Ill Considered on forging their style and digital performances (Interview)
Henry got a chance to sit down with Ill Considered. The riotous free improvisation and deep groove outfit, who have sold out their previous 8 vinyl-only releases, will be celebrating the digital release of their music for the first time with a livestream performance on Saturday 21st (9pm).
Since their first album in 2017, the band has garnered quite a following, with support from artists as diverse as Brian Eno, David Holmes, and Sun Ra Arkestra’s Juni Booth. Henry was joined by sax player Idris Rahman and producer/drummer Emre Ramazanoglu to talk about improvising, going digital, and how lockdown isn’t all that bad.
Hey guys - thanks for coming along! Tell me about how Ill Considered started out.
Emre - It was me and Leon who started it. I did a kind of dep with a previous incarnation of the band and then I texted Leon and I was like “man, let's go and jam in my studio”. So, I invited Idris and a percussionist as well, Yahael (Camara-Onono), who’s incredible, and I recorded it cause we were in a studio, so why not?
Leon was like “I’m gonna release it” and I was like “ah okay...” and didn’t think anything more of it at all. Then he came back and said “I’ve sold all the records, I’m gonna make some more” and I was like “what records!?”
He kept going again and again and then we got an agent and then we were 8 albums in and me and Idris were looking at each other going “what happened?!”
You guys have a very distinctive punky-jazz sound. Did you guys decide on that or did it just happen in the moment?
E - We don’t talk about anything before we start playing, mainly cause we’re anti-social, but also cause we just don’t sort of do it, so there’s definitely just a collective taste.
Idris - Yeah, that’s the main thing that this band kind of does, not talk about what we’re going to do.
But that allows a lot of things to happen which wouldn’t necessarily happen if we planned it in advance. It can go in different directions, different styles, different sonic areas and we can really go in any different direction.
We’re all influenced by so many different styles of music and are quite varied in our tastes but we have a quite similar way of communicating and playing when we play together. There seems to be some kind of chemistry that makes it work.
Has that creative process changed much since your first album?
I - Yeah, it’s been quite an interesting trajectory since that first album, defiantly. That first album was just a two-hour recording session and then that was it, done.
Doing live gigs was quite an interesting thing and getting to a point where we were confident to do a whole gig improvised was a bit of a journey but we got there and we now can do a totally improvised gig.
What were those first gigs like, how did that work for you?
E - What it was, was Leon started a bass line, that was it. That’s literally how it worked and then some things you kind of had an idea of and played. I had NO idea what was going on, so that was nice.
So is it now a totally improvised set?
I - It can be but then we also like to throw some tunes in there as well and we actually get requests, which is quite funny.
E - Yeah, we were not expecting that!
I - So, someone will ask if we can play this particular tune and I will go “Well, if you can sing it to me, cause I can’t remember the names of our tunes”.
The names of our tunes are actually a kind of different thing to the actual tune but sometimes it's actually happened where someone has sung the tune to me and I’ll go “oh yeah, that one” and try and play it and then I play it and the rest of the band doesn’t know what I’m doing, so it sounds like a new piece of music but it is still recognised by the person that requested it. So, they’re kind of pleased but horrified at the same time.
E - I remember one time someone asking for Northern Spiral and me and you literally having no idea what that was! We did dedicate it to them anyway.
I - It did terrify us as well [doing a completely improvised set]. It’s a completely different thing. It’s alright doing stuff in the studio when no one is around and there’s no pressure but when there’s an audience sitting there and you’ve got to make a narrative… we’re not really a free jazz band, we’re a hook based groove improv thing and so we’re trying to create hooky music on the spot but do it in a really cool, free way.
Was it a conscious decision to only release vinyl up until this point and not release anything online?
I - That was definitely Leon’s plan when he was setting this up for sure and we quite liked it.
We got offered a few digital deals along the way but it wasn’t really the right thing. We needed a way to put it out digitally which had the same feeling as putting out the vinyl with keeping control and the ability to release whenever we wanted and to not be contained in any way. So yeah, it was quite deliberate.
E - It was when we were coming up to the 8th album when met Fred, who runs New Soil. This was the perfect partnership for putting out music digitally but maintaining the control we wouldn’t usually have in a normal deal and with someone who totally understands what we do. It’s sort of exactly the same as doing it DIY with vinyl but putting it out digitally… it would be dumb not to do it and then more people can hear it cause it’s quite limited really if you just go off the vinyl sounds.
How has Ill Considered dealt with lockdown, has much changed for you guys?
I - We’ve been in the studio a few times which is nice. We’ve both got studios which helps a lot. So, basically, we’ve just been getting on with music.
E - Yeah, pretty straight up.
I - But yeah, I’ve actually enjoyed not playing, I needed a rest. I’ve been doing it for a long time. Physically, it’s been great, it’s quite hard playing the saxophone and I’m getting quite old.
E -We started our deal with New Soil pretty much at the beginning of lockdown so that was good timing because we got to dive in and start making the record and deal with all the setup of the project in its new format, so there was quite a lot to do. But things started chugging back on all the other projects, slowly, and we just ended up being quite busy again really and doing lots of good things.
The group will be releasing VIII and Live In Nantes digitally via New Soil on the 27th of November.
Comprised of bassist Leon Brichard (Wildflower), saxophonist Idris Rahman (Wildflower, Soothsayers) and producer/mixer/drummer Emre Ramazanoglu (David Holmes, Leo Abrahams, Noel Gallagher, Steam Down, Theon Cross, Wildflower, Etienne Daho)