Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Herb Magee AKA Arvo Party find out more about him…
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I’m from Belfast, Northern Ireland. I got into music the same way most people my age did, via the radio. Def Leppard caught my ear at a young age and it’s been downhill ever since. I was a participant in the ‘home taping’ that was ‘killing music’. Little did we know then what streaming would do for that idea.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
I was raised on rock music, all the usual 90s suspects like Metallica, Pantera, Aerosmith, The Wildhearts etc. Eventually I caught on to Nine Inch Nails, then David Bowie and my horizons broadened considerably after that. I spent much of my 20s playing bass in a rock band called LaFaro but when that ended I rediscovered my love for classical and electronic music. I suppose seeing what Trent Reznor was doing, mostly on his own, is what inspired me to try to do the same. Discovering the likes of Jon Hopkins and Rival Consoles also spurred me on to do my own thing. Bands are great but it’s a melting pot, the ideas get distracted and watered down. On my own that doesn’t happen so much.
How would you describe your sound?
I don’t know if I have a way to describe my sound really as, apart from the odd fully formed idea, I’m always trying to do something new. That’s important to the essence of what I’m trying to achieve when I sit down to write. Brand new sounds and non rhythmic ideas are as important to me as the familiarity of a simple kick drum repeating in groups of 4. They both have their benefits and if it suits the mood of the idea then that’s ok. Obviously the sound is mostly electronic but both digital and analog.
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
My latest single is called ‘Liberté’ and has been kicking around as an idea for a while. I tend to shy away from strong beats for the most part but this track was an attempt to embrace the beat while also making use of a chord progression that had been around for a while. I like to start simple then add harmony after harmony and that’s what happened with this particular track. I’m very happy with how it turned out even though it doesn’t quite fit with a lot of my other music but that’s ok. Spice of life and all that...
What’s your local music scene like?
The local music scene in Northern Ireland has always been very strong. I’ve been a part of it for 20 years now and to see the wealth of talented artists breaking through is genuinely inspiring. It’s definitely interesting to see it from the other side now though. As I don’t tend to gig I’m seeing it much more objectively and am not involved in the competitive side, like I used to be. It’s also different to be a part of the electronic side, I tend not to mingle so well socially but thanks to the sheer power of the internet, I don’t have to.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
The next 12 months is looking relatively busy with regards to releases. I’ve produced a few things which should hopefully see the light of day as well as having 4 or 5 remixes waiting to come out. On top of that I’m working on the next Arvo Party record and trying to see what shape and colour it’ll be from the 25 tracks I have right now. I suspect something similar to the debut but, of course, darker. Unless I scrap it and make a funk album. Which is just as likely. All of that and trying to figure out if I can do any of this stuff in a live setting too.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
If I could have collaborated with anyone it would have been David Bowie but that’s not going to happen for a while I guess. There are plenty of people I admire, too many to choose from really but seeing how I don’t really sing I’d have to say The Staves because those voices are just incredible and I’d love to drench them in reverb.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
Regarding live performances, I’ve managed to avoid that completely under the Arvo Party name so far but in former bands there have been plenty of gig related mishaps. Chipped teeth, broken noses, police, countless dead vans and far too many moments of me being drunk and pulling my jack lead out of my tuner by accident. Not to mention wayward backing vocals.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
The one thing that I would want your readers to know about me is that
You can find out more about Arvo Party via Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Twitter or YouTube.