Focus on mood and atmosphere: Jacco Gardner

Even though we’re still not done listening his first release Cabinet Of Curiosities, Jacco Gardner is releasing his second LP, Hypnophobia. Compared to his first effort, Hypnophobia offers a lot more darker psychedelia. The album title also points that fact, obviously. We had a chance to speak with the Dutch musician, before he head to a long tour in Europe and North America.

Interview by Cem Kayıran, Illustration by Duygu Topçu

Your tour starts tomorrow and your album will be out soon. How do you feel these days? 
It’s good. There’s a lot of excitement and of course a lot of work to be done. A lot of preperation and press stuff. The album is going to come out in two weeks I think. It’s a very busy but nice time.

You were in SXSW recently and you had a really busy schedule there. Have you played the new songs in SXSW?
We started to play new songs eight months ago with “Find Yourself” and then we added more songs on the way. We played about five new songs in SXSW. We’re still adding some of the new songs over time. We won’t play the whole new album probably because not all the songs are perfect for live situation. Probably we’ll play about eight songs from the new record.

Did you record the whole album by yourself again? 
I didn’t play drums but I played all the other instruments.

And are you touring with the same band?
At first, I played with two other people that left the band. We had to change two people. Now I play the guitars and there’s a new drummer.

Let’s talk about the new album, Hypnophobia. With the first two songs you released, I had this idea that this album is going to be darker than Cabinet Of Curiosities. 
Yeah it’s a bit darker, it’s true. Some people say it’s lighter which I don’t really agree with.

Can you tell me a little about your songwriting span for this album? What has changed from the previous time?
Some of the songs were written on tour. I had samples from my instruments. And I recorded them and I was able to work on samples. I had this tiny keyboard in the van. So there’s not much time for me to visit the studio that much. I had some stuff written on the road. The process was a little different than the first album. It resulted in different kind of songs and different sorts of sounds as well. There’s a lot of sounds that I’ve been using just for the songwriting. Some of those sounds still made it on the record, even though they’re just sample sounds that I recorded for practical reasons. That’s a difference. There are some songs that I wrote in the studio, like the first album. With just grabbing a guitar, trying some chords on keyboards and stuff.

I know that there were some songs in your first album that you wrote six years ago. Are there any songs like that in Hypnophobia?
No. That’s another difference actually. The new album is more in the moment I guess. It’s been written and recorded in the same period. It’s a pretty big difference when you compare to the first one. Many of the songs that I’ve been working on years before I recorded their final versions for that album. But the music that I recorded for the new album is more inspired by things that I was inspired by during the writing. So this is a little bir more one movement thing, one process.

So using those samples in the songs means a lot more right now. It was more like on the moment decisions I suppose.
Yeah exactly. Because I was able to use those sounds being on the road and stuff. I can get more inspired by being on the road as well. That happens automatically I guess. You’re out on the road and places that you’ve never been before. And you’re finding out new sounds at the same time. It’s bound to influence each other.

So you should come over İstanbul and get some inspiration from here as well!
I’ve been there once before and it was really really great! It’s a beautiful city! My brother lived there for six months and I visited him for a week. That’s the only time I’ve been there.

Musically what has inspired you the most in this album? What were you listening to when you were writing the songs?
I also influenced by the music of the people around me. Everybody in the band has a really great music taste. Also living with the Frank, my keyboard player. He had a lot of music that I never heard before. We all have the similar taste. It’s cinematic, groovy, 70’s… It’s sort of psychedelic but it’s not like a garage band I think.

When you released the first single of the new album, “Find Yourself”, you released another song with that as well called “Mixed Feelings”. I guess that’s not in the album. What’s the story of that song? Why did you keep it apart from the album?
Well, I’ve been finished the album and I needed a B-side for the single release. I didn’t have much songs. This song felt like a B-side. I could have put it in the end of the album I guess but it felt better as a B-side. Also there are so many instrumentals in the album. Adding another one might be too much.

When I heard the song “Find Yourself”, I told my friends that this album is going to be more darker andhypnotic. And then I read that you named the album Hypnophobia. Everything fit together after that.
Have you seen the video of that song?

Yeah! I loved it! I was about to ask a question about it. Whose idea was that?
It’s a pretty dark video. I worked together with the director, a friend of mine Bear Damen. He came with some ideas. I didn’t like his first idea. I explained the song to him, what the song is about. He came with the second idea and that was the final idea. He filmed it in Switzerland. Somethings has changed in the end. But all and all, a lot of those was his idea. Liquids and stuff are a collaboration between me and him. Those things were my ideas, I’ve been making those visuals.  But it was mostly his visionary. He made a really nice video. I’m very happy with that.

In our previous interview, you told me that your siblings were the ones that got you into the music.
Well, when people ask me about how I started to listen to music, I really don’t remember it much. My brothers and my sister, they were all playing guitar, saxophone and all other instruments. Even before I was doing anything, they were already in music schools and learning instruments. It was really natural thing.

So what do they think about your music?
It depends. One of my brothers is really into electronic and dance music. He’s a radio DJ and he has a really different taste. My eldest brother is more into Turkish groovy stuff and Ethiophian music, mostly groove based, funk and stuff like that. And my sister is more into music therapy. They all understand my music and why I make it the way I make it.

I guess I saw a photo that you were recording your sister. Was that for the album?
Yeah, she played on two songs.

I have one more question. What would you say if you try to describe the new album to someone who hasn’t heard of your music before?
Hmm… I’d say it’s a dreamy surreal atmosphere and the focus is on the mood and on the atmosphere a lot. But I think I would still call it melodic pop. There are a lot of experimental things. And also there’s a balance with the accesible mainstream pop. And also 60’s and 70’s influences of course.