Mercury Prize-nominated Portico Quartet has always been an impossible band to pin down. Sending out echoes of jazz, electronica, ambient music and minimalism, the group have created their own singular, cinematic sound. Rebooted as a quartet after a brief spell as the three-piece Portico, the group released their latest powerful album Art In The Age Of Automation in September 2017 through Manchester’s Gondwana Records. The band’s creative process is described by member Jack as followed: “We’ve really gone into detail with the sounds and production, building dense layers and textures but retaining a live, organic feel to it. We wanted to use acoustic instruments but find ways in which they could interact with more modern production techniques and technologies to create something that was identifiably us but sounded fresh and exciting, futuristic even.”
1: Facts are not always true.
2: There is always room for more kindness in the world.
3: The oldest living vertebrate animal in the world is a 512 year old Greenland shark.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Jack: I think for me its about wanting to create a space for people to be able to come and enjoy themselves, give people the space to think and an opportunity for transcendence.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
Duncan: I started playing drums when I was three or four. My father played bass and we would jam together. When I was a bit older I loved messing around with his four track tape recorder.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians
John Coltrane – A love Supreme
Burial – Untrue
Radiohead – Kid A
Arthur Russell – World of Echo
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Duncan: Techno, good times, mixing our last album ‘Art in the Age of Automation’, my friend Evan, an artistic hub.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
The Southbank — we spent a lot of time here playing early in our career and its a special spot for us. It’s the home of many cultural institutions as well as well as a really nice place to hang out.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Duncan: I’d be unhappy! But I would be a visual artist.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Duncan: ‘I Was Crossing A Bridge’ by Vito Ricci. A collection of his ambient music from the 80’s.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Jack: Theres are loads of people who I really admire that I don’t think would work collaboratively with our sound. I actually don’t think theres anyone I really really want to collaborate with at the moment to be honest!!!
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
I really enjoyed the first time I ever saw ‘the necks’ play live, something about the risk taking and the spontaneity of the music really working in a small intimate venue. Was also such a great combination of jazz and transcendental minimalism, really blew me away.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Duncan: It is has grown more important over time. We use laptops to recrord and compose our music and sketch ideas – its pretty intrinsic to the way we work actually now. Although it hasn’t always been as such.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
Duncan: I have a younger sister, an architect, and and older brother, an economist. I think they’re proud of me and always very supportive. We all love music, even if our tastes are somewhat varied between us!
Portico Quartet plays Gondwana Records’ 10th anniversary show on Saturday, 3rd November 2018 at Säälchen.
Photo © Portico Quartet