Ambient instrumental music is notoriously abstract and nebulous, making reference points and context hard to determine or convey. If a musician is trying to make a social statement or commentary, it’s usually done through lyrics or spoken work. Guitarist Tristan Welch creates expressive ambient music for thinking people that comes coupled with a message: all is not right with our economy and society here in America. He’s an outspoken musician with a sardonic take on modern human existence, and has just released his latest album Temporary Preservation—a concept based on his experience as a funeral director. Tristan is the most fascinating musician I’ve met in a long time, and I had to get in touch with him to find out more about the ideas and personal history behind his sound.
I started off by asking Tristan how he got started creating music and got a brutally honest response. “I’ve been playing music for a long time”, he says, “I grew up on punk stuff and hardcore, that was what appealed to me when I was younger, but I was never very good at it. And any band I had would fall apart for various reasons. And through a lot of that, truthfully I was on drugs. Like it was bad, so that would kind of take over.”
Recovering from drugs and addiction would form the basis of a personal rebound, but not without first abandoning his musical aspirations. “So around like 17, 18, that was my frame of mind, and as I mentioned before, I had a real bad drug addiction, so just really fell apart. Various jails and institutions and things for years. I sold everything I had or pawned it.”