene--which is fitting for Edmonton given its urban planning.
I feel really lucky to have fallen in with the Old Ugly folks. Over the last years, as so many of my older crew of friends moved away or went permanently on tour--the Born Gold/Purity Ring crew--I was feeling pretty isolated, and the Old Ugly thing was a really great, warm, comforting place that I sort of gravitated towards. I'm sure it's no coincidence that I say this and they happen to be my best friends, but those guys are consistently putting out some of my favourite music in Edmonton.
So, I actually first came across your work thru Weird Canada which has been such a great guide to all the great music happening currently (and in the past thru their Departures series)... I love Weird Canada.They're one of the only blogs I look at. The blogosphere is pretty big and daunting but Weird Canada is local, or it was til recently.
Right, yeah, Aaron Levin (who started Weird Canada in Jom's hometown of Edmonton Alberta) is rocking things out in Toronto now. They have a ton of great stuff coming up with Weird MTL and a bunch of great NXNE showcases.
I like their writing style. It's already ridiculous to try to write about music and they acknowledge that by writing in this exaggeratedly wordy, baroquely scientific style that can be downright hilarious at times. And the bands on there are typically really cool. I've discovered a lot of great Canadian bands from them.Yeah, absolutely, here as well. I especially urge anybody trying to program 40% Canadian Content for radio to take a look. And not just the radio programmers. 40% Canadian Content isn't even an issue anymore. Nor has it ever really been, but completely thanks to Weird Canada.
So you're here on Saturday evening, what else is up?
I'm doing this tour, my first big thing out of Edmonton. I'm testing out some new material for the next album. It was going to be a concept album - focusing around my neighborhood, around 99 street in Edmonton, around a whole winter, from the last throes of summer, through fall, through the worst awfulness of winter, and out again. I was going to look at the way that your experience of your surroundings changes with the seasons, and then I started thinking of the seasons as a marker of aging, of the circularity of life, etc, and that led to ideas about mortality, confronting the inevitability of death, etc. My grandmother just died, and a guy I knew growing up committed suicide recently. And I realized that death, the progression of life, aging, etc, was always a part of what I wanted to get at with this album. But there's also some stuff with dreams, particular dream landscapes that I go to, that I wanted to work in. It got pretty involved and convoluted.
But now I'm wondering if I should nevermind the whole concept album thing and just put out a solid record of "hits" if I can. So i'm still figuring that stuff out.
So as you travel across the country via Planes, Trains and Automobiles what are you listening to?
If we're going by youtube, i'll go by the performances on the videos, and not so much my favourite tracks. There are some great performances I love to watch.
The Band - Don't Do It--this is the one from Last Waltz. the audio on this is awful so i recommend just watching Last Waltz. it's a beautiful film anyway
Roy Orbison - The Comedians
The Dubliners - Rocky Road to Dublin
Tom Waits - Waltzing Matilda
New Order - Age of Consent
Also pleased to have on the bill:WATER ST. PROJECTS
http:// outofsoundrecords.bandcamp. com/album/bad-canada
Catch Jom Comyn at Hot Dog: