Music has always been my recourse whenever I need to reflect on life and process my experiences. I make experimental music in the ambient electronic genre because it is inherently meditative and I want my music to have that quality in some form. In pursuit of this, I build my music around loops, using repeating melodies like mantras. Each repetition distills some things and crystallises others, whether they are thoughts, ideas or emotions. This cathartic cycle directly informed my approach to the music on Airship. I methodically assembled layers of musical phrases around a central refrain, which either plays throughout the track or emerges at a key moment.
I first came across airships in Hayao Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Kiki’s Delivery Service. In “Laputa”, an airship is a mythical machine dominating the sky, and in “Kiki”, a majestic but fragile giant. However, it was the song “Airships” by VNV Nation that planted the seeds for what eventually became Airship. Its lyrics describe an airship as a symbol of humanity’s hopes and dreams, a theme that resonated with me, very powerfully. I wanted to create something similar in experimental music and this concept album was the result.
An unconventional soundtrack
Airship is an unconventional soundtrack to lighter-than-air flight. Each track describes an aspect of airship travel: the preparations before departure (“Hangar”, “A Good Day for Flying”); the impressive scale of the aircraft (“Giant in the Sky”); its stateliness in flight (“Airship”); the romance of its journey (“Silently You Sail”); and its arrival (“Destination”). I wanted to inspire nostalgia and to convey wonderment and awe, but I also wanted to communicate the risks involved: bad weather and mechanical failure were ever-present threats that could spell disaster, and I express this reality in the sombreness of the music.
Just one track
If you only had time to listen to one track on the album, I would recommend the title track, “Airship”. It describes an airship as it appears on the horizon, sweeps overhead, and sails into the distance. The music is slow and dignified—almost cinematic. It is my best attempt at capturing my fascination with airships in music. It was also an opportunity to use a French horn, one of my favourite instruments. I hope it resonates with you as it does with me and that it inspires you to hang on to your own sense of wonder.
It is seven days till the launch of my first album, Airship. I am excited because I am eager to officially share my music. It felt as if 12 December would never come—and now it is just days away! I am also nervous because I find myself questioning every creative decision I have made. Putting your work out there is a litmus test of how good you are. When something as personal as your music comes under fire, it can be devastating. But, I have not been without encouragement. There have been pre-orders, positive comments, upvotes and likes; and a few days ago, the band whose song began my airship obsession tweeted: “Love what I heard.”
@forgotnfields just saw the trailer. Love what i heard. The mood reminded me of touches of the Tumbled Sea’s first CD.
Lately, I have been active on Twitterand Minds, and have also been posting on Google+. In the build-up to the launch of Airship, I find myself ever more obsessed with the history of lighter-than-air flight. This has resulted in daily posts on the subject with documentary photographs. I welcome you to join me on Twitter (@forgottenfield), Minds (@forgottenfields) and Google+, if you are on these platforms. I look forward to seeing you there and I hope you will share in my excitement for the upcoming release!
Many years ago, I was introduced to VNV Nation. The album was Futureperfect (2002). From the first minute, I was hooked. The track that captured my imagination most was “Airships”, the final track on the album. It planted the seeds for what ultimately became my own Airship, nearly a decade and a half later. Their lyrics describe someone watching an airship as it flies above a city, reflected in the skyscrapers, “splendid and graceful”. The onlooker joins a host of others, amazed and rejoicing at the sight:
I was not alone, I think it was the first time
Watching you rise splendid and graceful.
I cheered as you sailed, a greatness unknown,
I laughed as I waved, imagined you saw me.
In the streets of the city, the windows of buildings,
A million faces gazing upwards in wonder,
A million faces together and cheering and smiling!
You were the warmth of their hearts, you were the sum of their dreams.
In the coldness of morning you brought warmth to their lives,
Giving this feeling of wonder I could not imagine,
You unlocking these thoughts no book and no picture could ever convey.
This feeling and morning had opened a door.
I stepped into a new world, I watched you fly,
Saw you as a friend, the spirit of dreams,
Imagined a new world, lands far away,
And imagined those faces as you hung in their sky.
— From “Airships” by VNV Nation, Futureperfect (2002)
I breathe a sigh of longing whenever I listen to that song; it is otherworldly and inspiring. It describes what I felt when I wrote the music for Airship. I wanted to capture and convey that feeling of wonder. I hope I have succeeded.