William Fowler Collins is the New Mexico-based artist, known for creating his own distinct style of sonic desperation through his releases on labels the likes of Type, Digitalis, Utech, and Root Strata. Most recently, he dropped his newest slab of droning bleakness, Tenebroso, on Handmade Birds in August of last year.
Collins is the absolute end-all, be-all go-to guy to for the type of all-embracing, dark, and atmospheric music that drone lovers bury their heads (and souls) into. A rousing combination of buried electronics, both electric and lap steel guitars, and field recordings. His music, dense and bordering on spiritual, while cinematic and surrounding, speaks to listeners through a spectrum of fields. It's penetrating emotionally. Also, the dude can rock a cowboy hat like none other. Shit.
You could absolutely, in my opinion, go so far as to classify Collins's music as sad, however, the term sad becomes purely a layer to what he's creating. So I figured he would be a perfect person to converse with regarding the emotional effects of music and how sad music carries listeners to a certain plane of being. I wanted his take on location and its effect on the creation of such music, as well as other inspirations and influences on his art; cinematic and otherwise. I also wanted to reach out to him about specifics of how the nature of bleakness reaches into the realm of sad music.
I'd like to thank William for his contribution to this column, and without further ado, I offer you the musings of one Mr. William Fowler Collins...
These are but a few. I think it says that, to me, a very real, human element comes through in this music. I must identify or believe in what it is that their music is communicating. Additionally, the music might have some association with a time in my life and that would trigger sadness or traces of sadness.
Setting is an interesting thing. Listening to music while within or moving through, a particular setting can really color things in a cinematic way. When I'm working on music I'm often thinking of "scenes" or "chapters" rather than "songs". And of course things don't have to be linear or narrative, and music is great that way. It can remain abstract and nonlinear just as books or films can.
As I continue writing about something as important to me as “dark” music, or shit, just MUSIC in general, I've continually felt the urge to reach out to artists whose music I've enjoyed and been influenced by, on a genuinely emotional leve. I could not be any happier that William was willing to sit down with me and answer some questions regarding this world of sound I'm so intrinsically attracted to. It's an honor.
I hope with this initial call and reponse, this will open a new door for the "Sad-Ass Music" column, allowing further rapport with musicians I have come to respect. I can't express my appreciation to William and the future artists who choose to sit down and have a quick chat with me regarding this stuff. It's very important to get an outsider's opinion, aside from my own, because, as I've said before, I am only a small cog in this mechanism. The grand scope of music, sad or otherwise, cannot be a story told by only one fan, or even a group of fans; it has to come from everywhere.
I'm thankful, always, to those who read this colum, show support, and now I'm happy to those who are helping to contribute, I am in your debt. Thanks again to William and all the readers!
Please seek out the music of William Fowler Collins, and all the artists mentioned here today. I'm sure you'll stumble across something that'll shake your world up real good, and maybe you'll bury your head under the quilts for a while.
I LOVE YOU. Keep diving.
Check back next month when I talk shop with Dirty Beaches' Alex Zhang Hungtai.