In Response to Jennifer Walshe
Gareth Whitehead, Surrey University
The purpose of this project was to communicate my relationship with music through the creative process. In doing so, by collaborating with Jack Endino and incorporating different pertinent objects into the creative process, I referenced Nirvana and subsequently my musical heritage. These signifiers brought the hauntings of my past to the present, establishing a relationship between separate moments, with detached reference points entirely removed from linear temporality.1
In turn, like memory itself and how we recollect moments from our past, the narrative created by the artistic process had no distinct beginning or end, was intermittent, dispersed in the present, past and the future, all operating within and consuming the same space, all co-existing in such a way as to convey self-representation.2 Jacques Derrida proposes that the spectre presents “a paradoxical incorporation, the becoming-body, a certain phenomenal and carnal form of the spirit.”3 In line with this hypothesis, my memories and references to the past are incongruous, because they are exempt from body and cease to draw breath, yet are alive nonetheless as the depiction of what it is to exist.
As a teenager, music was not only escapism, but also, like for many young people, it defined who I was. It determined how I dressed, how I conducted myself, and harvested a sense of social justice that I have kept prominent throughout my life. I was significantly influenced by Nirvana, a band that not only captured me musically, but also introduced a new set of values. Their ascendancy can still be felt today, therefore through my work I wanted to create a piece of music that referenced their impact, so I sought to collaborate with someone who had a direct involvement in the recording and production process of their music. In response to this, I approached Jack Endino, who produced and engineered many of Nirvana’s tracks, most notably their debut album, Bleach. He agreed to not only collaborate with me on a piece of music, but also to mix the final product. The result of this collaboration was a track called “Nineteen 92.”
Jack’s creative offering was a guitar accompaniment to the musical piece I had submitted for collaboration. His musical contribution was then rendered onto CD and played through a hi-fi system that I used as a teenager to listen to music. As it was playing through the hi-fi's speakers, a microphone was used to capture the audio, allowing me to record it back into the project. I repeated this process several times, each time introducing different elements to the recording chain and thus layering the creative and conceptual content and subsequently, the narrative. For example, the Shure SM57 microphone used was the first microphone I bought and used to facilitate early recordings of mine, therefore its use within this project was denoting my initial creative output, consequently referencing Nirvana’s impression upon me. Comparably, whilst the microphone was recording the output from the hi-fi's speakers, I introduced a Zoom effects pedal to the signal chain and applied distortion and reverb. This audio effects processing unit was the guitar pedal that I owned and utilized extensively as a teenager whilst playing guitar, trying to emulate Nirvana.
Cloverley, Merlin. Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past. Harpenden: Oldcastle Books, 2020.
Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. London and New York: Continuum, 2003.
Derrida Jacques. Spectres of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International. Translated by Peggy Kamuf. New York and London: Routledge, 1994.