Returning to Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia for the second time, Dutch multi-instrumentlist Jacco Gardner brings a shade of pastoral 60s baroque experimentation into the festival proceedings often dominated by heavier, darker colours of the psychedelic palette.
Straight after his glistening pretty paisley-psych set we find a quiet(ish) spot in a nearby cafe. He apologises, saying he was nearly blinded by the stage lights shining in his eyes, but springs back to life on hearing a DJ play Broadcast.
You’ve played a lot of psych events, how does Liverpool Psych compare to other festivals?
Most psychedelic festival have the same thing. I love it, but there’s something in me that goes, “Arghh… It’s too much!” It brings in people who like psychedelic bands and that creates a superficial atmosphere that takes away a little bit of the depth of psychedelic music. On the other hand, I really like that a lot of people come here for the same reason; for the same love, the same passion. You can really feel that, which is great. But it’s a bit of both for me: I like it and I hate it at the same time. I get that at every psychedelic festival.
Your own music is very 60s psych influenced. How did you discover this genre niche? Was it an epiphany or something that happened over a period of time?
I grew into that over time.
What’s your own musical background? Did you start playing music early?
I played the clarinet when I was eight years old and then I started singing in a band. Then I started playing the guitar, the bass, the keys, some violin and some other instruments. And then I just recorded my music.
How many instruments do you play?
[jokingly] I play every instrument! Give me an instrument and I’ll play it for you.
Do you play the drums?
Yeah, I play the drums.
Do you play the lute?
Do you play the harpsichord?
Anything you’ve mentioned I can play. If you give me an instrument, then I’ll for sure be able to do something with it.
Since you played all those different instruments on your recordings yourself, how difficult was it to translate your music into a live setting?
It’s a completely different experience. Something I never knew when I recorded the music; I didn’t know what it would be like to play it live. Now I’ve played it live a lot, it’s become something very different from the studio set but also something I enjoy doing. But I didn’t know that I would enjoy doing it when I made the album. I found that afterwards.
Do you prefer live performance or studio work?
I guess I prefer the studio. There’s more time, there’s no rushing. There are no people shining lights in your eyes whilst you’re trying to find your cables. I love the freedom and the relaxed atmosphere. I can still create the whole atmosphere with lights or candles, and completely lose myself in that while I have all my favourite instruments around me. You have to make compromises playing live, like you can’t bring all your instruments. You have to keep it small and you have to make the changeovers really quick. All these non-musical things that don’t have anything to do with making music. Part of live performance is touring, which is spending eight hours a day in a van with the same six guys. All those things, like going to hotels and stopping at gas stations means I have much more in common with a truck driver than a composer. You just get sick of that part of it. You just wanna get back in the studio.
Visual element is a big part of psych and is something that’s also a big part of your performance. Who does your visuals?
I do them myself.
Where does all the film footage come from?
It’s mostly public domain stuff: educational videos from the 70s and 80s, like films that explain how the light works. Very straight forward videos that I take certain parts of and mix them with other videos. I create my own thing with them.
In terms of your band, do you have a set group of people you’re working with now?
I change people around here and there, but overall there’s only been three changes, I think. When there’s new material, or whenever there’s a period of time passed and people wanna focus on their own stuff for a while, I find other people.
Who are your favourite bands or artists right now?
Oh, so many good bands… Maston. Jessica Pratt. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Connan Mockasin is pretty good.
Buy Jacco Gardner’s latest album Hypnophobia HERE.
For details of Jacco Gardner’s European tour click HERE.
Visit GIITTV’s Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia 2015 gallery HERE.
Read GIITTV’s full festival review of HERE.
Photo credit: Simon Godley