There isn’t much of a “scene” for wordless, beat-less drone music; so if you’re going to produce it, be prepared to relish time by yourself. Canadian producer Kyle Bobby Dunn thrives in this lonesome endeavour, as you can hear on his second double album Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn, out on UK label Low Point this month.
Dunn’s quiet productions are perfect for contemplation, yet his music is embraced by the frantically-paced blogosphere (as well as Pitchfork, NPR, and the New York Times). Ambient music tends to promote self-reflection, but Dunn’s sensibility is unique and bluntly honest (see Movement for the Completely Fucked), providing introspective people with a soundtrack for their lives. Today, the 26-year-old tells us about the inspiration for Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn, which, among other things, stems from existential limbo and lost love, not to mention an appreciation for Canadian nature … and strip malls.
– Marsha Casselman
How does “Bring me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn” differ from your former works “A Young Person’s Guide” and “Ways of Meaning”?
Kyle Bobby Dunn: A Young Person’s Guide was a lot about space, sort of comfortable space with oneself and the world outside of one’s head. There are some sad comforts there as well, but on Ways of Meaning, I tried to embrace the miserable – to turn bright moments on the ones that looked very bleak. The song Movement for the Completely Fucked was like a smile at a funeral sort of song. The new album is like taking a walk to your favourite lake and finding a big hole there, and still walking around in that hole.
What do you mean by the hole?
I guess I mean that I’ve realized there was once a beauty in my life and being haunted by it still and living with that, it’s like walking around in something that isn’t there anymore, but felt, and it just plays deeply into the new work.
You just released a video for “An Evening with Dusty.” Is there a concept behind that song?
An Evening With Dusty stems from a strange Christmas eve I had in 2004 with this girl and her mother. We sat around drinking espressos and touching the piano until the wee hours. I have no idea what ever happened to them
, they just vanished from my life after that evening. Or maybe I vanished? Either or, I was haunte
d by that evening and it kind of tied a knot about how much of my life in the southern United States vanished in a sad and almost mysterious way.
And what is the inspiration for “Moitie et Moitie”
It’s basically how I can feel pretty awful and pretty good at the same time. How I seem to be one person but also someone I don’t really know – and it’s a daily thing for me.
Moitié et Moitié by kyle bobby dunn
How has your upbringing in Toronto and living in Calgary influenced your work?
I was born outside of Toronto in the Mississauga area and spent a lot of time in the Muskoka and Lake of Bays area when I was a child. The beauty, but rather bittersweet situation of going there to visit relatives and really another life altogether has certainly helped mold the sounds I make now… Calgary has some very beautiful parts mixed in with the very bland, boring, and dullness. I spent a lot of time near the Glenmore Reservoir, Fish Creek Park, and loved stretching out to the foothills and mountainous parts. But in my music anything from a washroom or old video store at a suburban strip plaza to a large, magnificent hill dense in forests has been an inspiration.
I moved there for school and a certain someone, but neither school nor the person worked out for me so I began performing and trying to approach my life as an artist might, but I just don’t know if I am. My new album is basically about being as lost as one might ever possibly be with oneself.
Your music exacerbates what I happened to be feeling at the time, whether it be sadness or hope or peacefulness. Would you say your music attracts ‘feeling types’ or ‘thinking types’?
A lot of both. I actually went on a lot of bike rides and rides out into the country while digesting the sounds of the new songs. I felt like doing things, which might be a good sign for this music that must seem like “inactive” music for a lot of people. There is no rhythm, no catchy chorus line, no rock outs, yet I really want to play concerts at indoor swimming pools and maybe in environments where people can walk around or be adventurous. I think it can also compliment a good, aged glass of wine or whisky though and you wouldn’t want to be in a swimming pool for that. It gets harder and harder to talk about my music without sounding like a complete retard – maybe I am and nobody had the heart to tell me ever.
It’s perfect for meditation. Do you meditate, and do you see others using it for that purpose?
I don’t meditate, perhaps I should. I think the music, for me, is reflective and contemplative. Maybe it can inspire thoughts or ideas, but I really don’t know what exact purpose it serves the listener.
The interviewer at NPR described it as music for lonely people. Perhaps more aptly it’s for introverted people?
I think people are very afraid to embrace the fact that they are all lonely. Even those who sitting around with their friends thinking they aren’t. But I’m not trying to say I am cooler than thou because I am lonely or anything, I just unfortunately feel it more than most people probably. But it’s nice too, I mean I love going out for an evening of terrible dance music or drinks with friends, but I am still very much into being by myself with quieter music playing in my ears. And I suffer weird looks from that still. It’s like people are in some kind of competition to prove they aren’t lonely or something. I would hope any person could enjoy my music, because every person is lonely. I’m sure the NPR guy knows that.