Nova Collective are one of the more scintillating, exciting examples of progressive music to appear of late. They’re instrumental, but don’t really seem like it, as the music they create is so engaging and thought-provoking that the lack of a singer is barely noticed.
The Further Side is a great example of musicians coming together and producing something they really love. Luckily for the rest of us, they’re about to share it with everyone.
Bassist Dan Briggs was good enough to stop creating challenging and interesting music long enough to answer a few questions…
How was the band formed?
Rich and I exchanged emails with each other really just talking about how much we enjoyed each other’s groups (Haken, BTBAM), and from there he talked about me playing bass on some solo material he had written and I said why don’t we just write a record together? Haha. I knew we’d have musical chemistry just based on the fact that he was kind of the main composer at that time in Haken and what I had written for BTBAM, but we didn’t talk about direction or anything. He sent me the original intro to Air which I thought had sort of a world music vibe to it and I was so taken by it that it fuelled my beginning composition for Dancing Machines and we kind of carried that idea of ethnic fusion throughout once we added Pete and Matt in. I’ve never had such fluid musical chemistry with a group before, we absolutely all speak the same language musically.
Where did the band name come from?
Science fiction was one of the main connections we made outside of music, and so there’s the astral idea of a nova being the beginning formation of a star, and we just thought of that as kind of us turning a page from what we’ve done in the past and pushing forward to new frontiers musically. It’s a very free space where people are into engaging in any sort of idea no matter how out there it is.
What are your influences?
Grey days, dogs, light roast coffee, conversations about art/film/music, documentaries about the arts.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
Free Salamander Exhibit “Undestroyed”
Donny Mccaslin “Beyond Now”
Led Bib “Umbrella Weather”
Ambrosia “Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled”
David Torn “Cloud About Mercury”
Why would you say people should check out Nova Collective? What can the band offer the listener?
I guess if you like music that’s outside of the box it could be interesting for you. We’re of the sense that progressive and jazz are musical ideas about really going out there and experimenting and from song to song there’s certainly something different being offered.
Tell us about The Further Side
Walking through the Stargate portal and ending up in a David Lynch nightmare with Yngwie Malmsteen dive bombs serving as the soundtrack.
How were the songs written?
By means of the internet, with two members in England and two in the south eastern part of the States it was the only way. Many thanks to the Propellerhead team and Reason software for enabling us to send our sessions to each other so easily and bring the compositions to life! Absolute life saver.
Compared to writing songs with vocals, is there an extra or different challenge to creating instrumental music?
Not really, I’m music first in whatever I’m working on so the approach wasn’t really any different than writing a song for BTBAM or Orbs, just that you’re writing and collaborating with different musicians who are sparking different ideas than you’d have in any of the other said groups.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Tough to say because they all have their own feel, but I’ve been reacquainting myself with the album lately to get ready for interviews and I think I really like the arc we built with Cascades. I’m really excited to play all of it live! It’s going to be an undertaking to relearn, but it’s going to be a blast.
Tell us about the cover artwork
Nevan Doyle is the artist, he does a lot of surreal art set in familiar real life locations and we thought pretty much any of his pieces would work in depicting The Further Side. I loved engaging in conversations with him and sharing examples back and forth of work and I really think it’s a cover that not only sells the material and ideas well, but also will stand out on the shelves. I’m really proud of it, he killed it.
You mentioned playing live – will you be recreating The Further Side live at all?
Absolutely! We’re just trying to line up mine and Rich’s schedules with our other groups, and actively pitching our group to friends’ bands we know to try and get on their radar and hopefully serve as an opening act for them. Hopefully sooner than later!
Is Nova Collective a project that you want to continue to revisit and work on in the future?
Of course, we’re just getting started. The creative potential for this group is very exciting and we’ve already shared a very little bit of material with each other for new stuff. It’d be really great to be able to write in more of a live setting and really grow some improvisational stuff from it.
What does the rest of 2017 hold for you?
Wrapping up our two year tour cycle with BTBAM right now, I’m going to go home and enjoy some down time with my girlfriend and our dog, work on some new music. We’ll be in the studio in August with BTBAM and doing some touring after that for the 10 year celebration of our album Colors. Hopefully doing some Nova shows then, and also working on a new album with my group Trioscapes.
Any final words?
Thanks for the interview! Looking forward to the album being out in just another week so the rest of the world can hear it.