Everyday Is The Song is Joni Void’s third album for Constellation and a deeper plunge into emotive audio montage; the Montréal-based French-British producer Jean Néant defines it as “Tape Vortex / Musique Verité / Memory Collage”. The album’s raw material relies centrally on a Walkman bought at local record shop Death Of Vinyl in spring 2020 and lost at a Backxwash show two years later, but not before hours of audio snippets were captured and archived.
Everyday Is The Song is an evocative sample-based sonic diary brimming with warmth, transience and hyper-specificity where Void explores a more abstract and interstitial terrain of drifting miniatures. Joni Void describes it as “music about music”, citing the experience of an “earworm” as an intangible way that music can appear in the everyday.
We asked Jean about 3 releases that have influenced him a lot, and he comments the following:
“It’s funny how significance make a difference
Notice parables of three in every other inference” – MF DOOM
Obviously, it is not easy to restrict an infinity of influences to a choice of 3 records, overthinking / overwhelmed with the possibilities – So to help myself, and have a more personal aspect ad story to the selection, I chose 3 artists that have not only been a crucial influence on my music (which can be especially heard in my latest album), but that I have also been lucky to meet and become friends with; including even booking / performing live with two of them. Regardless of the personal connection, these albums can likely help anyone ‘understand’ better where my music comes from. (I also only noticed while working on this, that both Colleen & The Books’ albums came out in 2003 and are celebrating 20 years in 2023 !).
Photo credit: Stacy Lee
Colleen – Everyone Alive Wants Answers
So, we travel back in time to 2009, and my 17 year-old self is having one of the most defining musical periods in ‘life of Jean’, as I discover an extensive amount of the music / so many of the artists that would shape me and my music, as I’m just starting to create my own. One fateful day online, I randomly stumble across a very mysterious looking album with a cryptic title – Colleen’s 2003 debut Everyone Alive Wants Answers – Very curious, I listen to it, and experience for the first time a record I would eventually end up playing more than a hundred times….
The style of Cécile Schott aka. Colleen’s music and her discography is a story of its own – It begins with ‘Everyone Alive Wants Answers’, a beloved, timeless collection of sample-based compositions, all containing such a deep, minimalist quality; profound textures; evocating dreams and psychedelia. There’s so much about this album where I’m like ‘this is where I come from’ musically, almost like a ‘home’, it’s really an understated influence. It gets me how it works as a ‘crate-digging’ album – there’s no ‘beats’ but the songs are crafted in that manner, in that loop logic. There’s this feeling of narrative(s) that give a strong soundtrack feel, sort of akin to a surreal video game, or artsy animation film.
While she could have easily contented herself with releasing more albums in this style, Cécile would abandon the ‘sample-based’ style of her debut, to focus instead on her own instrumental compositions and performance, and re-inventing her music with each new record – A more ‘modern classical’ approach following Everyone Alive, most notably through her defining instrument, the Viola Da Gamba. In 2016, her music is suddenly graced by the presence of her own vocals, in an album that also showcases more dub-influenced style and production, with how she plays the Viola Da Gamba through effects. And then in 2018, the Viola Da Gamba based sound is shifted in favour of synths and a spaceship of Moog pedals, that still drives her current music. Colleen is very inspiring how she is devoted to flow and change her sound organically but while never compromising her identity. All her music is obviously unique and captivating enough that you don’t end up ‘lamenting’ that there’s not a second record like Everyone Alive – I sort see it as a ‘successful experiment’, it is so consistent and contained in its own, that there’s no need to ‘keep the experiment going’ with a follow-up.
I was very lucky to have a chance in 2016 to interview Cécile for CKUT radio, while she was in Montreal to perform for local electronic music festival MUTEK.
