Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
Sure. All songs start with some sound really. Could be a beat, could be a synth drone, could be an arpeggio etc. From there I really just build to whatever happens. I guess I’ll use “The Light” as an example. The Light drone was/is literally a preset on the Minimoog voyager. I have the first edition, signature series. I got it home, hooked it up, was running through sounds and - boom. Manipulated it a bit and kind of stumped upon the rhodes line. I was feeling a little down so there was that, too. But I had also just got an alesis micron and the lead synth sound was a preset on it. I made the demo and there it was. Really, in the studio, I just wanted to make sure I captured the magic/feel of the demo.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Well this has changed for me a lot throughout the years. My work hours were typically 8pm to 4-6am. something like that. I used to get distracted by very little. I could always focus. I’d work with the TV on in the background for example and it would help me tune out. I actually posted my piano take from the MP that I recorded in an old apartment of mine and the TV is on in the background. Obviously doesn’t come through the final mix but it's there. Nowadays, post kids, I have a very regimented work schedule. 9am to ??? But I am in my studio everyday working on something. It's easy to get distracted by my kids or responsibilities. That's really the most difficult. I had less responsibility when I was younger. But now, I come into the studio ready to work and am focused. I have more discipline these days.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
I love to play live. I do, I always have. I love preparing the shows, programming the shows, designing the shows and performing. Live we have visuals, lights, multiple computers, backdrops etc … I love the presentation and coming into any room, no matter how small and being able to create a unique environment. That is most important for me, creating something that is unique to a space where a person sees a show at said place once/twice a month or overnight if they work there. I want to stand out, do something memorable, create an experience. When I’m writing in the studio, I’m not thinking about how I’m going to pull it off live, but it comes to that point and that is also exciting for me. How am I going to pull it off, how do I play all these parts at once, who plays what, when etc. I love putting the puzzle together. We do play with a computer, not to a computer - with. I’m controlling it the entire time, triggering when we start songs, when we change, how long we “jam” on parts etc. Its important for me to have some freedom while we’re controlled in certain ways (with a computer) its nice to be able to experiment a bit and re imagine songs live that way.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
I mean its really about sounds to me. everything starts with a sound and that sound is what inspires a song for me. I try to create good sounds always and build off of that. This game is really about creating cool sounds :)
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
The simplest, most cliche way I see it is everyday normal sounds. The wiper blades of a car, the blinker sound, any thing that has some sort of rhythm in it, I can hum or think of something to put on top of it. We’re very aware of our surroundings I think. Your brain is always working and finding something to gravity towards.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I’ve never really been comfortable calling myself an “artist”. It's just something I’ve never gravitated to and when I hear other musicians use words like artist, fans etc., it makes me cringe … It just does. I’ve always felt like there isn’t a separation between you or I if I’m on a stage and you like the music I make. I do this because I do this. That's it. I’m a musician, I always have been and its what I know how to do. That's kind of how I see it. Not sure if that's an answer to this question?
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I have no idea but it does get me excited to think about. I hope we get through this wave of the shittiest pop music I’ve ever heard!!! It's truly disappointing to me what is popular, what draws big crowds, what sells record, music that is acceptable and praised. I’m just not impressed by any of it. I still seek out the small unknown or lesser known band that is making good music and being true to them by being honest. It's a matter of personal taste and opinion of course. But most mainstream and popular indie is garbage to my ears. So getting past this time period is really exciting :)