My name is Fraser McGowan, I live in Paisley, Scotland & I record music at home under the name Caught In The Wake Forever
FTY : How did you come up with the name Caught In The Wake Forever?
The name comes from the television show called Nip/Tuck. I was watching the show & the phrase stuck in my head, later that night I wrote it down, a year or so later I was looking for a name for my new project & I saw it scribbled at the bottom of a page in my notepad, it seems to represent my music well, so I’ve stuck with it.
FTY: Can you tell me about what your musical background is?
Growing up my parents made me take piano lessons, for about five years. I gave it up when I was 16 & never really thought much of it. I started playing drums in a punk band when I was 18 but I didn’t start playing guitar until relatively late. I think I was about 25 before I started properly learning to play, it didn’t come very naturally at all, it still doesn’t. I then bought a four track & just made a lot of strange noise experiments for years. I never actually thought of myself as a musician or even considered the possibility of ever getting a record released. In 2007 I started the band Small Town Boredom & it has just kind of grown from there, it’s been very slow but very natural progression to where I am today.
FTY : Can you describe your sound?
Hmm, I always find this hard, my sound is definitely melancholic, that just seems to happen whenever I write. Depending on my mood it varies greatly from more downbeat sadcore songs to mellow ambient passages & everything in between really.
FTY : Your about to release your latest album. What can you tell me about it?
The latest release is a collection of instrumental recordings that I made over 2012 and 2013. Sound In Silence approached me a while back & asked me if I would like to do a release with them, I was a fan of the label already, so I was more than happy to oblige. I knew George was a fan of my first release “All the Hurt That Hinders Home”. So I stuck mainly to what I knew & revisited old territory for this release. I always try and push myself in new directions, try something new with each project, but with this release I felt like I was very much in my comfort zone, which was a nice place to be for a while, hence the title False Haven.
FTY : Can you tell me about your other releases from this year?
This year has been a strange one for me, apart from my new album on Sound In Silence, I have had two ep’s released. The first was an ambient ep on the netlabel Audio Gourmet which was available for free download & the second was a highly experimental 3”cdr called ‘Meditations in Exile’ on the wonderful Soft Corridor Records. Both of these releases showed vastly different sides to my music & the production techniques I use. I’m very proud of both of them.
FTY : What record labels have you released music on and is it the case that you contact them or they contact you?
With CITWF I have released music on Mini 50 Records, Hibernate Recordings, Audio Gourmet, Sound In Silence & Soft Corridor. I have also appeared on compilation releases by Too Many Fireworks & Assembly Field. So far I have been very fortunate in the fact it is the labels that have approached me. But it usually comes from a pre existing friendship or a mutual enthusiasm for what each other do.
FTY : So thinking back to the first album that you released, is it now easier to record the music, what is the biggest thing you have learned about the music from release to release
Ha, yeah it is so much easier now. It used to take me ages to record. All The Hurt That Hinders Home took me a year & a half to record the 5 tracks, it was ridiculous, everything had to perfect, I drove myself crazy. The biggest things I have learned are not to second guess myself, not to be too hard on myself & don’t question what I’m doing. I just go with the my gut instinct now & most of all I make the kind of music that I want to make & I try to enjoy the process of creating something.
FTY : What is the process for writing the songs? Do you start at the beginning or in the middle?
This again varies depending in what style I’m writing, sometimes I just record myself messing about with a few analogue synths & effects pedals & I record & then edit the results, other times I may work on a song for months, it can start with a poem & then grow from there. The songs definitely don’t come as readily as the instrumentals & take a lot longer. I usually come up with most of my basic melodic ideas while I’m sitting on my couch with my old classical guitar watching movies.
FTY : How do you name the songs on your albums?
I tend to go for longer song titles that personally mean a lot to me, these usually come from phrases or lyrics I have written down. Usually the song titles are part of a bigger album concept & fit in with that.
FTY : What or who influences you to do what you do?
I have a lot of influences, not just musical, but external environmental influences that make me want to create. But that’s a whole other interview. I guess when I started making music I was inspired by early Leonard Cohen & also by ambient bands in the 90’s like Future Sound Of London. I kind of wanted to sound like a mash up of that, its never really came out that way though.
