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?
I’m in my studio from 10 am pretty much every day until 5pm, as I share my studio with another producer. This arrangement is cool and keeps me focused - but there are times I would like to have my stuff at home so I can work at any time. I’ve had trouble with neighbors in the past though as I like to play LOUD, so it’s a compromise. Thankfully I can walk to my studio from my flat in 15 minutes, so it’s not such a long journey. It’s impossible to separate life from influencing my music - life IS the influence. I definitely I have an obsession. Even if not in my studio, I am always thinking about sound, watching production or synth videos, reading forums (like Muff Wiggler!) etc.
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?
Every idea starts with a sound for me. An initial exploration until something excites my ear and I build from that. A good example of this would be AUM SHINRIKYO on my upcoming album for Sonic Groove - INFINITE DENSITY. With that track, I was experimenting with the ring modulator modes on the Mutable Instruments Warps. I was feeding my Make Noise DPO through it and came across the initial sound you hear that starts the track. The way it slowly came in and out really worked for me, and I built the entire track from that initial inspiration. All the main synth lines are through that ring modulator at different rates. First I worked with a groove under the initial sound, then built the main melodies. Strings came later, and finally some voice samples sourced from youtube to add an extra texture. It all came together pretty fast.
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?
I don’t know if there is some ideal creative state. I try to keep busy, because staying busy keeps my mind sharp for creative thought. I really believe it’s like a muscle, the more you do the easier it is to do. I would always read about artists like Aphex Twin or Autechre making two or three tracks a day and decided this is how I wanted to do things.
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?
My live performances revolve around the idea of playing my synthesizer like an instrument - everything on the fly, done by hand, ever changing. My live sets are stripped down to the bare essentials - a few synth lines, a sequencer, and a drum machine. Only that which I can control on my own, no playback or pre recorded material of any sort. People might say sequencers are playback but I find them to be just as much of an instrument as anything else.
I look to Morton Subtonick’s approach to manipulating his Buchla system. His music is very performative, and it was watching him that showed me you could really play a sequencer. Today’s sequencers are so advanced with performance options anyway that you can create sequences that change on their own with a few key gestures without even changing pattern. There is so much variety and always a new avenue to explore.
In the studio I try to apply this approach as well, but I leave room for overdubbing and other sound design elements that aren’t so live, because I don’t want to be boring. I am not a purist. Being one would limit my options.
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?
For me they are one and the same. What is composition anyway? Placing together strings of sound that are aesthetically pleasing to one self? If that is true than anything is a composition.
If you listen to something like The Wild Bull and try to think of how Subtonick decided to piece it together, where would you find the start and the end point? What was the sound that birthed the entire composition, what was the initial inspiration, the intent? And where did he decide that what he wrote was in fact a complete composition? Was it deliberate or something more in the moment? Once you deconstruct composition in this manner there is no right or wrong answer.
I try to make stuff that sounds exciting for me, if I’m feeling it and can listen to it for a long while and not get bored then I know it’s good. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a drone or a full musical arrangement.
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?
I see sound when I listen to music. Shapes and colors, and every sound is always consistent with these colors and shapes. I go by what I feel fits together in this mental painting. Pushing sound to the outermost border and discovering new colors is the most rewarding part. When I come across something really new my whole body comes alive, I feel high off of the discovery of something fresh and exciting. This elation is the ultimate synaesthesia.
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?
Art is basic expression for me. Just a picture of my mind, how I’m feeling, what I felt in that moment. Sometimes there is a deep emotional meaning, and sometimes it can even be a bit funny. I think there is a lot of comedy in what I do, but maybe it’s not so obvious because of the brutality of my music. With Blush Response I try to present a certain concept and aesthetic, but under that, when you reach the personal level, there is something more than just this hard edge. I try to bury my personality within. I also try not to give away too much because I don’t want anyone to know the intention. I prefer when people come to their own conclusions about what my music means. Oftentimes they come up with things that are way more interesting than what I intended.
“Being an artist” I don’t really know what this means. Is it someone who creates? I suppose for me it’s a total commitment - my whole life is one art piece. I try to live the life I want every day, and have that power my work. My life is my work and my work is my life. If I don’t create I start to get manic. The things I express into the public domain are just thoughts of mine.
I do find characters interesting though, reading about the insane antics of people like Dali and Picasso is always great. I like people who are really dedicated to being themselves, real eccentrics. At the same time though, a lot of people who take this life as art method fall into self parody. With that said, I prefer that to people who aren’t fully committed.
There are no politics in my music - a lot of the time I find political messages in music either uninformed or very ham fisted and I just roll my eyes. I am also just tired of everybody’s opinion on social media so I stay out of it. I want my music to be about personal expression and nothing more. That’s not to say I won’t ever say something political, but at the moment I’d rather not.
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 where music will go. I don’t even know where my own music will go. My composition is all very instinctual. There is so much music these days that it is hard to identify any one direction or movement that I can see picking up steam. It feels like the doors are open for anything now and I enjoy that a lot. I am ready for whatever is next, and I hope it is as weird as possible. I don’t like genres, and I don’t like rules. The more the conventional rules of composition are subverted in an effective manner, the more exciting a musical piece is for me. That’s not to say all rules and structure are bad, I just like to be surprised.