Iceland Artist Residency Journal

 

         A collection of moments from my residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland.

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 Iceland residency week one:

The plane landed in a snowstorm. I spent the night in Reykjavik and then took a bus through endless sky and giant mountains to the residency. Skagaströnd is a remote fishing village where I’m living in a large white house with other artists. In front of the house: the ocean and a mysterious triangular church where I took field recordings of a night choir. Behind: more giant mountains. At night I write and record alone in the local music school. I have three song sketches.

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Iceland residency week two:

I began building and recording instruments alongside a painter named Jesse Keating. They are made from found materials: burnt wood, an oil drum, bones, metal, hot air. We drone through the night. I went to a river in Blönduós and recorded water and wildlife. My fortune was read from a stone: “don’t scratch the wound”. I have six song sketches.

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Iceland residency week three:

I focused in on my collaboration with Jesse Keating–we recorded our sculptural instruments and I bent the noises into song form with my computer. We created a 14 minute video projection loop using digitally manipulated footage of desolate Northern Iceland to accompany the sound. On Sunday we opened our installation to the public of Skagaströnd and later performed: ‘Fog Storm’.

We have been asked to play in the neighboring city of Blönduós at an art event called Hérna! Núna! on Friday. We play at Gamli Kirkjan, which just means Old Church (the space is actually a decommissioned church, perfect for sound).

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Fog Storm Statement and Performance Information: 

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Iceland residency weeks 4 and 5:

Spákonufell is the mountain that watches over Skagaströnd. Every day as I leave the studio I look up and the mountain tells me that I’m far from home. A little over a week ago I climbed Spákonufell. At the top is a large flat stretch of land enveloped in a thick cloud. The ground is white, iced over. The space up there is alien and separate from the world; while walking around I experienced a strong feeling of detachment.
Jesse and I performed ‘Fog Storm’ in the old church and then he packed up and left a few days later. I’ve spent my final week here working intently, organizing all of my footage and field recordings, and trying to make sense of everything. During this five week residency I wrote and recorded ten song sketches, played two shows, and collaboratively built instruments used to create a 14 minute sound/video art piece. I’m not ready to leave.

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Norway:

I went to Helvete–something I’ve been wanting to do for about 12 years–and got to explore the infamous basement. The woman working the shop told me some funny anecdotes about buying records from Euronymous as a teenager.
I saw some really intense art at both The National Gallery and Astrup Fearnley.
Oslo reminds me of Portland in a way I can’t place. I haven’t spent enough time here. I head home tomorrow but I definitely plan on coming back.

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April Artist Residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland

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I am an artist in residence in Skagaströnd, Iceland for the month of April! Today I pack all of this equipment into a backpack and guitar case and fly to a country I’ve never been to but often dreamt of; I will be field recording, experimenting, shooting video, writing, and composing sound. At the end of the month I will have a performance/exhibition. Excited is an understatement.

Cold Air Release Show: Drowse/Tender Age/Floating Room/Dragging an Ox Through Water @Black Water 3/24/18

The Cold Air release show tomorrow has been moved to Black Water​! Tender Age​ and Dragging an Ox through Water​ are two of the best bands in Portland and Floating Room will be playing our five piece tour set which sounds huge. Drowse will be filled out live by members of Being Awone​ who released my favorite Portland album last year. Don’t sleep. Poster by Maya Stoner​ and myself.

Portland Mercury Interview

The Portland Mercury has published an amazing article/interview that elegantly and accurately captures the history and intent of Drowse. Possibly my favorite piece of writing on Cold Air so far:

“Cold Air is Drowse’s finest work to date. Sonically, it wanders from sketched-out neo-classical swells and fuzzy drones to warped slowcore, quiet acoustic passages, and rock songs that sound submerged in static and molasses. It’s no coincidence, perhaps, that the album also marks a shift in Bates’ songwriting perspective[…]”

Read it here.

Cold Air Released

Cold Air is released today!

I’ve been playing music for most of my life but I started teaching myself how to record–mostly as a self-reflective coping mechanism–a little over five years ago. Back then I would have never imagined that these weird sound experiments I made in my room would eventually turn into a project that could be pressed on vinyl by one of my favorite labels and carried in stores. I’m very grateful to Maya and The Flenser for working so hard with me on this record. Life is tumultuous and uncertain with ever changing mental states, relationships with my self and others, and moods, but music is always there helping me stay stable. This album is out of me and in the world now and I’m filled with meaning and relief.

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Cold Air Full Album Stream on Brooklyn Vegan

Cold Air is streaming in full today at Brooklyn Vegan.
Vinyl is sold out through the label but copies are still available here.
Album up everywhere Friday!

It feels like I’ve been holding my breath waiting to share this album since it was finished almost exactly one year ago. I finally get to exhale. The album is intentionally sequenced to be listened to as a whole–a disjunctive narrative flows through it. Headphones and eyes closed if possible. If you only have time for one song, listen to “Shower”, it’s my favorite thing we’ve ever recorded. Cold Air is as close as I’ve ever come to seeing and representing my true self in music; the album is about fear but today I’m proud to share it with you.