JABUN'S "DAYDREAM" COMES TO LIFE
Vocalist, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Nick Standing has been involved in many musical projects over the years, from releasing catchy ska-punk music under Better Than The Book, to being an engineer and producing music, to collaborating with other various artists, to putting his instrumental talents to good use to create a unique sound with his first project, Jabun.
What does the name mean, exactly?
"When I was a young teen and my family got the internet I was really into the Legend of Zelda games and joined a forum to chat to other like-minded people. I chose the name Jabun because it was a pretty obscure character (a giant fish) and no one else on the forum was using it + it was short and easy to remember. Anyways, I ended up signing up to other websites (such as Newgrounds) as Jabun for convenience and when I started releasing music there, the name just sort of stuck. I thought [there was] no point in thinking of a new name if people already know me as Jabun, so I just kind of rolled with it, and when I got to actually releasing music on a professional level, I just continued using the name."
Standing had been releasing music under the Jabun name for years, but Daydream is one that stands out above the rest for various different reasons.
"When I first started writing as Jabun, I was listening to a lot of chillstep and other electronic music, still trying to find my own voice/style, and I think that's audible in my earlier tracks such as 'Bergamot' and 'Apollo'. By the time I got around to my 2013 track 'Distance' (which was actually remastered for the Daydream album along with my next single 'Home') I really felt I was starting to find something more personal/individual in my electronic music," he reveals, "The Daydream album really took off from that philosophy, digging deep to explore and develop my own sound rather than try to recreate other people's styles which I do a lot of in my other music production work. Having the creative freedom to compose an album also allowed me to view Daydream almost as one 42 minute long piece rather than ten shorter tracks, which lent itself to different ways of exploring musical ideas and my identity throughout the album compared to my previous releases as Jabun."
He produces practically all of his music for all his projects by himself, which can be a bit of a challenge.
"In terms of the production, [too,] Daydream was very different to my previous work. I didn't want to be distracted by all the possibilities of what and how I could write, so very early on I set myself some limitations, which made the writing process a whole lot less overwhelming and in the end gave the album a more cohesive sound even though the tracks vary a lot in style. Compared to writing for a traditional rock band where you know you're gonna have 1 or 2 guitars, bass, drums, vocals etc..., there are practical infinite possibilities in terms of arrangement for an electronic piece of music so to start with I set myself these few limits: One, [to have a] maximum of eight audio tracks in each recording session. [I] ended up going over slightly for the mixing, but it worked out nicely. Two, if there are any drums, it'll always be a TR-808 drum machine (one of my favourite electronic drum sounds and it made composing drums much quicker than searching through the thousands of samples I have. Three, no lyrics. I wanted to be able to convey all emotions in the music without words. Distance had lyrics from the 2013 version, though they were samples from a Speak 'n' Spell toy rather than sung words so they're more of a soundscape rather than a vocal part. Three simple limitations, but I think it really worked out well, and really helped me focus on composing and working to get all those emotions across without worrying too much or wasting time on deciding what sounds to use. To sum it up, I'd say writing 'Daydream' was a very different overall experience in terms of the composition and production process, and I think that is reflected in the musical content of the album."
One thing that Standing does with his music (and does well) is storytelling. Each song on "Daydream" is about a specific topic and with the way he composed each track, it's imagined to portray that particular feeling or situation.
If I could describe the album in one word it would be "Daydream". As a musical journey, I imagined the album as going through a typical daily routine and each of the tracks is a thought or feeling throughout the day, little daydreams as I go about my daily life:
Dreaming (Parts I - III): Deep sleep -> Vivid dream -> waking up. Morning is about the feeling of love waking up next to the person you love. The Grind is about working and letting your mind wander while you work. Distance is about the feeling of missing someone you love, but also that feeling of deep love for them. Daydream is about just pleasant passing thoughts. Anxiety: It's in the title. Palindrome is about reflecting on the past, neither positive nor negative, kinda fuzzy, nostalgic, perhaps. Home is about the feeling of deep love for the "place" you belong. For me that's being with my loved ones. Evening is about the feeling of falling asleep next to the person you love. Dreaming (Parts IV - VI): Final thoughts as you fall asleep -> Vivid dreams -> deep sleep again," he explains, "The word daydream just seemed to sum all of that up perfectly to me."
"I THINK THE END RESULT SPEAKS FOR ITSELF AND IT'S NICE TO TAKE TIME ON THESE THINGS."
"[It] feels great [to have the album out]! I've been making music as Jabun for about 5 years (about 4 years when I first started work on the album) so it's been really liberating to finally be able to concentrate and pursue the album, as well as see it come to fruition after such a long time composing as Jabun," he says, "The production process wasn't an entirely smooth one either, with various delays including a studio relocation midway through the album (not ideal), but I'm actually glad it took a little longer than expected as I think the end result speaks for itself and It's nice to take time on these things. It's always a great feeling though when you render out the final master of the album after listening countless times and making all those tiny tweaks. A combination of satisfaction and relief, and then it's a quick break before starting on the next project!
Since its release back in May of this year, there's been quite a positive reaction to the album.
"Honestly, I was a little apprehensive about releasing this album, as I know that while this style has been developing since my early days as Jabun, a lot of people these days recognize Jabun more from my production work with Better Than The Book (Ska-punk), or the intense cinematic sound of the A P O T H E O S I S game, which while a huge part of who I am musically was very different to the chill soundscape of Daydream. These fears started to melt away even before the the actual album release though when I was invited for my first spoken podcast interview and a pre-release play of the seventh track, Palindrome. That was an awesome experience in itself, and as soon as the album finally dropped, I was met with a whole load of positive and touching comments and reviews, which was a huge relief. All in all I'm really pleased with the way things turned out! While I really needed to write this album for personal reasons, it was kind of a shot in the dark with regards what listeners would think, but it seems to have struck something positive in people's hearts, and I'm really glad people are connecting emotionally with this album in the same way as my other work."
What can people expect from Jabun following this record?
"At the moment I'm working on a couple of collaborations as Jabun, as well as producing Better Than The Book's new album, though these are more lending my instrumental playing, composition and production skills rather than the "Jabun Sound". In terms of that chill combination of electronic orchestral and jazzy stuff that people have come to know me for, there's a couple of things currently lined up for the future:
While I was working on the Daydream album (and before that too), there were a few ideas I was really pleased with musically, but just didn't quite fit the vibe I had in mind for the album (or had to be cut due to time constraints). I'd love to pursue some of these ideas at some point and put together either a compilation EP or possibly another album of these tracks. I've also started gathering ideas for another more cohesive album which has the current working title "Journey", which I aim to be my next major album project after I finish work on Better Than The Book's new album next year. In terms of the sound of these projects, I'd like to further explore the hip hop, orchestral and chiptune elements of my music, as well as try out some new things, though probably not all at the same time. There's so many things I'd love to share with everyone, that I'm sure it won't be long until the next release from Jabun, be it a collaboration, remix, or another original track."