25 Nov 2020
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Arrays - Interview with JP Carroll from Arrays

15 Nov 2020 // An interview by Cory Waddingham

Arrays is the solo studio project of JP Carroll - the archetypal one man band. With his new album Light Years set to be released on 2 December, Cory Waddingham from Muzic.net.nz talked to JP about all things Arrays and then some.


Great to chat JP!

Firstly, congratulations on the No Way Out (23 October 2020) single release, it's a great song dynamically, and there's clearly a lot of time spent arranging the overall composition. Me like the chug! What inspired this transition from your previous band Armed In Advance, to branch out as a solo artist?

Hey Cory, thanks so much for organising this interview, really appreciate it bro!

Thanks for the kind words regarding No Way Out, a lot of effort definitely went into all aspects of the track. It's really exciting to put it out there, and to have a few people reflect back to me with some positivity is really rewarding.

AIA unfortunately reached a natural conclusion, as the band members had divergent paths geographically and otherwise. Hugh moved to Tauranga, while I was going through a difficult patch in life. At the time I had a lot of anxious energy to put into making music, and AIA couldn't support it, so Arrays became an outlet for that creative energy.

Since then, I've found a lot of joy in digging deep to develop myself as a producer, songwriter, mixing engineer and musician with Arrays. It's been a surprising and rewarding journey, and I'm looking forward to the next chapter!

Arrays 2018 alum Wreck was released a couple years ago - what have you been spending your time on since then? I see that your other project Swerve City is also making some movement with new releases- what's the story? Busy busy! How do you manage both bands time wise?

Around the release of Wreck was actually a super low point for me creatively, I had managed to force out the album because I felt I should be creating. I went through a year of real soul-searching after that album, and toyed seriously with the idea of giving up music completely. So, I put my tools down for a wee while, and took the foot off the gas creatively speaking.

During that time I started to collaborate with Kev, which formed the basis of Swerve City. I was enjoying that process, but still feeling quite tentative with how much time and effort I was putting into music. I was back to creating, but my heart still wasn't really in it.

Then, around September 2019, the drive to create with Arrays came roaring back. That prompted me to put out The Enemy, and I made a plan to get to work releasing some singles. Since then, I've put out a handful of singles with Arrays, while building a catalogue to release as an album - And that album is coming out this year.

Swerve City is a rock band in every sense of the word. We're all contributing to the writing and arrangement process, we're investing in high quality recordings, and we're practicing regularly. The live show is a really important aspect of the project, and we're all working really hard to ensure that it is great, and looking to improve it all the time.

Arrays, at this stage, is purely a studio project and brand in development. I'm developing my recording skills, songwriting skills, marketing skills and just nurturing it as an online entity. These are all things that I'm able to work into my spare time.

Because the demands of the two projects are quite different, It works quite well, and I regularly take inspiration from one project and apply it to the other (marketing, design, release strategy etc). So, you can probably notice some similarities in how the two projects present themselves.

There is a decent body of material released already from Arrays, and you're clearly capable of every part of the tracking, mixing, mastering process, but as a solo artist who do you bounce your ideas off to get a second opinion/feedback from?

Thanks for the kind words! the short answer is, I don't have anyone that I bounce ideas off of, really. There is a lot of trusting my gut, making mistakes, seeing how songs pan out post-release, then iterating and developing based on those results. I'm always listening to new music which I use for inspiration and mix references. But there is very little objectivity in the creative process - Once I've got an idea, I roll with it, for better or worse!

During this one man producing, and recording process, what is the most annoying part for you? I ask this because there are certain things that do my head in with the tech required to produce a high quality product- to use normal words - what pisses you off the most? Tracking, plugins, your own self-criticism?

So many annoying parts! haha. I find the most challenging aspect of the process is the mixing - probably because of that lack of objectivity. It's quite hard to mix your own parts, and to know whether or not your performances are as good as they could be when it's just yourself.

I haven't been able to trust my recording equipment the way a pro audio engineer can in a studio environment, given that it's a home set up, which made mixing a really tricky process at the start. I've stuck with it, and I'm starting to get some positivity reflected back to me regarding my mixes, and I'm also investing into my studio equipment to get a more reliable audio set up, so the future is looking bright.

The Imposter Syndrome hits hard around the time of release, I really start to question the value of my work whenever I'm about to put something new out there. It can certainly rob me of some joy if I'm not paying attention. It's definitely not as happy-go-lucky as I'd like! haha.

Ha yeah man! This new Arrays material has been completed through a hard time in our country's history with Covid 19 lockdowns, and the subsequent restrictions. Has it worked in your favour to knuckle down and get the job done, has it impacted you negatively and/or has it created a different space with social media being used much more?

I thought I would get more time to use on music during lockdown, but actually it ended up being about the same. Also, when you're stuck inside, the joy of creating doesn't flow quite as easily, so that spare time doesn't always get used creatively.

I think social media generally decreases the amount of time independent artists can use on making music, because there is an expectation to release other content to accompany the music now. Music videos, behind the scenes, photos, even blog posts - the music is still the most important thing to nail, but it certainly isn't just about the music anymore.

So I wouldn't say lockdown impacted me negatively, but I had to think creatively to still find the time to be creative and enjoy myself under such strange circumstances.

When are you hoping to bring this new material into the live circuit?

I've always said that once there is a demand to see this music live, I'll put together a band. With everything that goes into creating live music, if there is no one there to see it I think it would be a thoroughly disappointing experience. So, until I hear from people that a live Arrays show is something that they're interested in, this will remain a studio project.

Yeah that makes sense, I see that the photo shoot for Swerve City has a similar bio shots as Arrays... are your other bands members diving into Arrays for upcoming live performances?

