Waldo’s Gift: an espresso with James Vine


June 22, 2022

James Vine, Harry Stoneham and Alun Elliott-Williams are Waldo’s Gift, the fusion trio from Bristol whith a very peculiar style.

> Ivano Rossato

Can you tell us about the Waldo’s Gift project?
Waldo’s Gift was born from a mutual love for jazz, metal, electronic and improvised music. Our roots lie wholeheartedly in improvisation; even the bulk of our written material stems from ideas that were originally created in the moment in a live context. This originally came about as a necessity: our weekly residency at music/art hub The Gallimaufry in Bristol took us down the ‘total improvisation’ route as we didn’t have enough time to create new material each week.

We began to improvise whole 90 minute sets of music, trying to create something cohesive yet completely on the edge of our capabilities. We did this every week for a number of years and it formed the sound you hear in our composed EP’s ‘The Hut’ & ‘Normflex’. Our very first release aptly titled ‘Improvisations’ was a collection of these impromptu musical explorations from one night at that venue. Despite our newer material being composed we are still exploring this other side to our sound regularly.

How was the music of Flowerbed and Normflex EP  born? What creative process do you follow?
Flowerbed and the Normflex EP were both written at the tail end of the most intense phase of the pandemic. Each of us had so much processing to do from the past year. This processing found its outlet in the creation of the music you hear on this EP; it was pure catharsis. Some of this processing found expression in pure aggression, other aspects channeled nostalgia for simpler times. That’s why half of the EP is heavy and unrelenting and the other half more exploratory and reflective.
How much room for improvisation is left in the recording phase?
The vast majority of ideas & themes on this EP were originally created in improvisation. When this wasn’t the case, we were often attempting to create and refine a particular sound world we often did in improvisation. The track Climbing Trees is the perfect example of a sort of ‘glitchy melodic’ sound world we would often just gravitate to naturally in an improvised performance and itself is a refinement/polished version of that sound world.
Your music is electrifying, your overall sound and compositional style are very peculiar, what artistic references do you have?
Why thank you! Some influences: Hudson Mohawk, Aphex Twin, Sarah Davachi, Jon Hopkins, Claude Debussy, Floating Points, Nala Sinephro, Animals as Leaders, Burial.
What are your next steps (live tour, composition, recording …)?
We’re actually releasing “Improvisations II” this coming August which is a continuation of the very first completely improvised EP we released back in 2019. This release showcases how our improvisation style has evolved and is very raw, unfiltered and high-octane. We’re also busy writing our very first fully fledged LP which we hope to release next year. Needless to say we are extremely enthusiastic about touring Europe and hope to get out there in the very near future!
Waldo’s Gift: an espresso with James Vine copyright Jazzespresso 2022.
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