AmbiEntrance: Thanks for joining us at the AmbiEntrance; many readers may not yet be familiarized with you, so can you give us a bit of background.
Sheffield: born the 3rd of december, 1971. i've lived in the midwest all my
life. travelled the country briefly..i have experimented with sound since an
early age. when friends began
throwing house parties, i started playing in public. this is when i became a
little more serious with my hobby.
AmbiEntrance: How does life in Columbia, MO contribute to your music?
Sheffield: living in columbia doesn't contribute much to my music. it's a
college town... it's not exactly a metropolis for new music - but it is
AmbiEntrance: I tried to do some web research on you, and came up with an awful lot of soccer pages (i.e. "From the resulting free kick, Mark Bradshaw
surprised Jon Sheffield who was alert enough to save his shot on goal." That's not
you, is it?
Sheffield: nope ;) i'm not into many sports. i still enjoy
skateboarding once in a while
AmbiEntrance: Tell us how Calves Valves and Shore Hoses came to be? Are these literally your first recordings?
Sheffield: a large portion of calves valves was from a live performance i
did in '96. around that time, i was introduced to subversal / sparkling
beatnik....so i prepared more tracks to compliment the performance and
calves valves was released.
shore hoses was my first reaction to digital multi-track recording and music
i was listening to. everything before this was lovingly layed over onto
tape, done completely live or not recorded at all.
i have always documented sound somehow. i've looked at it as a sort of
diary. my dad had a cubby hole with short wave radios, reel to reel and
cassette recorders, etc. i remember doing "time stretching" by holding the
fast forward or pause button halfway down thus speeding the tape up while it
AmbiEntrance: What does your dad think of the sounds you're making these days?
Sheffield: my dad has a great way of describing how he sees and hears tracks. he likes them :)
AmbiEntrance: Since you've experienced both sides, do you prefer digital recording
Sheffield: it depends on the sound i'm going for. digital recording is great
for stuff that requires a lot of layering. it keeps the clarity up there.
however, i still record on cheap cassette recorders to loosen up edges and
AmbiEntrance: Give us the inside scoop on the creation of a "typical" track; where
does it start, how does it evolve and when do you know it's done?
Sheffield: a "typical" track would start with a metronome...add beats or
noises, melodies, basses, complimentary sounds, mutes, etc..feed
the whole track through differently effected pannings...eat a
tangelo...maybe run it into the pooter for some subtle dsp...come back to
the track a few days later...then use what was left as background noise for
a 'new' song.
for a 'non - typical' track i never really know what's going to
happen....and these are my favorite to create
AmbiEntrance: Where do you think your music comes "from"? Do you credit any specific influences?
Sheffield: about 96.5% of my music is inspired by everyday life...the sounds
i hear around me, dusk, craftiness, food, good coffee, thoughts of the
future... the other 3.5% comes from the actual creation of the music and how
it naturally progresses for me. i feel like a mere dabbler when i think of
traditonal composers and how serious they were / (are) ? :)
i'm fascinated with the road experimental composers from the 1930's (+)
paved for the artists of today...i also admire folks who play
guitar, sing and tell stories...and i think about all the artists that
have made music their entire lives - but no one has ever heard it...
AmbiEntrance: Where, in the scheme of things, would you place your music?
Sheffield: i would place it in a large field ..unaware of where you were.
like if you were frozen for an undisclosed amount of time...no boundaries of
territory to ponder. just the contrast and compliments of cloudy blue skies
above green, green grass .... or possibly in the perpetually odious product,
aging punk-rock, happy-post-pre-bored section of the record store ???
AmbiEntrance: What about gear? How fanatical are you about the equipment?
Sheffield: i'm neither an analog or digital nut. however, each one's
has it's definite role. even if it's just the sloppy unconscience
combination that becomes a soundtrack.
AmbiEntrance: You call yourself a "living room producer"; what equipment is in your
Sheffield: it's very messy and lo tech - i have a cheap sampler, lots of $5
casios, 2 drum machines, a couple older midi synths, an 8 track adat, mixer,
delay/reverb rack, tape recorders, toys, horns, whistles, harmonicas, music
boxes, duck calls, weather radar, speak n spell/math, an electric and
acoustic guitar, crappy microphones....
AmbiEntrance: Your song titles tend to be especially eclectic; where do they
come from? Are they supposed to be "meaningful", or just designed to make us
Sheffield: a lot of the song titles are very meaningful to me. they usually
just form while listening to them after they are finished. words and music
can come so close to speaking the same language, while never caring enough
to argue that they will never be the same. other titles are either sculpted
from word fragments and letter combinations or intentionally labeled in a
AmbiEntrance: How about the meaning of these titles specifically... crowdy - the
second or limexicant marathine from Calves Valves, and daubwelnd
elmergooze from Shore Hoses.
Sheffield: crowdy - the second is just a play on words. it reminds me of a
crowded place with lot's of movement in the air. . the sweece report is
breaker-music for the nightly news.
[i]haust possiblex is a reference to exhausting the possibilities of a
track... layering so much that it becomes absurd. a tulip sent was a musical
flower i delivered to my family.
selphaing is me 'rapping' under the samples, etc.
AmbiEntrance: I've really fallen for wailstag... it's just gorgous; what can you tell
me about that one?
Sheffield: wailstag is a sparse, hyper piece...each of it's few elements
has it's chance to shine, spaciously. despite it's "danceability"
it remains very sweet to me....
AmbiEntrance: What about the "File under..." tags which appear on both discs?
Sheffield: those were put on the cds without my approval. i was very bummed
on them...it's very limiting...
AmbiEntrance: My web research also indicates that you were to play in Colorado at the nowhere festival in May; can you tell us about your performance? The
Sheffield: the festival was supposed to be friday - sunday. it started
raining hard [very unusual for that time in colorado] thursday night and
didn't let up until late saturday afternoon [right after everyone decided to
cancel - go figure] but the beauty of the whole trip was how determined
everyone was to have a good time. people from all over the country travelled
a long way to nowhere...and never did i hear a single person complain. i
think this positivity paid off in a big way. an indoor space was rented for
a few hours. everyone got everything going FAST and it turned out to be one
of the best parties i've been to...even though it was inside and not quite
what everyone expected
AmbiEntrance: Do you play live often? What's your preferred venue?
Sheffield: i don't play live very often...outdoor festivals, picnics, clubs,
radio, art galleries - i enjoy them all
AmbiEntrance: What about future recordings? What can listeners expect?
Sheffield: more personal music should see the light of day next year..
AmbiEntrance: I think you're off to an incredible start; where do you hope to go with your future releases?
Sheffield: the bank...so i can spend more time at home :)
AmbiEntrance: Many thanks Jon for sharing with us; anything you'd like to add while
Sheffield: thanks for asking me to do this interview ... hi gabe :)