Senem: Hello Jamieson and Cylde. Thank you for taking the time to this interview. So let’s start with the band. Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
Jamieson: We are a Welsh English duo. Clyde Martin on keyboards, bass and lead guitar, synth etc and Jamieson Hill on vocals/lyrics.
We first met in 2013 when we were both in a metal band called Black Hill. Back then we were a rock, metal 5and grunge band in Malvern, Worcestershire. Well, we played a few gigs, but then one of the lead guitarists decided to go in a different direction. So, Clyde, I and a third chap called Ade Beckwith formed a new band called Subterranean Fire. They are now called Sun Fire and have an album called ‘Feel The Heat’. Clyde plays bass for them still and I wrote and developed the vocal melodies/lyrics on three of their album tracks.
While we were in those two bands Clyde always talked about our Post-Punk Electronica/Goth/New Wave roots. We both really wanted to make music that was alternative and electronica. Thus, Nexus Xiii was eventually born.
But as we were often in different countries, Clyde in England and myself mainly in Turkey, Nexus Xiii was to be a mainly online band. I guess time wise Nexus Xiii started about 2016. ‘Into the Light‘ was our first track. We haven’t released it yet, but it will be on album two in early 2021. Sun Fire did a rock version of it even though Clyde and I wrote it for Nexus. So, we held back with the release to give Sun Fire some space for their rock release.
Senem: What does your genre mean to you, why did you choose this genre?
Jamieson: I think we span across a few genres. For sure, we are a post-punk electronica band with elements of darkwave, new wave, goth, rock etc. It was a natural evolution of the music we grew up with in England in the 1970s and 80s. However, I don’t think we chose the genre. I think the genre chose us. It is in our genes to do more alternative music.
We don’t consciously seek to be mainstream, but at the same time we think our genre is hard to pin down. We seem to have appeal to people that I wouldn’t normally associate with ‘Alternative/Post Punk’ like our mums!
Moody electronica with a dash of rock. We aren’t dark Goth, but we do like to create music which is on the darker side. But saying that some of our songs like the love song ‘Flicker’ are exceptionally light and uplifting. In that sense we are more Alternative Electronica than a true Goth band. I think I like the term ‘Moody Electronica’ to describe our genre. But we some of our songs are relatively synth free, so we aren’t exclusively electronica.
Senem: Pretty complicated, we love that 🙂 How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
Jamieson: Well, the first song we wrote was ‘Into the Light’. We started off and we knew we wanted to be a post-punk band with a strong influence of electronica. The debut album was almost a retro homage to some of our favourite bands.
We both love Sci-fi too and the original concept was that the Nexus Xiii was a metaphorical spaceship manned by two men. The spacecraft was flying to the unknown corners of the galaxy playing Alternative Electronica into Deep Space. We wanted it to be about the music and not our own egos. So much of music today is focused around egos. We are not important, the music is, and the relationship people have with the music is what counts. Also, as massive Sci-fi heads we took the name Nexus from one of our favourite films Blade Runner. We both love that movie and 2049 too.
Senem: Blade Runner is beyond awesome! Are you happy with your product? I mean, what aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
Jamieson: Yes, we are incredibly happy with the debut album ‘The Haunted World’. It took 2.5 years of writing and studio time. Passing music tracks and vocal tracks back and forth online from the UK to Turkey until we were finally ready to master and mix it in a studio in Worcestershire.
We did the vocal and music recordings in Clyde’s home studio in Malvern. For sure, some of the production side of things could have been improved for album one, but overall, we were well chuffed. We used a local studio nearby with a chap called Peter who did an internship at the famous Abbey Road studios (You know the studio used by the Beatles and other big-name bands).
Senem: Oh wow!
Jamieson: I know. He ran his studio in his spare time during his career as a teacher, but after retiring he went full time. His studio is full of photos of the Beatles. Really nice guy with an amazing set up of digitised mixing and mastering desks from down the decades.
