Graham Reid | | 3 min read
With his new all-electronic album Elastic Wasteland picking up unanimously favourable reviews, it is timely to look back on the career of Sean James Donnelly, aka SJD.
Elastic Wasteland -- which is far from that, it is a nuanced and rich tapestry of sound, see here -- is Donnelly's sixth album and follows such diverse and mature collections as Lost Soul Music, Southern Lights, Songs from a Dictaphone and Dayglo Spectres.
He is first and foremost a songwriter ("the most criticly accalimed songwriter of his generation" says Gary Steel in Metro) and that craftsmanship is then embellished and reconfigured into fascinating sonic shapes.
The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .
The first music I remember loving as a kid was the classical music my mum used to have on... Polovtsian Dances By Borodin, Karelia Suite by Sibelius, Tchaikovsky"s 1812 Overture....
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?
Lennon and the Ramones over Jagger and Nirvana but then Jagger and Nirvana beat the last 4 by quite a long chalk....
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
Building things out of Lego ... designing and testing new kinds of snack food ... I would love to make a film if I ever had a decent idea for one ....
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .
Any one song off my new album but they'd have to listen to it at least three times...(most of what I do seems to be something of an acquired taste)
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
My collection of synths seems to be expanding in the service of making synth pop albums. I still own the Casio VL Tone I bought when I was 14 - my first musical instrument. Lots of shitty vinyl but I doubt I own even one thing that would get a collector salivating...
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
Revolution in the Head by Ian McDonald. Many of his opinions verge on infuriating but I think music writing, much like music itself, is best when you can have a good argument with it...
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)
I can honestly say there are no musicians I'd rather play with than the ones I already do or the ones I soon will...
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
Solaris (Tarkovsky not Soderbergh)
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Probably haven't bought anything I could hold in my hand for quite a while. I did buy The Best of The Fourmyula for $10 in a bargain bin about two years ago ... I like vinyl but my turntable needs fixing...
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .
Strawberry Letter 23 [Shuggie Otis/Brothers Johnson]
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
I would have to have the Rothko room in the Tate Modern as my bedroom...
You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .
Colin McCahon's Victory Over Death ... 'I AM' all over my back
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?
Hanging with my friends and family but not having to do any housework or fill out any forms. Constant garden parties. Drinking great single malts and having loud opinionated discussions into the wee small hours.
Suddenly discovering hitherto unknown abilities to paint, make films, play all manner of obscure brass instruments and record every second of those five years for posterity on every medium available - newsprint, vellum, camcorder, cassette and canvas....
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”
This is my best album ever because I got really sick before I made it and there were a couple of times where I was potentially quite close to dying, but my friends and family made sure that wasn't going to happen.
When it came time to make my own music again, I realised that I had an opportunity to make something meaningful for myself and those people.