Jeremy de Tolly’s New Sound

Men's Health |

We don’t do a lot of music on this site. Unless it’s a story about how music is linked to a better workout or a tip on how to transfer music from your ipod to another pc we usually leave it to the anoraks.

However, we’re willing to make an exception for Jeremy de Tolly’s first solo project.


Because he’s the perfect example of a man marching to his own beat, defying the norm and, doffing his hat to Sinatra, doing things his way.

Having quit his job – Jeremy owned a little publishing company, an accounting company and more – to be a fulltime rockstar (his compulsive entrepreneurial problem sometimes got in the way of music), Jeremy put out several albums with his band, The Dirty Skirts.

There was a major label signing, 5fm airplay, local and international tours, he got dissed in a rap track and, although he’s hesitant to comment, some groupie action, too.

Then he broke up the band to work on a project that he describes as “ambient piano music”.

It’s very different to what you’d expect, less “Whoa-o-o-o’s” and, well, less of everything actually.

Jeremy explains: “It’s more about the space between the notes than the notes themselves.The album is very, very gentle. It is pure grand piano – no vocals, drums or anything else to disturb the peace. I think it might be the slowest album of music ever written.Long before I released this to the public I used to fall asleep and wake up to it every day. I liked being around it and I liked how it made me feel. It’s music designed for the background of your life.”

Nocturnes is an “aural sedative” and “healthier than getting stoned”; it is six tracks in length recorded in one or two takes on the Bösendorfer grand piano at the SABC Studios, using two close microphones, two ambient room mics, minimal mixing and minimal production.

“It’s been astonishing for me how simple it was to record the album. Especially relative to all my band recordings done with The Dirty Skirts, which have been complex.”

The music is pretty lonely. Is that because you’re making it by yourself and there aren’t three other guys in the room with you?

Is it? I don’t think it’s lonely. I think it’s very slow. And emotionally connected. But neither happy nor sad. It would be impossible to make this in a band environment of course. But the energetic side in me is alive and kicking. Maybe channeled into surfing at the moment, but its time will come. In making and releasing the piano album, I am interested to see what happens if I channel all my energy into this one thing. Turn my energy into an arrow head, and see how far it can fly. When I’m done with this, other things will happen. Maybe more visceral, faster things… things with a midnight feral howl. Maybe not.

It’s quite sad, too. Are you a sad man, or do you just like to make sad music?

I don’t think it’s sad at all. Haha. That’s your experience of the album? I find the music makes people feel really good. Put it on at home in the background of an ordinary family night and see what happens. Let me know. The truth is, and this may sound absurd, but I am one the happiest people I know. I’m fucking lucky, and having the time of my life.

I think this is a great winter album. Something to play in the kitchen as a pot of soup mists up the windows. But that’s just me, when do you think the best time to play this is?

Winter is definitely good. Noctures as a genre are traditionally played at night. If you haven’t, try Chopin’s. So, night time. Lets go with that.

Who do you pray to?


Are you a veggie?

No. I eats lots of veggies, and I love meat too. Hipsters do paleo diets these days.

I saw an interview with Felix Laband and he said he prefers having album launches at sitdown venues because then people are too shy to talk while he’s playing. Why the SABC studios for your launch?

It’s beautiful. And has seats. This is ambient music, and not suited to clubs.

Tupac was recently brought back as a hologram to play at Coachella. Which dead artist would you most like to see?

I’ll go with John Lennon. He had heart, and wrote the best Beatles tunes.

* If you’d like to have a listen, clickthis and if you’d like to watch next week’s live performance go here.