Senem: How has the overall reception been?
Jamieson: Our first album review was excellent. We also have been played and had solid feedback on two European radio stations – Radio Acik in Istanbul and Radio Maestral in Croatia on the Zig Zag show from Brussels.
We also had a track played on a UK internet TV show called Flam and Flange. On this superb UK internet show earlier in the year one of the presenters said our track ‘Unseen’ was his favourite track of the night. We were stoked to hear that. Really glad he vibed on it.
The first album review was by SLAP magazine in our local city of Worcester by a guy who used to be a professional music journalist. SLAP said,
“Nexus Xiii have achieved something quite rare in this landscape; to be different from everyone else. The formula starts with the influence of psychedelia and sci-fi, add the retro goth pop of Stranglers, REM, Psychedelic Furs, The Cure and Depeche Mode, then apply a narrative of connection and remorse.”SLAP Magazine
We loved the fact that they totally got the album. You can read the full review here. The Haunted World feels like a homage to the post-punk electronica of our youth. That is pretty much what SLAP magazine said,
“The Haunted World, deals with life’s modern issues and calls upon memories of better days. To be clear, this isn’t a political album, but it describes the frustration of living in a negative era of capitalism, global warming, and the rise of the far right, resonating well with the dystopian 80s sound.”SLAP magazine.
I think they nailed it when they wrote that. We avoid politics and religion in our music but living in a dystopian world is 100% part of the backdrop to the music we create.
So far, we have had people from the UK, Ukraine, Brazil, Turkey, USA, and Peru give us really good feedback. Commonly people say that the debut album reminds them of the 1980s Post punk music. One of the presenters from the British Internet TV show described us as ‘Goth Pop’. I still think we aren’t dark enough to be true Goth though.
Surprisingly, I have also heard from teenagers who also dig it. We are really happy to have had such positive interest. But let’s be honest we know we are small. Now it is about growing our audience through radio plays and interviews.
We also had really positive comments from DJ Tim Hallam on Radio Acik on his ‘Connections Show’. He interviewed me for one hour in February and played 4 tracks from the debut album as well as several tracks which influenced the band.
Plus, DJ Tone McDrone on the Zig Zag Radio show from Belgium liked our song ‘Doubts and Fears’ and played it live on air. Your readers can check out the show here.
Senem: That’s rather amazing Jamieson. Congrats! Do you get involved in performing live? What’s next? Album? Touring? Any international tours? I mean should the life went back to normal.
Jamieson : 2000 km usually separates Clyde and I, so at the moment no. We are talking about it though. I am friends with a guy called Oğulcan and his girlfriend Yağmur in Istanbul. They play in a Turkish rock band called Rain and gig in Besiktas, Kadikoy and different cities in Turkey. Yağmur competed on Turkey’s The Voice ‘Ses Voce’ in 2019/2020 and she said if Clyde can get over to Turkey, she can arrange gigs for us.
The main issue is that if we perform as a two-piece band some of the music will be pre-recorded. I know there are a lot of famous duos who have performed as a two, but we prefer everything to be live. In fact, Clyde favours playing with a 4 or 5-piece band. I am not sure yet, but we both love performing. If we get enough demand from Turkish listeners, then it could happen. Playing in front of a home crowd in the UK would probably be a good start when I am in my native Malvern Hills. I spend my time between Turkey and the UK.
Senem: What do you see for your future? How is it looking?
Jamieson: Well, ironically, we released our debut album ‘The Haunted World’ before Covid fully broke. Then, the world went into lockdown. It was released on Jan 31st/Feb 1st across different platforms – Amazon, Google, You Tube, Deezer etc.
The title Haunted World now seems fitting considering what happened to the world.
Jamieson: It was just a coincidence I guess, but I am a great believer in synchronicity. Clyde would laugh and say it was the universe! Clyde is more of a man of logic, as I err on the side of mysticism, but with my feet on the ground! I do logic with a healthy dose of enigma!
