Bent Arcana: an espresso with John Dwyer

Image Credits: john dwyer © amdophoto

January 20, 2021

Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, visual artist and record label owner John Dwyer, after the caustic vibrations of projects such as Coachwhips, Zeigenbock Kopf, Sword + Sandals, in 2020 has released Bent Arcana, improvised music with a great atmosphere and groove.

> Ivano Rossato 

How would you describe Bent Arcana music?
I gathered together some of the best improvisors I know and just set up and played. It was over the course of 5 days and we had a rotating cast playing as my studio is fairly small. I think it could be described as hard fusion…there’s definitely rock & funk elements in there but a fair amount of the players were versatile jazz musicians. It was really a pleasure to finally do something like this after thinking about it for ages and opened the door for much more future projects.

I just go where I feel like musically. I’m constantly inspired by listening to old and new LPs so there’s always new direction always forward never straight , as my buddy used to say.

How were the compositions contained in Bent Arcana born and what inspired them?
We just played. The first 2 days were straight improvisation. We would just play for a whole reel of tape, but once we started bringing in more players some structure was needed so we would jam for a bit and find a motif and then discuss and do a few takes in that realm.
How did you approach the recording process of the songs?
Live live live, there are overdubs of hand drums and violin but for the most part it’s all live in the room. I have a really nice sounding little room so I run with it.
In 2003 you co-founded Castle Face Records, what do you think is the biggest goal and the biggest challenge for a record label in 2021?
To never have to have anyone else own my music. I worked with a few labels that owned songs for a period of time, but now I own every single piece of music I’ve ever written so the bands always get paid. That’s the prize to survive on art. I wish I could eat a guitar.
What do you think needs to be done, as a single professional musician or as a community, to face the consequences that the pandemic has had (and continues to have) on the world of professional played and recorded music?
I think we will need to just get back on the horse when the time comes. I’ll be the first in line to perform and travel. We have all learned quite a bit this year about death and strife so I hope a lot of loving and beautiful art comes out of all this sorrow and we will always have to remember where we have been. I’ll tell you what, this year has made me appreciate all the things I’ve taken for granted my whole career, no more.
Bent Arcana: an espresso with John Dwyer copyright Jazzespresso 2021.
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