Junto Profile: Ian Joyce

From the North Wales coast: soporific synths, having fun, the cat's meow

This Junto Profile is part of a new series of short Q&As that provide some background on various individuals who participate regularly in the online Disquiet Junto music community.

What’s Your Name? It’s Ian Joyce. I generally release music as ikjoyce, but annoyingly my Twitter handle is iankjoyce, because there was someone else using ikjoyce already.

Where Are You Located? Currently based on the North Wales coast. I grew up here, then moved away when I was 17 to go to university in Bristol. Spent a year living in Richmond, Virginia, as part of that degree, which was an amazing experience. That’s where I bought my first “synth” and sequencer (an XP10 and MC50) from Boykins on Broad Street, and shipped them back when I came home. Still have them, still working! I then lived just outside London for a few years (*cough* decades *cough*), where my little studio gradually grew. Moved back here three years ago just pre-pandemic. Never thought I’d be back, but very much glad I am. It’s a beautiful area; a lovely sandy beach at the end of my road, lush green countryside just inland, and the mountains of Eryri (Snowdonia) just a short drive away.

What Is Your Musical Activity? My main activity stems directly from Disquiet Junto prompts and Naviar Haiku challenges — although I don’t always get the time to do them. I also play a lot, just making noises, improvising, jamming.

I’ve been making music since I was 14, when my mum started teaching me to read music on the electronic organ. I then went on to teach myself piano, harmony, sequencing, synthesis, and so on, reading whatever I could get my hands on. I’ve got pretty broad tastes and will listen to pretty much anything (wasn’t always that way — in my teens it was basically Jarre and Beethoven and not a lot else, but thankfully that changed in my early 20s!)

My own music is mainly ambient, sometimes verging on new age, sometimes more towards drone / dark, and occasionally my synthpop childhood shows up with a snappy noise based electronic snare drum. I keep meaning to do more musique concrete / cut-up stuff as I quite enjoy the results.

My stuff is usually pretty soporific — I like the weird states between sleep and waking, so I tend to make things that put me there. If you fall asleep listening to my stuff, it’s a compliment.

Ian Joyce and (some of) his synths

What Is One Good Musical Habit? Play. By which I mean, have fun. If it starts to get dry, do something else for a bit. Let loose with your instruments. Jam, improvise, make noise. Make that cheesy cover version for yourself. Enjoy it! But keep in mind that this is different to “practice,” which should be focussed and structured — *looks sternly over the top of his glasses and wags finger, in a teacherly manner*.

What Are Your Online Locations? Facebook is generally more for family and people I have met or interact with a lot. Twitter (iankjoyce) is where I mainly hang out, and follow musicians and artists and any other creatives. I’m on Lines and the Disquiet Slack (ikjoyce), but I’m more of a lurker on both. I do try to be more sociable, honestly. I use Soundcloud (ikjoyce) for posting my Junto and Naviar Haiku pieces, and Bandcamp (ikjoyce) for album releases.

What Was a Particularly Meaningful Junto Project? This is a hard question. I’ve been taking part since project 0222 (Bounded Foundation — 31st March 2016) so there are a lot to choose from. The most memorable ones have been the ones that pushed me way out of my usual working practices, but the most meaningful one for me personally is 0238 from 21st July 2016.

It has developed a deeper meaning for me since it was made. It’s not my best work by a long shot, but the recording has the sound of my old cat Gus, who came in while I was recording it. If you listen, you can hear the catflap going near the beginning, and then him chirping a hello to me just before I finish playing. He died the following year, aged 16. He had been my companion since he was an hour old, and was a really gentle and characterful cat. Many of my earlier Junto pieces were made while he was draped over my shoulders like a scarf, which he was always wanting to do. I still really miss him — that little recording of his friendly chirping, in a house we no longer live in, is strangely even more evocative than any of the photos I have of him.

Looking back, I did actually do the Junto prompt the week after he died (0303), which was to make music on a 303 or similar. It was quite therapeutic, and I am still quite happy with the resulting track. In a weird coincidence, I just bought a TD-3 that arrived yesterday.

Has moving back to a place you lived in a long time ago had any impact on your music — whether through memories, or local culture, or just reorganizing your home? The local soundscape is very different here. We used to live near Heathrow, so planes were constantly overhead, whereas now we have the sea at the end of the road, so the predominant sound sources now have much smaller wings — and very loud voices, especially when they are nesting on our roof! I will definitely be keeping an ear on differences in my music-making, because the whole vibe here is much more relaxed, and the landscape itself much more dramatic with the sea and mountains nearby. I am certain that it will have an impact.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *