'As If To Nothing', the new album by Craig Armstrong, features a brilliant new
interpretation of U2's Stay (Far Away So Close).
'As if To Nothing', released this week, is a second solo album of original
material from Craig Armstrong and features a stellar cast of collaborative
musicians - including Bono, Evan Dando, David McAlmont and Antye
Glaswegian Armstrong, 43, is a Royal Academy of Music graduate who passed
through the ranks of his native city's band culture (membership of Hipsway,
Texas and The Big Dish) to become one of the world's most sought-after and
respected composers and arrangers.
In the contemporary field, Madonna, U2, Bjork and Massive Attack are among
the acts to have benefited from his talents. But he is also an acclaimed
writer for theatre and film, where among his credits are scores for the Baz
Lurhmann hits 'William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet' and 'Moulin Rouge'
The reason I called my album 'As If To Nothing' is to do with the fact that
working a lot with music over the years and becoming aware of the sort of
intangible quality of music. And the fact that in many ways unlike a
painting or a novel it actually doesn't exist in a material sense, it
actually exists just in terms of sound waves. I felt the title 'As If To
Nothing' would be a good way to define and describe this feeling of
etherealness in music.
For this album I decided that although there was a lot of instrumental
music, quite a lot of the record would contain songs and obviously for these
songs I needed to find singers and collaborators.
One of the first artists that I decided to work with was David McAlmont, who
did the track 'Snow'. We actually wrote the lyrics together for it and we
recorded it in Glasgow.
Bono, is someone who I have done a lot of work for over the years in terms
of string arrangements for U2. I said to Bono I would pick my favourite
track which was 'Faraway so Close' and we would work on that and see where
that would get to.
Mogwai, another artists I collaborated with, are actually a Glasgow band. It
turned out to be the most fascinating project. I love the way their music is
so filmic and so fascinating. I felt in many ways their sense of space;
their sense of dimension and landscape is quite similar to mine.
In a sense I have been working on this new album from the period where I
finished with my first album. Even when I was in Australia working on Moulin
Rouge, I was still writing some work for my solo record. In all, maybe a
couple of years.
The song that I composed first was 'Ruthless Gravity'. It was a song which
in many ways defined the whole record. It was a song that was very complete
and I decided that I would take fragments from that song and it would be
interpreted through the album, little fragments of the melody would appear
through the album. So in many ways it being the first track was quite lucky
because it was almost the theme that the whole album was created from.
The last track was 'Let it Be Love', and this is a track that like 'The
Space Between Us' I wanted a feeling that the album was resolving that it
was coming to a positive end, something that was uplifting.
Between 'The Space Between Us' and 'As if to Nothing' in terms of the
creative process there isn't a lot that's changed. I approach both albums
with the same sort of intensity. The only difference is the fact that in 'As
if to Nothing' there is this idea of musical development where one track can
filter down through the album bit by bit but other than that there's not a
The difference between writing for movies and writing for a solo project in
one sense is obvious, the fact that in film obviously you have moving images
to write to. Other than that I would say I approach all these different
mediums say like film, my solo work and my classical work, I just approach
them in the same way as a composer. It's my same voice but in different
projects. In every single thing I'm trying to write something special and
something emotionally true.
I don't think any composers get used to making acceptance speeches. From the
point of view that I think that most composers are more comfortable actually
working in their studios composing music. For me receiving these awards like
the Golden Globe or another BAFTA - they are great honours. A film like
Moulin Rouge is incredibly hard work so the fact that your own peers like
film makers and directors and other musicians want to vote the fact that
what you wrote was special, I think its a real honour to receive these
At the moment I'm very into the German Electronic music from Kitty Yo. At
the same time I've revisited a lot of old records of Ennio Morricone.
Classically I like a composer called Concelli. I think I'm just like anybody
else these days, you listen to lots and lots of different music.
At the moment I'm trying to put together this concert for the Barbican in
London which is with the Sinfonietta, one of the main orchestras in London.
Other than that I'm doing a new classical work for the Royal Scottish
National Orchestra and maybe towards the end of the year I may do another
movie. So it's quite busy but at the moment, just concentrating on the live
show of my albums.
Visit Craig Armstrong's website here www.craigarmstrong.com