Name: David Lindmer
Occupation: Producer, label owner at Running Clouds
Current release: David Lindmer's Omen, a collaboration with vocalist Johanson, is out via Running Clouds.
Recommendations: Nils Frahm – Say. Go and listen to that record, the full 8 minutes and tell me how it makes you feel. I honestly don’t think two people would ever give you the same answer.
Georgios Cherouvim – Strange Jealousy. Georgios is a friend of mine and an incredibly talented animator and generative artist. He uses Touch Designer which I'll mention later and his work really brings audio to life, it’s incredible.
If you enjoyed this interview with David Lindmer, you can find more information, updates and music on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I first started making music in the early 2000’s. I was a teenager and I was into UK Garage, still am. I was drawn in by the bass originally, I think it’s the Korg M1, it was used everywhere and I loved it!
I got myself a copy of Propellerhead Reason, this was in it’s really early days and it was all quite new. I loved music and I loved technology so I would just spend hours and hours in my bedroom messing around with it.
For most artists, originality is 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?
For me it’s really important to listen to all styles of music not just the genre you work within. Otherwise, everything just starts to sound a bit generic and interchangeable.
As you say there is a phase of learning, especially with the music I produce because it’s so technical. I listen to a lot of different styles but with electronic music there is always that sense of curiosity as to how the sound design has been achieved. For example, I will often to listen to tracks I find interesting and try to reverse engineer the sound design. This helps me learn and feel comfortable enough to create the sounds I have in my own head.
There are some amazing presets available but unless you really know how to use the tools in front of you, you are going to find it difficult to create anything original. It certainly took a while for me to feel comfortable and confident in the studio, but right now, I feel as if what I am creating is a sound I’ve been striving for ever since I started and I am really excited about some of the unreleased stuff I have coming out in the near future.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity? What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
All of my music is an expression of me and how I am feeling. I always strive to make music that is a true version of who I am and where I am at that particular moment in time.
I would say the main creative challenge is a state of mind for me. If I’m feeling good and I am receiving some good feedback, getting good support, then I am super motivated to produce more and more. If I am not getting much back I sometimes feel blocked and a bit lost.
Lockdown was tough in that way because with all the clubs closed you couldn’t even go out and listen to new music. Tracks sound totally different in a club and you can really get a sense of how the music impacts the crowd, it’s easier to discern what works and what doesn’t. So not having that ability to get out there was a tough creative block to get past.
For me the way around that was I started to make more emotional, less club orientated music which is definitely an expression of how I was feeling at that time. ‘Omen’ is a good example of that. The track is only 4 minutes long and isn’t really made for DJs, although later on I did make a club edit as I just couldn’t resist it!
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
Yeah it’s constantly evolving for me. As I said my first proper DAW was Reason. Then when I got a bit more serious about production I moved to Ableton and that’s where I am now and feel most comfortable.
My studio is a mixture of Analog and Digital as it stands. I think to be honest the digital technology available now is mind-blowing, despite the analog purists who will tell you otherwise. I think as an electronic artist it’s vitally important to keep up with the changes in the tech. Some of the stuff you can do with the Digital VSTs now is incredible, the possibilities really are endless. I have like 3 or 4 ‘go to’ digital synths I use but no more than that because it’s very easy to get lost in the infinite possibilities these tools offer. It’s important to learn extremely well exactly how those tools can work for you and have a clear idea of what you want to achieve.
The Analog gear is great for workflow because it stops you forever tweaking things and you often have to just commit to audio. A pure saw wave or sine wave sounds way better coming from actual circuit boards so it’s finding a nice balance between to the two and knowing how to use each of them.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Yeah for me ‘Pigments’ by Arturia. It definitely changed the way I approached my sound design, it’s just so vast in what you can do with it in terms of the different routing options. Visually it’s also fantastically intuitive which makes it easy to work with. I also love the way you can layer in samples and use granular synthesis alongside your standard Analog wavetables. It’s an incredibly powerful tool and I would recommend it to all up and coming producers.
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 have 3 or 4 close friends who are really talented producers. We talk about music all the time and share different ideas. Because none of us work in duos it’s actually really beneficial to be able to bounce ideas off each other and share feedback.
I think working alone can sometimes be difficult, which is why so many duos are successful. It’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people you trust to share ideas, challenge you and give you good honest feedback.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. 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?
Music is still a passion for me, not a job. I work full time in the Visual FX industry so most of my time is taken up doing that. When it comes to the weekends and evenings that is when I step into the world of music. I try to do a couple of hours every night and at least a day at the weekend but it’s not always possible and life gets in the way. But I don’t need a set schedule, I just do it because I love it.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
The release of my latest track ‘Omen’ was special for me. Especially as it came with the music video which was directed by a good friend of mine ‘Drust’. It’s something we had been wanting to collaborate on for many years and to finally see that come to fruition in my home town of London was special.
DRUST’s idea was to explore the theme of “doomed relationships” and witness the nuanced moments where things can take a wrong turn. It was shot over 2 days in early April in various locations around London, but the aim was to feel like this could be anywhere, so as to have greater resonance with our audience. Seeing it finally all come together in line with the music was a very special moment for me.
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?
100%, creativity is not a skill it’s a state of mind. You know that feeling of being in ‘the zone’. I wish I knew how I got there but sometimes I just feel like I am inside the track. You feel goosebumps and the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, like you are channelling a feeling you had once before, evoking a very specific emotion of excitement and energy. Getting that feeling is one of the best things about creating.
I think just keeping a positive mindset, learning to take breaks and not force anything is important. If something isn’t happening for you just know it’s ok to walk away or even start a fresh with something new.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
Music for me is a big stress reliever. It can help ease pain and anxiety. Even if you are not a huge music lover I think everyone can probably reel of a list of songs that evoke happy memories and raises your spirits. I’m no doctor but if you think of it in terms of mental-health I think music is always healing, and can be an incredibly powerful tool.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I think as a musician it’s important to allow yourself to be influenced and inspired by anything, without limits. The key is respect, if you are actively taking influence from another culture then you have to properly understand, show respect and take care in how you do that.
You talk about cultural exchange and in an exchange the more you take, the more you have to give back, if what you have given back is poor, badly executed, then it’s bad art.
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?
I think everyone listens to music differently. For example when I am listening to a track in a club I might be focussed on the lead sound, whereas as the guy next to me might be intrigued by the movement in the hi-hats. You can get lost inside a track and focus on different parts and paint different pictures in your mind. Everyone is different but if you listen to music with an open mind it can really take you anywhere.
I’m fascinated by the connection between audio and visual art. I use a program called ‘touch designer’ to create the artwork for my releases and that is generative where the audio actually begins to paint a picture itself. It can be wonderfully expressive when used in the right way and there is a whole world of possibilities when it comes to live performance I want to explore as well.
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 strongly believe that art, music specifically, has the power to change lives. This is why I first fell in love with electronic music, when you are in that moment in a crowd of people, the togetherness, enjoying the music, having fun and expressing themselves. These feelings have long-term impacts, like shared memories and increased empathy and a broader world view.
I think it’s hugely important young people go out and experience these things. Music and art will live on long beyond any of us, it’s timeless. Music has changed my outlook on life for sure and if I can evoke similar feelings in anyone else with my art, then I would die a very happy man.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Music never dies does it.
I love the idea of creating a record that is going to last long beyond me. Creating something that can be shared around the world and that’s got a life of it’s own even when I’m long gone. Music evokes emotion that no words can ever do and that idea fascinates me.