Fragile Space: Bullion discusses his new album

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Written by Alasdair King

The producer and musician dissects his latest album, reflecting on influences and songwriting.

Bullion has been many things to many people, a leftfield Pop producer in the present who has dabbled in all kinds of sounds and spaces over many years. Nathan Jenkins has released a weighty back catalogue of music on the likes of pivotal labels such as Young Turks, Honest Jons, R&S Records and The Trilogy Tapes to name but a few.

His music has always been playful and experimental, even those records which were somewhat more ‘club’ orientated had their own eccentricities which made them unique and original unlike anything else of the time. ‘Blue Pedro’ anyone?


More recently he has been working as a musician behind the scenes on a number of massive Pop projects amongst various other studio exploits. This year saw him return to his own Bullion moniker to release an album which perhaps demonstrates just how far he has come.

‘Affection’ was released via Ghostly International in April, a full length album with Pop sensibilities and a number of collaborators including the likes of Panda Bear, Charlotte Adigéry and Carly Rae Jepsen. It touches upon a number of personal themes and reflections. However,  this element of avant-garde experimentalism and playfulness which the Bullion moniker is perhaps best known for underpins the entirety of the project.

We asked Nathan to dissect the release, explaining the roots of the project and what his own music means to him now.

First of all, congratulations on the new record, it’s been a little while since your last album so can you reflect on recent inspiration and what’s changed in terms of your latest musical approach?

I like having a cut-off with music, it doesn’t need to dominate my experience the whole time. I went the last few years without listening to much outside of what I was making, so it got a little self indulgent. I imagine that’s had an impact on my approach – I’m even more zoomed in and without much to compare to. Inspiration is hard to pin down so soon after finishing an album, I find, but a constant is little snippets of conversation, poetic passages, short trips to an art gallery. When a good exhibition’s on, I can barely spend half an hour without wanting to leave and make my own thing, I love seeing what people are able to create over a lifetime.

How did you go about the process of crafting the album, track by track or otherwise?

It’s a non-process really. Very haphazard – frustratingly so. I’m able to give focused time to other peoples projects when I’m producer and need to be relied upon. My own music forms slowly, reaching back years sometimes for lyrics, samples, a chord progression that might exist on a previous idea. Bringing it all together as an album is the most uninteresting part for me. For now, I’m not really interested in a concept or vision for a bigger body of work. It’s practical, what tracks am I ready to let go of / NEED to let go of?!

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There are a number of collaborators on the record, first of all what are you looking for when it comes to collaborating with a fellow musician or artist? What do they need to bring to the table?

Surprise is the greatest sensation I get from music, so that’s all I’m looking for in collaborating. The tracks I gave to people to sing on were fairly early stage ideas, in need of some different energy. I love working with people who are hard on themselves in some way, not settling for the first take. I want to feel that we’re both aiming for something greater. Even if the takes get progressively worse – you have to go there to come back, blah blah.

How did you first come to meet the collaborators on the album, Carly Rae Jepsen might seem like a surprise to some?

See previous answer! I was a little taken aback too, but having got to know Carly, there’s an understanding we share. She’s excited by unusual moments in pop music and gives a lot of that energy in the room, there’s no sense of cool, which I love. Studios can be unbearably serious and when you start thinking about how many people are simultaneously writing lyrics and chords, it can take the wind our of your sails, so you have to be excited.

“I love working with people who are hard on themselves in some way, not settling for the first take. I want to feel that we’re both aiming for something greater.”


The album touches upon a number of themes, masculinity and intimacy being referenced by the label and press team, to what extent was this conscious and what are you trying to say about these topics across the record?

I try not to write directly about myself too much, it’s more people, places and atmosphere. I did go back to a few childhood memories – setting our bathroom on fire and waking up in the night having panics about dying. A lot of the album is reflections on people I’ve known in the last decade or so, who celebrate life and adventure.

Your own musical background is broad, having released a wide variety of material, why did Ghostly seem like the right home for this album?

I moved abroad for a couple years, to find out what it’s like passing the holiday phase. I learned a lot through that and wanted to do the same with signing to a label. I’ve never been signed and had a different label every release for a while. It’s always been a little underwhelming, as the music biz can be. Committing to a stretch in one place is a healthy change for me. Also, Sam V is a wise old friend.

You’ve worked with lots of musicians in a production capacity, how differently do you approach your own projects from that of creating for another?

I love when people can see past the first stage of writing a song, having faith in a total reinvention of that idea, rather than flogging the first draft to death. The difference in working with others is time is often limited and that can enforce quick decisions that lead to something brilliant, or inhibit what might’ve been… Operating in that fragile space is quite interesting.

Your label Deek has been quiet as of late, has this been intentional so as to allow for exploration into other avenues?

DEEK is a snapshot in time, really. A lot of special friendships, live music, discoveries came out of it – one of my favourite’s is the Never EP we released, ‘Don’t Touch Me Now’. The Pop, not slop playlist I started is inspired by the atmosphere of DEEK and I’ll keep chipping away with that. A little remnant of those times.

What message or emotion would you associate or resonate with this record?

There’s a song called ‘Cheap Emotion’ by The Shiny Men. It sounds hard on myself, but that’s the phrase that comes to mind!