After playing music for a decade under the guise of Oxygen Thief, the now christened Non Canon has taken the bold step of reinvention and he speaks to GIGsoup about his self titled debut release and the reasons behind this shift in musical direction.
After performing in Oxygen Thief for 10 years and producing music described as “face melting”, what made you decide to change your musical direction?
It started as a bit of an experiment to see if I could write a different style of music as I’d never really written anything other than heavy music before. I spent a while recording rough musical ideas, then sat down and matched lyrics to the chord patterns and demoed the songs.
I shared them with my wife and a few friends to see what they thought/initial impressions and they were all positive, so I sent the demos to Xtra Mile to see if they’d be interested in putting it out and they were really enthusiastic.
What has the reaction been to your first release “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye”? Have people been accepting of your new music?
The reaction has been great – people who have known Oxygen Thief for a while were a little surprised, but I’ve been told that you can hear a link between the two projects.
Now I’ve got some more shows under my belt and a second single (“A Study In Emerald” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfzlpq9uDgI), it’s been amazing to play these songs to audiences.
What can people expect from your upcoming self titled album “Non Canon”?
40 minutes of gentle melancholy featuring wordplay, a revolving cast of instrumentation (including a gorgeous string section and some haunting piano played by Chris T-T) and a building sense of hope.
I read that the music for your new album was put on to a computer before being sent to various musicians to play, was this to maintain all creative control of your music?
I suppose so, though more from a sense of wanting to experiment and see what I could compose, rather than wanting to keep control.
I wrote the string, piano, and drum parts using Garageband on my iPad; improvising over the original demos, tweaking them until I had something I was happy with, and sent the music to the people who would appear on the record.
I arranged it imagining the album being performed in full on stage, as if it were a play; it starts with me on my own, gradually being joined by more musicians who would enter and exit as they appear on the album. I’m looking forward to doing that live at some point.
How did you decide on who to have play on your album?
I knew from the start I wanted Chris T-T to play piano as he’s a good friend and labelmate, then I asked Gareth from My First Tooth/Lucky Shivers to play drums as I knew he’d be perfect based on his work with those bands. When talking to Jon at OneCat Studio about needing to find a cellist, he volunteered himself, and then an old school friend sorted the rest of the string parts for me. My wife sang backing vocals on two songs, and I asked my friends Ben Marwood (another Xtra Mile performer) and Charlie Barnes (touring member of Bastille) to contribute some backing vocals as well. It came together nicely.
How did you come up with the name “Non Canon” and can you describe what it means?
It’s a phrase that has been in my head for a while as a great name for a side-project of some sort; it’s taken from a science fiction/comic book term for a storyline that runs on a tangent from the “official” story…an opportunity for writers to try new ideas without derailing the main narrative.
You’ve been on tour supporting The Sad Song Co recently, does it feel good to introduce new music to fans?
Absolutely. Nigel and Jase were wonderful company and great to watch play every day. As Non Canon is quite a new thing, it has been a huge pleasure to perform these songs to people whether they have heard what I do before, or are completely new to my stuff.
I heard you say at a live show that you balance your time between working a “day job” as well as playing/creating music, is it hard to dedicate your time to music under these circumstances?
It is, mainly from wanting to be making music when you’re stuck sat at a desk, but I’ve had a lot of practice over the years.
The most important thing I’ve learned in that time is to also dedicate time to yourself as a person away from music and work, so it’s not so much a “Life:Work” balance where “Music” takes up a huge chunk of the “Life” aspect, but “Life:Music:Work” balance instead.
Whether that’s spending time with my wife, playing with our cat (he’s called Monty and is the greatest living being of all time: https://www.instagram.com/monty_withnail/), seeing friends, or just reading/watching tv and switching off. I’m not always the best at doing that, especially as I now have two musical projects, but I’m getting better at it.
Non Canon’s self titled debut album will be released on Friday 28th October 2016 through Xtra Mile Recordings.