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Interview: Jason M Norwood

‘This month: Jason M Norwood, native to London, ON, Canada and long-time veteran here – was kind enough to give us his words about #WEATNU, his former artist name, Minutes After, and his latest release under the Berlin School music he creates.’

Interview by: Almark

Hello Jason, please tell in your own words what #WEATNU has done for you. Tell us a story of your own?

JN: I like to search for new music a lot, and I can’t remember for the life of me how I discovered her, but I discovered an artist named Adryelle, and reached out via Twitter to mention I was a fan.  Almark and I got talking through Twitter threads, and I discovered that he ran this enterprise called WEATNU.  Running a tiny little label myself, we got talking on that score, and at the same time I was looking for a home for Minutes After, a techno-based solo project of mine that didn’t fit with my label’s aesthetic.  The rest is fairly normal—I sent Almark some music, he liked it and asked about releasing it, and I signed on.  I liked the concept of WEATNU being an artist-helping-artists collective, which is something I’ve always strongly believed in.

It’s funny, because I’ve since devolved my label into an artist collective.  Minutes After is shelved, but for the first time I get to release my 25-year-long solo project (stuff under my own name) with WEATNU—no talk of “I want another Minutes After” album, just support for the broader sense of what I do.

I get to talk to a like-minded label head, I get to support an idea that I agree with, and I get to be a part of a community where I can offer my skills and bounce ideas off of others.  What’s not to like?

How did you first find out about #WEATNU and what were your thoughts initially?

JN: I think I got drawn into #WEATNU because I saw a kindred spirit in this unwieldy thing called the music business.  I’d been running my own thing, Hope Mansion Recordings, for a while, and it was nice to see something in operation that was designed to help artists.  At the same time, I had a rare side project called Minutes After, which was heavily techno-based and didn’t sit right on my own label, so I decided to give it a home I liked and respected, where it would be a little cozier.

I can’t say there was anything specific I wanted out of #WEATNU going into that.  Out of head-to-head conversations between two people trying to do something different in music, the whole conversation seemed to develop naturally.  I also liked the idea of supporting something whose ideals I agreed with.

Fast forward to now, and although Minutes After has ended, we’re talking about releasing the Berlin-school electronic music I release under my own name.  It’ll be the first time in 25 years I’ve put that project out under a different label, which gives you an idea of how I get along with #WEATNU.

What do you feel #WEATNU is doing for the modern indie artist, how is it serving them, because now we have our magazine once again?

JN:  I think the word “flexibility” is the first thing that comes to mind.  In a world where artists can be independent and make good quality albums in the comfort of their own personal studios, sacrificing things like artistic control isn’t really necessary.  Also, technology has led to a lot of possibilities as to how a label can operate.  So, #WEATNU doesn’t look to sign people to take control, I think it’s about asking the artists “What do you need?”  It’s all there, but you have the freedom to operate on a loose alliance or a full signing, and everything in between.

I’ve always felt the most interesting independent labels are the ones where you like one artist, you get curious and start crate-digging through the label roster, and #WEATNU has that in spades, but also it uses what’s there to give artists a platform to talk about what they do—hence, the magazine.  Not only putting out music, but providing the story behind it in a way that fans want more of now than they ever did.

Where do you see #weatnurecords going, now that we are nearing our 5th year?

JN: I think the label will continue to do good things!  I think the fact that its different approach is what gives it prominence—this idea that artists and labels can make the goals a common drive rather than have an employer/employee relationship is healthier, and it will allow the artists on #WEATNU the chance to show what they can do without having to change themselves or their art.

Almark – #WEATNU Digital Magazine – Nov 2019
Proofing: Jason M Norwood

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The History of Electronic Music: 20s to 30s

By Dave Bulera

Electronic music has roots dating back to the 19th century, but it really started to take shape in the decade of the 1920s to 1930s.

During the 1920s there was a burst of interest in building an extraordinary variety of instruments, ranging from practical to absurd.
It brought the development of audio-frequency technology.

By the early 1920s basic circuits for sine-, square-, and sawtooth-wave generators had been invented, as had amplifiers, filter circuits, and, most importantly, loudspeakers. (Sine waves are signals consisting of “pure tones” i.e., without overtones; sawtooth waves comprise fundamental tones and all related overtones; square waves consist only of the odd-numbered partials, or component tones, of the natural harmonic series.) Also, mechanical acoustical recording was replaced by electrical recording in the late 1920s.

It also brought the development of electromechanical and electronic musical instruments designed to replace existing musical instruments, specifically, the invention of electronic organs. This was a remarkable achievement and one that absorbed the attention of many ingenious inventors and circuit designers.

This decade brought a wealth of early electronic instruments and the first compositions for electronic instruments.

Electronic instruments invented during this period include the:

Theremin (1919-20)

Ondes-Martenot (1928)


images (13)
Trautonium (1928)


Hammond Organ (1929)

One of the first instruments, was the Etherophone. It was later renamed the Theremin. The Theremin was invented in 1920 by Lev Sergeevi, Theremin better known by his westernized name L. Theremin. He was a Russian inventor and scientist who developed it within a Russian government sponsored project on proximity sensors. He later patented in 1928 in the USA where Lev on moved after showing his invention across Europe.

