Can You Honestly Answer Yes?
Timothy Sawyer Shepard’s
music for imagining a film
Long Ago Forgotten
A musical memory in a seamless flow of thoughts and scenes.
Long Ago Forgotten is a collection of 11 musical compositions recorded by the collage artist Timothy Sawyer Shepard. Alongside his visual work in paper, photographs and film, Shepard has long experimented at the intersection between art and music not only through various collaborations with musicians (Kevin Ayers, Paul Weller, George Vjestica etc) but also with his own form of visually conceived music collage that began with wanting to make music that could exist in a way similar to art.
Sampled music fragments - rarely more than just a few notes from a solo instrument - are sourced from old glass audiodiscs and junk store records. These are played in groups to form musical phrases; collaged, layered and arranged into free-form compositions; some pieces have over 100 samples, all hand triggered, originally onto tape and later onto a much easier laptop multi-track recorder.
music collage installation at the Gallery@Oxo, London
Shepard has ‘shown’ recordings on occasion in a fine art gallery context as dubplates alongside wall-mounted turntables with headphones. Viewers can play the record and imagine a film to go along with it.
Whilst some of these recordings have featured on various experimental music radio shows, such as BBC Radio 3 Late Junction and Resonance FM, the release of Long Ago Forgotten is the first time Shepard has presented his musical works to be streamed or downloaded outside of a gallery exhibition setting.
Shepard feels a sense of full circle with how his recordings, created from fragments of music cut from old recordings and then recombined so eclectically into wholly new original compositions, are now rejoining the world of music via an artist’s studio.
The collection on this album includes some early works made between 1993 - 1996, along with recent ones from 2013-2022.
Short film made by the artist for Keep ‘em Flying - shot on out of date 8mm stock
Art and Music
Various encounters and friendships with musicians have led to Shepard making record/CD sleeves and jackets or short super8 films for music videos and concert projections. Shepard has also collaborated with musicians contributing bits of collaged sample sounds to recordings ( as he did on the first solo album from Tim Friese-Greene, Heligoland ) or as a producer ( Kevin Ayers, The Unfairground ).
There is a walk that Paul Weller would take in breaks from recording
( 22 Dreams ) that winds its way in the Surrey landscape – it was this walk – an experience of the landscape, informed by Shepard’s experience of listening to the music with Weller and feeling the vibe in the studio, the undercurrent of the landscape in the album, that became the piece Shepard made from visits and walking the landscape over the year whilst the recording developed and took shape.
Shepard worked very closely with Kevin Ayers co-producing what would turn out to be his swansong after a long absence from writing and recording ( The Unfairground ). Whilst In New York City for early sessions Shepard and Ayers took a walk around Coney Island's Luna Park. There is something quite forlorn under the surface of the album that Ayers made with Shepard – and that was the undercurrent which informed the piece Shepard ended up making for the album's cover jacket.
Look at Me (2018) combines 4 projectors simultaneously running 4 reels of spliced and layered 8mm film fragments to a soundtrack of 4 record players and a pile of records. It’s a sonic and visual representation of dreamed consciousness. Some of the footage in this film originates from long ago broken up early super8 film montages Shepard regularly projected at Andy Weatherall’s Sabersonic 2 nights in London EC1.
Just prior to the various lockdowns, Shepard had been screening his films at performance nights of poetry, art and music around London and beyond as part of an ongoing collaboration with the guitarist George Vjestica of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Timothy Sawyer Shepard is an expatriate American artist who grew up between the USA and the UK, settling permanently in London via Paris after university in New York City and Washington DC. He has spent extended periods in the Montagne Noir in France between 2000 and 2015. He is interested in the overlapping relationships between perception, consciousness and memory, an area that has accompanied him throughout his practice working with paper, photography, cine film and music composition as well as numerous project collaborations with other artists over both short and long terms.
Shepard Lives in Notting Hill, London with his 12-year-old daughter.