Interview: Yorkston, Thorne And Khan Keep It Sacred

Currently touring their debut collaborative record Everything Sacred, James Yorkston (Scottish folk-extraordinaire), Suhail Yusuf Khan (award-winning classical musician from New Delhi) and Jon Thorne (double bass master and member of electro-outfit Lamb) spoke to TFFT about their time together, influences and personal inspirations, and the new record…

What was it like joining up with the other guys on this new record?

JY – They’re good guys, wonderful players to share a stage and studio with. Somehow it all gels, despite our very different musical backgrounds. What was it like? It was an easy pleasure.

SYK – Well it’s great. Especially with dudes like them who are so different from where I come from. But the fact is they are both fantastic human beings and amazing musicians. The experiment some how works and creates a unique, distinctive sound.

JT – It’s been a lot of fun and also challenging to explore such new musical territory together.

With so many influences from different cultures, how has this affected the outcome of the album?

JY – It’s a funny thing, when I was a kid I was definitely into genres, so I’d love dub reggae or kraut rock or whatever, but long ago now, I stopped thinking of music in terms of cultures or genres. It’s just music, either noises I like or noises I don’t. So the cultures didn’t really affect what we did, more the player’s abilities and experiences. Is that their cultures? Perhaps it is. So I guess our different backgrounds brought different influences and kept things fresh

SYK – It has only made some very good affects on the outcome of this album. The fact that all three dudes are also interested in what the other head is bringing to the table, while constantly jumping in and out of the song, also leaves and occupies space for the other two at the same time.

JT – I think of it as much as a subjective meeting as well as a cultural one. We are all bringing a wide variety of personal musical and life experiences to the table. All of these things inform the sounds we make. I don’t over think the cultural aspect, we just listen to one another and play. That’s the joy of music being a universal language, you just speak it and the mutual understanding grows from there. The central orientation is listening and reacting in the moment.

What is your favourite song off the record and why?

JY – You know, I kinda like all of them a fair bit. I guess, for the sake of this, Knochentanz is my favourite as it was totally improvised and I love the freedom that improvisation brings to music. I still have nightmares of my days in punk bands, rehearsing the same song to death, then killing it again the next rehearsal and the one after…

SYK – Ha! It’s like asking a mother which one is your favourite child amongst all of your children. To think about it right now, I’d say Broken Wave.

JT – My current favourite is Blues Jumped The Goose. It changes daily!

Other than your fellow musicians, who else inspired this album?

JY – Obviously, Doogie Paul, my buddy and old bass player. When he died, I was in a bit of a state of shock but I wrote a lot in that period and Broken Wave is directly about him. And then, Blues Jumped The Goose was written for my buddy Vince who died this time last year. That makes it sound as though the album is about death, but I don’t see that. More so about making the most of the time we have now, before the inevitability of death arrives and swamps us all.

SYK – Apart from these two dudes, I’ve been inspired by musicians/singers like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ravi Shankar, John McLaughlin…yeah mainly these guys for this album.

JT – I’ve just been conscious of the three of us and the sound we make together. Subconsciously, probably a lot of ECM records.

James, your songwriting has always been labelled as outstanding, what process do you take when writing a song / record?

JY – I just stay true to myself. I never think about singles or how an album will be received until it’s been delivered to Domino. I am very lucky to be on a label that’ll allow me to keep my music free of such worldly worries as actually selling any copies.

How are people taking to Everything Sacred? Are you pleased with the reviews?

JY – I am surprised it’s had any reviews as I thought it may be a little not-Jake-Bugg for people, but the reviews I have seen have been very generous. I am pleased people are enjoying the randomness of the project as that is probably the part of YTK that I value the most, other than my friendship with Jon and Suhail.

SYK – This is my first ever non – classical album to have released in the UK and I am quiet pleased with the reviews and appreciation this trio is getting, not only from the audiences, but from the critics as well.

JT –  I’ve been very happy to see it being so well received. I didn’t put expectations on it. You just give it your all and then hope for the best. It’s a lot like parenting. The great part about the positive reception is we will get to record and play more together!

Questions by Rachel Allman

We also have a pair of tickets to see Yorkston, Thorne & Khan on Feb 24th, plus two pre-gig meals at the wonderful Deaf Institute, Manchester to give away! Click HERE for more details…


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