Clive Barker once wrote: “Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.”
Full-disclosure – I love melancholy. Music, books, film – if it’s described as sparse and devastating – I’m all in.
So it is with Ireland’s Rs.sN. The collaboration between doom folk singer/guitarist Robyn G. Shiels (winner of the 2014 Northern Ireland Music Prize) and keyboardist/programmer Steve Nolan (In Dust) is a perfect soundtrack for the dreary mid-winter blahs around these parts. Don’t get me wrong, I will also put on Pet Sounds for a little sunshine in the middle of winter, but I’ve been listening to the duo’s new record – sky drew near, a lot lately. Maybe I need a vacation…
sky drew near is sparse and devastating (see what I did there?) and Rs.sN pull from Craig Armstrong, The National, Tindersticks, Nick Cave, and Joe Henry to push out a somber symphony of heartbreak, alienation, mourning, and death.
Robyn G. Shiels (vocals/guitar) & Steve Nolan (keyboards/programming).
How did you become Rs.sN?
It’s a dual moniker name based on our real names. We went through a few different names as we were writing the songs, a favourite being ‘Abusement Arcade’!;)… but in the end we felt that name didn’t really fit.
Describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music.
A post folk nightmare!… with electronics and a piano.
What music has had an influence on you?
Angelo Badalamenti, Pan Sonic, Erik Satie, Kraftwerk, AD/DC, Will Oldham, Johnny Cash.
Tell us about your live show…
There’s been tears… i’m not saying if that was us or the audience!;)
How does your songwriting process work?
Robyn writes the words and sings it and i try to build a musical structure around that, a bit like working on a soundtrack for a movie were you have some footage and you write an emotion around it.
What influences you lyrically?
Real life and brutal honesty and brutal life and real honesty.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
A hard question that as there has been always great music in any era, maybe back the 50’s with my laptop, just to freak people out with my strange and wonderful machine!;)
What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you…
At the moment it would be anything by Mika Vanio, and the Mortiz Von Oswald Trio album ‘Sounding Lines’.
If you could tour with any band right now who would that be and why?
Will Oldham, mainly because we both think he’s great, and he plays fantastic venues!;)
If you could only bring ONE record in the tour van/bus/plane what would it be?
William Basinski’s ‘Garden of Brokenness’… an amazingly calm and relaxing record, when things get a bit errrr… much!;)
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
Robyn… Probably in my house playing computer games
Steve… Probably in my studio making funny noises.
What’s up for the rest of 2015 and 2016?
Trying to get as many people to hear this record as possible.