Home of Independent artists Ella Jo and Steve Spon. Find FREE Music podcasts and learn about our exciting creative projects. Scatter Dreams with Diamond Seeds!
Spon’s input on the Diamond Seeds Label
A sound concept tapestry with a strong musical current, including samples which expose media hysteria amongst both dark and light themes. Nostramus comments on the phenomena that shape our early 21st century; times where fear is founded for some, and a plaything for others. More info.
Described as ’21st century pagan drum and bass’, the ‘Earthlights’ album by Spon’s alter ego Nosramus was released in 1997 by Recordings of Substance in the UK and Shadow Records in the US to critical acclaim. Now remastered in 2010. More info.
A feast of sound-scarped nightmare visions and eclectic journeys. Culled from the darker psychotropic-fueled imagination of The Big Eye, Bud Brothers and Nostramus’s Steve Spon. More info..
Tracks – 13
Label – Diamond Seed Productions
Year – 2011
Price – £10.00 inc shipping* Buy CD
Digital Download – Available soon
Sample sound clips – Available soon
STEVE SPON PRODUCTIONS : ELLA JO’S ALBUMS
Ella Jo provides melodic nutrition for a runway to the stars.
This album’s sound-scape provides a rich feast good enough for a Space Shuttle journey. In the Universal Soup of Life, it makes a seriously good sound track. More info..
Following the Soul’s whisper, Ella Jo gives clues in this album as she reflects on a hard world, but refuses to be beaten. Here there are tuneful explorations of serious issues, interwoven with the joyous stuff of dreams. More info..
This album is like a porthole where beauty is borne of trouble, and passing through it is a cleansing, uplifting experience. Work well crafted will always channel human experience into sweet depths, for those brave enough to share it. More info..
Tracks – 10
Label – Diamond Seed Productions
Year – 2010
Price – £9.99 inc shipping* Buy CD
Digital Download – Available soon
Sample sound clips – Available soon
* January 2011, Subject to slight fluctuations owing to currency conversion rates. CD’s available from Kunaki USA priced at $9.80 plus $4.20 shipping, total price $14.00 (UK = £10.00, Euro 10.80) Delivery to UK and Europe around 8 to 14 days. Payment via PayPal and most major cards.
Steve Spon’s solo projects…a brief biog
Since the demise of UK Decay and then IN Excelsis back in 1985, Spon has continued producing music for himself and others.
As the resident engineer/producer at ’33’ Recording Studios he worked for a decade on a wide variety of different genre’s. He helped produce many post-punk bands in the eighties and nineties, including Click Click, Karma Sutra, Passchendale, Party Girls, Irritant, Crowe Jayne amongst others. He also produced numerous commercial recordings for the ’33 Jazz’ label, as well as co-producing many underground dance tracks for the emerging DJ culture.
Bass lines and drops that Spon helped produce rocked many a dance-floor at that time.The surge in technology in the art of music production during the late eighties saw Spon honing his music production skills. In 1990 he teamed up with ex Click Clicker’s Derek ‘E’ Smith and Graham Stronach to form a new band called ‘The Big Eye”. Described by the band at the time as “Techno–with-guitars”, TBE played a handful of live shows, produced a couple of EP’s and an Album, (both on vinyl and CD) over three years for the London based Hydrogen Dukebox label. Most of these are now out of print, and like a lot of Spon’s past material, are very rare to track down.
Spon latched early onto Jungle – the emerging Drum and Bass genre of music. During the early nineties he crafted a collection of tracks of his own. His material aimed to create a more thoughtful and ‘intelligent’ spin to counter the frantic naivety of the early hardcore rave sound. During this period the classic ‘vocal-lyrical’ approach had taken a back-seat to the repetitive and minimalist sound scape. This suited Spon’s eclectic and original use of samples to create mood shifts that mold deep, optimistic and relaxing sonic journeys. This was Spon’s first major ‘solo’ project with guest vocalist Prince Malachi, MC13, Caroline Nische and Natasha D, the proposed album was to be called ‘Earthlights’ under Spon’s new artist name; ‘Nostramus’.
