Jacco Gardner has a keen understanding of the adage that a musician has his entire life to work on a debut album, but just a year or two to record a second.
What goes unmentioned in that oversimplified scenario is just how much of the world a musician can visit on the heels of an acclaimed first record.
For Gardner, a 27-year-old Dutch composer and multi-instrumentalist, releasing 2013’s Cabinet of Curiosities sent him on lengthy tours, seeing much more of the world than he ever had before. So when he began work on Hypnophobia, Gardner was bursting with ideas from so much travel and also in a position of intense reflection.
“I had to go through a moment of rediscovering myself and who I am,” Gardner says. “The first album was made over a period of eight years. The first songs were demos that I re-recorded and re-recorded again. I knew that with the new album, I’d make it in about a year and that challenge was already ahead of me when I was done touring.”
“That’s something I’ve always had,” he says. “As a kid I was always a dreamer and I couldn’t really pay attention in school. Drawing and art projects were always the things I was good at. I was always into expressing myself creatively and I found that it’s easier to do that musically rather than visually.”
Gardner started out as a young child learning music on the recorder. From there, he played clarinet for four years in school orchestra before getting bored and joining a band to sing at age 13. From that point on, he kept adding more instruments to his arsenal, learning bass, guitar, keyboards and violin. In college, he studied music composition and even began playing drums.
“Whatever time I have off of touring is time to work on in the studio and not worry about anything else. It’s nice to have all of the time to experiment,” he says.
But for now, with glowing reviews for Hypnophobia, released in May on Polyvinyl, Gardner is back out on the road for most of the rest of the year, touring across the United States and Europe.
“It can be kind of killing for your personality to tour this much. But you see a lot of the world and create community by visiting those places and you want to keep going there and before you know it you’re touring the whole year long,” he says.
“When you’re in the middle of that, your life really changes. But if you can get some distance from it and see it as a process, it makes more sense in the long run. It’s really nice to think about how many places I get to see and eventually I get to take that back into the studio with me and make more music.”