Hi Nick! How are you and how is life in Chicago?
T: Hello! I’m doing ok. It’s difficult to remain grounded when things feel so volatile and untethered. Though systemic racism, police brutality, and pandemics existed prior to 2020, they have been in the forefront this year and it’s frustrating when people resist doing what needs to be done in order to solve those issues in the long run (defunding the police, community investment, universal health care, etc.).
Tyresta started around 2016. Please tell us more about yourself and this project. How did the relationship with PITP start?
T: 2016 was a year full of ups and downs for me. I got engaged and was married to my partner. My mom was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer a month before the wedding and Donald Trump was elected president a few months after that. I sought refuge in music making as a way to cope with what was going on around me and hopefully help others do the same. I’m a clinical social worker/therapist so I think a lot about healing, self-care, and growth.
The idea for Tyresta came when I was on my honeymoon in Sweden that fall (Tyresta is a forest within the city limits of Stockholm). I listened to the audiobook about Brian Eno’s Another Green World by Geeta Dayal on that trip, which I found particularly inspiring. I definitely identify with the title “non-musician” which Brian Eno popularized. I took guitar lessons when I was younger but I am woefully inept when it comes to music theory and production, which is why experimental music is so appealing to me. Formal training shouldn’t be a barrier for creative expression.
As far as PITP is concerned, I was on Twitter one day in early 2019 and saw that Zach had posted about wanting “ambient tape recommendations”. I sent him a link for one of my tapes and the rest is history. Though my tendency to over-engage with social media is mostly detrimental to my mental health, I am grateful I was on Twitter that day.
Congratulations on the new album! It’s your first physical vinyl LP. It’s actually more than an LP it’s a 2xLP! How does it feel?
T: It feels very surreal. There are so many amazing artists out there that don’t get the chance to release their music on vinyl (let alone a 2xLP set) so I feel very lucky and fortunate. I am immensely grateful for the PITP team for taking a huge chance with this release. I can’t thank them enough for their encouragement and support.
‘All We Have’ is really intimate and personal to you. If you are willing to share, could you tell us more about this album and what it means to you? How did you put all the tracks together and what was your process for that record?
T: The title was inspired by the idea in Zen that “all we have” is the present moment. The past is fixed and the future has yet to occur. Through ruminating on the past or worrying about the future we miss what is happening right in front of us, which causes us to suffer even more. I attempted to approach my mom’s three and a half year battle with cancer from this mindset. We didn’t know how long she was going to live and I wanted to be as present as possible for whatever time we had left with her. I wasn’t always successful but my mindfulness practice definitely helped me to show up for her even when it was painful to do so.
I started writing the album at a time when her cancer was relatively stable. We were somewhat hopeful that she was going to be able to live a lot longer than we initially thought, which is why Side A of the album feels a bit brighter and hopeful.
After a few months of writing and recording, her cancer began spreading again and she started a really brutal episode of treatment, which lasted up until her death in February of 2020. Sides B and C on the record are about the last few months of her life and what we were going through emotionally as a family. Both trying to remain hopeful while also knowing she was very sick and spending more and more time in the hospital.
Side D is sort of an epilogue and is a commentary on the state of the world as a whole. Fear drives things like racism, oppression, and hoarding behaviors (including wealth, power, and control) and we continue to devalue collectivism, mental health care, and the cultivation of emotional intelligence.
You invited a few friends on the record. Tell us more about these contributions! Do you like collaborating with other artists?
T: I really enjoy collaborating with other artists. Especially those that are more formally trained in music composition, theory, and production. Nick Adams provided string arrangements and had two of his friends record cello, viola, and violin parts for some of the songs. Not all of those parts made it onto the album but a few did. Jayve Montgomery plays Saxophone on the final track “We Need Each Other”. This track took many forms over the course of the year it took to write and record the album. Jayve’s sax added another layer of emotional depth to the song, which solidified the track for me and it ended up being one of my favorites on the album.
The mix of guitar and mellotron is really well crafted on the album. Do you have a go to setup or favorite instruments/gear for making music?
T: I try not to have a “go to” set up for music making. I mostly just see what I’m compelled to pick up in the moment and then start experimenting. For this record, I focused on guitar, mellotron, and my Marantz PMD 222 field recorder/tape player. I also used an Electro-Harmonix looper on many of the songs. Though much of the music I have released as Tyresta has been focused on modular synths, I barely used them on this record.
Let’s talk about Fallen Moon Recordings [a PITP digital only sublabel]. Please tell us more about it and what is your goal managing that label?
T: PITP receives a lot of demos and some of them are great but don’t really fit the sound palette we are going for as a label. In May of this year, I suggested that we start a more experimental side label and offered to head up the project and the others on the PITP went for it. My goal is to showcase a broad range of artists and as much as possible try to transcend the confines of contemporary ambient and drone music. I am also trying to find ways of collaborating and showcasing artists with marginalized identities. It is often the case that white, cis-gendered, male artists (myself included) get the spotlight in experimental music, which doesn’t accurately represent the wealth of diversity amongst artists in the scene.
Thank you for talking with us today. Any last words you want to share with people out there?
T: No problem. Thanks for the interview. Interviews like these help me understand myself and my music better. And for those reading this interview, thank you for your interest and please take care of yourselves and others.