Bleeding Heart Narrative

Nick Lewis 04/01/2010

Last year London experimentalists Bleeding Heart Narrative released a wonderful album Tongue Tangled Hair through the Tartaruga label. As part of our series of features and interviews with people on and behind the label Nick Lewis posed some questions to the act that have been delighting our ears of late.

Are all the instruments you use real or sampled? Do you own a harmonium?

All of the instrumentation on the releases I've put out so far has been recorded by me. There's a couple of samples of speech buried here and there that I've sampled from various places but mainly its just me playing stuff in a room with a mic. As yet I unfortunately don't own a harmonium - I am working on that.

How did the EP with Gosia Winter come about?

I'd like to be able to share some interesting story here but annoyingly we met on myspace. Can't remember who got in touch with who first but I really liked her music and the idea of some sort of collaboration was suggested. We started sending ideas back and forth via email until we finally had enough finished tracks that some sort of release became possible (which wasn't any kind of definite aim when we started the project). As yet all communication we've had has been over the internet but I'm almost positive she does actually exist. In fact she recently moved to Europe (from Australia) so with any luck we'll be able to continue the collaboration in person at some point.

Who/what are your main influences?

Quite hard to say - there's loads of different artists that I love but I don't know how much they've influenced the way I make music. There have been a few tracks/gigs that have had a big impact on me, a few definite examples being; a cello piece called 'Cello Chi' by Sarah Hopkins (from the album 'Austral Voices') was something I heard on the radio when I was in my teens and it was the first time I'd ever heard somebody using a cello to make those kind of overlaid harmonic sounds - probably quite pivotal in me coming back to the cello again; A performance by Japanese turntablist duo BusRatch that I saw at the old Spitz venue completely floored me.; An installation/video piece by Doug Aitken at the Victoria Miro gallery called 'Interiors' made a big impression on me with how he used disparate sounds combined in different ways to achieve something way more than the sum of its parts. There's hundreds of examples like this though. Probably a lot of my main influences aren't necessarily musical but more abstract ideas that I want to try and put into music in some way - so actually my main influence is probably my frustration with not being able to do this as well as I'd like so I keep trying.

How would you describe your music?

I'd try not to! When people ask me this I tend to ramble on about "classical and uh folk but with some noisier bits and uh, um there's like improvisatory bits... some rock... like... uh....." until I trail off. Like this.

Do you do everything on your records yourself?

Mainly I write, play and record everything on the records myself. For most tracks I tend to pretty much write and record it at the same time so this is just the way it works out at the moment. For some of the tracks that have been written for the BHN live group I've ended up recording other band members playing their parts as it seems to give a different feel to the instrumentation and also they're often simply just better at playing them than me! Mostly though - for better or worse - its just me.

Do I hear some folk in your music?

Quite possibly you do - that's probably all the Vaughan Williams trying to get out - I got played a lot of it when I was little (no bad thing)

How did you get involved with Tartaruga?

Me and Max have been sending each other music we've made for years now as we've know each other forever (we're cousins). My own solo musical endeavours started off pretty shambolically but gradually got better (well, still shambolic, but better) and luckily when Max decided he wanted to start Tartaruga I'd been focusing a bit more on my own music and had accumulated almost enough material for an album. Max decided he wanted to put it out as the first Tartaruga release. God bless nepotism.

Yours was the first release on the label, how do you feel about that?


By my count you've had four releases in less than two years. How do you find the time and the ideas to be so prolific?

Luckily its just what I like doing so a large part of my free time gets taken up with playing/writing/recording. I don't feel that prolific - I get frustrated that I don't have time to record more! I guess the fact that I record everything myself at home speeds the process up as I'm not waiting on anybody. Still, I wish I had more time - the day job gets in the way but I'm working on that.