The instrument is known for it’s eerie and ethereal sound often used in old thriller movies; it’s main characteristic is that it’s played by moving one’s hands in mid air between two antennas. This led to the first compositions for electronic instruments, as opposed to noisemakers and re-purposed machines. In 1929, Joseph Schillinger composed First Airphonic Suite for Theremin and Orchestra. It premiered with the Cleveland Orchestra with Leon Theremin as soloist.

How many of you know what this instrument is?
Even if you don’t, there’s a good chance you’ve heard it many times.

The instrument was used not only in movies but also for all sorts of music, initially symphonic but surprisingly it’s present throughout rock history from the sixties through the present.

You can find it’s use in the following songs, listen carefully for that unique sound.
Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations”
The Pixies – “Velouria”
Garbage – “Cup of Coffee”
Cake – “Guitar”
L.A. Guns – “Malaria”
Chris Cornell – “Follow my Way”
Shinedown – “Better Version”
Soul Coughing – “4 Out Of 5”
Led Zeppelin – “Whole Lotta Love – with Theremin solo”
Guster – “All The Way Up To Heaven”
Tenacious D – “Wonderboy”
And many more….

You can also find its use in video games.
Composer Gary Schyman used a Theremin for the musical score of the 2005 videogame “Destroy All Humans”.
Lydia Kavina’s solo theremin is featured on the soundtrack for the 2006 MMORPG computer game “Soul of the Ultimate Nation”, composed by Howard Shore.

Today Theremins are produced by several companies, one being Moog. The late Bob Moog was fascinated by this instrument which is the basis of his modern synthesizers.

Here are some examples of the Theremin in use:

The first one is Lev on Theremin demonstrating his invention.

The second, “Cup of Coffee” by Garbage.

The third, Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” with their Theremin and violin bow solo.

The last, see what this street musician does with a looper, a Bassoon, and a Theremin

Music creativity has no limits.

The method of photo-optic sound recording used in cinematography made it possible to obtain a visible image of a sound wave, as well as to realize the opposite goal, synthesizing a sound from an artificially drawn sound wave.

Recording of sounds made a leap in 1927, when American inventor J. A. O’Neill developed a recording device that used magnetically coated ribbon. However, this was a commercial failure. The invention is attributed to both American inventor J. A. O’Neill and German engineer Fritz Pfleumer. Pfleumer filed the first audiotape patent in 1929. In 1935, the German electronics firm AEG produced a prototype (first version) of a record/playback machine, called a magnetophon. It was based on Pfleumer’s idea, but used a plastic tape. Another firm, BASF, went on to refine the tape AEG used, presenting the first usable magnetic tape in 1935.

The Ondes Martenot was invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot, who debuted it in Paris.
Jonny Greenwood is often credited with bringing the Ondes to a larger audience through Radiohead’s Kid A (2000), Amnesiac (2001), Hail to the Thief (2003), In Rainbows (2007), and The King of Limbs (2011) albums. Greenwood uses the Ondes Martenot often in his solo efforts, and has written a piece for the instrument, entitled Smear.
In live concerts, Radiohead have used six Ondes for “How to Disappear Completely”.

The Ondes Martenot was also utilized by Bryan Ferry, in 1999, on the album As Time Goes By. It was also used by Joe Jackson on his 1988 soundtrack album for Tucker: The Man and His Dream, and his 1994 album Night Music. Recently, Ondist Thomas Bloch has toured in Tom Waits and Robert Wilson’s show “The Black Rider” with Marianne Faithfull (2004-06) and in Gorillaz leader Damon Albarn’s show “Monkey: Journey to the West” (2007 onward).
In 2009, bruit direct disques released a 12′ , 45rpm vinyl record of original Ondes Martenot compositions by Accident du travail.

In their 2013 album Random Access Memories, Daft Punk used the Ondes Martenot on Track #7 – “Touch” featuring Paul Williams. It was played by Thomas Bloch.

In 1929, Laurens Hammond established his company for the manufacture of electronic instruments. He went on to produce the Hammond organ, which was based on the principles of the Telharmonium, along with other developments including early reverberation units. Hammond (along with John Hanert and C. N. Williams) would also go on to invent another electronic instrument, the Novachord, which Hammond’s company manufactured from 1939-1942.
The first opera to be written with electronic instruments was Antheil’s Mr. Bloom. This was composed in 1929, but was never finished.

In this same period, experiments began with sound art, early practitioners of which include Tristan Tzara, Kurt Schwitters, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and others.

A continuation to this story, The History of Electronic Music: 30s to the 40s, will be coming soon.

Wikipedia Electronic Music
Wikipedia Theremin
Wikipedia Ondes Martenot
Encyclopaedia Britannica Electronic music
blogcritics Music Playlist: Songs of Theremin
Science Clarified Magnetic recording/audiocassette
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