Thank you for asking. I am well. I’m feeling both excitement and trepidation about releasing something that I have been working on so long.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Miracle Garden”?
The character in the story of “Miracle Garden” has a lot of dead bodies in their backyard that they are not ready to confess to murdering. This person has skipped some steps in their development, and now they are discovering that they are ill equipped to deal with the shifts in their environment. They have preoccupied themselves with the sunny parts of existence while ignoring the shadow side—and now the shadow has caught up with them.
Miracle Garden was the first song that was completed for the new album. It also opens the album and eases the listener into the musical landscape of the project in a very maternal way. It was important that the first song create a sense of being held. I wanted the listener to feel like they were in a safe container so that emotional excavation would feel like an adventure. The track also prepares them for some of the more terrifying moments that pop up later on in the album when we go deeper into shadow places like on the track “Out Fell The Spider”.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I think I was sensing both in myself and in the world around me a kind of reveal. It was like the magician’s sleight of hand tricks could all be seen in slow motion. I wanted to produce music that captured this slow unraveling and explore how this shedding of skin can be a new beginning.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
There will be lyric videos released for all the songs on the album and I am currently working on a video for one of the other tracks “Black In America”, which will be a collection of short video submissions from participants about self-identity.
I am bouncing some ideas around for the official video for “Miracle Garden”, but it’s very important for me to look at the video making process in a way that continues to transcend the medium and intention as opposed to being a commercial for the music or cult of personality.
The single comes off your new album Out Fell The Spider – what’s the story behind the title?
There were a number of titles that the project was working under but nothing was “sticking”. While recording the album, I met with a neurologist about a condition that had been troubling me since childhood and I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. I could see then how the themes of the album were interconnecting like a web. All of the songs shared this feeling of knowing that there is a problem but not knowing exactly what it is whilst the world around you continues like nothing is wrong. It was about tracing a disorder back to the roots.
Similar to the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, putting a name to a disorder, despite there being no cure, took some of the power it had over me away and allowed me to focus on specific coping mechanisms without the illusion of shame. Additionally, there was a sense of comfort knowing that it wasn’t just me losing my mind. There were other people like me going through the same thing—if not worse.
The spider, for me, is not a malevolent force. It is a teacher that is weaving our stories together, and if we can respect the spider and dare to ask the deeper questions about our world and how it is run, we can get closer to separating illusion and truth.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was a challenge. There was a learning curve with technology. I was purposefully pushing myself to explore music production in a new way.
There were sprinkles of electronica in previous work. I was coming from a folk background with mandolins and acoustic guitars, but now I was fully immersing myself in “Electro Oz” with synths, modulators and drum machines. So there was some self-doubt that crept in during the process, but the excitement of creating a sonic world always drowned it out. World building with ambient textures has always been a fascinating art to me.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are writing for film than when you are writing in your own?
It’s a very different approach. I am the pickiest person I know, so it takes a long time to write for myself versus writing for others. For this album, if I didn’t feel like a particular lyric was working, I would spend hours with my back on the floor until something came to me that felt right.
How has Daft Punk and David Bowie influenced your writing?
I admire those artists and own some of their work. I get compared to them sometimes. I think both of them are really good at world building. RIP Bowie. I was hit hard by that death. Labyrinth was my childhood.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
The songs were always there I believe—I had to go through a process of becoming a detective to find the killer. I would get clues here in there about what was working and what wasn’t. I let the clues guide me. Sometimes I would get a line for a song but then I would later discover that the line was never meant to go in the song because it was only pointing me to the real line. That happened a lot with the song “The Gatekeeper”. I went through the same process with choosing the sounds as well.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, but probably not until 2018. I will be putting together two types of shows. One will sound closer to the sounds on the album and the other will strip all the songs down to acoustic versions.
I would like to return to some of my old stomping grounds in London and New York for performances. I am also looking at Canada and Germany.
What else is happening next in Ahmond’s world?
I have a few artists I am thinking of producing and I am also looking forward to getting back into composing for film and television and collaborating with other people. Working on a solo project for so long can be very isolating.