As a music engineer, helping to produce works for Nitin Sawhney, Basement Jaxx, Courtney Barnett, and the London Symphony Orchestra, Reuben Hollebon was the man behind the scenes. But imagine not even picking up a guitar till your late teens and then realize there is this “voice” and “echo.” Hollebon’s debut full length Terminal Nostalgia was released last May a collection of powerful quaint songs that reflect that tenacity and strength of Damien Rice, Conor Oberst and Nick Drake. The self produced album is illuminated with a a quiet strength and voice that urges listeners without hesitation to proclaim – “wow!”
Glide is premiering the video for the stark acoustic version of “Augustus” off Terminal Nostalgia. “Augustus” was taped in Lee Russell’s Studio (a converted chapel in Northamptonshire) with Lee playing piano. Lee helped produce “Augustus,” as well as four other tracks on the album. ““Augustus” is inspired directly by the story of Augustus John, a painter,” says Hollebon about the track. “He left London just as he was becoming infamous, moved out to Wales, and painted a favorite hill, living as a gypsy for a while. I admired that, and copied it for a while in my own way, this is a note to that ambition.”
Check out the stark and fragile video below along with an insightful Q & A with Hollebon about his debut album..
Your debut album Terminal Nostalgia has been out for a few months now. Explain what the term Terminal Nostalgia means to you and how you decided on it for the album title?
It comes from Breakfast of Champions by Vonnegut, “Behind his mask was a young man in the terminal stages of nostalgia and lover’s nuts”. The two words stuck together and were an attempt at a warning to end the loop of nostalgia that life can be at times.
You spent time as a recording engineer for several well-known acts, including Lianne La Havas, Paul McCartney and The London Symphony Orchestra – is there anything specific you took from each of these three artists when making your debut?
I have been fortunate enough to work with a fair variety of artists and producers, all with different approaches. The favorites tend not to work alone too often, therefore everything they record becomes a performance even if it’s only to one person, and that comes across in the final mix. Those that have a career work at it, know that it’s a good but tough job, any importantly they carry on, having talent is rarely enough.
I see words like sparse and meditative often used when describing your music – how do you best describe what you are trying to communicate to your listeners?
Music to can be a meditation, and my songs lend themselves to intent more often than a narrative story. The sparse moments such as “Fields,” “for Fields,” “Common Table” and “Augustus” have become pauses between heavy walls of sound information. “Faces” and “On & On” are chaotically full, it may be that they actually overflow with rhythms and melodies close in on themselves.
It seems you had a solid career as an engineer – why take the leap of faith to become a solo artist of your own? Was there a particular moment of inspiration?
I don’t feel the two are disconnected, both are entirely necessary to make a good record. The change was obvious once I’d made a record that meant something to me, that was a track called “Seven.” I cut down on the engineering and mixing and got further into writing. Now I do both but if I were to engineer I’d need to get up to speed again, it’s hard to do well and there are a lot of good people to look up to.
Is there anything in your music you would have done differently had you not been an engineer? Did it allow you to reimagine or edit your work differently?
I would’ve had a producer on board the whole time, I should do that anyway, and have other musicians around more often. When I produce myself I get a particular color of sound, another colrur from other ears is a worthy thing.
Who are your musical inspirations these days and ideally whose solo career do you most admire?
At the moment musical I’m addicted to Beethoven, I also really like Vulfpeck and the amount of fun they are throwing into what they do. Beck and PJ Harvey are two of my greats, continually interesting and individual. “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea” is a seminal record in my life.
How have your solo shows transpired so far and what have been some of your most memorable performances to date?
Playing on a beach in front of 2000 people in Denmark at sunset, and that was before having a recording label or any of the extra’s that come, that was a good moment.
Favorite albums of 2016 so far?
IV – BadBadNotGood
Furnaces – Ed Harcourt
Timmy’s Prayer – Sampha (Just a single for now but I really like what he is up to.)
Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead
Photo by Myriam Santos