Senem: Haha, just like me 🙂
Jamieson: So back to your question, the future is looking positive. We just completed the vocal recordings for 9 songs for album two.
It should be out early 2021. Album two is named ‘Dopamine‘.
Clyde named Album one and I named album two. My mum said the first album sounded ‘haunting’ and Clyde came up with the name ‘The Demon Haunted World‘ from the book by Carl Sagan. Anyway, we decided to drop the word demon and call it ‘The Haunted World‘, as we figured we might sound like a death metal band otherwise! Lol.
Jamieson: Nothing wrong with Death metal by the way.
Senem: Nope, we love it around here 🙂
Jamieson: With lockdown all our plans to send tracks to 5 radio stations a week went out of the window. We were just living week by week while the pandemic raged. Instead, Clyde and I in our respective countries knuckled down and managed to write 9 songs together in 7 months. That is mad when you consider the first album took 2.5 years.
Admittedly, two of the songs ‘Anna‘ and ‘Into the Light‘ were already written but we adapted them. Clyde and I wrote ‘Anna’ for Subterranean Fire, but we decided we wanted a more electronica version. ‘Into the Light’ was a Nexus Xiii song which we wrote right at the start of our musical journey together.
Senem : Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process?
Jamieson: Usually Clyde sends me a tune he has composed and then I listen to it incessantly until lyrics come forth. Then I start working out the vocal melodies. Very occasionally the lyrics come instantly as in the case of ‘Unseen’. Sometimes I write 3 or 4 different versions and edit it all down. It isn’t an exact science. If I try to force lyrics it feels contrived, so it normally flows intuitively from emotional experiences and memories. Most of the songs are telling a story full of emotion. Some dark, some happy.
I am a poet and a writer. For work, I have written 2 educational books for two companies. In my free time, I have written a 300-page poetry book ‘Blue Soul Fire Alive’. I am looking to publish it soon. My longest poem is 75 pages! I call my long poems ‘stoems’ – it is a combination of a poem and story.
Sometimes Clyde has a working title for a song and that will influence the lyrics. But I don’t sit down and think out the topics. They happen organically. My lyrics and vocals come from my emotional experiences. I tie in the lyrics to real life events, but we want the listener to interpret it in their own way to make it their own experience. Something in Clyde’s music triggers the lyrics in me.
Clyde told me he focuses on bars, beats, and numbers. Clyde is a coder and programmer, so he is very much the man of logic. In contrast, I tap into emotional energy. The Haunted World was deep for me. I was severely affected like many others by the bombings and military coup in Turkey of 2016. A lot of people died in my area of Besiktas – 100 in three separate events including the two stadium bombs, the Reina Night club shootings and the coup of 15 July.
I was on the street with my wife when the two stadium bombs exploded – about 10 minutes’ walk away. Everyone started running through the streets and I saw a van shoot around the corner with its windscreen blown out. People started screaming. It still chills me now.
The night of the military coup on 15th July 2016, we hid at home all night with friends. I was awake all-night listening to the machine gunfire, sonic booms from F16 jetfighter screaming over our rooftops and other explosions. It was absolute terror.
‘The Haunted World’ was a way for me to heal that trauma which so many other people experienced in Turkey. I just remember that coup night staring out of the window chain smoking all-night. I was waiting in case fighting came to our street. At 3am that night I saw a video of people shot to pieces by helicopter gunships. It was pure horror. I feel like I lost part of myself that year which I have never regained. Writing songs was part of the journey back to normality, letting go of the trauma of 2016.
Even though it was 4 years ago, I still think the horror of the terror attacks on Turkey in 2016 and the military coup will never leave me. It still haunts me to this day at times and I sometimes feel helpless when I remember all the killing and extreme fear. We had attacks every two months that year, so we never had time to properly recover from the last attack. The December 10th Besiktas bombing, and the military coup were both near our flat, so they were extreme experiences.
