“As Late As The Light That Hides It: Recordings from February Montaine 1985 – 1991” the new release on Berlin/New Zealand based Fantasy Fiction Records graces our humanly orbs and touches our hearts with tracks that were made in the 80s by late UK artist February Montaine. Long after February’s passing his former wife Amelia, his step daughter Suzy and her friend Sam Potter (Late of the Pier) decided to revisit his tapes as a means of shining light on February’s unreleased art. The tracks immediately evoke a very intimate and personal feel with their dreamy instrumentation and sometimes sketch like approach through the playful use of synth melodies, samples and rhythms. Hearing February sing “I lose my body but still have my mind” in track “More about Grandad” with his shaky voice, resonate in a truly transcending and powerful way.
We wanted to find out more about this project so we had a chat to Sam and Suzy and here is what they had to say…
Hi guys, so how did you meet and what made you come up with this project?
Suzy: We lived in villages close to each other (Aston-on-Trent and Castle Donington, Derbyshire) but I think we only met once before I got in touch with Sam again. Sam seemed like the closest link to the music industry I had to get February’s music out into the world. February was my mum Amelia’s husband. Growing up she told me about his music and his writing but I always felt a little strange about the situation, all I knew about him was that a guy she still obviously adores had left her and left nothing but some tapes and some notebooks.
What was the process of finishing and compiling February’s music like?
Suzy: It has been a little strange for everyone I think, trawling up old memories, learning about a man I never really met and then for Sam to also finish old demos…
What did it feel like working on music of an artist who has already passed away?
Sam: You can imagine, if all of the songs had been complete we could have sent it to a re-issue label and it would have been simple(ish). But only a few songs were complete so I’ve been trying to step into February’s shoes and make the choices he might have made. Amelia has the last word on everything so if I don’t get it right she won’t let it through. I’ve been very much guided into doing as February would. Making music can be very cathartic but bringing in another mans spirit into the process is something else. Playing it live even more so!
What was the most fun part about this project?
Sam: There’s so much music in the world, it’s been a pleasure to be involved in music that was made so privately. In these songs – in the demos at least – is a man making music solely for himself, every choice he made was pure, completely untouched by any other person other than Amelia.
Suzy: I feel that too, I think we forget that not every expression we make is for others. Not knowing February I can only get a picture from what I hear about him or from him. This album is so intimate I have had a window into who he was on a much deeper level than maybe if he was still alive.
Which song has changed the most during the process?
Sam: We were lucky enough to have tracks like “Wedding Day” in full but the rest have been a bit of a patchwork. “Sidney” was a fun little party track until we found the vocal from Alice Teale. With the instrumental so hot and sweaty and the mermaid vocal so icy we were blown away when we put them together. It has a real ‘volcano flowing into a cold dark sea’ feel about it.
What do you know about February’s process of recording and writing?
Sam: Surprisingly little considering the amount of notes he left. He obviously had a different relationship between what he imagined (hi-tech future perfect pop) and what he made (lo-fi bedroom pop). I get the idea he didn’t think too much about what he made, he describes music as sophisticated emotional technology and to use it in that way you can’t be too conscious about what you’re doing.
If February’s music was a place how would you describe it?
Suzy: There’s an amazing note that he left which is about music not just being a travel in space but also time. Especially when he listened to music he would journey to God knows where. We don’t know if he did this with his music but when he made mixtapes he would label them by their emotional timeline. If Jon Hassell talks of fourth world music, February was talking about the 5th dimension too, time. My mum tells me he used to watch animations whilst he did this too, we didn’t believe her till we found a tape labeled ‘breathing machines’. So the place is different for anyone I guess, and in any dimension. Do as February would and see for yourself!