Haha, this is because we both used the very talented Chris Morgan from Morgan Creative. No collabs planned but certainly nothing ruled out! having just finished the new record, I haven't yet started work on the next - so it could be time for some collaborations with the Swerve City boys and beyond!

Nice look forward to that! Let's talk about the lyrical component of Light Years yeah? After looking at Light Years' lyrical content I've noticed a theme of loss, love, and conflict, from a first person narrative. Are these themes based on your own life experiences or abstract?

Many of the songs are lyrically derived from aspects of personal experience, for sure. I'm a believer in writing what you know. Some songs are definitely inspired by more abstract concepts, and in the future I'm wanting to write more from abstraction - although it's hard to know where to draw the line, to make songs relatable for the audience. Even if a song is inspired by a personal experience, ultimately it's impossible to capture the breadth and depth of human experience in three and half minutes of music - so they tend to be distilled themes and emotions, which ultimately take them away from the land of personal experience and into a more visceral and focused theme. So, they might start off inspired by an event, or a feeling, but then they end up being a bit more ubiquitous and universal.

Little Blue Dot is a track I'm really interested in as its almost Sci-Fi with the ambiance, and the story telling sets it aside from the other tracks lyrically - where did you find the inspiration for this song?

This is definitely one of the more intimate songs I've written. It's about being distant from our loved ones, which can be interpreted from a number of perspectives. The 'little blue dot' is derived from Carl Sagan's interpretation of earth as a 'pale blue dot' when seen from space, from a distance.

I think we all inevitably explore away from important relationships, over time, though often not intentionally or permanently. It's just a song about honouring those relationships and being the gravity for someone else - or being your own gravity if that's what you need.

Disassemble Me is a standout track for me overall man, any tips for vocal technique to train for that onslaught of clean to heavy in the outro in a live scenario?

Thanks for the kind words once again! I certainly would be remiss to advise anyone on vocal techniques, my own vocal technique is a little hap-hazard. It's something I've been working on for many years, and still feels quite temperamental, especially live. From a production perspective, I think there are six layers of vocals in that outro, probably two main melodic vocals, two dirty/scream vocals and then some backing vocals as well. I was going for a big modern sound with that song, so there's plenty of everything in that outro haha! I guess the best way to replicate that live is to get 6 singers? Haha.

Look I could go on and on dissecting Light Years, track by track man - it's a great listen, mean guitar tones, tasteful effects all round, solid rhythm sections, and well produced. The track order is laid out as a journey (my OCD pet peeve if it's not thought out), but to wrap everything up JP, what are you most proud about with Light Years? And please not a one sentence answer haha!
From writing/tracking/prod/overcoming hurdles - spill the beans-what makes you most proud with this release ?


Thank you so much, you're really flattering me here. I'm so glad you enjoyed listening to the record mate!

Writing - I think any time you can string together 10 songs and put them out on a record, that's definitely something to be proud of. I like that with songs like No Way Out and Little Blue Dot I'm starting to explore and push boundaries with my sound. I'm looking forward to playing with those extremes in future releases.

Tracking - I definitely made getting the best takes a priority for this record. Once I had all the tracks in the bag and edited, even before mixing, I could hear that it was sounding a cut above my previous efforts with Arrays. I've established a workflow in the studio that I'm excited to bring into future projects, and I'm starting to feel a lot more confident in the driving seat of productions. I guess you don't really think about how you're going to grow from a project like this, it's more about enjoying the journey and moving towards a finished product, so it's good to reflect on.

Production - I think generally speaking, this is the best sounding work I've produced to date - so that's really rewarding. Imposter syndrome and relentless self-evaluation are two personality traits that prevent me from enjoying it completely, but the quality of the production is something that has been reflected back to me a few times in the build up to release, from a handful of different people, so I'm really happy that I've been able to develop this skill set. Hopefully in the future I will be able to feel more confident in myself and my productions, and enjoy the finished product a little more.

Overcoming Hurdles - I feel like the main hurdle in this project is myself! Every time I'm about to start the process of releasing a new single, or announcing a new release, I come up against a wall of self-doubt. So, I've had to be a bit courageous in the face of that, and the rewards are starting to creep in - As I'm writing this, No Way Out is sitting in the radioscope top 40 rock chart at number 18, for the second week running - that felt like a pipe dream 6 months ago, so I feel like I might be on track. Really looking forward to releasing this record and getting to work on the next one, so I can continue to get out of my own way.

That's a very concise answer JP , you clearly are motivated and driven, and I can't wait to see when and where Arrays pops for some live entertainment! One last thing man will there be a follow up hard copy of the record for us old-school consumers ?

To answer your question, I’ll get a feel for demand for physical copies of the record and if enough people want one, I’ll put something together. So, if you’re into it, let me know!

Thanks for your time man.

Keep it metal!

Caz

Arrays' Light Years will be available to purchase on Bandcamp from 2 December 2020.

 

About Arrays

Arrays is the solo studio project of JP Carroll - the archetypal one man band. JP writes, performs and arranges the songs, records and produces the tracks, and even handles the mixes by himself. Music is his obsession, from writing a song, to mixing it and releasing it.

The new album Light Years is a tour de force of melodic, guitar heavy, metal-infused rock. This record is proudly independent, self produced and funded, and another way point on the journey JP is on to achieving the sound he hears in his head.

No Way Out presents a visceral, aggressive aspect of Arrays, driven by a palm muted riff, before the syncopated, stomping bridge lands. Little Blue Dot reveals a softer side, until the anthemic final chorus. Home is a twisted time capsule for our shared experience in lockdown, and the title track sets off the record with introspective lyrics and an arrangement big and wide enough to carry them.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Arrays

Releases

Motives
Year: 2017
Type: EP

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