Dissent is holding a voice against the general consensus, it’s speaking truth to power and arguing with the masses, it’s Rosa Parks’ non-violent resistance, and it’s a footballer shouting at a referee’s decision. It can be a source of great change, or a doubting voice holding up the debate. Dissent is also the new, solo-ish project from Witching Waves-guitarist and producer Mark Jasper. Recorded at Sound Savers studio prior to Mark’s re-location from London to Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire, the debut Dissent EP, Without You, is released this Friday on Everything Sucks Music.
Without You is a completely different prospect to Mark’s other project, the nervous intensity of Witching Waves replaced by a darker, more thoughtful sound, with Mark’s reverberating vocal, accompanied by atmospheric guitars and moody stripped-back percussion. Across its four tracks, Without You is a beautifully textural affair, both the tempo and the mood ebb and flow, organically evolving rather than making any arresting, structural changes. Perhaps best is the wonderful Correction, starting with finger picked electric-guitar, it gently flows through its four and a half minute runtime, with further layers of guitar, grumbling bass and almost military-like percussion adding a brooding intensity without ever reaching a conclusive crescendo. This might just be the sound of Mark’s dissent, perhaps doing what he loves and refusing the external forces telling him to stop is the rebellion the world needs right now, either way this feels a freeing aside, a side-step from the everyday, a moment of joyous personal expression that he’s been kind enough to share with the world.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Dissent?
I don’t really know who Dissent are! I guess it’s me. This EP is made up of songs that I’ve written, and then I asked some friends to play them with me. Jennifer Schande, Ed Shellard and Sagar Patel were the people I wanted to play on it because I’d worked with them all in the past and recorded a lot of their projects. My friend Alex Clegg was a big part of the recording process. I’m quite keen to not think of it as a band, but a recording project. I would absolutely love to work with the same people again, but I also want to allow it to be whatever it wants to be. It was never anything before and now suddenly it is… I really have no ambitions with this project other than to make music. Obviously I play in quite a serious band and we do a lot of stuff, and there is an audience, so it’s nice to step outside of that, and be free in a way. Not that being in a band like Witching Waves is particularly prison-like but there are certain expectations even just within the band. This is very different to that.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
Ah never played a show with this band. So I don’t really know how to answer that… For a while Dissent was what ever I was trying to do musically and for a short time, we were a very ugly sounding sort of hardcore band. My friends David and Magnus played in that band, along with Emma (from WW) playing bass. We did a gig at Power Lunches and it was really great. We tried a couple more practices but just doing that one gig felt like a big enough achievement. The music was noisy and visceral, and because of that, I felt like after a week or two of not practicing it would sort of disappear from my mind, from the guitar. I think we would have had to write new songs for every gig, or become some sort of improv band.
Weirdly enough Sagar and I did an improv project together before we did Dissent. It was very therapeutic, and I feel like Sagar saw something in it that I didn’t. That was the main reason I chose to work with him for this EP because I knew he would understand it, and he did perfectly.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I think that music changes your mood. I once read a Douglas Copeland interview and he said as a super power he’d like to be able to, at will, give a stranger a sudden religious experience. If it connects, music becomes a channel for giving people tiny religious experiences. I discovered music late, but when I did I was just in awe of the things it could do and the way it could make me feel. I wanted to do the same thing that musicians did for me. Of course then you get caught up in different ideas of what being an artist or musician consists of, and for a long time I was lost, and didn’t know why I was making music or who I was making it for. But lately that has fallen away and I’m just in love with it all again. It’s an amazing feeling and I feel kind of smug saying that, but that’s how I feel. I still feel confused and sometimes frustrated as a creative person but lately writing music has become something that I absolutely love to do, and it really hasn’t been that way for a long time.
Dissent was me starting to love it again, I would go to my studio and set up like it was a gig. I would set a mic up for my vocals and put some reverb on it, and set up my guitar amp, and plug it in. Then I would just play and see what happened. I would never write words down, and I wouldn’t treat it the way I made other music, I would aim to almost meditate and I remember when I started doing it I was singing in a different voice in a way that I never had before. Then I wrote this EP in those weird morning sessions. I’d record everything and then pick my favourite songs. Then when I played with the band we’d arrange everything together, and try to recreate the same thing. The whole EP was live, and I’m so proud of that.
I like this question, because I studied art and when I was young, drawing was my thing. I can still draw. Drawing is a beautiful absorbing thing, but it isn’t like music. It will only ever be there on the piece of paper or on the wall. It will never be between us and under and around us, and music will.
FTR: What can people expect from the Dissent live show?
Live shows.. aw that would be nice wouldn’t it? I really miss playing live. I guess a live show without the threat of Covid 19, a place where we could all feel safe, and where a band vibrates the air around the people directly in front of them, that would be a magical thing right now. I think there are some things that we accepted were normal that don’t exist right now, and they are very much missed. Live music is one of them. I think it is sometimes good to miss things, love always carries loss. I’d hope a Dissent show in the new world of live music would be a hopeful experience. I’ve played hundreds of gigs but I only started feeling comfortable with performing towards the end of last year, just before the pandemic started. I’d hope that I could do the songs justice and show up for them. I never realised how hard it would be to be yourself, vulnerable with just your music and play it to a room full of people. When I first started playing shows, it was exciting and great, and then after a while I found myself getting angry during or before them. I realise now that was because I wanted to be in control, I wanted to make it something it wasn’t. You can’t really control it, and you can’t really do anything other than give yourself up to the experience. But that’s hard, that takes work and being comfortable with yourself. I think it has taken me all these years to feel more or less comfortable in my own skin, and that’s one of the beautiful things about making music or any kind of art, it teaches you about yourself.
FTR: What’s next for Dissent?
I’m writing an album. At the moment I work full time in a factory that makes kombucha. I produced music for years from Sound Savers, my own studio and that was my full time job. Then we moved to West Yorkshire and I wanted to find a way to support us, and plough money into a new studio so I got a proper job. We’re recording a new Witching Waves album, and we are also having a child. So life is very much, in transition. We are waiting for a lot of things to happen and then I’m struggling to give over to that feeling, and let myself be happy in this space of the unknown. Again it’s similar to playing live, I have to work at trying to feel comfortable. I am naturally an impatient person, and that has been very destructive in the past, to my work, to the relationships around me and to my own happiness. Making albums with WW has shown me that I need to let things unfurl, I need to give them time. The most important thing is saying what you mean. Even when I get anxious and it seems like nothing is going the way I want, I have to steadily work and keep inching in the right direction. Hold my resolve. That is what I’m doing now.
They Listen To…
REM – Carnival Of Sorts (Box Cars)
Sparklehorse – Piano Fire
The Beths – Not Running
SZA – Drew Barrymore
Ted Leo And The Pharmacists – Me and Mia