Could you describe your creative process based on 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?
Last year I wrote the album "Billy Mill is Dead" as a new alias, Bed Wetter. When I wrote it I was struggling to reconcile expressing myself in the ways I wanted to, with making dance music that fulfilled its purpose as being instinctive and compelling. I questioned what was the point in making music if it didn't represent me, but I also questioned what was the point of making dance music if I needed to it in a way that made it less effective at its primary objective. I wrote the album as a means of dealing with something akin to writer's block, although was probably best seen as a form of cognitive dissonance. The purpose of the album was pure self-expression. As it was a bi-product I had no concern or interest in how it would be received by anybody, so I was capable of just committing to being emotionally honest. The lack of a perceived audience freed me further from any concerns as to the outward reception towards the technical aspects of its creation.
This meant I could make it using whatever means I wanted, so I chose to use nothing but the basic software which came with my production software, and samples that I ripped from Youtube. I also limited myself to a single session on every track, without permitting myself the opportunity to go back and edit them on another occasion. It took me 2 weeks to write the album. The music is not only the proudest I am of everything I've ever made but its also the most wildly personal work I've ever created. The combination of setting myself limitations technically, with the act of freeing myself to be as indulgent as I could manage conceptually, allowed me to tap into something in my core which I could never have brought forth had I tried to do so in a conscious and considered way.
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 hate to admit this, but I work best with a touch of melancholy. There are lots of ways to get into this state of mind, but I wouldn't recommend any. Life seems to be good at getting me there all on its own, so I prefer not to lend a helping hand.
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'm new to playing live and I'm only doing it improvisationally right now. The closest I've come to playing live has been DJing up to now. I find them very different experiences. Creating and recording music is a statement, but performance for me has always been a conversation. I think this is why I'm drawn to improvising with my nascent attempts at performing as a musician.
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?
Again, this all comes back to experimentation for me. Most of my arrangement and composition will follow on from having experimented with sonics to find something that appeals to me in a very uncomplicated way that represents a genuine gut response. The composition is usually just a way of me finding a way of harnessing a sound and leaning into whatever feeling I'm interested in presenting that it best evokes.
I have a bit of a predisposition to things which are all-enveloping and work across multiple frequencies I think. I like warmth and I like dissonance, but above all else, I think I like pathos, which those sonic features usually add.
I also enjoy creating unusual juxtapositions and find that a simple method to create artful ways to challenge people or make them question their initial responses.to what they're hearing. That feels like its a healthy thing to build into music.
One thing I do a lot is walk away from my music and return it months later. If I don't do that then I value compositional elements in abstraction and create worth for them based on their difficulty and the time devoted to them. If I return to something later than the individual elements represent nothing but their intrinsic value and can be judged more dispassionately based on their service to the overall composition and without any other concerns.
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 don't experience synaesthesia, but I do have some kind of weird spatial appreciation of music, and different sounds feel as though they occupy different spaces within my head. It's hard to explain, but it feels like I've perhaps been wired a bit incorrectly.
Beyond that, I've always found music to be more cerebral and emotional than sensational. Perhaps its a need to categorise and contextualise, which I imagine has drawn me to DJing too. If was going to do a bit of pop psychology I'd suggest that I perhaps also was drawn to music as a way of categorising my thoughts and feelings. It's not always nice in my head, and I don't always feel good. Music allows me to amplify or transmute those things depending on my whims. This sensations I feel, whether it be a cold shiver in my chest, or an ASMR tingle down my spine, feel like physical responses to emotional stimuli in my case.
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?
It was very hard for me to accept the term "artist".
In the past, I've only ever used it as an analogue for the term "artiste" which means something very different and has an almost vaudevillian attachment to it which demeaned it in my head to the degree where I'd be comfortable applying it to myself. Being an "Artist" just seemed so alien to me growing up, and that feeling still lingers. I come from a time and a place and a generation where if you mentioned you were an artist then you'd be expected to explain whether you drew, painted, or did both.
The idea of an artist was a vague image of a master of the form in creating pictures and it was certainly not something that could be applied to someone who made music, and even more unthinkable for someone working conceptually in an even harder to define way. Artists were otherworldly people. They came from other places and lived an exotic and bohemian life that was not for the likes of me or mine. We were drones and we were permitted to enjoy art to the degree where it didn't interfere in the drudgery of the everyday world.
The road to Damascus moment I had was when I realised I could create things in a way that benefitted the people of my region and at the same time, it might leave the door open for people with similar backgrounds to follow my lead and seek out their creative futures. If to do that meant me accepting the term "Artist" then I'm happy to do it because it allows me to keep trying to do things that have value.
I was in Bali earlier this year and my friend explained to me that the regional artisans didn't look at their works as art, but as merely the output of acts of devotion. I think that's what art is becoming for me. Its a way of engaging in devotion to myself and allowing myself to acknowledge that I'm a creative person and my creations have worth. Its also a way of devoting myself to the service of others, and to creating something that has more value than my simple self-regard.
I need to operate on both levels. Maybe it's just that my upbringing did a number on me, but I need to feel that I have value, while at the same time hearing some voice in my head tells me that it's not all about me. I don't think I'm an artist necessarily, I just "do stuff". I'm happy to say I'm an artist if it lets me continue to "do stuff" and makes it easier for other people to "do stuff". Again, I'm output based, so ultimately I have to ask "what's in a name?" anyway.
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?
At the moment social media allows people to feel they're seeing out successful music careers while streaming platforms reduce the money your average music maker can earn. In essence, these streaming platforms are just another form of social media anyway. They're a platform that allows you to share content with other people for little or no reward beyond validation. We used to justify this with the increased performing opportunities we thought were created by the increased exposure, but a year spent with no performing has put this situation into a bit of a sharper focus.
I don't know that this is so wildly different from the situation in the world before all of this streaming etc took hold though. As I remember it, the world was also dominated by a small number of big names, with a lot of grassroots performers at the other end barely being able to eke out a living. There's a difference between music and the music industry. People are in love with technology now. It makes it easier to make technically adept sounding music, and new instinctive software is constantly being created that reduces the need to spend time learning. That probably means there's a lot of poorly conceived music around, but again I don't that's a big change either. It might just sound a little bit more accomplished than it used to do.
I just feel that music will carry on the way it has. Technological evolution may lead to new instruments and interfaces, but ultimately people will just continue to use whats' at hand to make a noise that they find pleasing in a way that allows them to express a thought or feeling in the hope someone else hears it and relates. Some will do it a hugely successful level, others will miss that chance. Some will create something wild and unique, others will subject us to dreadfully hackneyed and prosaic works that are cynically conceived. Whatever platform that is popular will be replaced by a new one that reaches more people for less of a cost, but that will coincide with the narrowing of the channel and a reduction to how many people sit at the top table and share the profits.
New combinations of frequencies and rhythms will be combined with youth movements and categorised as genres. At the same time, old genres will be repackaged and resold to younger generations. What was old will become new again. What was new will become old alarmingly fast. In the background to all of this, some will just continue to make whatever noises they can to make sense of the world and themselves.