SBTRKT: 'There's Always A Space You Can Go' Hear the electronic-music producer discuss how his late brother and the "journey of the album" inspired the title track from Wonder Where We Land.
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SBTRKT: 'There's Always A Space You Can Go'

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SBTRKT: 'There's Always A Space You Can Go'

SBTRKT: 'There's Always A Space You Can Go'

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Finally this hour, we're going to hear from an artist who makes electronic music - artificial sounds but in the most natural of places.

AARON JEROME: I sort of googled for lots of spaces and found this studio spot. It wasn't really a studio. It was an island off the coast of the U.K. I am Aaron Jerome and I go under the artist name of SBTRKT.

SIEGEL: Subtract - that's S, B, T, R, K, T - subtract. His first album made him a regular on the festival scene, but after two years of live shows, SBTRKT needed space - a new environment.

JEROME: And this island was called Osea. And it's only open every four hours out of every 12, with a tidal road, which runs two miles from the mainland to it. And the rest of the time it's kind of cutoff. No one lives there. And it had, like, this, sort of, summer house in the middle, which had a bit of a basic set of speakers and stuff in it. And I just thought this is the perfect location. It was kind of isolated and I could sort of invite people over and just set up a sort of studio environment that I wanted to kind of create.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

SIEGEL: The artist's name is telling. SBTRKT strips down his songs, unlike the usual complex mixes in electronic music. He even performs live wearing an elaborate mask - the sort you might see in a Picasso painting inspired by African masks. In effect, SBTRKT is removing himself, leaving the music in the forefront. And while electronic music may be most associated with urban environments, that is not where SBTRKT is coming from.

JEROME: I grew up in the countryside about an hour away from London in the U.K. And my dad was a farmer and pretty much all his family before that were, too. They were Scottish. But my mom was born in Kenya, in Nairobi. And she is Indian, from Goa. And I suppose through my youth I thought I'd be a farmer. But I think my mom being an Asian parent who's - they're quite well known for wanting to push their children into, I suppose, into different careers - thought they'd try and push us to do something else, I suppose. And I chose music, weirdly, which I don't think was exactly what she was thinking of.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HIGHER")

RAURY: (Singing) Got this feeling going higher. Higher, higher, higher.

JEROME: It's funny, I wasn't really surrounded by music as a child, apart from stuff my dad used to listen to in the car, or even in a tractor of all things. But that kind of engaged me a lot into thinking that music was something I always wanted to pursue as - when I grew up. And then through the course of different ways of discovering music, through DJing or, like, through playing a piano or drums or stuff, I kind of put all these things together, and that's kind of how I came to the point I am now I suppose.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WONDER WHERE WE LAND")

SBTRKT: (Singing) If you're only passing by. If we were only passing time, I'm fine with that. Just let it be known that the moments are sewn into my heart.

JEROME: I had one brother, basically, and he became a doctor. But yeah, we grew up - like, we were three years apart. And we were both born on Christmas Day. Sadly, he passed away last year from cancer. But it was kind of - kind of had a tumultuous couple of years.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WONDER WHERE WE LAND")

SBTRKT: (Singing) It's not forever. You'll be with me. I wonder where we'll land. Yes, I wonder where we'll land. Yes, I wonder where we'll land.

JEROME: I think the song "Wonder Where We Land" is inspired by my brother, I suppose, but also, you know, in song terms, the circumstance of where I recorded and the environment and the space it was made in and the idea of the journey of the album, but also, I suppose, how that fits in with life, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WONDER WHERE WE LAND")

JEROME: One of the things that I try to do as an artist, I suppose, is I'd like to never repeat myself. It's always that experimentation is why I became a musician. And the idea that there's always a space you can go and a place of something you can create which is different.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEW DORP. NEW YORK")

SBTRKT: (Singing) My girl got a minimum. Keep stuck right there 'til lumber comes. Leave a smooth operator lookin' like a bum.

SIEGEL: Musician Aaron Jerome. He goes by the name SBTRKT. The album is called "Wonder Where We Land."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEW DORP. NEW YORK")

SBTRKT: (Singing) Never seen calienda, never seen the sun

EZRA KOENIG: (Singing) And he thinks I'm the negative one.

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