This was released in July 1997 by London label, ‘Recordings of Substance’ and licensed to the US ‘Shadow Records’ label. ‘Earthlights’ went onto sell a respectable 6000 copies world-wide and tracks from the album were seen on many a ‘chilled–d & b/electronica’ type compilation album. In 2010 Spon re-engineered and re-mastered ‘Earthlights’ for the Diamond Seeds label (there is a link to further information and sound clips of the album above)
Spon continued producing and re-mixing for others up to the end of the nineties but aside from a limited edition Exodus Festival album, ‘Bomb Babylon‘ (a DIY darker, pertinent and bombastic affair – that, in Spon’s own words was, “unfinished”), there was no further Nostramus release until the 2003 ‘Hero of Bamboostick’ EP on Jolt Records.
In September 2011, Nostramus released ‘Doomsday Dot Com’ and unlike in the case of the the ‘Earthights’ album, Spon has introduced his guitar sound on some of the tracks. Another project has involved re-mastering some of Spon’s more esoteric and subliminal work from the nineties. He has produced an album called ‘Dark Ambience’ by ‘The Hidden Core’ (or THC for short!), containing largely ambient and beat-less material, but with brooding, sometimes menacing sound collages. You wont find much guitar in this mix, but UK Decay and IN Excelsis listeners may be familiar with some of the darker sonic dream sequences, a style used in the UK Decay’s ‘Werewolf‘ and ‘Unexpected Guest’ introductions for example. This is all available on the Diamond Seeds Label.
Spon’s production work with Ella Jo
Early in 2004, a singer songwriter Ella Jo knocked on Spon’s door. She had been looking for him since the ’33’ studio shut down in 1998. EJ promptly readied her old battered guitar and promptly sang him a handful of songs that she had wanted to record for a good number of years. She also explained that she had spent several years backpacking to far slung places across the world on her own.
This obviously impressed Spon enough embark on a musical relationship that would last until the present day. The end result was a collection of three classic albums incorporating many differing styles ranging from Pop, Neo Folk, Acupela, Avant Garde, Gothic, Drum and Bass and Electronica. Arguably the Ella Jo sound is perhaps not what one would expect from the guitarist of UK Decay at first listen but it shows off Spon’s deftly touch on music production.
Ella Jo’s music is eclectic and shows an inner wisdom that only someone with her wide travelling and life experience can reflect. It journeys through genre’s and styles with utter contempt for the narrow marketing niche, instead celebrating the oratorical rhythms and cadences of modern everyday life from a female perspective.
Although largely musically driven by Ella Jo, Spon has contributed to all three of Ella Jo’s albums with keyboards, bass, drums and other orchestrations as well as producing the overall sound. On the third album ‘Attitude is Everything’ he plays guitar on a couple of tracks with UK Decay bass-man Ed Branch also contributing.
We could sum up Ella Jo’s music as pure, captivating, elevating and an enigma to the preconception and cliché’s of a male dominated business and listener ship. She avoids overplaying that card here, transcending the open minded listener, male or female, to a greater purpose; a true artist.
More details on Ella Jo’s three albums here.
Discog: | Steve Spon at discog | The Big Eye at discog | Nostramus at discog |
Steve Spon – Nostramus Interview: | “Where the worlds of drum ‘n’ bass and post-punk and goth collide, stands a man like Spon” |
Nostramus at WordPress: | Nostramus World |
Nostramus at Myspace: | Nostramus at Myspace |
Nostramus at Diamond Seeds: | Nostramus at Diamond Seeds |
Nostramus old site: | Nostramus old site |
Nostramus at Facebook: | Nostramus Facebook page |
Ella Jo Interview: | Diamond Seeds talks with Ella Jo about her groundbreaking trilogy of Album’s |
Ella Jo at Diamond Seeds: | Ella Jo’s home page at DS |
Diamond Seeds Productions: | Diamond Seeds home |
What a winter!
