With more and more musicians creating than ever and more and more of these creations being released, what does this mean for you as an artist in terms of originality? What are some of the areas where you currently see the greatest potential for originality and who are some of the artists and communities that you find inspiring in this regard?
The issue is not just the number of people creating but the fact that every piece of music ever released is available easily. How do artists exist and create in such a climate? We guess it’s like voices and faces: each is unique, some are beautiful, notable or striking and some are ugly and most are forgettable. So the work of the artist is not just to have a unique “voice” but to be self-aware (i.e. not self-deluded) to the degree that they can actually see if their presence is remarkable or forgettable. Unfortunately that self-awareness is quite rare. We are lucky that we work together, bounce off each other and generally raise the level of what we do before it ever gets heard by anyone. We like quite a diversity of stuff but recent releases we’ve liked with which we see connection to Immersion have been by Thor & Friends, Land Observations, and Thee Oh Sees.
How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
With Immersion we are not sure that you can separate the two, but “improvisation” falls more into the area of development. Someone will play and the other comments until we have something that fits.
How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition and what are some of your strategies and approaches of working with them?
There are elements of Immersion that are purely about sound but in the end it always has to make sense as music. In many ways it’s hard to separate those elements because they all need to be there in a piece. In a mix you are presenting a kind of picture, albeit one that moves, in which space is always important (space around and between the sounds) yet everything has to work together to be one cohesive thing. Hopefully what we produce sounds interesting and persuasive but is also recognisable as a harmonic entity.
What's your perspective on the relationship between music and other forms of art – painting, video art and cinema, for example – and for you and your work, how does music relate to other senses than hearing alone?
Immersion could be seen as a fine art project in some ways. Both of us are art school graduates so we are used to thinking about what we do in those terms. It is also somewhat visual. However it is not sound art as that would imply that there are few musical qualities. We want it to work as both art and music. For sure it’s not entertainment!
What's your view on the role and function of music as well as the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today - and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
Every artist hopes they can somehow make a difference but one has to be quite subtle about not being over preachy or having the cause you believe in simply take over your art. This has become more difficult recently what with the twin scourges of Brexit and Trump. ‘Living on an Island’ wasn’t chosen as a title at random…
Listening is also an active, rather than just a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?
On one level everybody hears something different and people approach the work with many different kinds of expectations. As artists, you always hope to communicate with as many different types of listeners as you can. From our point of view, it’s almost impossible to tell how people will react to what we do. During the last month we have been described as both “challenging” & “pop” (in both cases by people who like what we do).
Reaching audiences usually involves reaching out to the press and possibly working with a PR company. What's your perspective on the promo system? In which way do music journalism and PR companies change the way music is perceived by the public?
It’s hard for us to comment on this. Immersion is released on swim~ which is our own label. If we did no promotion it’s hard to know how anyone, beyond our modest mailing list, would actually know we had released anything. Beyoncé might be able to trigger massive sales from a single tweet but in the real world we need PR people and publications! Ultimately music is like any other business: if you don’t invest it’s hard to see how you can get anywhere.
As we move way beyond print press, the diversity of how you can read about music online has greatly increased which we think is very useful for music outside the mainstream.
Do you have a musical vision that you haven't been able to realise for technical or financial reasons – or an idea of what music itself could be beyond its current form?
Not really; Immersion on ice with an orchestra wouldn’t interest us or anyone else! There are always more possibilities you can imagine; we suppose the ultimate could be to just able to think the music you want to hear. It would be an ultimate democratisation but if everyone could do that would we all just be creating our own soundtracks for our own consumption?
On a more practical level, we do like to collaborate and there is a world of people out there we have yet to collaborate with!