My friend / host Nick Schofield needed help with coming up with questions about her work, and, given I was such a fangirl, it was actually easier to have me present there as well to join the interview. I recall her saying that I made her ‘feel like a football player’ due to how starstruck I was. And I did ask questions about the creative process and the different variations of styles and approaches in her discography. The interview is still uploaded somewhere on Soundcloud I believe, I would link it but I’ve never dared re-listen to it so I’m not sure how embarrassing it might be… I gave her a mix CD as a gift and that started a very unexpected and cherished friendship, with an online exchange that was deeply helpful during the pandemic. In an incredibly kind and generous move, Cécile even gifted me some of her remaining vinyl test pressings, which means I now own Everyone Alive Wants Answers in 4 versions – Original 2003 LP pressing, 2016 re-issue, test pressing, and the tape version by Beacon Sound (which I have to say, it was very wonderful to re-experience the album in tape quality)
The Books – The Lemon Of Pink
Where to begin with The Books… I suppose the beginning. I believe I discovered the duo through a peculiar EP by Prefuse 73 where the producer/beat-maker chops-up and remixes The Lemon Of Pink. Wondering about the sampled source, I went to listen to The Books’ albums. I don’t think their music got me ‘instantly’ like Colleen did, I was more into specific songs of theirs I was into in the beginning rather than the entire albums. But after a while, it all clicked and I became absolutely OBSESSED with their music. To the point where there was a 2-3 month long period where I was almost only listening to their music, intentionally; I just had no desire to listen to anything else. I love all 4 albums in their discography, but I think Lemon Of Pink does stand out as my favourite, it feels like the one that’s the ‘perfect combination’ of all that’s great about their music, the song-writing, sound experiments, storytelling and concepts, uplifting sentimentality…
Similar to Colleen, there is this feeling that this is ‘the school that educated me’ when I think about / listen to their output. There is so much to say about how ‘samples’ are used here, their omnipresence in the discography, where they’re sourced from, the re-contextualization, how they are used and/or manipulated in the music, the exchanges between them, the narratives they form, the meta-references with The Books themselves. It really taught me a lot about how to ‘turn samples into a personal sound world’ if that makes any sense. And also, the cut-up techniques, the use of various sources or types of recordings, the conceptual nature of their songs, the absurd humour… Another similarity to Colleen would be that The Books is ‘beatless music that is beat-like’ – The duo had a rule of ‘no drum breaks’, that they only broke for a few exceptions; but despite that, there is still a strong presence of rhythmicality through the collage, cut-ups, editing and some percussive elements.
I also had the experience once of watching a Japanese film, ‘Ugetsu’, during my film student years; and jumping out of my seat when realizing that there’s a sample of the film in The Lemon Of Pink’s song ‘Tokyo’, and it’s not the only sample used in The Books I discovered ‘in the wild’. I was impacted by how they mentioned In one of their interviews that during their performances the audiences would ‘react’ very differently to the samples; some people tend to find it all very humorous, and others find it more emotionally affecting in other ways.
I ended up meeting both members Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong at different times. I remember one day in 2011, returning to my apartment in Lille and telling my brother how I couldn’t stop listening to The Books and he casually told me that they were playing a show in town soon, and I yelled and instantly got tickets for it. That show unfortunately got cancelled, but coincidentally around that time, Nick Zammuto started a Soundcloud account, and I sent a quick message to say I was a huge fan and very disappointed that I was missing my one opportunity to see them perform but hopefully there would be another Lille show in the future. To my surprise, I not only got a response, but also a follow and likes, a big deal for my young self. The Books would however unfortunately split up as a duo the following year, meaning I would never get my chance to see them perform live. But moving to Montreal, I was lucky to see Nick Zammuto perform live in 2014 with his solo project and meet & talk after the show. Actually, I almost ended up being his opening act for another Montreal show on some other occasion, but I unfortunately was only getting back in town the next day.
Paul de Jong also went on to release solo albums – in 2018, he released his second one, You Fucken Sucker; and with a complete shot in the dark, I reached out to Paul in an email, expressing some appreciation for the record and that I was surprised to not see that many live dates happening for it, and that I could potentially make a Montreal and a Toronto show happen for him with my modest resources. To my surprise, he was very enthusiastic about it all, and in some absolutely bizarre twist of fate, I ended up organizing/performing those two shows with him. He even claimed that his Montreal set had been ‘one of his best performances’, a comment I am absolutely honoured by (and to connect to a comment made prior, yes the reception from the audiences in Toronto and Montreal were both very different). So I might have not had my chance to witness The Books as a duo, but somehow have been lucky to find myself personally involved with both members in different manners.
