Autre Ne Veut
World War Pt. 2

Arthur Ashin, who has grown much more readily recognizable as his Autre Ne Veut stage moniker over the years, has been one of our most looked-to tastemaking artists since his excellent Anxiety LP in 2013 and sterling catalog as a whole, which dips its toes into experimental R&B, soul, pop, rock and more. Most recently, Ashin’s latest single “Panic Room” stirred up something darkly beautiful within us once again and the busy artist has also been making the press rounds on behalf of the latest Autre Ne Veut full-length, Age of Transparency, which is getting set for an October 2 release via Downtown, along with an accompanying U.S. tour. We wanted a deeper look into one of the most enigmatic and creative minds within any capacity of music, and got to catch up with Arthur for quite the random interview. Be on the lookout for a show near you in the coming months, and in the mean time, read our full interview with Autre Ne Veut below.

The Music Ninja: You’re getting ready to release Age of Transparency, your third proper full-length after both your excellent self-titled debut in 2010 and of course the highly praised Anxiety in 2013. We’ve gotten a few tastes of AoT with “World War Pt. 2”, its jazz-tinged counterpart, and “Panic Room”, but wanted a little more insight as to what sets Age of Transparency apart from your other works including the Body EP. You were dealing with some rather heavy emotional stuff around Anxiety, what was your headspace like on your latest LP?

Autre Ne Veut: It is more naturalistic in tone.  There are more nods to 70s Rod Stewart, ECM style jazz recordings, Alice Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Ornette Coleman, Astral Weeks than there were on Anxiety.  Spiritually, it feels a bit more related to the self titled album than Anxiety, or rather like a hyped up improvement or something.  Still laden with self doubt and anxiety, but I try to tackle it from a bit more of a remove at times.  That said, the vocal sound on AoT leans in even more than on Anxiety, it is dryer, more present, more tactile.

TMN: If we’re not mistaken, at one point you made a living as a jingle-writer. Not many people are aware of this fact, but do you think any of that job has seeped into Autre Ne Veut and added a bit of added accessibility to your sound whether it be a conscious move or not?

ANV: That was a bit of my responsibility at the production house that I worked at right out of college, but to call what I made jingles is a bit of a stretch.  They were like simulations of music that wasn’t cleared for porting to the web and other media with restricted data capacity.  Ambient garbage.  I’d say the accessibility is a function of an earnest appreciation for accessibility in music.  I have plenty of terribly pretentious touchstones in my catalogue of taste but even there, I’m still looking for the “hit.”  The Best of Merzbow is one of my favorite collections of all time.
TMN: You’re squeezing in 11 live dates just in October. Your live sets carry an emotional weight to them that seems like it might be draining night after night. Do you like to socialize and blow off steam after a show or are you drained and in need of recharge after a set?
ANV: I will hang around after the show for a bit and sell merch from time to time, but mostly I love getting sleep so I can wake up early and haul ass to the next spot without crashing the van.
TMN: When you’re on the road, do you still find time to be creative and write, or are you more inspired to create new material in the comforts of your own studio?
ANV: I really rarely write on tour.  As I said, I’m doing a lot of the driving, so aside from recording a quick spark of an idea on my phone, most of my writing happens when my time is a bit more leisurely.  Though it happens all over the place, just not generally on tour specifically.
TMN: Speaking of your studio. How did the recording process go for the new LP? Did you enlist anyone new on Age of Transparency that you hadn’t previously worked with or was it mostly a solo effort?
ANV: Very early on in the process I worked with Chris Tabron, Ron Entwhistle and Joel Ford to help flush out the demos that would ultimately become the core arrangements and broad sonic strokes for the songs.  Then we went to Avatar studios, where Ron and Chris engineered the live players who used those arrangements as click tracks for the “jazz” elements, basically bespoke samples, all independently mic’d for what was the final phase mostly done alone though also with some essential assistance from Josh Wilson, where I flipped the sonics on their head, and generally kind of fucked things up.  This last phase was by far the longest — over a year of constant work and editing and various permutations — until I finally felt like the gestalt was really there.  The self titled album was almost like a curated collection of songs I’d been working on for the previous 5-6 years, but was only conceived as an album when the opportunity arose to make one, Anxiety just sort of fell into place over a total of a month and a half with Daniel Lopatin, Joel and I playing the songs for the record as a MIDI and then Dan and I editing them down after the fact to create that particular subtractive production sound.  This one was just a massive labor of love with far, far more hours invested in the production than I could have possibly imagined in advance.
TMN: Awesome, awesome. Well thanks for getting the standard stuff out of the way. Let’s transition into what we like to call the lightning round and ask some lighter, but very enlightening questions about you personally. Where were you when Michael Jackson died?
ANV: Somewhere in New York. Honestly, I remember who texted me about it, and that they were in a cab, but my whereabouts are still a mystery to me.  I was in the studio producing Anxiety when Whitney Houston died, however, thus the homage song title “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
TMN: What is your drink of choice, alcoholic or otherwise, when performing?
ANV: One heavily watered down (decent) tequila blanco with a lime wedge, about 10 bottles of water, and a cup of throat coat tea.
TMN: What was the most recent record to evoke an emotional response from you?
ANV: In terms of release date, Lydia Ainsworth’s Right From Real. What an unbelievably beautiful and meticulously arranged album.  Also my buddy Dan’s (Oneohtrix Point Never) latest missive Garden of Delete evokes a truly uncanny and at times quite uncomfortable feeling.  Like going through puberty all over again.
TMN: Who’s been the most entertaining person or band to tour with so far throughout your journey as Autre Ne Veut?
ANV: I’ve been lucky enough to only tour with really wonderful folks who I’ve been more than happy to be on the road with.  Honestly it would be both reductive and disingenuous to chose.
TMN: Any road stories to enlighten us as to why they were memorable?
ANV: The drive from Berlin to Poland was stunning.  We took a great pit stop at a hot springs in Montana with Majical Cloudz that was super fun, right in the smack of winter, you’re in a swimming pool sized and shaped hot tub surrounded by snow capped mountains.  Was really unreal.  Also I crowd surfed once in Toronto while singing “Gonna Die” which is a pretty killer feeling.
TMN: If you could shapeshift for one day into another animal, what would you pick?
ANV: All pride, and notions of spirit animals aside, probably some sort of large bird that can fly extremely high in the air.  I mean, flying…
Don’t miss Autre Ne Veut on this latest U.S. tour, and keep checking back for more singles from the impending Age of Transparency.
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