After re-locating to the English countryside, it became painfully clear that we had one wood burner to warm the whole house through the most severe winter since 1963! The burner, like a hungry dragon, needed nourishment day and night; so valuable time was spent, seeking, gathering, and sawing wood. Not only did the fire need to be fed regularly, but with sensitivity (damp wood did not catch alight and dry wood burned too fast) – it was quite a responsibility, which could not be neglected and took a lot of coaxing. Although our fire strategies worked, there was little time for much else, so Diamond Seeds was put on the back burner while we sustained life through the cold.
Ella Jo’s winter gigs
Having missed a gig at Bedford Esquires with the Nimblewits, and another at the Hat Factory in Luton, Ella Jo hauled herself to Luton’s Castle Tavern on December 11th. Relieved to see some friendly faces, her gig was like a coming home party! Familiar with the Lutonian banter, Ella Jo hailed the spirit of the crowd and banged her way through some songs without a set list. The anarchic atmosphere in the pub brought out her busking character – the crowd picked up on her cheerfulness and agreed that it had been worth getting out of bed for!
The Castle Tavern gig was arranged by Marianna – the promoter and arranger of Luton Aid, a day of live music held to raise money for charity. Back in the summer of 2010, Ella Jo had played for this event at Luton’s Hat Factory to a very attentive crowd – the character of the audience made her feel as if she was performing in an auditorium! This was a high point in the summer, as Ella Jo felt that audiences were beginning to connect to her performances and enjoy her material as a folk artist….
The ghoul of winter flu and colds hacked our lungs as we spluttered our way through Christmas, and a couple of Ella Jo’s gigs got cancelled…..only a back log of the Peep Show series could cheer her up and things looked better as the New Year rolled in…..Although the winter season isolated us and tested our strength, we were still able to appreciate it’s beauty, and fiddled with our projects whenever our frost bitten fingers thawed a little….
In February Ella Jo met up with the Nimblewits again as she supported them at the Foresters Pub in Bedford. Her gig did not go as she expected….The Nimblewits were using disco lights and the box was placed on the floor to the side of EJ’s performing space. The main lights went out and the disco lights jumped into life. Ella Jo proceeded into her set blinded and distracted, finding it hard to see her set list! In a noisy pub atmosphere this gig was a bit of a challenge – but then, that’s what playing live is all about….
Richard, the drummer of the Nimblewits remembered a song from years ago and requested ‘God Made Television’ – Ella Jo performed these two verses acappella, the first time to an audience for over 20 years – it can be found on her album, ‘Attitude is Everything’…
Her latest gig to date, (March 11th 2011) has been to support Seth Lakeman, when he played at Luton Hat Factory whilst on tour of the UK. Seth Lakeman, from Devon, is an English folk singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist – playing the violin and guitar amongst other instruments. Being nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize it was no surprise that the gig sold out – and Ella Jo played to her largest audience yet….. It was an invigorating experience, with a welcoming audience and good technical support….
Having damaged her thumb five weeks before, and being unable to practice for the gig, she bit the bullet for this one – but she found herself at home with the audience, feeling a connection and getting comfortable to play for forty minutes. Reflecting on those precious moments on stage, she is philosophical :
‘Although the audience want to know the artist, the ultimate relationship lies between the listener and the song’s performance. In that forty minutes the songs were all that mattered. I put my heart into manufacturing these entities of expression, in the moment, to connect to those who were ready to listen. Nothing else mattered as we shared in the music – it seemed that many in the crowd felt my passion and understood. – it was a very special time….Seth Lakeman and his band played a fantastic gig that night and it was a real pleasure to support him, I recommend his music to all those who love feisty folk music!’
Recently released – THC (The Hidden Core) Dark Ambient album is a spin off project by Nostramus. ‘A feast of soundscaped nightmare visions and eclectic journeys. Culled from the darker psychotropic-fuelled imagination of the Big Eye, Bud Brothers and Nostramus’s Steve Spon – edited and re-mastered in 2010 from tracks originally recorded from 1990 – 1996.’
