The Kaje talks Old Photographs to Monument Valley

Ned Younger is a man of many talents. While his debut EP “Tongues” showcases an impressive diversity to his songwriting capabilities, the project is far more than that of yet another singer/songwriter with something to say. With a background in the visual arts, Younger has sourced his lyrical inspiration in a collection of old photographs, which can be purchased alongside the EP in an offer of creative insight. The Kaje is more than a little hooked on the subtle steady beat of “Round and Round” and could not wait to find out more from Younger himself…

The EP has grown out of your fascination with old photographs. Can you tell us a little bit more?

Absolutely. I have been collecting those photographs on and off, not with any intention of using them particularly, but rather because I think they are really cool for a long time now- about five or six years. The idea, I suppose, was always to write songs about them. It just seemed like quite a natural progression. My background is in the visual arts rather than music.

How do you decide which photographs to build the stories around?
You can look at one of these photos for years and still get no closer to the truth. To an extent it is always the first impression. Some seem quite obvious to me, some take longer to develop stories.
Some kind of tell their own stories. Some are much more evocative than others. It is a very personal thing. Obviously I have no basis for any of the stories that have been taken from these photographs, they are definitely works of fiction. I suppose it is usually about the interaction of characters. I tried to do a similar thing subsequently with postcards, written postcards. I probably will do it at some point, but it is a lot harder as you only have one person’s point of view. Obviously the images are much more set.
The project has been titled “Tongues”. Why?
The reason it is called ‘Tongues’ because it is kind of like putting the tongue in the mouth’s of other people. There is that. Some of my friends when I told them about it, thought it was quite creepy. It is not intended like that. It is meant to be a nice invasion.
Given its unique source and the attached book, do you worry that you may be building expectations in the minds of prospective listeners?
This particular EP has been conceived as it was produced. We worked quite hard to have it come out as the book of photographs, the songs,the lyrics and the illustrations. It was a very specific idea. I am always writing songs and I don’t think you want to overdo this as a concept really. It is quite nice to have something tie together, but I am not casting around for something to tie it all together, I am not looking for concepts. It just so happened that this one was based around a concept.
Obviously because it is introductory a lot of people won’t see it as a full concept. I imagine that most people will come to the songs as one-offs. I don’t imagine many will hear it for the first time in its entirety with the book. I hope people will think it is a cool thing. My guess is that the next thing we release will not have that all-combining concept. I think part of what me and everyone I work with this at the moment on Monument Valley, is that we want to do something that is interesting.
In essence Monument Valley is a solo project. Why the pseudonym?
It is quite a strong narrative voice, it is definitely my project but there are other people without who it wouldn’t happen. The musicians and my friends who have also been involved. The videos for “Round and Round” and “Valentine’s Park Part 2” are me and my friend messing around. The same with the illustration really. It is actually quite a wide ranging thing and I think it would be really remiss to call it by my name.
“Tongues” is out now.
Words and Images: Jeremy Williams

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