LISTEN & MEET: SIX FLYING WHALES with his out-of-this-world debut album, Clepsydra
When we say out-of-this-world, we don’t mean from outer space — we mean from underwater. Clepsydra refers to an ancient time-measuring device worked by a flow of water, but this album makes us forget time in seven brilliantly-paced, genre-transcending songs. Each track seduces us further and further away from the normalcy of daily life and into the colossal unknown of the sea, aided by the album artwork that seems to signify, if not visually trigger, the start of our journey.
Six Flying Whales, who prefers to be known as just that, has progressive ideas when it comes to the process of making and marketing music. In short, he’d rather let his music do the talking. He did make an exception here though, and thank god for that because the things he has to say and the way he says them are as intriguing as the album itself.
SFW stands out in every single way, from the band name to the album art to the kind of music you make. What inspires your work and your concepts?
Well, thanks! These days, there are more things I dislike, than things I like. These things, in their repulsiveness, seem to push me to work against them. The underlying dreariness of crawling through the inescapable visually and aurally polluted everyday. I’m exceedingly sick of having my mind bashed in by the same annoyingly insensitive lackluster four-chord pastiche being regurgitated for decades. I enjoy disorientation, but not like this. Everything sounding the same is an obscene manifestation unseen by most people pursuing entertainment. I’m literally struggling to take anything in anymore. Genre-purists make me want to barf, and the short-lived attention span of listeners these days makes me want to seek ceaseless hibernation. (dramatic finale strings) And that’s the underwater cave where I make my art. I live here now.
You’ve been working on Clepsydra for quite a long time. How has it payed off?
Yeah, I’m exploring comfort in the fact that people are completely eating it up today, even though most of the material was composed three years ago, if not more. Persistence is key, and I’m glad I’m managing to tap into that. I ambitiously hope for it to stay relevant fifty years from now. Currently, 90% of my ‘fanbase’ = Friends. One of whom bought the album. So that’s a start.
Considering the quirky nature of your music, what plans do you have for your live sets?
The concepts and tunes are largely inspired by micro interactions. Closer listens can reveal partially obscured sounds having microscopic liaisons and romances. So there’s about a hundred ways I can play through a single song, without being bored by it. It’s quite great to use a live setting to perform special versions of these tunes with swapped sounds and tempos and character, something that rock bands just will not do anymore. What you hear in the studio is what you get live. Some people would say ‘wowsotightbro’, I’d say ‘booooooo’. I’d also say that plans for live sets can only be experienced in person, so I’m not spoiling it any further.
Photo courtesy of Six Flying Whales
You seem to be very low-profile. Will we ever get to know the man behind the music?
Not low-profile enough, considering this published article! Is the man behind the music important at all? Music doesn’t need a pretty face with a backstory pasted on it, and I hope that the world reverts to that understanding. There’s just too much unnecessary interest in what an artist eats for lunch.
Have you ever had any weird/interesting fan interactions?
Owing to the nature of my desolate spreadsheets, I’ve interacted with only a handful of interested people, mostly curious about how a particular sound or other, was made or recorded. As a fan of art who asks those very questions to others, it’s quite great to receive similar reactions to my work. Also, it’s mostly either, ‘I loved it what the hell was that!’, or ‘I hated it what the shit was that?’
Any upcoming projects/gigs we can look forward to?
While Clepsydra is a largely rhythm-oriented record, I’m constantly touching the material up, and making it sound richer tonally, almost chorally. I’d love for people to hear that and see the extent of the possibilities of this thing we call art. It’s like an ageing breathing sentient being. Also, the record was mostly finished and on a shelf for two years, during which I’ve gone full-mad-scientist and reworked all the sounds into newer, rhythmically bonkers material which some could call remixes, currently sitting on a bursting shelf, under a pile of newer content and concepts to attend to. Excuse me.
We still do have some burning questions for SFW – why six whales? Why are they flying? Are there seven tracks because there are seven seas? Are we reading a bit too much into all this? Maybe we’ll get all these answers another time. Till then, you’ll have to settle for watching him perform live with a single MIDI controller (how cool is that)!