The fantastic ‘Doomsday Dot Com‘ by Nostramus will be the next release on Diamond Seeds – a prophetic gathering of Drum and Bass tunes and samples. After the Japanese earthquake it seems that time has overtaken some of the themes and has left Spon from Nostramus wondering what the reaction will be to his material. He says that all the material on the album pre-dates the horrific events that have burdened Japan. The album is a tapestry with a strong musical current, including samples which expose media hysteria amongst other, lighter themes. The album itself is a comment on the phenomena that shape our early 21st century; times where fear is founded for some, and a plaything for others. He exposes the human responses to dealing with a world that we cannot control including elements of superstition, anger and the need to release stress in a musical whirlwind of joy. Nostramus encompasses all these emotions, waltzing the listener through a reality check – reminding us to question our distorted world, keep our feet on the ground and trust our senses. The delight in this work is the unceasing movement between light and shade, the highs and lows, the scowls and the smiles…..Was Drum and Bass ever supposed to go this deep?
As for Ella Jo, history has inspired her to write an album about the Anglo Saxon era. As no music survives from this time, there is much room to be imaginative and she has invented songs about Anglo Saxon events. This folk album will be named ‘Almost Anglo Saxon’ so that purists will not be offended, and she has already had a lot of fun composing songs for this project…With a handful of songs left to write, recording should begin in late 2011.
Exposure for new musicians
People may be aware that we want to support up and coming musicians especially in this time when the industry is so difficult to break into. We are pleased that Matthew Adams has been in touch with us, and coming soon is a review of this up and coming folk artist….
Good News about our album prices
Last but not least, we have recently revised the prices of our albums when purchasing physical CDs from the supplier, www.kunaki.com
You can now obtain each album for approx £10 – inclusive of shipping – making them a great bargain for music lovers!
Well it’s been a few months since we had the chance to update this site – it’s been a busy old time! The summer is nearly over and we are settling down to web stuff yet again.
The hard work has been paying off and there is now another book available on Diamond Seeds Publications, the second issue of Tarot Decoded – for the High Priestess Tarot Card. The research for this book by Ella Jo Street resulted in giving more than a simple explanation for the card; it is probably best described as a pagan source book. Reading back the proof copy has been a pleasure – this book really is indispensable for understanding the meaning behind the card and gives a complete mythology into the background behind magic with a factual look at witchcraft, designed to educate and widen the horizon of those with an interest, and enrich a reading for anyone training in the art of Tarot Reading!
Next up we have not one but two CD albums now available from the genius fingertips of sound-master Steve Spon. He tells me that he will be writing a new album with his band UK Decay this year, so we are lucky he has made time to re-mastered and release two eclectic albums first conceived in the 1990’s. It seemed touch and go to the outsider who may have wondered at leaving one CD in the freezer for a week, but when it was time to dust it down and record it onto modern equipment the icicles dripped dry and the music was re-born!
First album to hit the light of day was the Nostramus Earthlights album. A long process of digging out the masters and re-booting them for today’s technology began in December 2009, but this summer all was completed and the world was blessed with some magnificent intelligent Drum and Bass – reborn. There are classical elements in this album which makes no apology for having a life force all of its own. As with all of Nostramus’ material it enriches the everyday experience of music into a festival of warped realities and harmonic vapour trails. Listening to it I firmly believe that Steve Spon writes sound tracks to sci fi movie’s that haven’t been thought of yet! The tunes and the sound-scapes create inspiration for anyone with a vision for art or film; in short, he is way ahead of his time.
And it’s not like the stuff I’m hearing is complicated. It goes from pretty moments to dark tragic times – all eventualities may be present, yet it is timeless and simple without being repetitive. Spon’s other new album, under the name THC, is called Dark Ambience, and I swear it actually breathes. For my taste, the music really has reached another level with this album – and I think the genius was born of pain and passion which was sieved and refined into the most delicious mix of tunes and rich instrument sounds – as if it were a magic music box found in Merlin’s cave – reflecting the future into the present whilst mixing up sound elements from the past; there’s something reassuringly recognizable – only to disappear into weirdness that is nearly hypnotic. My copy of this CD is already nearly worn out!!!
