Not, the project and moniker of the elusive, Northern California based artist, PJ Ex, is a rabbit hole. Play any of Not’s albums, released at notttt.bandcamp.com, and you’ll discover an ambient wonderland.
Ex’s productivity is a manifestation of his prolific creativity, also driven by a sincere desire to communicate with others through music.
“I want to constantly have new things coming, and therefore, I always have something new on bandcamp for people to enjoy," Ex said. “The weather influences my creative process and I draw inspiration from it, however, if I’m procrastinating with different day to day responsibilities, I tend to get a lot accomplished artistically.”
A string of “cold and empty EPs” released were influenced by Ex’s idea of an empty room. The concept and title are inspired by the play Riders To the Sea by J.M. Synge, which takes place in a house.
“The play is about a family who live on an island west of Ireland. The mother is named Maurya. Several of her sons and her husband have died at sea, and at the beginning of the play, two of her daughters have just received word that their brother, Michael, has drowned,” Ex said. “So over time Maurya finds out and then during the play the last son, Bartley, drowns. When Maurya learns about it, she starts the famous line: they're all gone now, there isn't anything more that the sea can do to me. It's a moving portrayal of grief, but it's also placed against how massively powerful nature is against our insignificance.”
“The EP, Maurya and Michael, opens with a sad, sort of minimal song called Maurya,” Ex said. “It’s supposed to be about sitting in a room where there will now always be one less person.”
The Nude in Windowlight EP is about being physically alone in a room, and are about “addressing the moments where a person is broken by something that doesn't seem to care (depression, loss, natural destruction, etc.), partly via spatial detail,” according to Ex.
“Dust, Light, Holding from I'm Happy. Anyway, I'm Not Dying are about being alone in a room with another person and sort of tracing the details of that room,” Ex said. “The room/house is something which, for better or worse, partitions the individual from the outside.”
Though Ex has continued to create loop-based ambient music since he was a child, the artist’s raw illustrations (orchestrated as musical accompaniments), are a recent creative endeavor.
“I’m not a big crier, so I think other people crying is an interesting thing,” Ex said. “There’s illustrations of people hiding their faces, which fits the music.”
Ex has also invited Not listeners to share a photograph of themselves, and in return for supporting Not, they receive a picture of themselves drawn by Ex.
Ex uses old school ruling pens, but mostly draws in ink, experiments with wood block printing, or uses watercolor paints.
"I like the idea of things that are done by hand," Ex said. "It's rewarding to take my time; maybe it would benefit me to slow down and work on my art longer."