Apr 8, 2019
I sit down with Tristan Welch
Tristan Welch creates ambient music for the social consciousnesses.
In June of 2016 he released his debut titled Washington D.C. Released on cassette on side is titled D while the other is titled C. Each side is performed in it’s respective key (D and C). This tape is an experiment in composed minimalism for electric guitar while using various effects and looping technology.
January 2017 saw the release of a collaboration effort with established saxophonist Ron Oshima. Released on CD the recording is titled God Bless America. Each song like the previous effort is performed in key (this time in G, B and A) - slightly improvised but structured in nature - once again a challenge in minimalism while using Ron Oshima’s skills to create emotion. As a duo they never places an overt political statement on the record other than “we are not nationalists and we could use a little help”. The record was recorded on Election Day (2016) and released on Inauguration Day (2017).
Juanita Crabbe was an uncelebrated artist that lived in Washington D.C. but finished her career in New York City. This was also Tristan’s Grandmother. When she passed away in 2017 he helped clear out her apartment in New York City and uncovered her infamous painting “smoking liberty” as well as many of her pictures of the city itself. After spreading her ashes in a park of her SOHO neighborhood; while a jazz band started playing - he thought to himself that she would be “haunting N.Y.C.” In may of 2017 he released a book of her pictures, a remembrance card including a print of her “smoking liberty” painting along with a CD of untitled guitar musings.
Through the years Tristan Welch has been very active with live performance. Always wearing a suit (in a homage to Robert Fripp - or if you ask him - to give art the respect it deserves - or if you ask his friends it’s so he’s always ready for a funeral - a licensed embalmer by trade). He performs live looping soundscapes with his electric guitar, various effects including reverb and delay along with a collection of amplifiers depending how loud he feels like playing (once a veteran of avant-garde - harsh noise - experimental outfits of the Washington D.C. area).
40 Hours - the new LP by Tristan Welch is due out this coming winter (2018/2019) via Verses Records (a label collective out of Washington D.C.) In recent performances leading up to the release Tristan has been seen in his usual suit and tie - holding up protest signs, inspired by anarchist graffiti, displaying the messages of “Abolish Work” and “Fire Your Boss”. These themes correlate with the sound of his new record - while being more melodic in nature - it as raw as only somebody working overtime could produce. He hopes to spread a message that he believes we can only truly change what we have seen since the release of God Bless America by withholding our labor, uniting as a working class to stand up against oppression. This is the sound of the working class struggle.
The progression of Tristan’s music and habit of making statements come from his life experience. He spent years - addicted to heroin and other drugs - selling off guitars, records and whatever else he could to get another fix. Homeless in Washington D.C. - finding refuge in various jails and institutions only to use some more drugs. In 2010 he got clean and started the process of becoming a human being again. He found himself working at a local funeral home - vacuuming the floors, running flowers and removing body’s from homes in the middle of the night - one day a supervisor asked what his goals were and his response was “to make enough money to buy a guitar and maybe an amp”. He bought the guitar but struggled to find time to play it realizing how hard it was to pay rent or even eat in the Washington D.C. area. He eventually found himself in mortuary school to become a licensed funeral director and embalmer. Able to earn a living - able to maintain a lifestyle of recovery - he could once again create. These soundscapes come from a pain a drink can’t cover up. A sense of empathy only a hopeless junkie can feel. His experience tells him that our society, our government and our economy - kills. In order to save ourselves we need to Abolish Work and Fire Your Boss.