The summer was topped off by a couple of gigs that went well – UK Decay played again at Blackpool’s Rebellion festival, this time in the picturesque Winter Gardens, and Ella Jo played an enjoyable hour at Luton Fringe Festival giving her songs an acoustic airing to an appreciative crowd. She said, ‘I got to the bottom of what caused my legs to shake on stage – it stopped when I stopped wearing heels, and I do so love my boots, but in the end, wearing sandals cured the problem!’
Diamond Seeds began to take shape as we discussed a website to host a radio show, but as the idea grew, new components were added.
‘We needed a platform to promote and sell our music. Ella Jo covers the Neo Folk/intelligent Pop genres and Spon is a master of a unique style of highly listen able Drum and Bass and moody ambient styles. Our material is totally original, using modern technology, but rooted in traditional songwriting. The albums are journeys through light and shade, a full reflection of life expressed through music.’
These sound-scapes could be the soundtrack to a movie. Ella Jo laughs again, ‘Yes, people sometimes say that they have moments when they feel like they are living in film – our aim is to capture and weave those dramatic and ambient moments into our music, making a soundtrack for life.’
The challenge has been to sculpture moods into lyrics and melodies – like a poet or painter the musicians must connect closely to emotions and spiritual feelings. ‘I think Spon and I share the same way of listening,’ says Ella Jo, ‘I hear melodies in the sea and other natural sounds like the wind through the trees. Spon collects sounds and creates new sounds from samples.’ Both musicians like to build new worlds – taking a framework of words or molding instrumental lines.
Discovering their music, people find that they have hit a rich seam of creative energy which has been captured and honed into sounds that feed the imagination and tell the human story in so many different ways.
‘For me, songwriting is about reaching inward to the true expression of what a song is trying to say.’ Says Ella Jo.
The material from Spon and Ella Jo’s projects certainly prods the senses and demands an airing – near the top of your ‘must play list’!
Reckless Relic – A Porthole Into Antiquity And Official UK Decay Merchandise
Diamond Seeds are proud to announce the launch of two exciting brands. Through Diamond Seeds clients now have the opportunity to purchase Tee shirts and other products with unique designs.
Reckless Relic is the hottest new thing in clothing design. This unique brand conveys a respect for art from the past and supplies clothing portraying ancient images. We love the concept and welcome them on board. You can find out more about Reckless Relic on Diamond Seeds and take a look at their first five top designs available exclusively through us.
UK Decay, the iconic post punk band who rose to fame in the early eighties, have chosen Diamond Seeds as an outlet for their official Tee shirts. This is a great honour for us, and a guarantee to their fans that here they will find the genuine article, designed and approved by the band themselves.
What’s New At Diamond Seeds This Easter
This Easter we have some new products on Diamond Seeds to delight the public. Ella Jo has made available some new books for those interested in the Tarot with two very different books on this subject. Both books are highly readable and informative, whether you are a serious student or just have a passing interest.
The first book to be produced is called ‘The Magician’ which is an in-depth study of this Tarot Card. It is actually the first book to be released from a whole series called ‘Tarot Decoded’ which Ella Jo says will eventually reveal all the meanings and mythologies behind each Tarot Card. We look forward to making more editions available from this on-going series.
We also have the pleasure of making another of her books available, called ‘Journey of a Tarot Reader’. Ella Jo writes the story of her adventures in this entertaining paperback. The tale unfolds as she has a taste of beach life then takes a trip through Turkey seeking the origins of Tarot. If you are looking for some light reading for the beach this book makes a great companion. And for those who are fascinated with the subject of Tarot, she has included her research notes at the end of the book.
Finally (!) the irrepressible Ella Jo has produced yet another lyric book. Entitled ‘Attitude is Everything’. This book of lyrical poetry accompanies the album of the same name, (to be released April 2010). As with her other lyric books, there is a chapter giving information about the stories behind the songs, along with all of the poetry that makes up the lyrics on her third album.
All of the above books are new and available now on Diamond Seeds.
And Coming Soon…..
