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?
My schedule during the week is pretty fixed day-to-day. I have a day job as well as the music and I work from home, so having a routine of some sort helps keep me motivated.
My creativity is nearly always at a peak either early in the morning or late at night, and I’m a proper morning person so I tend to arise about 7am – 7:30am. I don’t do too many morning studio sessions during the week as my day job would always interrupt a session, which for me is bad for creativity. I like to sit down and jam ideas without any kind of time to work towards. As soon as there’s time constraints, it just sits there firmly in my head and I get very little actual music done.
So really, my morning between 7 – 9am is a period of much needed downtime during the week. My studio sessions tend to take place as and when I feel inspired, so there’s actually no structure here – all I set as a goal in my mind is at least one session a week minimum. If I am working on something I am really into then I can easily spend a few days in a row working away. Time is meaningless when I’m on to a good idea, and I’ll often carry on way into the early hours whether I’m up for work the next day or not. There’s something about the buzz of making music you love that keeps you from feeling tired, even when you wake up the next day having had 4hrs sleep.
9am – 5pm are the classic day job hours, so I won’t dive into those too much. I’ll break for lunch around 12pm or 1pm for an hour, and usually that’s time spent cooking & listening to podcasts. I rarely listen to music during the working week, it’s usually an evening and weekends thing.
Post 5pm is usually time for more cooking if I’m staying in. If I’m not though, I’ll be climbing, making music, playing games or fishing. I stick to a weekly schedule with my climbing. Right now, I am throwing in two evenings a week climbing, usually Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s important for me to break the week up with my other hobbies as well as music, so nothing I do ever feels like a ‘chore’. Churning out tracks all day every day for sure starts to feel that way, I’ve been there before in the past.
My other hobbies tend to take place at the weekends. Stuff like fishing, is a hugely enjoyable pastime for me and I try to get out as much as possible at the weekends. Lockdown has been great for that, as the pull of events, gigs and nights out hasn’t been as strong. I can feel this changing just a little bit now but will try and resist just a little bit more, to ensure the balance is right.
It's all about variation for me. I’m lucky to have found a selection of hobbies that I can get really excited about. Even getting up early for a quick gaming session between 7-9am excites me, as it feels like such good downtime.
To summarise, I keep my day job and my music life separate. Sounds weird saying that when I work from the same desk doing both, but both feel vastly different. Music is just the thing for me that allows for ultimate escapism, and escapism to me is doing exactly what you want with minimal boundaries. Everyone needs a bit of that!
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?
My first vinyl release ‘Loose Jams’ on Outplay was the moment for me when I thought I was now doing things properly.
I clearly remember one track (‘It Will Come To Me’) going into the Soundcloud playlist even though I wasn’t keen on it myself. The email that I got back from the label highlighted that they wanted to sign 3 tracks and It Will Come To Me was to be the A1 – they loved it! Luckily as the record dropped it grew on me more and more and to this day it’s one of my favourite tracks I’ve made, so thanks to Outplay for spotting it!
The tracks on that EP were worked on during 2014 and sent over in the back end of that year. I remember I was listening to a fair bit of Disco and instrumental Hip-Hop kinda stuff then, so lots of the sampling came from those tracks.
Obviously your first ever solo vinyl release as an artist is a special moment regardless of anything else but the fact a label that I regarded as my favourite label at the time signed the tracks, was a huge added bonus. It went on to hit some top chart spots in the vinyl world and also digitally and was picked up & supported by Dam Swindle (fka Detroit Swindle) who were massively in the spotlight at the time. In fact, Dam Swindle playing it has resulted in some lifelong friendships here in Manchester, so all-in-all a very important record 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?
I don’t think I have any interest in trying to describe the ‘ideal’ state of mind for creativity as creativity should feed off every state of mind you experience. True creativity is being able to create something out of whatever emotion you’re feeling or whatever state of mind you’re in. So I don’t believe there is an ideal state of mind at all.
I suppose the only thing that would stop you being able to create in the first place is motivation, so avoiding unmotivated states of mind might be the only advice I could give.
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?
You can connect with music in so many ways. Even the same track one day can give you an entirely different feeling another day. Personally, the feelings I get from music are always good ones. Maybe I’m just an optimist here. If I listen to a track I enjoy, I feel good - why would anyone listen to a track they don’t enjoy?
I don’t particularly like music with lyrics as they almost ‘tell’ you what you should be feeling when listening. A lyric-less track for me is a bit more open to your own interpretation, so you can relate to it however you want. That means it could heal or hurt depending on your mood, it could also do absolutely nothing. That’s the beauty of it. Music with lyrics probably have the capacity to hurt more than music without, but I guess it's all dependent on your mood. Hurting from music is something I’ve personally never experienced.
Music also offers massive escapism, that’s why it’s so good for the whole healing thing. Whether it be making music, listening, or attending events – it’s all escapism. Over the years I’ve dipped into loads of different events of different genres and I’ve noticed that the more niche you get, the bigger the sense of community feels. Lots of people need somewhere to go to blow off steam and get a bit weird, so events would probably be the area people need the most. Now more than ever, given that social interaction has declined massively since the pandemic.
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?
Art is essentially the expression of an individual or group of individuals, so if you censor or limit it, you’re limiting someone’s expression. Someone else’s expression may be offensive, it may ask you difficult questions, but overall, it’s just someone else’s expression. You yourself control whether to care about it or not.
Culture will undoubtedly influence every one of us that creates art, and the most important thing is to ensure that the influences you take are executed in a respectful way.
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?
The main overlap that I think anyone who has been to a live show can relate to, is the overlap of sound and visuals. I remember going to see Amon Tobin in Manchester on his Isam Live tour and the 3D visuals that accompanied his set were absolutely wild. Sadly, I bet there are a lot of artists out there with incredible visions of live shows that may never see the light of day, as the costs associated I imagine are huge.
There’s also a bit of an overlap with the sense of smell and sound. Certain tracks from when I used to go to Sankeys 10 years ago remind me of the distinguishable smell from the club. If I was to ever smell that same smell again I know it would have me bang up for another session.
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?
One thing has remained constant since I started as an artist and that’s to not force anything. I’ve been guilty of forcing artistic output in the past by working through creative blocks and you very rarely end up with a great end product.
My approach now is to not force anything creative, let it naturally occur. Also, try not to think about where you see your artistic output in the future, have those thoughts once you are finished with that track, painting or writing. Make sure you’re completely in the present while creating and you will ensure you’ve put your all into it.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
I think words can probably express more about life and death than music ever could as music can be interpreted any way you like, especially if the music is without lyrics.
That said, one of my recommendations is Boards of Canada’s ‘Tomorrows Harvest’, which is one artistic expression that I’ve always felt really captures a feeling of a post-apocalyptic, empty and dead world.
If the world became uninhabited, I think that album would be the soundtrack playing on loop.