New Noise: Rain Dog

With such dynamic and soulful tracks, nothing’s going to rain on this dogs (musicians) parade.

Electro beats and soulful melodies is how we would describe musician Samuel Evans, aka Rain Dog’s, music. Evans spent his time studying to be an artist before he decided to explore new creative avenues, which led to his playing around with production software. It was a good thing he did, as he discovered he had quite a knack for this music thing and so his path towards a new career began.

In 2014, Evans’ talent shined through his highly acclaimed debut album “Two Words”. The album, released through Project Mooncircle, gained support from multiple BBC Radio Networks and has been featured on Tru Thoughts edition of Label Love. As a follow-up to his debut, Rain Dog has slaved away over his sophmore full length titled “There Be Monsters”, and it does not disappoint. This 16-track album is an emotive, heavenly work of art; just the kind of music you’d listen to while staring out of the car window, imagining yourself as the star of your very own music video. Evans pours his heart out into each and every track, and each song is inspired by a distinct moment in the artists’ life. The album is extremely personal to the artist, and each song is a transformation of his emotions into lowslung melodic compositions, accompanied by a whole lot of heart. A common theme that runs through the album is influenced by a David Foster Wallace quote, “loneliness is not a function of solitude”.

“There Be Monsters” is set to be released on the 30th September, and is available in a marvelous limited natural-marbled vinyl.

Where did the name Rain Dog come from and why did you decide to use a moniker?

The name is from one of my favourite albums, Rain Dogs by Tom Waits (1985). The idea being that a dog can struggle to find it’s way back home after it rains as their trail has been washed away. A notion that Tom Waits applies to certain kinds people too. It took me a long time to decide on a name (I didn’t want to use something random and couldn’t bring myself to use my real name) but in terms of using a moniker like this, I think I just love the fact that artists can allude to something from their own history and interests that somebody else in turn can interpret and share. It’s a great way to reach out to people.

Sum up your sound in three words?

irregular, husky, sympathetic

How did you come to work with Project:Mooncircle?

They contacted me after hearing the digital release, See Hear, on Cut records in 2011 and asked if I wanted to submit something for their 10th anniversary compilation, I willingly obliged and wrote the track, Spatial Separations. Shortly after that I put 5 tracks together for Finest Ego’s Faces Vol3. and it grew from there.

Where did the album title “There Be Monsters” come from?

There Be Monsters or Here Be Dragons are terms you might see on old maps, illustrating areas that had yet to be explored. If it wasn’t known what was beyond a certain point it was assumed to be filled with sea creatures and untold horrors… The fear of looking over the horizon and exploration seemed fitting somehow, in terms of how this record was put together.

This is your second album – how does it differ sonically to your first release?

The first album was more of an experiment, where this album is much more definite and deliberate. I spent the first year working with new hardware and messing around with live instruments looking for a good fit. The result, perhaps, is this record is more dynamic, both technically and musically. I generally know these days how I want my instruments to sound, so I think it shares a common ground with the first album as there seem to be certain tones and textures I always find myself returning to. This album is fairly eclectic with regard to tempo and whatnot, but I suppose what the first album lacked was structure or a common thread, leaving it feeling a little fractious. There Be Monsters (to me, at least) has a definite structure as each track represents a certain period, memory or emotional state I was in whilst writing it.

You have a background as a sound designer and that’s partially how this project came about – tell us more about that?

I work as a composer more than a sound designer, but really all my projects start with sound design. I’m really into synths and building strange synth patches; I usually start a track with either sounds I have recorded or samples I’ve collected, and from there I work out a sonic palate related to the feeling I associate with it. Once I latch onto an atmosphere that I feel is right the track naturally unfolds from there, though it can be a lengthy process (I scrapped two whole projects early on as I couldn’t seem to find an overlap between pieces and I didn’t want to end up with just a random assortment of thoughts.) Over time I built a library of clips and small segments that served as the building blocks for the album.

Your album is very personal – what’s your writing process like? Do you actively try to capture your emotions or is it spontaneous?

It mostly happens of its own accord. If you feel a certain way it definitely shows up in the way you write. I had long spells of not being able to write anything (which is always frustrating) and this is one of the things that lead me to explore more fluid writing processes, stepping away from the computer and using more dynamic instruments, so that if I did have a burst of drive to write I could do so lucidly and consistently. On the other hand I have found myself, at times, restricting my emotional input out of fear of feeling too exposed. Though I made a conscious effort with this project to try to be as open and forthright as I could stomach…

What are the main themes that the album explores?

The main theme is mental health – I had made some poor choices which led me down some pretty strange and unpleasant alleys. Finishing the album came at a turning point in my life where I had been forced to make some pretty major changes.The album is split, the turning point being Eyes On The Aether, and some of the tracks had been started a couple of years back, so I felt I was piecing together a collage of memories which lead to this point and perhaps trying to figure out how I had managed to end up in such a bad way. I had spent a lot of time with my family towards the end of writing as well so I would say there are very strong ties to them. There was a point where I had lost touch with them somehow and I think there is a return to the idea of family and what they really mean to me somewhere in the album.

David Foster Wallace wrote “loneliness is not a function of solitude”, which is a reoccurring theme in the album. Does his work inspire you?

For sure, he is by far my favourite author. Though I still have yet to finish reading Infinite Jest.. I think it was in his obituary in the Guardian where someone stated that reading his books gives you the sensation of being stripped naked and left with incredibly sensitive skin. Thats always echoed in my head, there is something overtly human and disarming about his writing. I used to read a lot more but reading always trigger me into writing so I try to stay on top of it. I right down words and phrases that I find stimulating and often refer back to them when starting with new pieces.

You’ve created soundtracks for indie shorts and documentaries – how does writing soundtracks differ to writing for your own projects?

It is always different when someone asks you to do something. I tend to want to run in the opposite direction as soon as I’m given a brief to work from. But working as a composer means you have to force it sometimes, even if you feel like you don’t have it in you. Though there are major advantage to it too as I have seen some pretty interesting results from different projects, and I’m always surprised at how much can be done in a short space of time given a little pressure. Also the pressure of deadlines can make you do some creative things you might not ordinarily think of when working on your own. There are actually a couple of tracks on the album that are built out of of some unused but very interesting parts I had written for film.

What was the reason behind your decision to release the double LP on limited natural-marbled vinyl with a digital download?

The artwork was my decision for this project, I had an old photo of my auntie holding my mother when she was a baby which, as well as being a beautiful image, ties in perfectly with the tone of the album. The marbled vinyl was actually Gordon’s suggestion and I really like it, it’s unique and sits perfectly with the artwork. Its gives the vinyl an etherial, delicate quality – which I love.

Mariah Rosslee
New Noise: Rain Dog

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