Interview with No Clear Mind
A couple of months ago, I came across a band by chance that I couldn’t over their music easily. A band which called themselves an Unconventional Musical Experiment and I have to say, it really is. When the dreamlike music of No Clear Mind conjugates with Pink Floyd’s eerie and hallucinosis theme of the 70s, gives the listener a fade affection of Sigur Rós and in the meantime the fundamental premise of their music is made of an applaudable Radiohead-like atmosphere. Surely it will be one of the most aesthetic and unorthodox experiences of the listener who is a fan of deep and conceptual music. You’ll read my interview with this Greek band that’ll surely have a bright future.
Yazdan: Thank you for your time. Please tell us a little bit about current line-up and its history.
NCM: No Clear Mind started making music back in 2004. It wasn’t until 2008 that our first album was recorded, marking the end of a long journey through several music genres. In 2009 the band was more or less separated, but two of us felt that we still had a lot to express through this “platform”, as we like to call it. Mets was the result of our need to come up with a sound that represents who we really are and what we can create, away from all the information, the noise and the distractions of our surroundings. Completing our latest album set us on a regrouping course, leading to the current lineup, with the addition of three new members who are great musicians and most importantly friends.
Yazdan: You have released two albums so far. Please tell us a little bit about their recording process.
NCM: Both albums were self-produced in our home studio with nothing more than a computer and some microphones. We consider this an accomplishment, as hard work and creativity managed to overcome any limitations we faced.
We really like to follow a DIY approach when recording, as we really appreciate to not be rushed into results. Time limitations in a studio can often lead to an urgency that would not allow us to have the ability to reconsider things.
Yazdan: Why do you consider yourself as an “unconventional musical experiment”?
NCM: Well that is because we’ve always liked to improvise and experiment with music, everywhere we go, using different forms, collaborating with a lot of musicians, exchanging roles. There is more to what we do than just the two albums we’ve released and in time we hope to bring out these different sides of No Clear Mind. This is because we like to function more like an open platform for musicians, friends and people in general, to communicate, interact and express. Not only through music but as human beings and individuals. This interaction is what forms our music aesthetics and ideology.
Yazdan: You put your first album online and released your second album through Inner Ear Records. What happened here? And what kind of effects being signed to a label will have on the band’s musical process? Does mean a change of course in the band’s musical activity or is it a sign of your music getting more legitimate?
NCM: When we released our first album we could not foresee the appeal it would have on people from all over the world. Especially if you consider that “Dream is Destiny” was a work in progress when we somehow decided to share it with the few people that knew us then. That really changed the way we think and revealed the importance of being able to communicate with the world. What happened next was that we decided to work with people that could help us take the next steps. We wanted to release “Mets” on vinyl and most importantly find ways to perform our music abroad.
I don’t think we could ever function under guidelines from any label as far as music goes, it would be a disaster as we feel very strongly about what we do and could not compromise. Any change will originate solely from within us, as we consider change inevitable and a prerequisite of progress.
Yazdan: Your first album extremely reminded me of Radiohead, Pink Floyd and a little bit of Sigur Rós. Please tell us about bands and musicians who influenced you.
NCM: Our main musical influences are fairly easy to discern if you listen to either our albums, yet there are plenty more that can’t be spotted at first glance. The music that each one of us brings to the band is a rather complex issue, but eventually it all comes down to a handful of artists or groups, namely, and you are right, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Sigur Ros but also the Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis, Slowdive, Sebastian Schuller and lots of folk musicians.
Yazdan: Greece is country with a rich and ancient history. Also Greek art has a special history too. In Iran a couple of Greek musicians such as Yanni and Vangelis are well-known. Tell us a little bit about Greek music and probably its influence on you.
NCM: Greece has been a melting pot of different cultures for ages, perhaps being the place where the east and the west came together most intensely in the past. This is reflected especially in the diverse music traditions one can still find in this area. Apart from Greek folk music that we greatly respect, we’re particularly influenced by the work of the Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis.
Besides composing many soundtracks for Greek films of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s he also studied the Greek folklore music of the 20’s and 30’s created from musicians who migrated from Asia minor. He has created a musical universe that we consider to be a true legacy for the next generations.
Yazdan: Which factor has the most influence on you? nature? society? or..?
NCM: We are people driven by our emotions, it’s in our culture, so everything can influence us.
Yazdan: Please tell us about the making of ‘When You’re Not There’ video.
NCM: Lately, lots people contacted us, asking for permission to use our music in their films. One of these people was Florinda Frisardi. She was filming a short called ‘Orbit’ at the time and she suggested we allow her to use our song ‘New sun’ and in return she would direct a music video for us. We liked the idea, so we gave Florinda complete creative freedom and she decided to shoot the video in Iceland. At first, the video felt a bit odd to us, maybe because it looked so strongly Icelandic and far away from what we are, but the end result was so beautiful that it totally won us over. We were especially impressed by Florinda’s interpretation of what our lyrics are about and by the stunning cinematography.
Yazdan: Since you’ve had been critically acclaimed over the past few years what do you see in your band’s future and what are your goals in the far distance?
NCM: We want to keep on creating music and when possible travel around as much as we can. We’ve received a great deal of encouragement that really makes want to try even harder in the future. Ideally we want to experiment even more with various music styles.
Yazdan: Do you have any knowledge of Iranian history and music? Have been in contact with any Iranian musicians?
NCM: Ancient Persian and Greek civilizations were closely connected, so we’re are familiar with the events of this era and the impact of Persian culture in the ancient world. We are also familiar with your modern history, starting from the events that led to the establishment of the republic in Iran up to this day. We also know you show a deep respect towards arts and literature, but truth is we’re more familiar with Iranian cinema and poetry than music for now..
Yazdan: And in the end …
NCM: love will tear us apart again.
With wishes of splendid accomplishments for No Clear Mind, thank you for taking part in this interview.