Fathoms Below
Johnathan Carbon discusses music with solo stoner doom artist Judd Madden
by: Johnathan A. Carbon
Though not having any reliable media besides a Bandcamp, Australian one manned outfit Judd Madden has made impressive waves as a solo bedroom doom artist. The musician / visual artist discusses the process of writing, recording, designing and producing his two releases for 2011.

CoC: Let us begin with the 2011 albums _Drown_ and _Float_. Both albums were the product of your hand, is that correct?

Judd Madden: Yep, I did it all. It's a challenge, and probably not the best way to do things -- particularly mastering -- but I find it really satisfying. I learn a lot, about recording, production, new instruments. Plus, I never have to compromise... <laughs>

CoC: Being essentially a one man band, what is the process like for the creation of an album? Do you get outside help or feedback for any part of the process?

JM: Throughout the year I'll record lots of ideas; simple riffs, drum passages, long improv sessions on various instruments... The majority aren't great, but from that huge pool of ideas some quality stuff will emerge. I jam regularly with friends (playing different instruments with different friends) and test and build upon ideas in those sessions. (Thanks Dan, Nicole, Alex, Anson, Rob & Chris.) In creating an album, obviously I prefer the 'concept album' approach. A unifying theme brings everything together and gives the songs context -- important when there are no lyrics. For _Waterfall_, I had the song names before I had the songs. For _Drown_ and _Float_, it was more organic; all I knew was that _Drown_ would be heavy, and _Float_ light. Songs grow and build, some die, and the good ones find their place in the concept. Feedback; yes, I play songs-in-progress to my friends and girlfriend. Their reactions have a huge impact on the final album.

CoC: What was the timeline for these two records? How long did it take you to create _Drown_ and _Float_?

JM: Recording took about two months (around my normal job). Production, another month. The writing... that's hard to say, as some of the ideas were two, five, ten years old (e.g. "Weightless", "Channel").

CoC: Your album art is stunning. Is the visual arts something as important and concentrated as your music?

JM: <laughs> Cheers! I try to evoke the spirit of the album in the artwork. I'm a designer by day, on a computer all day, so I enjoy hand-drawing the covers... it's more tactile and personal. Is it as important as the music? No, ultimately not. But it's important thematically and emotionally, to complete the package.

CoC: _Drown_ is very much a stoner metal instrumental record. Where were the influences for this record and why this sound to carry it out?

JM: I grew up with my father playing Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Metallica. Heavy music is in my blood, and stoner/doom resonates greatly with me, at this time in my life. I don't usually like aggressive music, so anything that's heavy -- without being aggressive -- I enjoy. If it's slow, that's even better. Heavy bands I draw inspiration from... there are so many; Boris, Pelican, Electric Wizard, Bongripper, Sunn 0))), Earth, Goatsnake, Meshuggah, Kyuss, Melvins, Yob, Devin. I could go on forever.

CoC: Where does _Float_ fit into this universe? Are the two records connected in any way?

JM: _Float_ explores the other half of the musical spectrum; melody, calmness, peace. I found myself writing in duality; crushing doom needs relief. The albums are connected in theme, and because they were created at the same time by the same person. But musically they're very different, there's really no crossover.

CoC: How has the reception been to these albums, both on the Internet and in real life?

JM: Really good! It's great to share with friends and family, and hear their thoughts. And the underground music community on the Internet has been amazing. There are so many wonderful, supportive people and blogs, it's really humbled me. Over 3000 people have downloaded, which isn't much in the grand scheme of things -- but to me, that's fucking unbelievable and awesome.

CoC: Let's go back a year earlier and talk about your first record _Waterfall_. How do you view this record in terms of your two newest ones?

JM: _Waterfall_ is a progression, with a wider variety of styles than _Drown_ or _Float_ alone. Conceptually it's strong, but I felt it was perhaps too varied... thus the decision to create two distinct albums, one heavy, one light. Though I may return to a mixed approach on the next album... and bring it all together. In terms of production, _Waterfall_ is not as polished, but that's fine.

CoC: Do you play live or are there any plans for playing live?

JM: Unfortunately no, not at this stage. There are two options; do it by myself with a backing tape, playing different instruments, or recruit some friends to learn and play the parts. Neither is likely. Maybe one day...

CoC: I want you to recommend me an album, but the rule is: it has to be based around vocals.

JM: <laughs> That's a great question. It would have to be Scott Walker, _The Drift_. The most haunting, challenging, crushing, beautiful, emotional mind-fuck ever. Listen to it in bed at night. In fact, it could be too challenging, maybe start with his 1995 _Tilt_, and go from there. And look at his back catalogue, see where he's come from. An insane genius, lyrically and musically.

CoC: Has Judd Madden always been your stage name? Are stage names unnecessary?

JM: Yes, my stage name and my real name! I wanted to be honest about the music -- that it isn't a band -- for me a pseudonym would be a kind of mask... I'm comfortable as myself, and presenting as such.

CoC: What does the future hold for Judd Madden? Are there any plans for future releases, are you currently recording now?

JM: Well, I bought a cello from a friend. So I'm teaching myself cello, it'll be a nice addition. Yes, I have a good plan for the next release; it will be bigger and better.

(article submitted 1/11/2011)

4/2/2012 J Carbon 8 Judd Madden - Doomgroove
9/30/2011 J Carbon Judd Madden - Drown / Float
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