Toronto based ambient metal duo Northumbria was formed in 2011 by former Holoscene members Jim Field and Dorian Williamson. Using only guitar and bass mega amplified and recorded live, Northumbria create a wall of improvised drones that take the listener on a sonic journey through a dystopian landscape.So here is an interview with Jim Field for subexistance readers.
-Hello Jim, I'd like to thank you for taking time to speak with me today. Since this is your first time in Subexistance, would you care to introduce Northumbria to our readers. The sort of brief history, kind of thing, you know?
Jim: My pleasure and thank you for taking the time to speak with us.Dorian and myself are veteran Toronto musicians and have both played in many bands and projects.
Northumbria had it's origin in our former band Holoscene, and when that project came to it's natural end, we continued with Northumbria. We have a shared sense of aesthetics and a common love for all things experimental, challenging and usual.
Northumbria is an on going conversation between Dorian and myself where we co-create and improvise freely with no sense of boundaries or preconceptions. Often we will simply set up, hit record and play for hours. When we listen back it's just as much a new experience for us as for our listeners.
We give each other the creative space to simply expand ideas as they come.
-I’m sure many of our readers will be unfamiliar to your music genre i mean "noise or ambient metal' can you give me some more details about that and some bands that have influenced your band?
I've played many different styles of music over the years. Everything from metal to jazz to ambient/electronic and soundtracks to films. Artists that have informed my approach would have to include My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Sunn and Robert Fripp with Brian Eno.
Dorian has just as diverse a back ground and is very tuned into the experimental music underground. He has turned me onto many amazing artists and helped me to find some context for the music I've simply been freely creating for many years.
I would say that we're heavily atmospheric and loud powerful music. Metal is a reference simply because I play loud guitar and love massive distorted tones. Dorian brings the huge bass drones and atmospheres and does a brilliant job editing down our jams into something listenable!
Between us we've created this huge sound that I find hard to pin down to any particular genre.
-So lets speak about your recent album"Bring Down The Sky" where was it recorded? Any special notes from that you would care to share and are you 100% happy with your last release, is there anything you wish you could change or just take out?
Bring Down the Sky was recorded in Dorian's home studio, which is located in Northumberland County, Ontario.
Our friendship is central to this project and a big part of our process is simply hanging out together and getting inspired by whatever music we've been listening to lately or art/films we've been watching.
When we began this project our first recording was created in a beautiful cathedral right around the corner from his home. That set the tone for everything since. I feel this is a fantastic recording and I'm very happy with the massive tones and soundscapes we've been able to capture.
-Are you pleased by the reviews so far and be honest are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?
The number of recording artists releasing good music these days are simply overwhelming. To attract the attention of someone willing to review and write about your music is extremely difficult. I'm sure from your experiences you know what I mean!
Because of this, I'm happy and honoured when someone does this for us. I don't expect everyone to “get” what we do and I know it's quite fringe in it's niche. When someone does understand and writes good things about us, I'm really pleased and grateful. If they don't like what we do, well...it's truly one person's opinion. To each their own. I do what I do and hope to reach those who might enjoy it. Do reviews influence what I do? No.
-How did you catch the attention of the Belgian imprint Consouling Sounds label and are you happy with them?
Consouling Sounds is the home to several of our friends, including Nadja and Thisquietarmy, plus they released Dorians side-project Adoran, so they were a natural choice. They have been amazing and dedicated from the get go, and we're totally honoured to have them release Bring Down the Sky!
-Is there any sort of promotion going on at the moment? Are you guys touring in promotion of this release and if yes tell me about your feelings when you play your music in frond of a crowd. Is it the best moment for every musician?
At the moment we have several shows booked, all in Toronto. We really hope to get overseas sometime soon! We've just completed a video for our song Ostara, Directed by Montreal Video Artist Dominic F. Marceau. He's done many video's for some of the best artists working in Industrial, Noise and EDM.
Live performance is the absolute best for me! It's also when we shine brightest. A friend described our performances as being a sonic immersion that effected them physically as much as emotionally.
Touring is always a challenge time-wise and financially but I hope to see us getting out there in front of some folks and performing these pieces.
-Overall what has has been the greatest challenge the band has faced up until today?
Overall I'd have to say that I wish we had more time to play together and perform. The nature of the music business these days is that there is absolutely no income to be made anymore so it limits our ability to devote as much time to it as we might otherwise.
-Tell us a little about the famous Canadian metal scene? Can you suggest some other promising bands from there?
There are a lot of really interesting Metal bands in Canada right now, especially on the experimental side of things. Nadja is Canadian, but now based in Berlin. In Toronto there is a great experimental metal band called Gates, who we've played with several times. In Montreal there are tonnes of great bands, many who are friends such as Menace Ruine and AUN.
-What do you know about Greece besides the stereotypes "The country that gave birth of democracy" ? Do you know some bands from Greece ?
Of course we know of The Flowers of Romance, as well as Nexus and the fantastic Darkwave band Daemonia Nymphe. But one of our biggest influences, and someone we are often compared to, is Vangelis. His score to Blade Runner was a massive influence, so needless to say comparisons are more than welcome!
-A personal question now.How important is the band for your life?
I come from a family of musicians and I would honestly say that music is the most important part of my life both creatively and spiritually. Northumbria is the perfect outlet for me and it's a huge part of my personal happiness.
-Thanks a lot for the interview Jim. Last words are yours. Close the interview anyway you like!
Thanks so much for your interest! Subexistance is a really great site. Hopefully we'll make it over to Greece sometime in the future.