I discovered something very dear to me lately- a single word, lyric, an entire song can make you feel absolute warmth and ease. There are a lot of albums out there that move me, but I’ve yet to come across too many that can make me feel completely fulfilled and in a suspended moment of euphoria.
I’ve never really thought of music this way until listening to If Not Now When?. The new album by Olly Knights includes vocals that soar over gorgeous guitar playing which is only furthermore a treat when the harmonies swoop in. All of the elements come together to create an absolute soothing and comforting atmosphere. At first, it comes over you and makes you feel a delightful coziness. Shortly afterwards, you realize you’ve just heard an amazing and inspirational piece of music, and that is why you’re feeling this subtle yet irresistible warmth.
At certain moments, vocals aren’t even needed; the emotions expressed through the guitar and piano playing alone displays technical treats and beautiful melodies. It’s extremely evident that Olly has passion spilling out of him for his work. As a faithful listener, I honestly couldn’t ask for anything more pleasing for my ears.
A very rich joy is absorbed through every song as Olly sings to us about music, love, and life. We’ve found it to be one of the best albums of the year, and it’s definitely some of the most touching music we’ve heard in a long time. So we caught up with the talent behind the music- Olly did a little interview with A Music Blog, Yea? all about the lovely If Not Now When?.
AMBY: The opening track Ripchord is a beaut, what is the story behind it?
OK:This was one of the last songs I wrote, it was really quite “Out there” for me but I love it when songs are surprising even to myself, it seemed to have a life of it’s own, with such strange chord changes. I decided it should open the album, I didn’t feel the same worry as I would with my band, I was free… It’s about opting out, about feeling outside the world looking in and being fine with it. The words in the chorus are about cables under the sea carrying our hopes fears and dreams which I often think about, existential cyborgs…. Like woh!
AMBY: How did recording the album at home benefit the final outcome?
OK: It was a huge part of the picture, In a practical sense it was needed but artistically I love records that feel home made, that have the artists finger prints all over them, it might not make sense for a project with big commercial aspirations I guess but for a “man alone in a room” record like this it worked I think.
AMBY: How important was using analogue tape as opposed to digital?
OK: I intuitively felt that I should not go down the laptop route, I wanted to be surprised again, I suppose I know a little too much about how to complete something in the digital world. With tape I was forced to work in linear, no cutting and pasting and editing, songs just had to work, this was huge. I also found the sound extremely charming, like it was being broadcast back to me from another place and time, 1983 perhaps when the tape machine was made?
AMBY: What was it like working with Philip Bloom on the Documentary?
OK: When I think of Phil I smile, he’s a big bundle of positive energy when he works, and I think he gets me to do things I would normally never do, it’s an experiential kind of thing being “Philmed”. We’ve become pretty good pals and that helps with this documentary, I trusted him, his work is always beautiful but more than that I knew he was genuinely into the music, he wanted to know more plus he baby sat my kids for me after filming so it was a two for one special.
AMBY: The lyrics are amazing and have a severe depth to them. Was there a main source that you drew inspiration from?
OK: Yes, I had had quite a rocky ride the previous year with my family, just a tough year which brought a lot of feelings to the surface for me, I suddenly felt the need to capture the emotion of that time, about how I felt about everything around me, those moments where you suddenly can see everything you have and have not. It was really important to try and translate these hugely personal atmosphere’s into something other people could enjoy, maybe feel were beautiful, I can’t think of anything more positive to do with my life.
AMBY: One lyric that really resonates with me is from the song Girls. There’s lines on your face, guide me back to place. What lyric are you most connected to?
OK: I managed to name check my two young daughters in the song I Hope I Know You Well, it’s funny but they asked me to do it, so I found a way to get them in, it’s very subtle but I hope it makes them smile when they are grown up.
AMBY: What do you want people to take away after listening to the album?
OK: I want them to feel like they’ve been given a warm hug for 34 minutes to be honest! I sometimes feel like the world is too damn fast, too damn violent and has no empathy, I’ve tried to make the record feel outside of all that, like a break, a reflective rest stop by the side of the road.
AMBY: How long did it take to write the material for the record?
OK: About thirty six years… Although it took about six weeks to finally bubble up to the surface, I found the ten songs over the last Christmas period… Every evening I’d start one and every morning I’d finish one, I was on a real trip!
AMBY: What is the plan once the album is released?
OK: I have no BIG plan, I’m learning how to put records out independently, what pleases me most is it will exist, if I make a 2nd one I might think about playing it live but for now I’m really happy for it to be something small yet discoverable.
AMBY: The final song These Days Of Sun almost feels like a love letter, how would you sum up this whole experience?
OK: It kind of is a love letter, a surreal dream and a reminder to remember, not just the bad but all those days of sun too. As for my own experience of this record ask me again in about two years! I might have worked it out by then…
You can download the first paragraph (single) of this love letter here for free, and the album can be pre-ordered here. If you want to go on a journey filled with heartfelt lyrics, dreamy melodies and little, enchanting surprises, then you’ve GOT to hear this!
For an interview with Turin Brakes, click here.