What is My Grandfather, The Cubist?

Joy Electric
Joy Electric’s Ronnie Martin (Tooth & Nail RecordsAll Rights Reserved)

Why, it’s the new release from Joy Electric due out on May 27, 2008 from Tooth & Nail Records. (In addition, there will be an online-only release featuring demos and outtakes from My Grandfather, The Cubist in June.)

Ronnie Martin — the genius (yes, no other term fits) behind Joy Electric — spills a few details concerning the new album in this interview, including his desire for a more minimalist sound, and how he set out to achieve it:

I wanted to make a conscious switch to minimalism. I’ve had plenty of minimalist tracks in the past, but I wanted to adopt a minimalist SOUND, from front to back. Secondly, I wanted to do a record completely midi free, using control voltage and gate pulses for all of the sequencing. Thirdly, I wanted to play everything live that the sequencer couldn’t accomodate.


I think the sound of minimalism has a lot to do with arrangements and repetition, which I’ve found a little difficult to achieve with some of my songs because I have so much traditional song structure — intros, riffs, verses, choruses, solos, bridges, outros, etc. What I did with Cubist was to limit the parts per section, and to try and never have more than two or three things going at once, besides drums and basslines. So although there may be a selection of multiple sounds per song, they’re very evenly dispersed according to the part. It sounds simple to explain, but it took some time to figure out how to do it so that my ears were still satisfied. The goal was to make the songs sound full with much fewer parts so that a good sense of space was retained.

Which all sounds incredibly scientific and analytical, but just goes to show how deeply Martin thinks about his music, which many have (unfortunately) dismissed over the years as merely fruity video game music.

Also, according to Martin, the theme of the album is:

[A]rt, and my relationship and understanding of it. I grew up never really having an appreciation of a lot of art, because it wasn’t something that my family, church or schools really emphasized, unfortunately. I realized my own artistic endeavors have suffered because of that lack of knowledge. So I decided to try and do my own exploration and study of different kinds of art and see how it might impact the type of art that I do.

You can check out the sleeve art, as well as some sample lyrics, over at The Creature Speaks.

In related news, The Foxglove Hunt — Martin’s collaboration with Rob Withem (Fine China) — released their debut album, Stop Heartbeat, earlier this month. You can download Stop Heartbeat from Amazon or iTunes.