‘ambient music’ by infinitikiss | Album Premiere | Interview
Exclusive album premiere of ‘ambient music’ by infinitikiss, out March 3rd, 2023 via Fort Lowell Records.
infinitikiss is an ever-evolving musical and visual recording project conceptualized by Nic Jenkins, featuring a revolving ensemble of curious and experimental artists, musicians, and performers. The core material for this album came from live improvisations that were recorded to cassette tapes, which originally served as backing tracks for live solo performances and with rotating ensembles (circa 2015-2020), in and around Charleston and Columbia, SC.
Since then, the tapes have since become a kind of sample library of colors & shapes that have served a variety of sound collage / design situations, as well as fodder for other strange and beautiful collaborations.
For Jenkins, this is just the beginning of an understanding of how energetic vibrations move within and around us. ambient music is infinitikiss’ first full length release with Fort Lowell Records.
“Our bodies are just vessels of ever-shifting frequencies of light”
Would you like to share a bit about your background? How did you first get interested in music? When did you first get involved with conceptual art?
Nic Jenkins: Yes, I would love to! Thanks for asking. I was born in the early 80s; grew up in a town called Walterboro, SC which is near Charleston. I went to church with my family a lot in my youth, and music was always in and around the house. My mom and two siblings are still very active in their community choirs. I started off playing bass guitar for many years within those environments and very spiritually charged spaces. My dad was also a drummer once upon a time. The music of artists like Bob Marley and Sade were always playing in our house. I was fortunate to have elders and mentors in my community and extended family who shared all kinds of jazz, r&b, reggae, gospel, disco, and more with me. A drummer-buddy in middle school named Andrew shared the music of Weezer and Nirvana with me and exploded my mind; also when I truly discovered the drums. Local radio stations, MTV, BET, PBS, and any other musical broadcasting networks can also be to thank for my early appreciation of music. Discovering “alternative music” in the early 90s was a turning point, for sure.
I was active in concert and marching bands throughout grade school, and was able to study jazz in college (in Charleston). Starting indie rock bands with my friends was the next phase that helped me see that a life as a musician was actually possible, which opened me up to a path of exploration and growth. The drum set (in its material configuration and its invisible presence) was the original vehicle for my particular musical journey. I air-drummed a lot.
Thanks to genuine communities of musicians that noticed, welcomed, and encouraged me to consider my musical practice as a living art. Various collaborations with composer, dancers, film makers, and puppeteers all sort of appeared / manifested themselves in very organic ways. Some spaces and entities which immediately come to mind are: Redux Contemporary Art Center, Halsey Gallery, Piccolo / Spoleto Festival, Cumberlands, Bang On A Can, Young Jean Lee Theatre Company, Indie Grits Film Festival, & the Power Company Collaborative.
“infinitikiss was being inspired by elasticity, openness, and constantly changing landscapes”
‘ambient music’ is your latest project that was basically done from live improvisation that was recorded to cassette. What’s the story behind it?
The genesis of ‘ambient music’ begins around 2015 or so. I decided to update my moniker from Mr. Jenkins to infinitikiss. I was traveling a lot; thinking about space/time and the impermanence of things while also tapping into a broader awareness of timelessness, and the acknowledgement of individual sovereignty (in relation to the Universe as a whole). From a visual perspective, infinitikiss was being inspired by elasticity, openness, and constantly changing landscapes. Sonically, the project is fueled by the eternal “om” of the cosmos. Our bodies are just vessels of ever-shifting frequencies of light. It’s awesome!
So, as I began to explore writing and producing (predominantly solo) music to play with elastic ensembles of performers, there was a desire to incorporate static frequencies, ostinato patterns, and sound collage (an approach inspired by mystique concrete). The latter utilizes pre-recorded sound as a variable for manipulation and improvisation. Tapes were an exciting medium to explore b/c there is a physical interaction that is available in a different way than computers are available. I appreciate how fragile tapes are and how reliable they can be. I started to compile backing tracks for live performances to use in a similar way to how DJs use computers and turntables, dissecting samples and blending different layers together.
