How much does location play a part in your sound?
“I am fascinated by the resonance certain places can have, which invests them with almost heroic proportions. The very name of a place itself can inspire awe and credibility. There are countless examples of this in American folk and pop music and beyond and I am trying to key into a mode which elevates places around Britain, which have a personal resonance, into the realm of myth and mystery. In this sense certain locations play a big part in the music we make; trying to mythologise a place which provided the backdrop to some great personal realisation or other.”
–Alex Neilson, Trembling Bells
“And the whole secret of relating mythology and the spiritual life to your environment is involved in what’s called land nam by the people in Iceland; naming and claiming the land through naming the landscape, land-taking. You read the land you are living in as the holy land.”
-Joseph Campbell quoted in The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on his life and work by Joseph Campbell, Phil Cousineau, Stuart L. Brown.
I feel this is something we have really lost touch with; the perception of our day-to-day life as sacred and the very mundane world we live in as holy. William Blake saw contemporary London as the New Jerusalem and was ridiculed as eccentric or even insane. It would seem laughable to describe Peckham or Doncaster as holy places but it is our decision to treat anywhere as a place where the Spirit does not live.
Julian Cope has resurrected interest in the ancient holy places of Europe in his books on megaliths but if you just look at the names of places you will notice how many have religious or spiritual meanings – where I live in Spain one can see many places named after saints and holy deeds.
Surely it has been the mistakes of organised religion which have caused us to close our eyes to the numinous quality of places in which we live, but it is the task of the artist to re-sacralise the ground under our feet and show it is none other than the original Garden before time began, which it surely is if we look at it with fresh eyes.
I don’t wish for us to see everything in a Christian context, that is too narrow; rather to see where we live as sacred in itself and then use whatever mythology comes to hand as in aid in pointing to that… and it can do no more than point. It is up to us to see it in its full Glory and then pass that on to others by means of Art.
Photo by Steven Hylands from Pexels