Then in 2018 and 2019 my father’s health really went downhill. When we were recording ‘The Haunted World’ my dad was fading away and dying. It was a very unpleasant last 6 months. The musical process of writing an album was my sanctuary and it kept me together.
During one period, I used to wake up every morning in England about 5 am in Spring/Summer 2019 and listen to the Turkish band ‘She Past Away’ while smoking strong Turkish cigarettes. I had insomnia and the rising sun seemed to wake me each day. It was at that time that recording our debut album really helped me hold myself together as it was an extremely painful period. You can probably sense the emotion especially in songs like ‘Slipping Away‘ and ‘Flicker‘.
The lyrics are there for each person to interpret for themselves. But my personal objective is to help people be happy or process difficult emotions. I see teenagers out there and people in their 20s suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression. They look at a world largely run by selfish arseholes and I understand their angst. We really hope to reach out to people feeling like that and fill a hole in their life. Give them a meaning when life seems shit. That is what The Cure and The The did for us back in the day and even now. Let’s face it humans have been screwing up the planet for decades. I can understand why people feel angst. Our lyrics and songs are about tapping into that, but also expressing positive energy too. It is not all doom and gloom!
Talking about the lyrics for the debut album, ‘After Hours’ is about coming home ‘after hours’ (maybe from the pub) and sitting in front of the TV. It is about wanting something more and not just being mediocre. Something inside us screaming about the often plastic nature of society.
All These Years is a nostalgic look at all the years of childhood and adulthood. It is a song about brotherhood, sisterhood, family, and friends. Being there for your loved ones down the years.
Always For You is a love song with pathos. It is about the process of falling in love but also the pain felt when someone you loved goes away or you break up. It also partly about how a past love can becomes immortalised as a past story in the history of your life. I think love and hate come from the same place – Heraclitus’s Unity of Opposites. In fact, when romantic relationships die love often becomes hate.
According to both Plato and Aristotle, Heraclitus held extreme views that led to logical incoherence. For he held that (1) everything is constantly changing and (2) opposite things are identical, so that (3) everything is and is not at the same time.
– The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP)
Doubts and Fears is a sci-fi style darkwave song inspired by bands like the Sisters of Mercy. It is also about overcoming darker emotions.
Flicker is a love song but there are hidden depths to it. It is also about the deep connection with nature and sun rises. Earthly love but with hints of something deeper.
Slipping Away is about letting go of loved ones who have died. It is about watching helplessly as they fade and die. However, there is solace in the song and a vibe of embracing the journey of death as part of something we all must face. Honouring the memory and celebrating the lives of our dearly departed loved ones.
The Dream is about an actual dream I had. I stepped out of the dream into my bedroom and I was still dreaming looking at myself asleep. Some sort of astral projection/surreal trippy experience! Lol. The song for me is very Talking Heads inspired. I love Talking Heads and David Byrne.
Unseen is about the mystical power of nature and the enigmatic and unseen power of life. It is also about saving the oceans and planet by hearing the inner cry to stop polluting our planet. I love this song as it is so simple musically and lyrically with haunting vocals. I would love someone to do a dance remix of it. Hint hint! Get in touch if you are a DJ or producer!
Senem : Haha, I might know someone 😉 So… Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
Jamieson: As we haven’t been on the road yet as Nexus Xiii, we would have to say studio. We work very hard in the studio, for example, we did the vocal recordings for the first album mainly in one day after years of passing musical and vocal tracks back and forth. We love recording. It is such a buzz. But we are methodical, and we do it again and again until we have multiple recordings. We just spent a day and a half recording the vocals for album 2. It is an absolute buzz to record after all the work of developing the songs.
I know once we gig and go on the road, we will love it. But for now, digital online is the home for our music. Apart from which as our debut album came out, live performances were all banned. So, in a sense being a mainly online band for now is no bad thing with the pandemic raging.