When the world basically shut down in 2020, I was already in a headspace of personal healing and trying to use sound as a tool for energy work. I’m still learning about this sort of practice (as a beginner). I made an album that year called ‘Pulp’ at that time (released in 2021), which mostly celebrated a sense of well-being and gratitude. When my (very pregnant) partner and I made the move to NM in the Fall of 2021: making music wasn’t so much at the forefront of my mind, but being well was. As we set-up shop to begin a new chapter, our home studio space slowly grew more conducive to a particular workflow, and the tapes were still there, intact. As we settled into a rhythm of rest & contemplation, more experimental, spacious, and ambient works (like Steve Reich, Hiroshi Yoshimura, and even Broadcast) became more of our daily soundtrack. Somewhere around the beginning of 2022 a lightbulb in my brain came on and I realized, “Oh! I can just release these tapes as an album!” They’re actually a pretty decent documentation of peripheral energies that existed in those early years. Initially, the release was scheduled to commemorate our two-year anniversary of becoming NM residents (this passed November). Fort Lowell convinced me to give the album a vinyl release/existence, and the rest is… where we are now!
Would you like to expand on the concept behind the record?
Sure! Conceptually, the intention is: awareness, compassion, mindfulness, nowness, newness, & the process of trying to preserve material that is in a format that will one day disintegrate (much like our bodies). Early on, I had to make some decisions about the tuning of these melodic phrases in order to blend with additional taped elements (guitar & synth), which were collaged/mixed later in the computer with LogicPro. Much of our music in the modern age of popular music is tuned to 440hz [ A ]. When ‘Rona presented us all with an opportunity to re-evaluate our healing practices/priorities, it also presented me with a sort of hypothesis: “What do certain frequencies do to our bodies and chakra systems?” and “What do wi-fi, bluetooth, social media, and other fluctuating radio waves do to us energetically?” That’s why some tracks are tuned down to 432hz and some are at 444hz. It was just an experiment to allow myself to feel those subtle shifts… which I’m still trying to practice in other areas of my life.
What meaning has improvisation in your life?
I haven’t read enough books on music theory or improvisation to make an eloquent statement about this, but: life is improvisation. Universally, I believe this is true for all human beings. Even if a person has no musical interests whatsoever, there is constantly a variable of improvising in our daily lives, in our commutes, in how we interact with strangers (who have the potential to be friends), and even in how we decide what we put in our bodies. It’s a flow thing, I suppose?
Shout out to: DJ FloFader & DJ Desert Disco –– two of our new favs. Dancing has played a huge part in my own discovery and realization of this; especially Ecstatic Dance. In my life, improvisation also means: I’m free to decide.
What are some future plans?
Some future plans, aspirations, hopes, dreams, et cetera that I have are (in no particular order):
- transcend space/time
- learn how to be a better parent, partner, and friend
- to fear less and love more
- work on my “jingle jangle” album
- collaborate with old and new dearies from the home studio
- manifest more abundance of space to accommodate our dreams as well as more ease and flow in creativity
- read more books
- put out some obscure rarities on my small-batch cassette label, Dojo Nowhere: Tapes & Miscellaneous Media
- keep an attitude of gratitude for the many beautiful beings, gifts, and LOVES in my life
- rewatch the documentary “Sisters With Transistors” … a few more times
- find more documentaries on Butoh dancing
- to accept and transmute dense energies with more intention
- to assist and participate in the evolution of our human collective consciousness
- staying present, while…
- applying to arts residences and other collaborative opportunities
- make more stuff with my main squeeze @u.r.magical
- make more of a “living” via freelance commissions like composing, illustration, a/v design, recording sessions, and music production
- figure out how to release an album collab with Seattle pal, Kelsey Mines (And Y Et)
- continue to revisit and revive some vintage musical projects </paging… Morimoto.gif>
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
Aloha – ‘Sugar’
Broadcast – ‘The Future Crayon’
Metronomy – ‘The English Riviera’
Tortoise – ‘TNT’
Pram – ‘Museum Of Imaginary Animals’
Some albums I am enjoying currently are:
Field Guides – ‘Ginkgo’
PJ Harvey – ‘Songs From The City, Songs From The Sea’
Stereolab – ‘Fab Four Suture’
Something about the music of French Kicks has been calling to me / resonating with me again. Maybe it’s the drums, but maybe it’s the songs. I recommend ‘Two Thousand’ and ’The Trial Of The Century’ for some fun & bouncy early-aughts indie rock.
I recently finished listening to an inspirational audiobook by Shannon Lee (daughter of Bruce Lee) called ‘Be Water, My Friend’ that I will probably find in the physical realm one day. Simultaneously, I discovered an excellent podcast called “Bandsplain” which is full of great musical critiques, brilliant context, and hilarious content.
Last year the band Warpaint released a gorgeously gorgeous album that I will probably go back to many times this year. It is called ‘Radiate Like This’ and it does just that.
Thank you. Last word is yours.
See the other. Be the other. Free the other. Be gentle with yourself. Thank you very much, Psych Baby!
Headline photo: M. Elger