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NAW interview
















written by Kristofer Upjohn

Atmospheric and evocative pieces that mingle space music's ambient melodies and low-key but addictive beats. It's like catching a radio pulse into outer space. The gentle but insistent throb of the beats transmits through your head, beaming you up into the cosmos, where you find yourself surrounded by mysterious beauty. Take that concept, transform it into aural manifestations and you're on the road to imagining the beat-tinged space music stylings of NAW, whose work shines with NAW's distinct sound signature. Capable of summoning up an instantly absorbing atmosphere via its other-side-of-the-universe cosmic melodies and the groove-pulse to draw your ears into focus.

Ground control to NAW...

First off, tell us where you got your artist name, NAW.

NAW is the initials for my name: Neil Adam Wiernik. Since most people all my life have had problems spelling my name I decided to make is simple for them.

Is it just one person?

NAW is just myself. Sometimes I'll work with other artists on other projects but NAW is a solo project of mine.

How did you get started doing ambient and experimental music?

After many years of playing in various hardcore-punk and garage rock bands in the mid-80s, I started to want to experiment more and more with recorded sound and using instruments in non-traditional ways. This lead to me working more and more with in what is considered to be experimental or ambient music.

What is the title of the new album, "City Saturate," in reference to?

The reference for the title to the record is about the interest in re-urbanization. How the downtown cores to most large cities are repopulating with the new urban renewal projects happening in them. Cities as a result as becoming saturated but due the need for more housing and more transport modes to get people around, a social system that has been set up to accommodate a population of people is now being stretched to accommodate more people. That is the reference and what I am trying to interpret with the record, an abstract description of what the modern day city is becoming or has become.

Do you enjoy working with the Noise Factory label?

I do; it's been three full-length records now, multiple compilation tracks and a 12 inch EP that I have done for the label. Joe English, who runs the label, is good to me as an artist; he knows that I make a lot of music as NAW or in other projects and he has never held me back from releasing material with other labels. We do a new record whenever it feels right for me and the label to do one. So, yes, I do enjoy working with the label.

Do you find that a lot of people are open to, shall we say, non-mainstream music such as this?

I think it's a double-edged sword - ether you love or or you hate it. I think it's a specific kind of person who wants to listen to a piece of music from beginning to end that understands it more than someone who wants a quick fix or a DJ tool to play.

Is atmosphere the key ingredient to a NAW composition?

Atmosphere is very, very important to my music; it's what sets the stage and tells the story I'm trying to tell with that piece of music.

Tell us a little about the composition process.

It's 100 percent improvised. I sit down in the studio and start to write something. There is no typical practice for me. It's always a different approach; this is what keeps things fresh and fun for me. But the one thing that comes through with all my music making is that I'm trying to tell a story without words.

Do you have an idea ahead of time what a track is going to sound like or do you put it together bit by bit and end up as surprised as the listener?

No idea; I usually sit down and start writing. I then edit down what I did into some sort of sketch of a piece of music to give myself an idea of what I was trying to say. Then I sit on it for a while, listen to the rough idea for a few weeks, and I either then use that as raw material for the track itself or write something based on that. So the improvised process really allows me to be surprised about the outcome of what I'm doing.

Have you developed a pretty solid fan base?

I think so; I get email from fans from all over the world. I get lots of contact from people in Russia, Europe, the UK, Japan, Canada and the U.S. Usually they include an invitation to come out to play in their home town or (they ask) how they can get more of my music. It's nice for me to still be able to still communicate directly with fans. The average NAW fan is interested in all of my catalogue, which is nice for me since I like to think that my music evolves with each new record and that the fan can taste a little bit of my world at that point and time that I was working on that record.

What's the strangest thing anybody's ever said to you about your music?

Good question. Well, usually I get told my music is very deep or dub influenced - even shoegazer sounding - but the most interesting comment I have ever had was by someone who is normally into metal. She told me that she found my music to be heavy. I still never figured out what they meant - if it was heavy like early Black Sabbath or heavy as in deep and introspective.

When you tell people for the first time what you do musically, how do you describe your work?

I make music using computers. I try to keep it simple as the concept in itself is hard enough to understand. I sometimes describe it as cinematic to them if they wanted to understand it a little bit more but mostly I just tell them to listen to it. It speaks for itself.

Where do you see NAW carrying you in the future?

For now, more records, more tours - eventually, music for films.

Do you see a wider acceptance for this kind of music down the road?

Well, if there could be a wider audience for the experimental ambient metal as there has been recently, why not what I do?

If you had to work within the mainstream, what style of music would you choose?

I wouldn't... I just don't like the majority of mainstream music out there today. Maybe pop but what is pop today?? I really can't see what I do as ever fitting in with Top 40 music ever. I just think in a different way about music that is not always favorable to mainstream. Maybe playing jazz - it sort of fits in with what I do, from the fact that it can be improvised.

What musical artists are influences for you?

I listen to a lot of Can, Blonde Red Head, Einstürzende Neubauten, Fennesz, Fm3, Jan Jelinek, Monolake, Mogwai, Pole, Radian, Rhythm and Sound, Sutekh, Kit Clayton, Swans, Taylor Dupree, Tim Hecker and Vladislav Delay.

What non-musical people inspire you?

My father, my mother, my girlfriend, Guy Debord, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, culture jammers, and in general people not afraid to shake things up.

What about non-human influences?

That one is easy - the environment I live in, the skyscrapers in the city, trees in the forests, the mountains, rivers, lakes and oceans, the wild life that makes the ecosystem work as without all that we would not be here.

Are there any philosophical messages lurking about in your music?

Yes, to be aware of the world around you, to not take it for granted as we need to understand that the world we inhabit is as important to our survival as any thing else.

Final thoughts?

Just to live life as fully as you can, as you never know when something will stop you dead in your tracks and hold you back from doing the things you love most indefinitely. Also to open your ears there is a lot more other than to listen for the obvious sounds.

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