There’s music that makes you happy and music that makes you sad. Michael Aston’s solo project Knightstown is the best of both world, the kind of music that will amplify your happiness or add vivid colour to your sadness, maybe also the kind that will guide you to light. Musically speaking, there are many ways to describe Knightstown: it’s experimental, downtempo electronic music with dashes of pop, like sugar candy on an ice cream cone. Well, that last bit is mostly about “Catcher,” second track from Aston’s self-titled EP.
Having listened to Knightstown’s imaginative, melodic, and at times dark collection we felt an urgent need to get to know him, here’s what we learned:
Quip: Hello Michael, perhaps let’s start at the beginning – when did your relationship with music begin?
Michael Aston: It started properly with violin lessons when I was in primary school. Or going back even further, my love of Bach and the violin might have something to do with the fact that when mum was expecting me she developed an obsession with playing Bach’s violin concertos, so that will have been the first music I ever heard – which is pretty cool!
Q: That’s awesome. And how did Knightstown come about?
MA: Myself and Tom [Aston, cousin and producer] have been working together for years in a rewarding songwriter/producer collaboration. While I was doing my MA up in Glasgow I heard that someone in the Composition department called Chris Duncan had signed with a label called FatCat Records after submitting a demo. I became good friends with Chris and submitted a demo myself to FatCat called “Disparity’” which went down well. Then after a couple of years freelancing in classical and theatre a wrote an electronic vocal album which Tom produced and I managed to sign with FatCat at the end of 2016.
Q: Are you planning on any collaborations in the future?
MA: There are some exciting collaborations in the pipeline, but all in embryonic stages at the moment – watch this space! I love collaborating with other artists and producers. In terms of established artists or collectives I’d like to work with – Snarky Puppy, Metropole Orkest, Laura Mvula, LCV Choir…
Q: Good list! And what do you draw on when writing your songs?
MA: The world is a messy and imperfect place, and I am an idealist and perfectionist – so that’s a bit of a shame! Most of my noble ideas and intentions get thrown into songwriting and composing. Music is a kind of escapism in one sense as it is the only world that really makes sense to me, reality seems so scary and uncontrollable – But then it is more than escapism, it is deep-seated desire in my heart to create and serve something beautiful and infinite.
Q: You once said that “life is more fully experienced away from technology” – what’s your relationship with technology like?
MA: I have to put strict limits on my use of technology, or else I go through life feeling sad and restless. Modern technology can be very useful and wonderful, but people seem to worship it without realising now, which doesn’t seem healthy to me. Like anything it is best used in moderation. You know that bit in the film Wall-E with all the humans in the space station? That’s where we are heading!
Q: Deffinitly, and missing out on so much behind the “black mirrors.”
All right, a few rapid fire questions: Favourite 5 record albums:
MA: This is an ever-changing list:
Laura Mvula – with the Metropole Orkest
James Blake The Colour In Anything
Fleetwood Mac Rumours
Beach Boys Greatest Hits (don’t judge me)
Bach Matthew Passion John Eliot Gardiner
Q: Favourite thing to do on a Sunday
MA: Sunday – day off, relax, read, drink coffee in silence, see friends and family
Q: And lastly, what does 2018 have planned for you, Knightstown is on it’s way, is there a tour?
MA: EP coming out in March, and Album in July, and two more singles. Hoping to tour soon enough, Matt and I are still honing our live act which we wan’t to get right before going out on the road properly!