Anticon, The Postal Service, Electric President
Robert Jarvis (aka. Zeal) combines acoustic, electric and electronic sound sources, both live and programmed to create a world of inspired samples and gentle vocals. Find out how he combines ideas from Jose Gonzalez, The Strokes and personal phone conversations.
Interview: 4 September 2006
Describe your music.
I call it ‘beats based indie-pop’ but I don’t know if that’s what it really sounds like. I’ll think of a better way to describe it in the near future.
Who’s been a big musical influence for you?
At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Bright Eyes. He really has a way with words. There’s a Jazz singer called Carmen McRae who also has a place in my heart. Other than that, Sufjan Stevens is a pretty big influence. The whole bedroom producer thing is something that really interests me.
Tell us about the local electronic music community in Adelaide.
I don’t feel like I can comment on the electronic community here as I don’t really feel like I’ve become a part of it yet but the live scene here is great. I’ve been involved in the Rock and Hip-Hop scenes and the national community on the net has been amazingly supportive. I was recently included in the ‘Emergent’ compilation put out by Cyclic/Defrost magazine and through that have come into contact with some great musicians. Melbourne muso Faux Pas is set to remix ‘Yumi and the Sky’ soon which is pretty exciting.
How do you start writing your songs? On the computer? Piano? What inspires you?
I put together musical ideas on piano or guitar and then pile them together on the computer. I also steal a lot. For ‘Yumi and the Sky’ I stole the guitar tuning from Jose Gonzalez, the double bass sampling idea from a Strokes song and the lyrics for the chorus from a phone conversation with a friend. The clapping I originally recorded for a different song.
I’m starting to write more complete songs, which is different for me. I used to write songs as I recorded them, which made it hard to tell when they were finished…
How do you know when a song is finished?
I don’t really - I tend to tinker with songs endlessly. That’s probably the reason it’s taken me so long to finish my EP. My tune ‘Salt’ was originally written five years ago! Earlier this year I tore it apart and put vocals and guitar to it. Now I’m happy with it… I think.
What have you got planned for the future?
I’ve finished recording a seven track CD called ‘This Is How I Hear Your Voice’. It should be out late ’06. From there I’m going to go hunting for distribution.
Foundations are in place for a three-piece live band for Zeal and that should get under way late this year as well.
On top of the Zeal thing I’ve been playing bass in Emcee/Producer Subsketch’s group ‘The Antidote’ and rock band ‘Salty’ so there’s plenty to keep me busy.
Australian music is…
fertile, volatile and exciting.