Blithe Field – Days Drift By
We’re closer in time now, it’s not a 20 year-old album and I’m not discovering it while I’m a teenager. It’s the end of 2017, I’m 24 years old, and now releasing music as Joni Void with the label Constellation – but long story short, I am also struggling with one of the most challenging and rough times of my life. During this, however, my friend Spencer Radcliffe, who releases music as Blithe Field, sends me a download for his upcoming album Days Drift By. I know the word ‘healing’ gets tossed around a lot these days and it’s almost cliché to say that ‘music saved you’; but this album is probably the one that in my experience brings me the closest to that sentiment.
Spencer wrote me a very kind message on Soundcloud in 2011, about enjoying my work and even feeling connected to it in some ways, which prompted me to go check out his music out of curiosity, and suddenly discover one of my favourite artists ever. It’s not really an exaggeration to say that the music Spencer was making as Blithe Field at that time, was the sort I was dreaming to create myself. There was definitely the connection to sample-based music like The Books & Colleen in this music, but added to the production techniques and aesthetics of the so-called ‘bedroom producer / DIY lo-fi scene’ of that time, and also beat-crafting from instrumental hip-hop and electronic music sensibility. With songs that could go from wholesome child-like wonder, lush melancholia to these psychedelic downers and abstract sound experiments. With some song titles and use of personal ‘field recordings’ that gives this ‘fragmented sound diary’ feel to some of the music, especially in the 2016 album Face Always Towards The Sun.
Following that last album, Spencer expands Blithe Field by adding and recording with 3 other musicians, Ben Austin (Cello), Brad Knilans (Electric Guitar), Brennan Zweig (Percussion), to create the album known as Days Drift By, released by the now-defunct label Joy Void in 2018 (and yes, that label’s name is coincidentally very similar to my own moniker…)
Spencer sent me the album early before the release, and it was an absolute revelation, a total game-changer. Absolutely since, organic music, with a contemplative, still-life quality to it, like clouds slowly passing by, but also time travel sensations and moments of manic melancholia, with the improvised elements and live-take recordings of the ensemble adding such an emphasis on space and ‘in the moment’ feel. A comment on the Bandcamp page by user beg_sur says ‘something wrong on a beautiful summer day’ and that comment always gets me – The album does evoke a very peculiar emotionality; it could be something akin to how a sunny day feels while dealing with something tragic. The title of the last song is enough to make me shiver sometimes, ‘Farewell To Darker Days’.
I started my event platform Everyday Ago around the time I was binge-playing this album and its release, and Days Drift By was definitely a spiritual inspiration for Everyday Ago. Spencer and I would eventually end up working on our collaboration release ‘A Prayer (For Loved Ones)’, which was a first release of sorts for Everyday Ago as a label – And I also just re-discovered while looking through our old e-mails for this segment, the title ‘Present Day Montage’, ‘Post Credits Scene’ and even ‘Everyday Is The Song’ were all titles I had intended for our split collaboration, before we both decided to just release it all as a single 45min track with one single title. Just as a testament to how much my recent record is connected to this collaboration and influenced by Days Drift By…
We had a kind of Montreal release show in August 2018, in a beautiful church, and I finally got an occasion to see Spencer perform a rare Blithe Field set, which I can only describe as life-affirming. To the point where it convinced to stick with the SP-404 sampler, which I was considering replacing / ‘moving on’ from for my own live shows – But Spencer did such a masterful display of the sampler through effect pedals, that it made me completely reimagine how to perform my sets with a similar set-up. This show was also the first time I would perform as a duo with Sarah Pagé, which would lead to our collaborative project Page Vide. The recording of the Blithe Field set was even uploaded on Bandcamp by Spencer himself.