Jonathan Sharp AKA The Heartwood Institute. A Clunk Back and Forth Interview.

The Heartwood Institute

Hi Jonathan, welcome to the Clunk universe.

Who/What is The Heartwood Institute? Where in the Lake District are you based?

It’s just myself and a bunch of gear. I’m near Cockermouth, so pretty much just on the edge of the lakes, but it makes a good tag line. There’s not many of us doing weird stuff around these parts, well not that are actually based in Cumbria.

 A Heartwood Institute description…..Hauntronica from the heart of the Lake District. So, what is Hauntronica?

I figure everyone needs their own genre….. it’s very much a mash up of electronica and hauntology. I guess a good reference point for the un-initiated would be Boards Of Canada, but it’s actually a pretty diverse scene and set of influences that stretches from wyrd-folk through to really experimental electronics.

 Paranormal, occult, the 70s, horror, witchcraft……..all words associated with some of your releases. Where does the inspiration for the music come from? Films, books?

The whole point of hauntology is to create a past that never really existed, or maybe even amplifying what did exist so as to give a false impression. So I’m mining a pretty rich stream of culture that runs from the late sixties up to the end of the eighties. Politics, occulture, things that were mainstream then that really aren’t now. All these things kind of melt together, books, films, documentaries, art and design.  Some tracks reference particular people and events, ranging from: Alex Sanders –  the king of the witches, Amanda Fielding’s self trepanation, or some of the murkier elements of pop culture from that era.

 What are your first memories of music? Parent’s records, something on the radio, a film score perhaps?

As a child I started piano lessons at around six, violin soon after. So early memories are learning things I didn’t have much interest in at the time. When I seriously started to get interested in music as a teenager though, I was into a lot of different things style wise. I just don’t get why you would limit yourself to liking one style of music.

The latest release is the album ‘Tomorrow’s People’. The cover art shows pictures of a festival. Tell us a little about that and the music.

Well that album was a pretty deep dive into early seventies counter culture. That period where the tail end of the sixties, the age of aquarius was sputtering out and becoming something much darker as it crept into the seventies. I was trying to make a snapshot of that period, all the alternative lifestyles, the free festivals and the people that came out of it.

 This week at Clunk HQ we have been listening to Beak>, Big Thief, Crack Cloud, Iggy Pop, Marblmoon and PINS to name a few. What have you been getting your ears around?

I’ve caught some wonderful livestreams from Low, The Smoke Fairies, Burd Ellen, Pefkin, Bell Lungs…. picked up a lot of new stuff on bandcamp, but mainly it’s been the new album by Daniel Avery & Alessandro Cortini.

Thanks very much for taking the time for Clunk, Jonathan. ‘Tomorrow’s World’ is a cracking record. See you somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

 Thanks! Glad you like the album. Hopefully at some point soon we’ll get back to a world of live music.