Eyes Of Others, aka John Bryden, acutely describes his project as “post-pub couldn’t get in the club music”, a tagline which brilliantly summarises his wistful, wholly melodic sound.
Hailing from Edinburgh, Bryden broke onto the scene with the release of his Base Thrill EP in March last year, drawing in a broad range of airy vocals to complement his selection of warm guitar notes, creating an accomplished sense of depth in all four of the tracks.
The release of his ‘Nightwalking EP’ last November on Label Fandango saw Bryden continuing to hone his delicate blend of electronica and synth pop, resulting in Vic Galloway including him in his 25 Scottish Artists to Watch in 2016 list.
Most recently, Bryden had his track ‘Never Complain’, a thoroughly atmospheric collection of synths and tribal drums guaranteed to tear the roof off of any club, premiered by The Ransom Note.
We caught up with John to talk dance-floors, influences, and the miserable rainy weather which is all too often associated with Edinburgh.
For anyone who hasn’t heard you before, who are you and why should we listen to your music?
“Hello I’m John. That’s the easy part, the second part of the question is a bit more difficult. I could never tell people they should listen to my music. I prefer to let others know where they can hear it and they can make up their own minds and take it from there.If I have any persuasive power I hope it lies with the songs themselves. Maybe I’m being a touch idealistic but I like to approach things that way.”
Who would you describe as your key influences and why?
“For me, influences within making music are so vast and varied. There’s so many aspects outside music itself. If we are talking music, then I would have to start with New Order. I remember getting one of their ‘Best Of’ records when I was about 16 or 17 and listening to it over and over. Then, after, listening to their album Power, Corruption, Lies, there was something about the simple, straight-up lyrics with the arpeggiated synths and the mix of live and electronic drums that was undeniably raw and compelling. I will never tire of that. That’s just one example.”
How long have you been producing electronic music?
“I’ve been making electronic music for about six years or so. I’ve never really considered myself a producer as such; it is more a term that I am growing in to. I prefer to work with other producers to be honest. Creatively, it gets more out of me that I couldn’t do by myself. I travelled down to Norwich to work with producer/engineer David Pye for my first EP and was through in Glasgow’s Green Door Studio, working with Stuart Evans, to record my Nightwalking EP so I’ve been pretty fortunate working those guys because they made completing songs pretty easy as it is something that I’ve struggled to do on my own accord.”
Your second EP ‘Nightwalking’ encompasses a dreamy, low-end driven style throughout. Would you say that there are any reoccurring themes throughout all four tracks?
“I hate music that is overly treble in its mix. I’ve been guilty of that in the past so that’s something I want to avoid. Low end, for me, gets more under the skin, something that can be felt as much as heard. I enjoy that.
“I don’t consciously think about themes for a record. I don’t think I ever could because, in my mind, things evolve. I listen back to the tracks once they are done, maybe as anyone else would, and often try and figure them out, in terms of; ‘what is this about?’, ‘what does it mean?’ but then I get so far and think what’s the point…? There is no point in that.”
Certain tracks like ‘When It Suits’ have a “dancey” feel to them, did you have a dance-floor in mind when making the EP at all?
“I think I definitely wanted to move away from the downbeat atmosphere of the first Base Thrill EP. Although, a song like ‘When It Suits’ has two halves to it; the first you could dance to, the second half not so much. I’ve been listening to a lot more music that is played in clubs which might be more apparent in songs like ‘Never Complain’ and ‘Dysfunctional’. Club music is a different world to what I have been doing so far, but it’s a world I’d like to transgress in the future. To make music that can excite the dance-floor, yet still raise raw emotions with pop elements, is what I’m interested in just now. It’s a hard thing to achieve though.”
Here in Edinburgh, especially at this time of year, the weather is often dark and oppressing – would you say this has influenced your music in any way?
“True perhaps… I tend to write music late at night or hungover. I guess my music would sound different if I lived somewhere hot and sunny but I don’t know. Naturally, I spend more time indoors when its cold and dark and indoors is where I write.”
What does your live set involve and how do you prepare for it?
“I’ve been playing Eyes of Others set solo, triggering samples and such like. That is how it is for now. I might get other people involved further down the line but I’ve been enjoying the freedom that playing solo allows. As far as preparation goes, I normally try to find five minutes to myself before a gig; that’s enough.”
How would you say you have changed as an artist from the release of your ‘Base Thrill’ EP to your ‘Nightwalking’ EP?
“Some of the songs that I recorded on ‘Base Thrill’ are a few years old so I have grown out of them. I don’t really enjoy looking back on any music I have made. I’m more excited by what I am doing at present, but I say that without dismissing what I’ve done before. I loved those songs at one point so they are just as valid as any. I still wrote those songs for ‘Nightwalking’ a good while ago; they are songs and they are out there. That’s the way I look at things; on to the next.”
Are there any record labels in particular which you would say are major influences on you and your music?
“Yeah for sure. Nein and Tici Taci and Italians Do It Better are releasing some of my favourite electronic music at the moment.”
Where and when are you next playing?
“I’m playing The Old Blue Last in London on January 8 and a show called Bring Your Own Beamer (BYOB) at St Margaret’s House, Edinburgh on January 16 which is a one-night event showcasing artist film, moving image and performance.”