Jacob F-D & Chris Dunnington Team Up In Ambient Masterpiece ‘Tapes 01’

Quarantine has for many people been a catalyst for creativity, some taking up new hobbies and skills, while others have spent time developing on existing ones: it’s safe to say Leeds duo Jacob F-D & Chris Dunnington have done the latter. Tapes 01 is unlike anything either musician has ever constructed before, a nod to stylish cinematic synth-work, engineered in almost dystopian fashion. The granular resonance from the tape is a result of the entire album being recorded into Chris dads tape machine and then re-recorded back into a DAW, a respectful nod to the old school, expressing a vintage texture by using primitive recording techniques. Even though their musical influences differ slightly, the duo found common ground in the likes of Apex Twin, Lapalux, BlankFor .ms and Four Tet.  For those of you who want to embark on a journey of self-discovery, this is the perfect album for you.

Who are they?

Jacob | Involved in music since the tender age of 4, Jacob studied piano as his first instrument, swiftly moving onto learning many more. While developing as an artist, his taste in music transformed over time, but one genre remained a constant: electronic music. Ever since being introduced to artists like Clark, Lapalux, and Flying Lotus by his brothers, Jacob has had a fixation on the emotion behind synthesis and became obsessed with creating ‘new sounds’. Now, as a student of jazz at Leeds college of music, he applies this experience and practice to a multitude of projects across the UK.

Chris | In a similar journey to Jacob, Chris started to play the drums at a young age, also going on to study jazz at Leeds college of music. He began refining composition and production techniques to be applied to personal and collaborative projects. the experimentation of sound and texture has become a fundamental part of his work; ambience is somewhat a necessity in his creative process. Drawing comparisons to the likes of Apex twin, four Tet, Amulets and Hainbach, it’s clear to see the inspiration in what is a unique and meticulous approach to sound design

Chris (left) | Jacob (right)

So guys, I have to say this is release is beautifully unique, was it a spontaneous creation or did you have it in the pipeline already?

Thank you! The album wasn’t really an idea until around February, but because we kept finding ‘unfinished’ ambient tracks on our laptops, we just thought it’d be cool to start making them fit a theme. Our personal inspirations found a common ground in releases such as ‘ABOVE_BETWEEN_BELOW’ by Lapalux, and it helped that we write a lot of synth-based music together already. It was definitely a spontaneous release, but the process would have been a lot slower if it wasn’t for our small backlog of forgotten tracks.

I’m pretty unfamiliar with using tape, how does the recording process differ to more modern tracking techniques?

Our use of the tape machine on this album was more about blending every track together once we’d finished. We experimented a lot with recording the whole album onto one side of the tape and then recording it all back into a DAW. It was an old machine, so we got some super nice sounding distortion as a layer over the whole thing. Not to mention, the tape noise tying the tracks together, that was an interesting find.

As I touched on previously, this album is extremely different to both of your respected other projects, will you take any of the processes during this release into your other creations?

Jacob – I usually work with a lot of my own equipment for recordings on other projects, not because it’s the best gear or anything, but it’s because I know my sounds. A lot of what I did on this album had already been applied to my performances with ‘Colloquy’. ‘Colloquy’ is a free jazz trio, but we are using more and more electronics to alter our sounds every gig. Being able to perform this improvised electronica/jazz is honestly something I never thought I’d be doing, and I owe a lot to Chris. Working with him has seriously improved my ear for unique sounds and helped me realise what roles I can play in any project I find myself in.Chris – I would say I have the same writing and creative process for everything I make. I play around and experiment for a while until I have a nice sound and go from there, it depends on my mood and inspiration as to what the music turns into. I love the spontaneity of my process; it keeps my mind active and in tune – I feel I can apply this to all projects.

Without watering down its emphatic resonance, the simplicity of each track means it’s hard to categorise or even conclude what inspired its creation. Which genre would you place it in, if any?

I guess we always had this idea of ‘ambience’ in our minds while making it, but it didn’t necessarily restrict us to just making ambience. If I’m honest, we wrote just as many non- ambient tracks as we did ambient. If I were to pick just one genre for Tapes 01, I’d most likely say it’s experimental. When it came to writing, it was always about setting up a synth or two and making sounds that filled the room. Either that or expanding on those previously mentioned ‘forgotten tracks’.

This album serves to sooth, whether that be while taking a relaxing bath or cooking your favourite meal. Are you planning on working on any new releases or is this a one time thing?

The process of making Tapes 01 was new and rewarding so I think there’s a definite possibility for a Tapes 02, especially while we’re all cooped up inside cooking and staying clean. We want to release another one, so we’ll still be making music regardless. It just depends on where the process takes us next! We appreciate everyone that has listened to Tapes 01 and found the peace in it that we did.

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