Hastings musician Jason McNiff launches new album
Hastings musician Jason McNiff has launched his seventh album, Dust of Yesterday – one of the upsides to lockdown.
“I have found the whole experience quite good in some ways,” he says. “You just have to be resourceful.
“I was curating an event at the Jenny Lind in Hastings and it was called the Sundowner. It was happening after work on Fridays, five to seven and it was really successful, filling the pub at that unusual hour. We were doing Dylan songs and Cohen songs and folk and blues from the 70s and having a special guest each work.
“Obviously that got knocked on the head with lockdown but I just moved it online each week. I have done 55 shows now, and I think I will continue with it online as well as doing the real event when the pubs can open properly once again.
“So I know it has been a disaster for others, but for me personally lockdown has been really good. For my musical career, it has been a good thing. I was able to make this record and I am bringing it out now.
“It is my seventh album. My first one came out in 2000 so I have been doing this for 20-odd years now.
“But I think with this album, I am maybe getting to the age where you are a bit more reflective. You have life changes, things like moving house and so on, and really I think I am just trying to celebrate my memories on this album. I don’t think it is a nostalgic lament for lost youth. It is just celebrating those memories really.
“I was quite influenced by an Egyptian poet called Cavafy. He was around at the turn of the (last) century and into the 20s, and he was never published in his lifetime. He wrote all these little ditties about his memory of this young man. They are not in the past. They are alive in the moment. It is almost like he is reliving them now in a deeper way than he lived them in the past. I am interested in how memories make you what you are, the way that you can interact with them and how they can be really vivid. It is not nostalgic. I am not particularly young anymore. I am just really celebrating the things when I look back that you can see now are significant to how you have become.
“And I was influenced by Cavafy. I came across him because of a beautiful Leonard Cohen song called Alexandra Leaving. Cavafy is not high-falutin’ at all. He is very accessible.”
As for his own music, Jason says: “I like folk and country and blues and those sorts of genres, and those are the sorts of genres I am in. I am very into the English guitar-pickers. It is me plus guitar but we have augmented it as well. It was recorded during lockdown and lots of it was done remotely. I have got a number of the usual suspects that I have been playing with for years.”
Jason moved to Hastings two years ago “as part of the move down from London”, he says: “A musician is never going to be able to get a property in London in a million years. We only just managed it here. But we really love it here. We have got a little six-year-old who is going to school here.”