As one half of Kiyoko, Jack Lever is no stranger to many of us here on ASIP. Alongside Joe McBride (Synkro), Kiyoko provided us with an isolatedmix a few months back and are about to re-release their debut album, Sea Of Trees on vinyl. However, with one of my favourite EP's of 2013 to his name under his own guise, Bering Strait, Jack is slowly but surely carving out his own route - a distinctly varied production approach and a sound that's appealing to the ambient enthusiasts among us.
Released on tape, Archive 0 includes three tracks of stripped back texture, samples and grainy drones, book-ending three more stylized productions. Drone-A, B and C sandwich the rolling dub-techno of Transmission 110, the glistening Fog Open Key, and the sinister footprints of Name-VAc.
It's a tricky balance where this type of music is concerned, trying to keep the listener entertained throughout is a tough job, but one Jack succeeds at, with alternating styles, subtle samples and a delicate progression throughout each track - on Concrete-X-28hr Drone B you hear the faint glimmer of life from an unknown vocal sample as it descends into choral delays - it's this type of introduction which entices you around the dark corner.
Transmission 110 is the defining track on the release - a gentle dub-techno piece and the only track holding any recognition to Jack's previous productions. It's a pleasure to see an artist come together with new styles and experiment in this way; brave enough to embrace alternating approaches and styles after only a few releases in the wild. Archive 0 may suggest a look back, but it's evident Jack is still experimenting and pushing forward with an array of beautiful music.
We're lucky enough to play host and debut Transmission 110 to the world below, and I also shot Jack a few questions for more context.
Archive 0 will be available on April 20th direct through Bering Strait's Bandcamp - available now to pre-order.
ASIP: Hello Jack, where are you right now and what are you up to?
BS: I’m in Belgium at the moment for a Kiyoko gig but I’ll be returning home after the weekend.
SIP: Nice! Have you been there before? You seem to tour and play live quite a bit - is this a focus for you?
BS: Yeah I flew over for the first time in 2012 when I signed to Apollo, to meet Renaat & Sabine (R&S Records). Playing live isn't really a focus for me, I prefer writing music, although I don’t mind playing out and it's something I am open to.
ASIP: You're from the UK's Peak District right? I love it up there - did you grow up in a sleepy town or out in the sticks?
BS: I suppose you could say out in the sticks, I’m originally from a place called ‘Dukinfield’ in Greater Manchester but then my family moved to Derbyshire when I was young, I spent my childhood in the Peak District in a farming village near Kinder Mountain.
ASIP: The Northern Richard D James maybe? Any tanks outside your Peak District house?!
BS: There’s a lot of tractors about, and you get the odd armoured Land Rover.
ASIP: How did you get into music?
BS: My first memory of being interested in music was going round to my Grandparents house where I knew there was some drums in the spare bedroom, but I don’t think I ever got to go up there and play with them, I always knew that my Dad had played the drums, and two of my Uncles. When I was eleven I asked my 'Ma for some drums and she bought me a black Remo Bravo 2 four piece drum kit, I Joined a band before I could play them which I was in at secondary school, we played a mixture of dated 80’s punk, metal, Thrash & Dub.
We recorded our first EP on CD at age 13 in my friends back room on a Playstation 2 and started playing in pubs in the local area. We had our first recording session in a studio in Stockport around that time. Then I got into electronic music mainly through hallucinogenic drugs in my mid teens, we used to go camping and listen to stuff like Scorn, BOC, Mum & Phonem. A lot of it came from random downloads with poor information so I didn’t end looking into these guys till much later.
ASIP: How would you describe your sound as Bering Strait?
BS: The sun rising on melting ice, after a long journey through a harsh arctic desert.
ASIP: What's your weapon/s of choice when producing music?
BS: My Sanyo handheld cassette recorder, cost me a £1 from a charity shop but its got a nice mic on it. I like Akai samplers too. I also use some boss pedals and I have a rack-mount analog tape delay made by Aria which I use on a lot of the Bering Strait / Kiyoko tracks.
ASIP: So a pretty analog setup - is that on purpose? Do you try to keep this analog sound in your productions?
BS: Yeah I love analog boxes and synths. The first track I ever made was on a 16 channel mixing desk with analog sends recorded to DAT (all not mine - it was at college). Don’t get me wrong though, it's not like my studio at home is full of analog equipment - just cheap stuff and my laptop at the moment.
ASIP: What do you focus on for samples & field recordings?
BS: I used a lot of recordings on my first EP (Apart) & Sea of Trees (as Kiyoko) I would go anywhere from the kitchen, to outdoors, to the shit I have lying around in my bedroom, Vinyls, guitars, bass, flutes, percussion etc. Sometimes I’ll record re-amped noises and go to the bathroom and the hallway for recording acoustic instruments.
ASIP: So what’s the most interesting sound you’ve incorporated into your Bering Strait tracks? Anything in the Archive 0 release which may surprise us?
BS: Thats a tough question. You might hear a dodgy reggae vocal in a new context on the third track of ‘Archive 0’.
ASIP: I love the title track on Apart, and Archive 0 is a bit of a departure from this sound. Can you tell us more about this evolution?
BS: I wrote Apart in different circumstances and with different equipment (Guitars & Amps) than Archive 0, but I wanted to approach this release in a new way to keep it interesting, so I used Some Synthesizers and tape.
ASIP: How do you see Bering Strait evolving?
BS: I just want to keep writing music. I can see myself releasing quite a lot in the near future.
Bering Strait - Archive 0 tracklist:
01. CONCRETE X-28H DRONE C
03. CONCRETE X-28H DRONE B
04. FOG OPEN KEY
05. TRANSMISSION 110
06. CONCRETE X-28H DRONE A