Wherever you live, it's not as cool as US musician Winston Yellen. He lives in Johnny Cash's former Nashville home, which also formerly hosted The Beatles, who once travelled to the property to record. Better still, Yellen, who records under the name of Night Beds, reckons the property is haunted by ghosts of the many musicians who have visited the property.
Night Beds' debut album Country Sleep is released this week, and makes for spectacularly soothing listening, mixing touches of classic country and western sounds with modern folk elements. We caught up with Yellen to discuss his haunted house, the Nashville revival and enduring audiences in the US where the men are more interested in hitting on girls than listening to his music...
Hello Winston. Considering you live in Johnny Cash's former home, was there any chance your music would be anything other than wistful, mournful country rock?
I have been listening to music like that all my life. That's what inspired me, along with Johnny Cash. I had a lot of his stuff on vinyl. I always liked that minimal form. It was inspiring. But it just happened that I ended up living there and found out that was where he was running around there for a while.
Are there any indications in the property that a music legend lived there?
The property itself is pretty unreal. You feel like there is something special about it just from the architecture. There is something very magical about the property. I would never have known though. I was told that John had been there.
Is it haunted?
I would definitely say so. The Beatles had been on the property, they recorded in the barn. There's a creek that a bridge crosses and you can imagine John Lennon rolling around in the creek at 4am in the morning. You feel that weird aura when you're there. You can feel it. You get a sense that things happened there. I didn't have any television there, so I feel very in-tune with the property. It's very remote. It is kinda of spooky.
But in a creative way?
It's very inspiring. Totally. Haunting in the best sense of the word.
Watch Night Beds perform new single 'Ramona' below
Nashville is hugely synonymous with music. Do you bump into musicians on every street corner?
Yeah. It's the epicentre for me. You have New York and LA but to me Nashville is a huge conglomorate of new music. There's a wide range of people who make the trek here to make music. From country music to pop music, it feels like the blinkers are off and there are all kinds of genres here, people travel here to be in the industry and be among people making music. Although that's just what i've gathered from being here for three years on and off. A lot of people see it as a mecca of music, which it is.
Why do you think there has been a resurgence in artists making organic, classic sounding music again?
I don't really have my finger on the pulse, but I think there's just something about Nashville. I'm always trying to dig into what happened here, who's been here. The legends, the history of Nashville. This was the place where country music had its peak. This is where it was prospering. There's still music being made here and a lot of people have their eyes on it, like Jack White. He's really brought the cool back to Nashville.
He reminded the world how cool Nashville is.
Yeah. I don't think it ever lost it. It's like time travelling. To go to the old studios and be among what was, what once was. That's the appeal for me, and there's still a bit of that left.
Night Beds is the project of Nashville musician Winston Yellen
The 'Even If We Try' video is a difficult watch and there is huge amount of discussion online about the narrative. What is it all about?
I don't know. I wrote the images I wanted to see and I wanted to portray the character, it means a lot to me. I care about what's happening, visually on the screen. It's a very honest portrayal of someone I would very much emphasise with. It wasn't trying to disturb, it wasn't trying to be provocative, it was trying to the genuine, authentic and moving. To show someone being got-at by a group of people, I think everyone has been there. But I like that people don't like it.
Watch the official video for 'Even If We Try' below
You performed a number of UK shows at the end of 2012. How was that, and how did you find UK audiences?
Beautiful. It was quite a treat actually. For someone who's not really used to getting any kind of reception, we've never had an enthusiastic audience before, we've only ever had eight or nine subdued people showing up to gigs. It was kinda of crazy. It was quite a privilege. I was thrilled to get the opportunity. The enthusiasm for music was great, UK audiences seemed to have a craving for live music that I hadn't really found in the states. It's very uncommon for people to be that interested in music and to be that kind and attentive. It's not uncommon for people to talk through your entire set with their buddies and hit on girls. For everyone to be quiet is like 'whoa'. Pretty crazy.
Do you have plans to return, perhaps for festival season?
I am working on coming back in April. It could happen, we might be stuck here forever! I certainly hope to come back.
Thank you very much Winston Yellen. Night Beds' debut album Country Sleep is out now.