Interview With Nam Wayne
by Christoph Brinkbaeumer
*originally in the German magazine Die Erfindung, used with permission
Die Erfindung: Your new LP has a vintage DIY sound and you mentioned that you recorded it on cassette. Was that a matter of necessity or choice?
Nam Wayne: It was an aesthetic choice. In 2017 clean digital recordings are far cheaper and easier to do than even low-fi analog so nobody makes a record that sounds like this by default or by accident.
DE: Just to be clear, when you talk about digital versus analog what are you referring to?
NW: I’m referring exclusively to the use of tape as the initial capture medium as opposed to, say, the playback medium which could be vinyl, mp3, etc.
DE: Why spend so much time and energy getting a sound that was the default of another time? Weren’t the artists back then just using the technology that was readily available to them?
NW: I’m sure they were and it could be that the clean digital recordings of our time will come to sound ageless to listeners of the future, but the important thing to me is to have my recordings sound ageless to my own ears right now. I don’t think there’s anything particularly authentic about going with the default technology of a given time or forgoing intentionality. I love the sound of tape saturation and that hedonism is the only reliable compass I’m aware of for making coherent aesthetic decisions.
DE: How did you learn to record in this way?
NW: In the early 2000s I heard the album Suburban Light by The Clientele. It was the most evocative and deliberate-sounding record production I had ever heard so I reached out to the band and convinced them to let me travel with them and film them for a few days. During the shoot the singer, Alasdair MacLean, taught me their recording techniques and since then I’ve come up with my own aggressive rock variation of those techniques.
DE: What other artists have a similar production style?
NW: Sheer Mag, Honey Radar, Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall to name a few.
DE: Why do you think your music has caught on so well among the youth in Berlin?
NW: Maybe because people are more able to see the authenticity in things that are far away, like the middle class regarding the lives of rich TV characters as more real and legitimate than their own, or the wealthy seeing poverty as a prerequisite for authenticity.
DE: What makes a piece of music authentic?
NW: In music the main type of authenticity I’m concerned with is whether it’s emotionally convincing. Take your coffee cup with the words Nutella-chino on it or my cup that says Leitsplein Cafe. They are fiction but they’re fairly convincing so I like that.
DE: Could you clarify what you mean when you say the coffee cups are fiction?
NW: There are literally no coffee cups on this table. I fabricated them for this piece of writing...the table too and even this magazine, Die Erfindung. It sounds real but if you google it you’ll find that it’s an invention.
DE: And yet we’re still sitting here in Leitspein Cafe.
NW: I made that up too just now and you’re part of this fiction also.
DE: Is anything in this interview real?
NW: Everything is real except the fact of you interviewing me for this magazine. That and the thing about me being famous in Berlin.