In the near future Diamond Seeds will be releasing the next Nostramus album called ‘Earthlights II’, and Ella Jo’s third album, ‘Attitude is Everything’.
We are looking forward to hosting the next edition from Ella Jo’s series, ‘Tarot Decoded’, which will be a whole book about the High Priestess Tarot Card! And we hope to make a fantastic book available by Hugh Byrne called ‘Visions’ – a quality book by this enigmatic photographic artist.
Check back in a few weeks for reviews and availability!
AND If you want to sell your books or music through us, just send an e mail to Diamondseeds33@googlemail.com
Visit us on diamondseeds.co.uk
We are looking for people to forward their music for a radio show which will be distributed via a pod cast every month, as a live stream.
Diamond Seeds Radio
more info and working radio here
My idea for Diamond Seeds Radio is to grant exposure for musicians without making them sign away their rights. Each month a pod cast containing one hours worth of music will be broadcast and listeners will be able to follow links back to featured bands own sites.
Diamond Seeds Radio is now ready and waiting for artists to approach us so that we can play their music.
“My vision is for Diamond Seeds Radio to deliver a great opportunity for bands and a great listening experience for the people all over the world who are gonna tune in!”
About Diamond Seeds Radio and Podcasts
We are looking for people to forward their music for a radio show which will be distributed via a pod cast every month, as a live stream.
We do not require payment and we cannot pay out to artists, we are purely offering the opportunity to expose your music on the internet. We are musicians ourselves and appreciate how difficult it can be to get radio play, so we have decided to set up a facility on the net for ourselves and others to play out our music. We do not discriminate between artists or genres; this is a genuine opportunity to get your music heard.
We guarantee that anyone submitting their material for us to play will retain their ownership and all rights to that material. Neither will we attempt to sell your material without prior permission; we will simply provide links to your own site.
Diamond Seeds will provide a streamed monthly radio show (with archives) that will become available as a pod cast. It will feature music provided by anyone who wants to submit their material. It will allow any musician to get their material on the internet, without prejudice, helping to create an interest in their music.
How to get your music played on our monthly show
Simply send us a copy of your material as an mp3 (128k, 44kz) and we will try to include it in our radio show.
We do reserve the right to disqualify material which we deem inappropriate.
Please send to diamondseed3 AT googlemail.com (and put “for Diamond Seeds Radio” in the title)
Diamond Seeds talks with Ella Jo about her groundbreaking trilogy of Album’s
January 31st 2010
It’s not easy putting an album together when you are on your own and female in a male dominated business. Ella Jo has put together not just one classic album, but three!
We caught up with the reclusive genius Ella Jo and talked about her three albums…
DS# You’ve just finished your third album, are they related and if so did you intend that to be so?
All of the albums contain my original material. Earlier songs were co written, but every piece is my own interpretation. The first two albums were recorded at the same time in 2008. ‘Limits of Milkweed.’ and ‘Alter Ego’ are from a catalogue of songs written over the previous two decades.
We recorded three tracks at a time. I selected songs from around forty tracks, having the luxury of recording whatever matched my mood at the time. The third album, ‘Attitude Is Everything’ was written in 2009 and comes from the same core material, spanning from 1985 to present day. It was recorded with more confidence, probably gained from the five years of previous recording experience.
So essentially the albums are all related, four tracks on each album were co- written with Terry Bartlett before 1994, and there is one track on each album by Spon using samples of my vocals. Also each album has an a cappella track.
DS# Music scene (mis)conceptions of female singers is myopic in that they are usually younger, hence more exploitable – where do you see your market?
We have a massive youth culture which demands commercial music. I have no problem with this. However, I think the standard of the songwriting tends to be poor. Being a tad cynical, I would say there will always be a thread of insincerity in a music scene which is obsessed with sales figures. I enjoyed the experience of busking. Street entertainment has a place in social history but seems undervalued in modern society.
I think the commercial market is flexible enough to take on board my material. The songs were crafted to satisfy my own taste; I chose the textures, rhythms and moods and I enjoy the poetry of it. I like to celebrate the world, but there are so many other layers, I have no choice but to present the songs as organic outpourings.
