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?
In an ideal world my time is divided equally between my own creative endeavours and work I do for my label, Rhodium. I’ll work on label things for the first half of the day, and then afternoons are dedicated to composing, recording, or collaborative projects. I also do a fair amount of session work; Recently I’ve been struggling to prioritize my own work and it’s definitely a discipline I’m always trying to perfect. For all of the necessary structure, I don’t see much of a separation between music and the rest of my life. Music might be my day job, so to speak, but art is my life and it takes different forms. Maybe that’s writing music, or maybe that’s cooking with fresh ingredients, drinking from beautiful glassware, reading great literature before I sleep at night, or conversing with loved ones. I don’t see any particular boundary between my artistic endeavors and everything else. Art is everywhere.
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?
“Turbulent at Heart” was the catalyst for my first album and the start of my journey as an artist in my own right. Before this, I had only been involved in work behind-the-scenes for TV and film, or session work for other artists. I had just moved to Paris at the time and was recovering from an extended period of depression. The time away in Europe was so healing for me—I was constantly surrounded by great art in the form of architecture, paintings, and food, and the whole album became a story of the dichotomy between light and darkness. I started with that opening theme, and really just wrote what I felt was interesting and conveyed my mental state at the time. It all came very quickly. There’s something really raw about that first work for me, and I’ll always cherish that. It was before I had any real idea about the modern-classical scene, or what that music ‘should’ sound like, t. I still feel that that my work was better for it. My recording environment has improved, and I’m still chasing that perfect sound.
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?
A calm state of mind is essential for me. I think turbulent seasons of life are so valuable for inspiration and creativity, but I find it very difficult to process that kind of inspiration while I’m in that particular season. It’s definitely not conducive to knuckling down and getting things across the finish line. I have to switch my phone off for large chunks of time when I’m writing. I’m inceredibly prone to thinking about twelve-thousand things at once. I’ve also found that traveling and nature are two things that inspire an endless state of creativity for me. Both are a challenge, but I find that time spent away in a new environment is often the quickest way to trigger a new flow of ideas.
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?
Perhaps playing live is the fulfilment of what happens in the studio. I don’t play my own work live all that often. Live performances are usually part of someone else’s artistry, I’m a contributing piece to their project. it’s something I used to do a lot of, and I’m definitely open to doing it again if the timing is right. They are two totally different experiences for me. I enjoy the studio for the quiet, the focus, the carving out of something. Improvisation plays a much larger role for me here. It’s the place to experiment, to see what comes out, to harness that initial raw idea and then chisel it into its final form. Playing live rarely involves improvisation, more often than not it’s very structured.
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 don’t necessarily see them as individual entities in my head but they can be so intertwined. For me sound is king. What you experience is what you hear. The compositional aspects serve to build the sound. In that way I’m always composing towards the sound of the thing. Sometimes that starts with the composition as the building blocks, which dictates the sound, and other times I hear the sound I want in my head and I’m reverse-engineering the composition to fit the goal.
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 overlap between hearing and our other four senses is constant, and I think that each of these individual overlaps add up to something that is great than the sum of its parts. Perhaps the experience as a whole touches on something of a sixth sense, of sorts.
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 think artists create out of their passions. Sometimes that results in a direct statement about a situation or a fight against some form of injustice, other times it’s an overflow of all of the stimuli surrounding the artist every day I most often fall into this latter category. It’s rare that I’ll create art that has a specific goal for the listener, but I am motivated to create the kind of beauty that hints at or touches the sublime. A small reflection of something much bigger than the individual. I’m definitely in pursuit of true beauty. Every other reason I create is always connected to this one foundation, and it is the constant in my work where everything else has the opportunity to change.
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 can’t say I’ve really pondered this in those terms. I cannot see a world where music does not exist, and music will always be just that at its core—music. Technology will change, the way we present art will change, but the art itself will always be concerned with melody, harmony, song. The means of expression will always be a constant.