Richard Youngs is a household name to most. For over 15 years, Youngs has been churning out majestic, progressive folk-infused records for labels such as Jagjaguwar, VHF, and more. Last year he even took part as bassist in the worldwide unveiling of Jandek's live show. If all this wasn't enough, Youngs is also involved with countless collaborative projects with the likes of Simon Wickham-Smith, Alex Neilson, Alastair Galbraith, Matthew Bowers, Tirath Singh Nirmala, and others. And he works a day job. So the logical question seems to be: When does Richard Youngs sleep? Unfortunately, I forgot to ask him that, but he did take the time to answer a number of other questions in September 2006 through email.
Well, I've made music as long as I can remember - ever since I was a child - and recorded the stuff as long as I've had the technology - I began with a cheap cassette player. So, it's strange to think what it'd be like not to make or record music. It seems unnatural! As for releases...yeah, I take pride in what I release, and I feel good when I think stuff fits together.
I make music with friends. So, it's a social thing, the collaborations. I'm an only child, so I guess I've always amused myself pretty well - which is maybe what I'm doing with the solo stuff.
We met at university. I overheard a conversation and butted in. We always had a shared interest in music. But, we knew each other for quite a while before we recorded anything together. Actually, the Lake double album was the result of me saying jokingly to Simon after I'd pressed up Advent that next was the double album. He called my bluff and we found ourselves recording together.
We thought that whenever we got together we spent far too much time making music and that it'd be nice to do other things. You know, hang out, go for coffee. So, we thought we'd ration the music. The bizarre thing to me about that release, and Simon agrees, is that the whole thing sounds like it could've been made in one afternoon - there really was no development in how we worked over the five years, there probably never has been. I'm kinda proud of this. We did think about making a large banner that read 'No Progress' and pose with it for the sleeve. Instead we went to the park and took a spool of film.
I'm recording away on a pretty regular basis with Andrew Paine, and doing more duo stuff with Alex Neilson. A few months back I made some music with Sushil Dade, who is Future Pilot A.K.A. - that was fun, and it's come out quite poppy.
Alex was in touch with Alastair, and I'm a fan of Alastair's music. We went from there. Alex and I sent him a few things and he sent us a few. After a few more exchanges and overdubs, we had an album.
Not recording, no. I'm with friends. Playing solo live, yes. That can be incredibly nerve-racking: stomach cramps, tension headaches... Last year I did this solo unaccompanied voice performance at a festival in Gateshead, and there was a free meal beforehand, and I could barely touch it I was so nervous. And I like my food.
Oh no. I think generally it's a great way to make friends.
Thanks for the compliment. I'd been giving away copies of 'Summer Wanderer'. Mostly to friends, occasionally as way of a thank you when I'd been sent something Word must have got about because it seemed like there were people who knew of its existence, hadn't heard it, and really wanted to hear it. So, I made it more available as a public service, I guess. And it was very enjoyable doing the cottage industry thing - burning the cds, cutting and pasting the sleeves. So, the other two followed. You're right, they're the first thing on No Fans since the 'Zenith' album by Ilk that have been distributed in any way.
I'm glad you like it so much. I remember going on holiday to a really quiet place in France - actually the sleeve photo was taken there, it's a holiday snap - and I think the idea for it came then. And, yeah, a few months later once I'd got enough words, I sang the thing direct to dat.
Getting enough quiet - we live over underground train tracks and every so often a train rumbles away underneath. So I avoided rush hour... What was most rewarding? I don't know. I enjoyed the whole thing.
I've been physically removed from a stage, but at the time I was young and intense, and this was what I was after - so that wasn't so bad, though I wouldn't want the confrontation these days. Probably, the worst thing that can happen is finding yourself in front of an audience and simply feel a little too self-conscious and get to thinking: why am I doing this? There is something absurd when you've a room full of people looking at you doing something which is really rather personal.
We've known each other for years, through Neil. His early John Clyde-Evans lp is one of the few experimental records I return to, and when he started churning out those cdrs, the time seemed right to record together, something we had never managed to do up until then.
No, I don't listen to Japanese traditional music, or any other. I like the sound of the shakuhachi, and it's a nice instrument to play.
I'm still enjoying the shakuhachi. I had a session with it yesterday, infact. And, I've played it solo in front of an audience. I sometimes wonder if my electric guitar playing could stand up on its own.
Vinyl is, I think, my favourite way to listen to music. I like how you have to be careful with it, and there is something so right about an enforced interval after 20 or so minutes, and that an album is no more than 45 minutes in total. It makes so much sense for those records to be on vinyl, and when Jagjaguwar suggested it I was very excited. I've just got the pressings of Sapphie and Advent through, and they sound really good. They've done a lovely job.
None, I hope.
I guess like anyone, I'm a product of my environment and I react to it. Although, where I live I don't think affects me too much. I live in a city and it's not like I make urban music.
I've no immediate plans to play America, though it'd be nice to do so at some point. The next gig I'm due to do is Nightmare Before Christmas in early December. I have a day job, and I tend to just play one-off shows so touring isn't an option. It's also nice that shows are special.
It's been a pleasure doing the interview. Thank you.
-- Brad Rose (2 October, 2006)