Introducing Endless Forms
We grabbed a few moments this week with Justin Allen from Endless Forms, shortly after the release of the bands first album 'Lazarus'. 'Lazarus' goes deep into their personal journey over the last years, so much so you can almost feel it. Read on to discover more about what lead to a first class debut release. The full album is available to listen and license at www.northnote.com.
"As far as artists go. My earliest musical epiphanies were Arcade Fire's 'Funeral' and Sigur Ros' 'Takk'..."
When and Why did you start with music?: Music came to me pretty naturally, even genetically. My dad was a prolific musician and there were always guitars around our house growing up. He never pushed me to pursue music in a way where I would live under the shadow of his expectations or anything, but once when I was in sixth grade I had some money left over from Christmas that I didn't know what to do with, and my dad suggested I buy a drum kit with it. I was bad at sports and music was something that intrinsically made sense to me, and the rest is almost history. By the time I was in 8th grade I had already learned guitar recorded some EP's on a little Tascam interface.
Who were your biggest influences in music?: My dad, for sure. He always made music feel attainable to me when I wouldn't have known where to start. As far as artists go, my earliest musical epiphanies were Arcade Fire's "Funeral" and Sigur Rós' "Takk...". I listened to Arcade Fire's "Funeral" over and over and over when I was in middle school. It was the first time I had felt truly gripped by any type of art and I really wanted to contribute. I eventually discovered Radiohead, Brian Eno, Pixies, and David Bowie.
Who (if any) were your biggest influences in art?: Perhaps unexpectedly, the Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović has been a huge influence for me. Her work "The Artist Is Present" from 2010 had a profound impact on me – the idea that the artist must bring his whole self into the art in order for it to be effectively realized and the idea of presence as art gave distinct form to what had always been a frustratingly nebulous idea for me.
And what has been the most difficult/character building?: Releasing an album early in your career can be pretty anticlimactic. You pour so much of yourself into a record – many hours and much energy into this thing that feels really spiritually significant to you, and you want to share it with the world, and you email every blog, every magazine, and they might not really notice at first. There's a lot of rejection that comes with being an artist, which is hard, but it is also purifying in that you have to ask yourself, "If no one ever noticed and this was it, would it still be worth it? Would I keep making music?"
What's been your favourite moment so far on your journey?: Perhaps it is trite to say, but simply making the music. When you are writing a song and something that has been such an unreachably ineffable feeling suddenly becomes illuminated in this ephemeral thing you are creating, that is one the greatest feelings as an artist. Holding a physical copy of your album in your hands is a really good feeling, and people telling you that your music really resonates with them is huge, but it really comes down to that illuminating moment.
Do you perform live, or do you prefer the studio?: We love both for different reasons. In the studio you are able to edit – to try new things and create without fear of immediate criticism until the music adequately mirrors the invisible feeling you are trying to enflesh. Performing live is a different kind of art to us. Being on a stage, you have an artistic responsibility in the most immediate sense. There are people watching, listening that are giving you their time and attention. Will they become more alive or more despondent because they gave you that gift? Performing live is connection and relationship with one group of people in one place at one time and then it's over. Recording an album is a little more eternal and introspective – it's a statement of some sort.
If you could only keep one instrument, what would it be?: My "Fender" Stratocaster that my dad and I built together when I was young. The neck is backward and it looks a little odd. There isn't a single other guitar like it and it is a symbol of my relationship with my dad, so I love it for that.
What, if any, other arts do you pursue/enjoy?: I love photography – I took the picture that ended up being the cover of "Lazarus" when I was in India several years ago. And I love painting. My wife Katie is also a very excellent floral designer, and I think that what she does is so artistically amazing. To make art from the earth with something that you know will die – what a profound thing.
What attracted you to North Note?: It is hard to be a professional musician, and we need all the help we can get! Music licensing is a huge opportunity and we were really impressed with the way North Note was set up. They also liked our music, and flattery is hard to resist!
You can find more from Endless Forms over at northnote.com