But I think because the songs smack of the human experience they appeal to a huge market, and I don’t see age as a barrier. Songs written in my twenties easily appeal to others of that age. The material exists on its own now, it lifts the atmosphere all over the place… especially good for radio. I think I could call myself an Urban Folk Singer! You cannot classify the listening public into neat little boxes. People’s tastes do span the genres. In today’s world, music lovers access music from the distant and recent past, and from other cultures.
DS# All three albums covers have a definite feel. What importance do you place on the artwork, did you design it yourself?
Yes I designed the covers myself. With new technology I had the tools to manifest my visions. The ideas behind the music have always been strong and passionate, and the art work is integral to each album’s identity. Each front cover carries an icon. So the cover of ‘Limits of Milk Weed’ depicts a stone griffin which stood in ancient Delphi. ‘Alter Ego’ shows a little clay Venus figure, sitting in a shell. ‘Attitude Is Everything’ shows a metallic Babylonian cow goddess. Objects from antiquity give an insight into ancient people’s view of the aesthetic. People were inspired to make these objects and they survive today. Music has the same capacity, to survive and inspire through time.
DS# Where would you like to see your music go, once its out in the market place?
Many songs have a sound track quality; they would work well in films. The albums are played at parties and whilst on the move. I remember the thrill of listening to one of my demo’s whilst cruising on the Aegean, it gave me the confidence to continue. The production is appropriate for the ‘I’ player, and mobile phones. My music appeals to an international audience, it is capable of pleasing listeners everywhere.
DS# The differing styles across all three albums – did you plan it that way – what was the process?
For me there are absolutely no rules for songwriting. In 1985 I teamed up with Terry Bartlett, a songwriter who was in a very creative phase at the time, and we tried out a wide variety of musical styles.
By the time I came to record the songs, the material had been thoroughly developed. I learned guitar and busked the songs; they had been stripped down to bare voice and guitar chords. From this foundation Spon was able to envisage a ‘flavour’ to suit a song, and, after experimentation, the style developed. The songs actually went through three stages – the original form – from their first inception (some performed with a band), then secondly into my busking format, and lastly into the recording production phase.
During the recording project I had absolute control of the whole process. I made all musical decisions and some of the engineering and production choices. Hence I have three albums which reflect my musical vision almost to the letter. Spon’s creative influence was welcomed and became integral in developing the songs. So the styles of the songs come from strong original ideas, but with the flexibility to incorporate appropriate influences.
DS# What are your main influences?
When I was a kid the music in our house ranged from Joan Biaz to early Beatles, along with classical stuff like Tchaikovsky. We had the sound track from South Pacific. My fave song when I was three was ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair’.
In the mid seventies I used to record TOTP on a little tape recorder – I would get the middle third of each song – but this is where I discovered Stevie Wonder and Glam Rock. Later, I saw The Beat perform ‘Tears of A Clown’. I had never heard ska before and I realized what fun you could have with music. The Beat have remained an influence, as did stuff from my hippy phase, including Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd. I liked some Punk and discovered the Pixies, The The, and strong female singers such as Natasha Atlas, Rosa Zarogoza and Bic Runga.
DS# It must have been hard producing your three albums yourself? Who else was involved in the making of your three albums, what was their involvement and why?
I met Spon in 2004, and he helped me instigate my recording project. He had no idea that I had so many songs; I just kept coming back and recording more. It became clear pretty early on that we worked well together. He is a very experienced sound engineer and has been making music all of his life. I had permission from Terry to use the material from our association in the eighties and Spon’s input to these and my own songs really brought them alive.
Spon is able to communicate very intuitively and listens very intensely to the work. It was hard work, but six years on I am pleased with the results and I have learned much from our partnership.
Spon asked a couple of friends to contribute some guitar parts and he also played on some tracks. Felicity Nihil contributed to two tracks on the violin, and Eddie Branch, the bass player for UK Decay played on the third album. Veteran Californian groovster, Dexter Theobald Carakas, also laid down some keyboards on the third album.
DS# Why should anyone want to buy your album?