FTY : Would you say that listening to artists in similar genres can influence how you sound?
Eh, for me not really. I don’t actually listen to that many instrumental bands or instrumental music anymore, I like to be inspired by other genre’s & bring touches of that into what I do. Certainly the synthesiser becoming popular again in some ambient genres has affected my sound, I have become quite addicted to buying analogue synthesizers! I feel quite lucky in a way, I’ve been making music long enough now that I feel I have kind of developed my own sound or as close to a sound of my own as is humanly possible these days.
FTY : How do you promote yourself, are you finding social media is a good avenue for this?
This is one part of making music that I don’t do well at all. I do very minimal promotion. I have a Facebook account that I update & a small mailing list I send out to whenever I have a new release. It’s all very small scale. I’m useless at this side of the ‘business’ and usually leave this part up to what ever label I am releasing through. I’m going to try to get better at this though as I think it will give me a lot more confidence as a musician.
FTY : If you could collaborate with any artist or band, who would it be and why?
I would love to collaborate with a band like The Notwist, but that would really be to just see how they worked in the studio & the programmes / synthesizers that they use.
FTY : What advice would you give to any artist playing instrumental music starting out today?
I’m not great at giving advice, but all I would say is that you’re coming into a largely saturated genre, for any success it’s important to try to bring something new & unique to the table, even in the subtlest way. But most importantly, just make the music that you want to make, follow your heart & don’t pay much attention to what people say, try to enjoy it aswell, that’s something I’ve only recently started to manage myself.
FTY : Would you say that artists like yourself are turning the music industry on its head. You write, record and release your own music. That was never done without some form of record deal. How difficult is it to do everything yourselves?
I don’t know if were turning the industry on its head, there are both huge positives & negatives to how the music industry has been altered this last decade. Certainly I find home recording a lot easier & a lot more comfortable, most of my songs consist of a trial & error, it takes time getting things to sit well together, they evolve slowly over months. Recording studios don’t really nurture this kind of approach. I enjoy doing everything in the production side of releasing music as I see it as all part of the same process, the writing, recording, mixing & mastering, to me is like making a piece of art. After that, in the past, I have tended to switch off & leave the rest to the labels, so I can’t really comment on how difficult that is.
FTY : I also understand that as well as writing and performing your music that you are also doing a lot of mastering for artists. How did that come about and whose work have you mastered recently.
I have been very lucky with this & have had the opportunity to master records for labels I love like Soft Corridor, Hibernate & Too Many Fireworks. I’ve had the pleasure of working with great artists like Wil Bolton, Two People In A Room, Good Weather For An Airstrike & Lost Trails. It’s helped me get a great understanding of ambient & instrumental music & all it entails.
I first started doing this purely because I never liked the results I got back when I sent my own albums away for mastering. I always felt engineers were far too heavy handed in their approach & also charged far too much for what the process actually entailed. So I learned to do it myself, I really enjoy it & I try to do it on a proper part time working basis, but again, I’m no good at promoting myself, so I don’t get nearly the amount of work I need to get to survive, It’s something I’m going to try to advertise more in the future. I’m currently working on new records by Porya Hatami & Now Wakes The Sea.
FTY : Last piece of music you listened to, apart from your own?
The music I listened to while doing this interview was two albums, one called Harney County By Chris Eckman & another called Pangaea Ultima By Steve Moore. |I enjoyed them both very much.
FTY : What does the future hold for Caught In The Wake Forever?
Well, I have just released an instrumental mini album on Sound In Silence called False Haven which is still available. After that I have a very experimental music/art collaboration coming out in the new year, on a small imprint called Crow Versus Crow. I have recorded four tracks inspired by his artwork & they will be getting released together as a cd/ art booklet in January. After that I’m not sure. I have a lot of recorded material still to see the light of day & I fancy doing some high quality self releases on my own imprint, just to help me grow in the areas of music I’ve always hid from. First up I think will be the follow up album to Against A Simple Wooden Cross, it is called “My Family Goes On Without Me” & will hopefully see the light of day by April/May, if all goes to plan.