PHOTOGRAPHY BJARNE JONASSON
STYLIST ZARA ZACHRISSON
Jack Tatum is a brilliant songwriter who creates gorgeous dream pop and says it comes from a band called Wild Nothing. He hires touring musicians for concerts, but on his new record, Nocturne, he plays every instrument himself (except drums). If you don’t trust us, let the caliber of his interviewer be a testament to his talent: Simon Raymonde, member of the legendary Cocteau Twins and founder of Bella Union Records (Fleet Foxes, Beach House, Dirty Three, and Wavves, among other groundbreaking bands). Here, the two rap out about all kinds of shit.
SIMON RAYMONDE You’ve done all the so-tell-me-about-the-recording-of-the-album questions ad infinitum, so how about we start elsewhere and see where it takes us? You’re from Blacksburg, Virginia. When you go back to your parents’ house after a tour or a hectic period, what do you look forward to eating most?
JACK TATUM My parents live in Williamsburg, Virginia, which is where I grew up. I don’t get home as much as I’d like now that I’m in New York, but my mom sometimes makes a killer beef stew. My parents actually get somewhat adventurous in the kitchen, so there aren’t many Tatum staples. They always seem to be trying new recipes.
SR When you were born, in June 1988, we were putting the finishing touches to the album Blue Bell Knoll in our very own brand-new homebuilt studio. We made the decision to NOT tour that record at all. It still charted at number 15 in the U.K. and around number 100 in the U.S.A. We had just signed our first American record deal, with Capitol, for that LP, and our first job was to tell them we weren’t touring it. Do you think that could be possible today?
JT First, you should have seen my jaw drop after the first e-mail you sent me. Massive fan. I hadn’t realized that about Blue Bell Knoll, though. I often felt the same way after Gemini was released [in 2010]. I really wasn’t prepared to tour such a perhaps overly layered record. It can be difficult to put your trust in other musicians to play your music, you have to break some mental barriers. We’ve had members come and go, but I am happy with where we are now. I thought about that relationship more with Nocturne, but for me it’ll always be LP first, gigs second. I think it’s actually quite logical and commendable that you didn’t tour after that record if you didn’t think you could do it justice. I would like to think that if I somehow made an extremely ambitious record that couldn’t feasibly be played live that my labels would still want to release it. Assuming it wasn’t garbage of course!
SR Would you ever start a record label?
JT More than anything I’d prefer to eventually get into production. I really like the idea of having a more behind-the-scenes role in music. I think I would miss being involved creatively. I look to someone like Brian Eno as a role model in that sense, working mostly in production but releasing music when I feel like I have something worth sharing. That’s what I hope I’ll be able to do later in life.
SR For as long as you can remember, Jack, there has been an Internet. But I was in my early thirties before it existed! Cocteau Twins did one of the earliest Internet concerts in ’93/’94, live from our studio, amongst a throng of boffins from the Guardian and Wired. No one saw anything other than a black square with a flashing cursor in the middle for a few seconds. Can you imagine being you now and there being no Internet?
JT I feel like this topic gets brought up a lot in relation to my music, because I’m such a product of the Internet, whether I like it or not. So I’d love to be right there with you screaming ‘Kill the Internet!’ But I owe it quite a bit. It’s true, I think, it’s killed the music industry in a lot of ways. Most importantly it’s killed the nostalgic relationship with music that I wish I could have had more of. There is something simultaneously exhilarating and numbing about being able to go on Spotify and listen to practically anything you can think of in a matter of seconds. People no longer have to go to the record store and buy the album or single and listen to it with the knowledge that they just spent money on something. I think that gave people more incentive to really give music the time it deserves.
SR I’ve had a thing for Patti Smith ever since I first saw the sleeve of Horses in 1976. It’s not sexual, but it’s not entirely intellectual either. It’s complicated. But it’s healthy. It’s admiration, adoration, fascination. Do you have an affinity for one particular artist who you think is kind of untouchable?
JT That about sums up Kate Bush for me. There are very few artists that I feel like I can say are truly unique, but she is. I think a lot of people have trouble with her records sounding dated, but in my mind they just sound like nothing else out there. Who can explain Kate Bush? If anything it’s like demented theater music. That’s what makes Kate untouchable to me. Anyone who can write “Running Up That Hill” one minute and “Get Out Of My House” the next is just insane. You know that song? With the possessed donkey noises at the end? She is nuts. So brave.
SR Writing with other people can be weird if you've not done it before, but would you promise to write a song for Claire Boucher one day? I always loved that soppy Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush duet "Don't Give Up," and I know you guys could better that.
JT I like that duet! I also like their "Another Day" cover, though I can think of a different cover of that song that tops it. We actually just played a show with Grimes not too long ago. I think she called us "Cloud Nothings" though, so I kinda get the feeling I'm not on her radar.
SR What bands would you sign if you started a record label today? JT Well, if we are talking about active bands then I would love to put out records by Ariel Pink, Caribou, Deerhunter, Destroyer, John Maus, Mount Eerie, Radio Dept... That's a bit of a wish-list in itself. You don't wanna get me started on a real wish-list though. It'd be like playing fantasy football with 4AD, Creation, Factory and Rough Trade records.
Hair Kayla Michele using bumble and bumble (Atelier Management) Grooming Stevie Huynh (The Wall Group) Photo assistants Ryan Garcia, Stephen Wordie, Taylor Miller stylist assistant luna garzÓN-MONTANO Location Splashlight Soho