A few weeks ago we were invited to Don Pierre’s residence to discuss his upcoming release with Obi Records. The first thing that struck us as we entered the main open plan room was the strong smell of home made chili cooking. Instruments of every variety inhabited every available space, and there were wires of every kind imaginable strewn about a large mixing desk. Fresh herbs lined the window sills and fascinating trinkets and oddities sat on shelves and across the mantle of the grand fire place. It was clear that the Don was a man of culture. Particularly our favourite twin disciplines of music and food. The Don sat across me from the kitchen table, attending to the chili and offering us tea before we got down to business…
So thanks for sitting down to talk with us today, we have Don Pierre here. This is your first release as Don Pierre, so my first question is… why Don Pierre?
I’ve never really put out any music on my own before and it’s something that people have been telling me I should do. So I had to pick a name. I was recording recently and it was something that came up with some other musicians on the day, calling me “Don Pierre – The Reprise”. I think Grand Pierre was knocking about too. My sister used to call me Pierre and Pedro. I did toy with Pedro, but in the end I decided on Don Pierre, just so it’s not my name really.
It’s pretty swish…
Have you heard that Katy Perry song, Swish Swish, or what it’s (unintelligible).
Yeah I know…
So what can we expect from this release as Don Pierre?
It’s mainly guitar driven, that’s my main instrument. It’s guitar driven and kind of influenced by the whole spectrum of what I listen to. I’d describe it as trip-hop, quite spacey trip-hop, I suppose. Reverb and delay on the guitars. Nice little beats. And my love of hip-hop. Everything I recorded before… I had this sampler and it gave everything I was recording this kind of hip-hop edge.
So you’ve released and worked with a few projects previously, are you influenced by that music too?
Yeah to a certain extent, I’m playing bass in Old Swing, they’re also doing a release with Obi for Cassette Store Day. I played with Sidewalk Express for two and a half years until that project ended. I’ve put things out here and there, just for friends to listen to. Some stuff with Matt who runs Runway Studios, he played the drums for me on this release.
So these tracks are quite different from what you’ve done with these other projects?
Definately… it’s similar to my own older work, it’s quite a lot of me, it’s quite personal. Rather than jamming with other people, because it’s all me doing the keyboard, the drums, everything, it feels personal.
So what has inspired this for you?
If you read the track names on the cassettes I guess Star Trek is massively a part of that, and musically, a mix of everything: Portishead, Massive Attack… More hip-hop for the beats, but for guitar it’s Mac Demarco. But I wouldn’t say it’s like any of them. ‘The Empyrean’ by John Frusciante is a massive influence on me. Even though my tracks may not sound like these things, it’s what I’m listening to when I’m thinking about making music. Its all this mix between hip-hop influences and guitar driven rock music. I’ve been listening to John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ a lot recently. Although none of it’s represented in the tunes, it’s the freeness of the music I try to take away from it.
So have you taken any of this into the production as well?
Well… I don’t know…
(the room laughs)
Are you happy with the way it sounds?
I guess I have my own methods, and I’ve picked a few things here and there over the years. Most of its recorded at home but some of its recorded in the studio, my friend over at runway studios, we put together the drums. we recorded some live drums there (still very basic and DIY) and I’ve sampled them and brought them home and mixed them and messed around with effects. It’s all been quite informed by the way people are recording these days, a lot of DIY recording is going on, a lot of people now are recording their stuff at home. If you’re a band I think it’s best to get into the studio, and you can play there and rock it out and do your thing, but at home when you’re making your own music, it’s more personal.
I’ve got lavender in my fucking drink… Oh man…
So you’ve got a sneak preview of the artwork for the cassette here for us to look at. It looks immense, what’s going on with the art?
My wife has created the artwork on this one, she’s worked with me on the visual side of most things on previous projects too. She’s always done this kind of amazing shit and thrown it in with the music.
It looks great. So… who should we be listening to right now according to you?
Old Swing, Rosie Blacher, Milk, Birthday Card, Blushes, Father Demo, there are many more but I’m being lazy… As far as the local scene goes.
And what about the mainstream?
I’m just kicking it with the regulars, the classics still man, always… Uncle Neil (Neil Young), John Frusciante, Arcade Fire, Mac Demarco, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, A Tribe Called Quest, Foals, Radiohead… The regular crew.
At this point it strikes me that during the interview tracks from Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’ have been playing at an incredibly subtle volume the whole time…
So, although there is a dirty rumour going around at Obi that some of these release tracks aren’t finished yet, are you planning more things for the Don in the future?
(the room laughs again)
Well, yeah I suppose I have to finish the thing first…
(the Don laughs loudly)
We’re making a video, with my friend Edel Gardner, a video for one of the tunes, and after that I guess the next wave of songs I write I’ll put out some cassettes and look to work on the visual side of stuff more too.
Amazing, well thanks for speaking with us. Can’t wait to hear the releases out there, and I suppose we should be saying Bon Voyage to the Don… for now…
To find out more about the Don’s tunes click here