Senem : So, Clyde is the composer and you write the lyrics and develop the vocal melodies?
Jamieson: Exactly. Clyde plays keyboard, synth, bass guitar, lead guitar and operates CuBase. He is the musical brains and I really respect his genius at composing. He is one of the humblest people I have ever met. He always listens to my suggestions.
Clyde: Depends – some start with guitar part/some with bass line/some with keyboard – depends where the muse takes me. I listen to the songs on headphones walking the Malvern Hills and try and get inspiration for improvements. It worked for Elgar didn’t it?” (Elgar is a famous classical British composer from Malvern, UK)
Jamieson: I am not a musician proper, but I did play trombone in the school band and took my grade 3. Haha! I was also bass drummer and cymbal player in a marching band. Apart from that I have tinkled with guitar, keyboards, harmonica, and Indian harmonium. But I am not a real musician, I am the vocalist and lyricist. Words are my thing. I respond to music.
Senem : “I respond to music” I love that! So what bands do you draw your inspiration from?
Jamieson: Well my favourite three bands ever are: The Cure, The The and The Psychedelic Furs. But then there are so many others including Softkill, New Order, The Sisters of Mercy, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, She Past Away, Lewis Capaldi, Chvrches, The Orb, Talking Heads, REM. Also, John Lee Hooker, Tom Waits, Rufus De Sol, The Chemical Brothers, Royksopp,The March Violets, The Wedding Present, The Gun Club, Tony Bennett, Killing Joke, Biffy Clyro etc. I listen to Trumpet Jazz and Blues when I am sad (Howling Wolf, Muddy etc). Also, I love dance music including drum and bass, deep vocal house, dark trance, psy-trance, synthwave and binaural beats music.
Clyde: Late 70s/early 80s post-punk and electronica – Joy Division/Cure/New Order/Bunnymen/OMD/Killing Joke/Cocteau Twins….late 60s/early 70s alternative rock Doors/Velvet Underground/Lou Reed …. 80s/90s drone post-rock Spacemen 3/Slowdive…..and 90s/2000/2010s electronica – Underworld/Fuck Buttons/trance stuff etc….
Senem : What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
Jamieson: We make music because we love it. We would never make music to please our audience if it wasn’t what we really wanted to do. We won’t be pinned down by genre or expectation. Keeping it real and authentic is what counts. Too many musicians and bands sell out and get packaged by a marketing machine. That is not going to happen to Nexus Xiii.
Senem : When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Jamieson: Writing from the heart.
Senem: That’s the most beautiful response I have ever gotten to this question!
Jamieson: Thank you. Also getting out our debut album ‘The Haunted World’ while living in different countries most of the time. Always believing in the music and not getting caught in our egos.
Senem: Great thank you. Anything else you think your fans should know?
Jamieson: We love hearing from fans. I remember how earlier this year one guy from Peru heard our track ‘Always for You‘ for the first time. He was a big New Order and Joy Division fan and so he really loved AFY. He was so enthusiastic. It was amazing to see that our music had touched someone in that way.
We are about connections because that is what Nexus means. Connecting with people across the world. Bringing happiness to people and helping people through the hard times with our music.
The most important news is that album two ‘Dopamine’ is due for release in January 2021. We have 9 songs so far, but nothing is mixed or mastered yet. We have one more song to write because Clyde doesn’t like odd numbers. So, Dopamine will be 10 songs in total.
The main thing is to say thanks to people for listening to our music. We love to hear how the music has helped people or given them a buzz. Music is so important to life. We listen to songs throughout our lives and these tracks become the soundtrack to our existence. It is so hard for most musicians to make money from writing songs and yet we do it for the love of creating. Hearing from people who we have touched with our music is the greatest reward of all.
Finally, to keep in touch, here are our social media links:
TO BUY OR LISTEN TO OUR MUSIC:
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJWFPweeOLMdxZ1pM8IE2yg
Google Music: Nexus Xii ‘The Haunted World’