What can you tell me about the June EP?
Garreth: It’s summery, hopeful, and - I guess inevitably, given that it’s me - occasionally pretty bleak! I really wanted to write something that would sum up the whole series, a series which began with a track called The First, a minor key waltz that I wrote around the first anniversary of losing my Mum to suicide. At the time I was still in the middle of some pretty intense grief - probably still in shock, to be honest. The First opens the September EP but for most of the rest of the series I made a conscious effort to focus my thoughts elsewhere, to look at the landscape around me, to respond to it in music, to try to find some hope. I think that comes out particularly in the March EP. The track Hope is one of the most joyful things I’ve ever written, I love it. So when it came to this final June EP, I thought the best way to sum up the whole series was to refer back to The First. I wrote an even bleaker minor key waltz, and called it The Last. It’s the opening track.
Anna: Why “The Last”?
G: It’s a neat pairing with The First, for one thing, but more than that - grief is a process. Sometimes it’s really painful but there are also times when you completely forget about it and then it will hit you again out of nowhere. I guess The Last is about being hit again by grief, and knowing that while it might feel terrible, it’s survivable, and actually necessary. I think I’m getting quite good at grieving.
Anna: [sarcastically] Yay…
Garreth: [laughs] … I guess the point is that there is no “last” grief; it just goes on and on. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy life anymore, you just have to accept that sometimes you’re going to have to spend some time grieving. I guess the June EP is about that: grief is incorporated in it, but it doesn’t dominate it. The next track is called Take Flight, and it’s totally different in character. It’s almost a dance, it’s just such a pleasure to play. I remember the day I composed it, it was almost like it just appeared out of nowhere, and I remember you really liking it.
Anna: It made me cry!
Garreth: But in a good way, I think?
Anna: Yes, it was beautiful!
Garreth: For a while I jokingly called it “Anna cries” but eventually I changed it to Take Flight, because it’s a really positive, stirring, moving kind of song, and I always feel like I’m taking off towards the end when my right hand starts playing those rapid arpeggios. I guess the flight thing is also a reference to Murmuration on the September EP.
Then, finally, there’s another track called Making Something from Nothing on a Random Evening in Dobrota in June. This is really a departure from my usual style - it’s even more jazzy than normal. It’s also a collaboration with a friend of mine, Phil Smith, a musician and radio producer. I wanted to get that feel of a hot summer evening in southern Europe. Phil sent me some field recordings of cicadas from a tiny village in Montenegro, and then I just made up this jazzy chord structure out of nowhere, came up with a melody and he improvised a response, and it’s just there, as it is, in all its slightly random glory, mistakes and all. I love the process of improvising - you just let things happen and extract the good bits. I’m sure Phil feels the same. And sometimes you have to keep the slightly rough bits in the mix, because the “mistakes” make it real. Anyway, for the EP cover Anna created some pretty spectacular art, like she’s done for all my EPs - do you want to describe it, Anna?