In the 80s, Johan Troch was the singer and guitar player of the post punk band
Last Journey. His solo work is different. The instrumental pieces have an ambient feel which would do well as soundtracks, etc. He records and releases his music through his own label Adagio Productions. He doesn’t do live gigs. He just wants to create music and make it available for people to listen to. He just released Infinite Distances, which was a reason for asking him some questions.
Hello Johan, in the past you made post-punk with Last Journey (influenced by Joy Division). Later, you focused on a whole other genre of music.
“In my teenager years, I was mainly influenced by the music and the lyrics of Joy Division, that’s correct. In that time, this music was everything for me. The same goes for the lyrics by Ian Curtis. In the early eighties, I had a dark period. Through my brother I came in touch with music from artists like Pat Metheny and other ECM jazz musicians. Also the first solo album of David Sylvian (Brilliant Trees) touched me too. After the break-up of Last Journey in 1986, I got the opportunity to work on my own. It was time for something different, because post-punk didn’t go deep enough for me. Especially musically it didn’t. After 20 years of experimenting with different styles like fusion jazz and poppy things, I grew to the point where I stand now.”
The new album is again a magistral album which sounds professional and is well produced. How do you start making an album?
“During the latest years, the winter was the best moment to get me buried in my own home studio. I always want to make an album in a few months time. That’s my deadline and that keeps me focused. When I’m in a creative phase, it is important to stay focused. Stay in the flow, I always say. Mostly, I search for new sounds on guitar, keyboard or samples. The rest is a matter of building up and that happens naturally. The idea is already in my head and I just have to work it out. Being in a certain mood is necessary. For my last two albums, I used real drum-sounds which are a big gain. Online you can find many drumplayers who offer their work digitally for a small fee. For example, Jim Dooley from the USA. I did release a solo album with songs and some singles around 2014, but I am more in my comfort zone with instrumentals.”
You have your own studio to work in. That must be a luxury…
“It certainly is. However, it took until 2012 before I made complete digital recordings. Early on, I used an analogue 8-track. I heard musicians who were recording digitally. They reached a level that I could never reach. I was not so computer-minded in those days. Nowadays, I learn more about digital recording, as you can hear on my last album.”
You use the studio also for other productions…
“As an independent artist, I release and spread my work through my own download label Adagio Productions. Also the video’s and the old work of Last Journey. And a Joy Division tribute album under the name Last Journey (for old times sake).”
You never play live?
“Pieter Nooten, with whom I worked a few years back, asked me to do some concerts. I refused. I don’t fancy it. For me making music is a momentum and a gig is just recycling your own work for an audience. That’s out of my comfort zone.”
I can understand that. How do you try to sell and show your music to the public?
“The internet, Wim…Myspace, Bandcamp, Vimeo, Soundcloud… The famous Facebook is also very useful despite its negative reputation. In this way, I’ve reached a few thousand people who buy and follow my music. Also by digital radio broadcasts, but that’s outside my control. A few songs of Infinite Distances were also played on German classic radio. Thanks to that, there will be one of my tracks on a forthcoming double album (later this year).”
That’s great! What do you want to say or reach with your music?
“I find it important to be submerged by music that touches my heart. So, it’s my motivation to touch others in the same way. Music is one of the strongest emotions.”
Are there stories in the songs?
“Real stories, no. I can’ t deny that my work is autobiographical. But I can not say you more about that.”
Does the music correspond with the figure Johan Troch? Or is it more an opposite?
“Not an opposite. What you hear is what you get.”
Do you ever thinking of making music for films or documentaries?
“Certainly, but I did not have the opportunity to do it so far.”