Name: Alexis Tyrel / Gideon
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current Release: I Know You Know I Know on Lessismorerecordings
Recommendations: I am not a big reader but I fully finished these two books and they were inspiring to me: .
David Lands - The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
Walter Isaacson – Steve Jobs
Website / Contact: If you enjoyed this interview with Alexis Tyrel, check out his facebook page to find out more and explore his music.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started making music in the mid 90’s. It was on an ms-dos based program called Fasttracker. At that time, I was a hardcore DJ but strangely enough I never released a hardcore record, although this was the music/sound that pulled me into the music business. Another influence on making music was a CD from a friend who was using the same program. The CD was called Muziek Die Nergens Op Lijkt, which translates to “Music That Sounds Like Nothing”. For me this was so out of the box, I had never heard anything like this. It was bold and out there! I was pretty jealous of my friend, who had really made something special in my opinion, although he did not think so, also underselling it with the title. He is also a friend that was shifting the group from hardcore to other music. He was always putting on strange music at the after parties. The guys even made a parody song for him called “blijf met je poten van die stereo” a spin off to the classic “Do Not Touch That Stereo”.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
Like I said I was using a program called Fasttracker. This was also a program where you could get files from other people online. It was a common thing that people were re-creating known songs. At that time I never got this, but now I understand more. This was never my thing, but maybe it's also why it took me so long to get where I am now. I was always doing my own thing and creating my own learning curve maybe if I had looked more to others it would have been faster. But at the end of the day, for me music is something I learned on my own, with no real help from others - except my friends who had the same level of non knowledge.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
In beginning I had no hardware, it was just a numerical program, where you could code your sample. The samples mostly came for files of others that you could download of the internet. Of these files I took the sample and made new music. Now I have hardware and this opened up other possibilities. With the hardware I could add live elements, whereas in fasttrack at that time it was only coding and sequencing samples.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My first studio was more like just a computer. My current studio is in a very nice space, where I feel home and in this space there are a computer, speakers and some hardware but nothing fancy. It's really Lessismore! I have thought about upgrading and buying stuff and did it in the past but it is just not me. For me this works to a certain level. Of course I have things I would like but I always think of how I can create something with the things I have instead of buying something new.
I had someone over in the studio who asked me to produce for him. He was disappointed as he had expected an more impressive studio.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
I think my music can be described as hand made electronic music. Just like in construction in the old days people were making things by hand and it had detailed finishing. For me this is the same with my music, I make the music not the machine.
I was born and raised in Eindhoven. The city's slogan is “Leading In Technology”. But personally within this construct I am a believer that people should be able to get work. Economic instability always has a labour / income related trigger. Technology can have a negative effect on this. Further technology often is implemented by cost reduction goals or efficiency goals. But in the long run things will get better because of this. I really do not think so under the current mind-set.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
I do not use complex thing in my studio. I am a pretty simple mind. Also, the compositional process or the sound shaping process are the most important to me. I think administrating theses processes would be really hard. Because it is pretty much chaos. My filing system is therefore really complex. I could not give it to someone and expect them to find anything. But is it important to find what you are looking for in a creative process? I do not think so. The randomness of this has something special which you can not predict and that is something I like and use. The randomness can be simple and can be complex, and therefore it has depth.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I do not do collaborations at this time. But now and then I go to a cabin somewhere in the middle of nowhere with friends who are into music and we hang out and make music. When we did this a few years ago, we were in Belgium and there was a power drop out in the entire area. So we had no electricity, we had no hot water, no gas to make warm food and we could not make music as we do not play the guitar. But sometimes something comes from these collaborations, like the track "Cocaine By The Pound" which I did with MBC which will be released on Lessismore hopefully soon.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
During the weekdays I travel from Eindhoven to Amsterdam for my day job. Back home I normally hit the studio. Then it is groundhog day. In the weekend I am also working a lot in the studio, finishing up the albums I am working on and a bit of partying in between.
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?
Describing the creative process is very hard. It starts with an event that triggers more events. These do not have to occur in chronological order. It's about piecing things back to getter from different moments to create something in a moment. It is a bit like a good techno dj set. It is something that you could not do over yourself even although you made it yourself, it is not Mc Donalds.
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?
When someone is creative, that is hard to define / measure I think. But I think creativity is linked to a survival mode, so if you are there it can be bad on one side and good on the creative side. But how does one end up in survival mode living in western society?
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 think both are important to make music. I have used both and depending on the track, one is more in the lead than the other I think. But in most tracks I use both. If you use different processes you are able to switch, if one process is not working. I think this is important to keep the flow going.
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 used to put most effort into the composition, but now I know the sound is more important. Personally I like a good and original composition, but if the sound is not up to standard, people will not play your good and original composition. But because I do everything myself, I shift from sound to composition and back when it suits me.
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?
Making art or being an artist, I think you should point out old, new or current concepts and make people (re-)think there position about it. For me as a techno artist I try to do two things, one thing is to create techno, which allows you to debate whether it's techno at all.
Second as an artist / label manager I try to create awareness for something that is called a trade-off. For me this is a primary guideline in life. In Holland a Dutch football legend used to say every positive has a negative so this could be translated into "plus" equals "minus" (+ = -). I think with Lessismore we made it better by doing it as follows:
“Minus” equals “Plus”, translated - = + or
or Less Is More.
and finally lessismore.
So now people probably will think yeah yeah what can I do with this stupid equation.
Hopefully it gives you a reference to think about all things you come across and think how these things can be as they are. This may all seem a bit far fetched coming from a techno dj/producer but I did not invent this. I am not a smart guy or something, I just think what I am saying has already has been said in Pareto but hopefully we are re-phrasing it into something that will be used more by the general public.
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?
There is a lot of good music but is getting harder to find as a lot of shit is coming out. Factories that are making music instead of people who are hand crafting it. I am missing some rebellion, innovative communication and political/economic standpoints/foresights in electronic music.