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The Eighth Note: Owlet Nightjar

Last edited: 20.11.17 | Comment? | By










‘The Eighth Note’ is 8 quick Questions with Wellington Musicians.

A chance for us to catch up with people & see what they’re up to, or introduce you to a new musician/band and their music.

Today’s guest is Tim Key, guitarist for Newtown Rocksteady, who has a new music project Owlet Nightjar.

Who are you? Tell us a bit about your music:
I am Tim Key, frontman/guitarist/singer/songwriter for Owlet Nightjar. I also play guitar for Newtown Rocksteady.
Owlet Nightjar is a project I started just over a year ago while living in the forest in Reikorangi, near Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast. I was inspired to make an album, wrote the songs and recorded demos in a wee garden shed/studio amongst the trees, then put a band together and came to town to record at the Blue Barn with James Goldsmith.
It’s a concept album about the principle, or tattva, embodied by the Hindu god Shiva, told through the allegory of the life cycle of a tree. Musically it’s a mix of soul, dub and blues with elements of pop, psychedelic rock, reggae and hip-hop..

What have you been working on lately? Any new tracks or albums on the way?
We just released our debut album, The Regenerative Principle!
It’s available exclusively on Bandcamp for now, pre-order CD’s shipping from 1st December, and all other online platforms (iTunes, Spotify, etc, etc…) from 1st December.











Where is the best place people can follow you & find your music?
Follow us on Facebook and find our music on Bandcamp.

What were the 3 most influential albums to you growing up?
Ooo that’s a tricky one… depends on when I ‘grew up’ and I’m not sure I have yet! But assuming we’re talking about childhood, I’d have to say:
Jimi Hendrix, Live at Monterey – We had it on tape and Hendrix is one of my earliest musical memories. Almost definitely heard it from the womb! Both my parents are huge fans. They actually met to a song of his being covered by kiwi band Ticket at a dance in Christchurch. He’s the reason I wanted to play guitar since before I can remember.
John Mayall, Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton – Such a great album! One of my all-time faves. Another massive guitar-playing inspiration.
Roy Buchanan, The Best of Roy Buchanan – You might notice a bit of a theme going on here. Another wailing guitar hero! My first musical love was (and more-or-less still is) lead guitar. This guy was an absolute master of the form. He can literally make your spine tingle with a single note. Amazing tone and technique.
So many more but these three stand out as really early formative influences.

Which other Wellington musician(s) would you most like to work with?
Not sure if he still counts as a ‘Wellington musician’ (since he doesn’t live here anymore) but I’d love to work more with Imon Starr. His vocal delivery, freestyling and musical ability are all phenomenal. Heaps of the best gig-memories from my early days in Wellington (early 2000’s and on) involve Imon in one of his incarnations (Rhombus, Olmecha Supreme, Afronesia, The Eggs, etc., etc…).
I’ve been fortunate enough to jam with him a few times here and there but to actually collaborate on something would be awesome. We were neighbours for quite a few years so you’d think it might have happened then! But I think we’re both a bit shy! Some day I hope bro!

What’s your favourite Wellington venue to play in?
That would have to be San Fran. Great production, choice crew, classic green room and big high stage to make you feel like a rockstar! (Haha but I do have a soft-spot for the intimate, no-stage vibe of Southern Cross too.)

In your songwriting or composing (or the band’s songwriting) how do the compositions and songs take shape?
This particular album/project started from a core concept that I wanted to explore so I began by sketching out a conceptual framework for the album. From there it was mostly jamming/noodling and coming up with little musical ideas (usually on guitar but a few on piano and sometimes just a bassline or groove in my head) that I would jot down (record on my phone). Then it was a matter of going back through these little jotted down fragments and thinking “right, where does this sound like it might fit into the framework?”, then fleshing out these little ideas by writing lyrics and shaping the songs to fit the conceptual mold. It was actually a pretty efficient process!
I had set myself the challenge of getting the whole album done from start to finish in a timeframe of 3 months, so I was really motivated! I allowed a month for the songwriting/recording demos phase, which meant no time for second-guessing or over-working ideas. It was a first-in, first-served kind of situation!
In the end the whole thing, from the initial decision to make an album to receiving the final masters, took around 3 and a half months.
(Although I must admit: the original crazy-ambitious plan was to actually release the album within that 3 month timeframe, and that part has ended up taking a lot longer. I do think it could’ve been done but the goalposts shifted somewhere along the way…)

Where/when is your next gig?
A very good question! I’ll have to get back to you with the specifics… but let’s just say somewhere in Wellington… later this summer!
Keep an eye on our Facebook page!

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