Jason Sutherland reveals Drift Prism.
Drift Prism is the mystical dreamwave project conceived by Jason Sutherland. Having released his self-titled debut last month; Tamara Arden interviews the multi-faceted artist, discussing his expansive soundscape, the quest for perfection, side-projects, and repurposing his productions for a live setting.
The Fuss – Following your journey from Eyes like Mirrors to solo projects Jaysynth and now to Drift Prism, there is an array of themes such as post-rock, dream pop, glo-fi, ambience and experimental. Did you plan to create music under an umbrella of sub-genres or were the tracks created first and the labels after?
Drift Prism – I always had a basic idea of what genre I wanted to create, even from my earliest projects. I’ve always been a huge fan of post-rock and it is still pretty much all I listen to. With Eyes Like Mirrors, the three of us were really keen on the idea of creating a post-rock band because we were all listening to the same stuff and enjoying it collectively at the time. Because post-rock is such a personal genre to express yourself within, ELM developed into one the greatest bonds I will never forget. Jaysynth was more of a personal project where I could allow myself to write stuff and not think about it too much. It was really just an emotional purge. I always found myself writing an EP when something unfortunate happened to me, and needed some kind of therapy to relieve it. Although ELM and Jaysynth were within the post-rock and ambient genre, Drift Prism was a completely different approach.
When I had the idea to create the project, I had an end goal of what I wanted to create and I worked really hard to reach it. It took almost a year and a half, with almost 30 tracks to get to.
I had never been so specific about how I wanted something to sound. I tend to be a perfectionist and am never happy with the end result of a song, so I really wanted to challenge myself to be happy with what I was putting out.
The Fuss – The two female voices, comprised of Lenny-Dee Doucha from Bye Beneco and Jade Fortune, on Drift Prism really bring the tracks to life. Was it an easy choice to decide what kind of vocal tone you wanted on the songs?
Drift Prism – They are both such great friends. I like to call them The Drift Prism Girls 🙂 I did have a pretty clear idea of how I wanted the vocals to sound. I would always try explain to them with each song how I wanted it, and they were pretty good at understanding but I always rearrange and change the way they sing the stuff afterwards, but that’s just me being a perfectionist. The one track ‘Escape’, Lenny actually sang those lyrics for another song ‘Out Of Sight’. I just didn’t feel as though it was working properly, so I decided to write a whole new song based off the vocals and it ended up being my most popular track. I wrote a lot more songs with Jade that I never released, which is a pity and I’m sure she is pretty bummed by that. Sorry Jade.
The Fuss – Most of your content is lyrically absent, opening the narrative up to possible moods of analysis. Tell us about your daydreams.
Drift Prism – I live in my head a lot, so daydreaming is a common occurrence. I always find myself playing out situations whether they be fictional or real, before they’ve happened or just before they are about to – they never end up going the way I imagine them, I guess it’s kind of like my comic book character or role in a life movie. Not sure I would like to indulge. So I might just refrain from letting people into this crazy whirlwind of a mind.
The Fuss – Any chance of an Eyes like Mirrors reunion tour?
Drift Prism – I hope so. I miss ELM a lot. In fact we all do. I was listening to our Crusades EP a few days ago for the first time in ages and it made me teary eyed. Shannon (Lawlor), our bassist is moving down to Cape Town in December which I’m really excited about. We just gotta get Mattasaurus (Matthew Watson) down here, then who knows, we could be making magic again.
The Fuss – Take us through the process of this album for Drift Prism. Was there a timeline in place when you started?
Drift Prism – No, there wasn’t really. I kept Drift Prism so secret because of trying to make it perfect (in my mind). The only people who got to hear anything were The Drift Prism Girls. As for the process, it was just a lot of attention to detail. Every little sound was thought out and carefully crafted, it almost drove me mad. It actually did at times.
Even after all that work, I’m still not 100% happy with the finished result, but I don’t think I ever will be.
At least I do feel like it’s my best work yet, so that’s a small victory.
The Fuss – What does the direction of Jaysynth look like in the future?
Drift Prism – I’m still a bit unsure. Jaysynth’s last release Until We Meet Again referred to a few things in my life at the time, but mostly a farewell to the project, until I felt it was right to go back to. I have been toying with the idea of bringing out a new EP sometime soon, but all my focus is on Drift Prism for now.
The Fuss – Which local artists do you have an eye on at the moment and why?
Drift Prism – I’ve always been a fan of The Watermark High. Weirdly, we used to be Myspace friends years ago when I had my first ambient solo project On Travel, and he was also doing some really cool ambient stuff. Now he is making such great electronic music and creating a good name for himself. One artist that recently seemed to appear out of nowhere (for me at least) is Vox Portent, who is so damn cool. I am really loving his sound. There is one song of his ‘Slightly Falling’ which I listen to regularly, it’s so great. Playing a show with these two someday would be ideal. I like the fact that they are both doing stuff that the majority of South African artists would be too scared to do. I’m all for supporting something different and unique.
The Fuss – You were travelling in Europe for quite some time. Did you find any musical influences you brought home with you?
Drift Prism – I wouldn’t say musical influences; since I didn’t see a single show (sounds weird saying that). But definitely took influence from new surroundings, new beginnings and living amongst different cultures. Spain is really beautiful, and that sure influenced some writing. I miss it dearly.
The Fuss – Do you have expectations for when you start your live set-up?
Drift Prism – At the moment I’m trying to figure everything out since I don’t have the right gear, but it is top priority right now. I have some ideas of how things will work, but I want to have something different and interesting to bring to my performances. I don’t want to just be standing there looking at a computer screen, I do that enough already. One thing for sure is I will have a lot of visuals on stage, that’s something I have already started on. But for now, unless someone wants to buy me all the gear I need, it’s gonna take a lot of experimenting.
The Fuss – Share an ideal collaboration for you.
Drift Prism – It would probably be in a live setting. Having vocalists and other musicians playing an array of obscure instruments that re-imagine the digital sounds of Drift Prism would be so much fun. That’s my ideal collaboration and it’s definitely something to work towards. I’m sure it will happen soon enough!