Tuesday, 29 December 2009

ithaca interview

lifted from somewhere else

Written by Jonny Keyworth

You may have caught Ithaca Trio opening for Vessels a few weeks ago, as part of our first Small Ideas show of the University year; and if you did miss them, then you should be kicking yourself repeatedly in the shin till it snaps in two. Ithaca Trio is the brainchild of Mr Ollie Thurley, a young man I have known for a few years, who’s musical expertise always manages to astound me, and he produced perhaps the best EP of 2009 (my band’s Shirley Bassey EP)….*cough, cough*….anyways, Ithaca Trio is the latest venture for Mr Thurley and it is something that I advise you all have a listen of, and his worriedaboutsatan remix is well worth hearing. Coming at you like Tim Hecker sitting in dark room, shoving Steve Reich, Bach, and Wu Tang samples through a loop pedal; Ithaca Trio are a band well worth giving your time to. I spoke to Ollie about his Ithaca project:

Jonny: So, explain the inspiration behind Ithaca Trio? What made it come about? And is the name a homage to Mogwai?

Ollie: Haha, nice! Not many people spot the Mogwai reference, thank you! Basically the name is part Mogwai influence, and part Shotgun from Resident Evil. When I’m trying to be arty though, I tell people it’s the mythical island from Homer’s Odyssey. The trio came about because, basically I’m a closet jazz-nerd (just a listener though, I’m a terrible player). Also, I thought more people would listen if they thought they were listening to three jazz-trained musicians, rather than one music geek. What made it come about? Musical maliciousness. When I lived with Will, I put a load of my drones and ambient stuff on a CD – he absolutely hated it… so I decided to keep doing it, and bullied him into helping me live.

Jonny: Explain your extremely complicated gear set-up, and do you think tonnes of gear is important? Or does it just look cool?

Ollie: Tonnes of gear a good thing? No, to be honest, my set up is far too convoluted and unnecessary at the moment. I’m going to start cutting back live, and limiting myself whilst writing I think. Basically, I have two people’s rigs for one person. The guitar half, is a parallel loop pedal system, routed through a DJ mixer. Essentially its Steve Reich’s phase recordings meets Brian Eno’s generative work… on a pedal board. Then the other half is a Laptop, and Roland sampler. The guitar (and whoever else is playing) gets routed into the Laptop, and into a bit of software called Penguin (shameless plug: you can get it from http://ithacatrio.wordpress.com) which does lots of super-fun glitchy things.

Jonny: Whats going on with the new album? A massive departure from the EP? What influenced the new recordings?

Ollie: We’ve got a mini-album (Tesla Verses The Night) coming out on Under the Spire Recordings early next year, which I’m really, really excited about. They’ve got some brilliant artists over there (Jasper TX, p jørgensen, Damian Valles…), so I’m genuinely honoured Chris likes and is releasing this next project.

After that, I’m not really sure to be perfectly honest. We’ve just started recording a new full-length album this week, its all up in the air currently. I think it’s going to be pretty different from anything I’ve tried before, but how different I don’t know yet. The first release was all slow manipulations of guitar. The second was acoustic-guitar based, and the mini-album is a really organic recording. The album is stepping out of the softness of a lot of the earlier works and getting a bit atonal. I think I’m listening to too much Animal Collective and Love Supreme-era Coltrane at the moment really.

Jonny: Whats the future for Ithaca? More shows? More production stuff for you Mr Thurley?

Ollie: I’m planning the standard Rock and Roll package I think; drug-addiction, decent to obscure madness, hiatus, royalty lawsuits, comeback tour, greatest hits album… Seriously though? Well, we’re supporting Library Tapes on January 30th which is exciting. Forest of Sound have secured the St. Margaret of Antioch Church, Leeds which is an awesome building and sadly really underused for gigs. After that? Just working on the next album and hopefully a few special studio/live collaborations and some more remixes. Unfortunately, I’m not really organized enough to plan that far ahead after that, so we’ll see what turns up.

Jonny: If you could work with any musician who would it be and why?

Ollie: Hmm… not sure? PartWildHorsesManeOnBothSides, because they’re fucking incredible, Seb Rochford from Polar Bear, or Madlib. Seb has awesome hair, but probably Madlib. The guy apparently owns four tonnes of vinyl and blends Hip-Hop sensibility with everything from 80’s prog-rock to 60’s modal-jazz, but I wonder what he would do with ambient music. He has so many collaborations/alter-ego’s I’m sure he could handle a little drone project. Madaca? Ithalib? Okay, maybe not.

Jonny: Cheddar or Brie?

Ollie: Cheddar, but it has to be a really mature one. I’m a sucker for Cathedral City…

Jonny: Chequered or spotted trousers?

Ollie: Chequered!

Jonny: North or South?

Ollie: South. You dirty northerners…

Jonny: Sandwiches or baguettes?

Ollie: Vive la baguette!

Jonny: Juice or Squash?

Ollie: Juice.

Jonny: Raekwon or GZA?

Ollie: Liquid Swords is one of my favorite Wu side-projects, but mate… it’s all about RZA & Meth!

Jonny: Playing Live or being in the Studio?

Ollie: Erm, studio I think. There is a lot more time and choice in the studio. I can get more people involved, more processing, more tender love and affection, that sort of stuff. I just feel a lot more comfortable writing and trying new things out in the studio than doing it live – I get more chance to spread out when nobody is listening. Plus, in the studio, I can choose what I let people hear after I’m done – at the moment, for every minute of Ithaca Trio stuff available online, I’ve got four minutes sat on my hard-drive that nobody else gets to hear.

Jonny: Omelettes or scrambled eggs?

Ollie: I make a mean omelette.

Jonny: Thank you.

Ollie: Thank you, Small Ideas!


By Jonny Keyworth


  1. Mr. Ollie. I appreciate your move to score some music for the drug-addiction. I will make things easy for the Drug Addiction Treatment Centers.