Composer Liam Hennessy’s musical trove of insight into Matt Monfredi’s photographic process
Creative partnerships are curious things. So much of the process is about subjective taste and individual vision, that the story of how and why two people come together is always interesting. For lifelong music lover and composer Liam Hennessy and A Certain Syrup‘s resident photographer Matt Monfredi (aka the founders of ACS’s new series Head Trips), on their first foray into working as a duo, what brought them together was mutual mystification and passion for nature and a strong belief in the power of music and visuals.
“I’ve always loved music. It’s my passion. I’m particularly interested in field recordings and using natural ‘found’ sounds in my music. I carry a portable microphone everywhere with me to capture the sounds of the surrounding world,” says Liam who writes music for television channels including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, E4 and Sky Sports.
“I made the jump from music-fan to music-writer about 15 years ago when I bought my first guitar. I’ve been in numerous bands and solo projects since.”
Immersive and compelling, the first track and photograph lensed for Head Trips are both focused and serene. Hennessey’s original composition, Seacloud, captures a clarity of sound and is an enchanting listen. Liam and Matt give ACS the full lowdown on the track and the photograph that inspired it.
Matt on the photograph…
What’s exciting about this project for me is that it’s transforming the way I’m looking at my own pictures. Going beyond what I simply like to see, it’s about thinking about what someone else (in this case Liam) will see in the picture. Thinking about how a picture can provoke a chain of thinking, create a thought pattern and how this might be translated into the altogether different medium of music.
This image is an image I took last summer on a trip to Southwold. I chose it as I thought it would be a great way to kick the series off. The sea conjures up a whole host of different thoughts and feelings amongst different people and has been (and continues to be) a source of inspiration and intrigue for artists, writers and musicians alike. Everyone relates to the sights, sounds and smells of the sea and, knowing Liam to be someone who uses nature as a source of creativity, I knew it would be a perfect fit.
Liam on the track…
I loved this image that Matt sent over; as soon as I saw it I had ideas of how it could be portrayed musically. I started with the guitar swells that can be heard in the introduction and throughout the verses. I thought this nicely captured the repetitive sounds made by waves. I wanted the acoustic guitar to embed itself in the ambient sounds around it, much like the boat that can be seen in the middle of the image. The second verse builds on the first but with added layers and elements.
Once I had the verses representing the ocean I wanted to concentrate on getting a sound for the boat. At around 1 min 50 the song becomes more intimate, delicate and isolating – this is to highlight the solitary boat amongst the vast sea. I added some natural sounds that I recorded on a portable microphone into this section to add depth and character. Finally the swells of the verse comes back to indicate that the ocean is still present and the boat was just a fleeting moment within it, much like in the image.