I learned my craft from a master songwriter and made my albums with a master sound engineer. The serious commitment I made back in 2000, when I decided to go for it, has exceeded all of my expectations. To begin with I just wanted a CD of myself to listen to, but other people have been very ambitious about the material. If they believe in the value of my work I won’t argue, I put everything into it, and I love it – and my taste isn’t that different from most people.
These songs are my contribution to 21st Century music, and, like all good popular songs, they can find a place in the modern, urban experience. For listening quality and variety these albums are a good investment.
DS# What are your future plans?
I have performed solo with guitar a few times, but I would really love to get together with a band to write new stuff and do some live performances.
I also want to get some more of my Tarot material published. This is a massive project that I need to keep chipping away at.
The future will also hold some traveling. Scandinavia appeals to me and I think I would find Norway and Sweden very exciting.
DS# Why have you published lyric books?
All of my life experiences over the last twenty five years have found an expression somewhere in my songs. They contain comments on life and explore things that caught my attention. They hold observations on my inner landscape as well as the world outside.
Years ago it was important to me to read the lyrics on the back of my LPs. Nowadays CDs are just not big enough. I wanted to put the lyrics into a format that would be enjoyable to read. Each book contains pix and the stories behind the songs. I produced these books for poetry lovers as well as to accompany the albums.
DS# You are working on another – different project – could you please give a background to it, what stage are you at and what is the final result?
Yes I have begun writing books on Tarot. I gathered so much material in my private notes that I decided to compile a manual on how to read Tarot Cards. The series is called ‘Tarot Decoded’. I have just finished the first edition of the first card, the Magician, which helps explain the structure of the Tarot.
DS# Does this reflect in your music?
I was studying Tarot back in the early Eighties before I met Terry, so I guess the Tarot always had an influence on my songwriting, although I was not aware of it. I think it can come through sometimes, as it has affected my view of the world, but it is a subtle influence and I can choose whether I want to magnify that or not.
More information on Ella Jo and her music including streams, can be found at her Myspace site: www.myspace.com/ellajotaro
Nostramus Earthlights 2010 Re-mastered.
“Probably the best Drum and Bass album youve never heard!”
Cat. No. DS-NS-001
January 3rd 2010
Nostramus announce the release of a re-tweaked and re-mastered version of the 1997 album ‘Earthlights’.
The original ‘Earthlights’ was first released in the UK in 1997 by ‘Recordings of Substance’ followed by ‘Shadow Records’ who licensed it for the US market in 1998.
The brand new ‘Earthlights Re-mastered’, will be available from the online label, ‘Diamond Seeds Productions’ in early 2010. Nostramus will be joining other artists including Ella Jo on the new label, which will be making full use of new web fulfilment strategies for online mail order and downloading facilities.
Nostramus founding member Steve Spon has returned to the original source master tapes in order to complete this work.
“Although I was reasonably happy with the original mastering of Earthlights, I have since become a lot more fluent with audio mastering techniques. In this edition, I have returned to the source master tapes, taking care with every step of the process in order to retain the original concept and flow. I feel I have now created a much more considered dynamic to the sound-scape, hopefully bringing the whole thing up to today’s audio standards and listen ability.
Aside from the re-mastering, I have re-edited and re-mixed ‘Babel’ the opening track to the album, mixing in some new warped-up Amen from the un-released Jungle version of Babel. There are also one or two other new samples, subtly crafted into some of the other pieces to spice up the mix. Overall, I am much happier now with the sound and flow of the re-mastered album and I hope the listener will enjoy it even more”
Steve Spon January 2010-01-02
‘Earthlights Re-mastered 2010’ comes repackaged in a standard jewel case with new artwork to boot. Retailing at £10.00 including shipping, the album will be available from www.diamondseeds.co.uk from early January 2010 on mail order and on download, a little later.
Nostramus’s Steve Spon, is now working on the long awaited follow-up to the first album, which has the working title of ‘Earthlights II’. It is hoped that this will see the light of day in the spring of 2010.
Nostramus can be contacted at.. Nostramus at gmail.com