Part 2

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?

In the past I have avoided collaborations under the logic that the complexities are a drag, relationships can be tiresome. But I feel this might change in the future.

In this chapter of my life, I am a very selfish creator. I do love talking to other producers, connecting with them, I love encouraging others. But I rarely listen to anyone trying to give me advice. I don’t think I have ever watched a YouTube video on how to do something. I simply write music that I enjoy making.

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?

In my day job I work in a call centre. I have a fixed routine, where I wake up early for a time of meditation and prayer. I then cycle to work, do my customer service thing. Then after work I will make space to spend a minimum of 20 minutes producing music. I also practice yoga everyday, and try to make the gym 3 times per week. I work with a personal trainer, counsellor and also a life coach.

In terms of music, and how these aspects of my life feed in, I very much find that music production is a type of therapy. I will often work late into the night preparing a radio show, and do my live DJ work at the weekends. I make sure I go dancing all night at least once per month. I usually go on my own, I love meeting other party people and connecting in that space. Clubbing alone allows me that freedom to make new friends.

Clubbing with friends can be a drag, having to take into account someone else’s agenda can be tiresome. If you haven’t tried clubbing on your own, give it a go, it’s a lot of fun.

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?

In the year 2000 I had a series of visions and dreams that led me to make a deep commitment to God. This was so important to my music career. The music industry is very destructive with so much aggressive competitiveness, strong egos and sometimes just downright wrongness. So these grounding experiences helped me to really “go back to basics”.

I learnt that music production for me, is like a form of devotion. I think this was the biggest “breakthrough” because it gave me the freedom to just go after music in its purest form, as an expression of devotion. It took me 18 years of “devotion” and then, boom, something happened and I started the Ambient Girl collection.

These are a series of musical works inspired by some short stories I have written. I feel there is a complexity, depth and richness in the combination of the stories, the music and the artwork that give these projects a timeless quality, like they operate outside of the rules and for me this is a major breakthrough. Since the release of the first Ambient Girl album last year, I have seen many incredible incremental mini breakthroughs, as if the universe was saying, “yes, now everything is ready”.

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?

With mobile music production, literally I have learnt to “tune in” to a project in as little as 5 minute bursts. However, my ideal state / space, is sitting comfortably somewhere, maybe my cosy bed space, or a outdoor sofa, somewhere soft, where I am held. If I’m inside I like to have a heated wheat pillow with lavender oil, and possibly a insense burner or oil diffuser, I like a cup of tea, I’ll tend to do some journaling before my music production session to help release any thoughts in writing first. Then I tend to go into my creative space for anywhere from 20 mins to 1 hour.

Not often do I work longer than 1 hour in any single sitting. This is one way of how I work. But not always, and I love making myself little rules while producing, like only allowing 4 tracks, or saying I have to finish a track in a day, or saying I have to start 5 tracks in one day (but not finish them), this is fun!

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?

To be honest, I don’t recall any experiences of music hurting me. Even listening to hard core rock music, or white noise screeching in live gig. Even these very harsh sounds connect with me and somehow make me feel happy and alive. So, I do think for me, music is my healer, it has been my way of escape from a young age.

I had a tough childhood, my dad left when I was 5 years old and I am the youngest of 3 brothers. I was bullied quite badly by my eldest brother. So I quickly found an escape from all this pain in music, and then in drugs. I smoked weed everyday from the age of 12 or 13. I would smoke skunk on the way to school most days, I almost got kicked out of school several times for dealing drugs. I just wasn’t happy with what the constructs of normal society was offering me. I wanted escape, music and drugs gave me that. But they also put me on the wrong side of the tracks which made me an easy target for minor criminals so I ended up getting bullied in school, too.

High school was tough for me, but in the end clubs and raving gave that special space where I could be myself and just dance and dance expressing all that pain.

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 it is all bullshit. A waste of time I mean. Like none of that even remotely interests me and as I am only interested in making music to please myself, if anyone else wants to do any of the above, to me I do not even really think much about it. Like if someone else wants to spend their life creating something to mimic others, chasing after money and success, or someone else wants to have all the best sports cars, or someone else is really in horse riding and wants a nice horse. Or if someone else wants to pursue a political agenda, or a social agenda, I have no problem with that.

And as for sampling etc etc – I don’t know, there are so many, many rich sound sources why even bother? Like if they do it simply to chase after success, then that is a kind of madness. But I do think there is some value in using samples from films to convey a cool message, or using a classic sample in a funky way, this can be fun and shouldn’t be discouraged on “copyright grounds”, that is not what the techno energy is about in my opinion.
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 like touch and smell, I love yoga and breathing and learning how to control my body, activate muscles groups, mind over matter, dancing for 18 hours with no drugs (I have not done drugs for 20 years). Senses work together to help us gain understanding, and to then convey all this in music creation, it is a wonderful thing. I also think this subject links into what I mentioned earlier about yearning to be able to “touch the music” and how touch screen technology is a delight for me.

In turn I am reminded of my interest in Wavetable Synthesis, and a thought about “drawing waveforms” which then transmute into sound. Back in 2007 I got really excited by this thought and created a Wavetable VST synthesiser in a very cool program called Reaktor by Native Instruments. My design allowed me to draw waveforms and then manipulate the output through various effects, the key being all the effects were mapped into a super simple x/y pad, which was governed by mathematical formula to “tame the chaos”. So this meant there was a touch pad for drawing the waveform and a touch pad to “control the chaos”, that was it! I still use loops from that sound generator in my projects today.

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?

Ah, now this is interesting. Ok, so firstly, I’ll go back to this point, when I create, I am purely creating for my own satisfaction, a kind of devotion. But I do think in doing that somehow I invite the listener into an intimate and personaly space. And something to do with my soul, and the devotion of my soul to God, this is somehow translated into my music, actually this is what Ambient Girl represents.

I have also found that the Ambient Girl series, which are rooted in these stories, have many powerful social and even political meanings. But that is not their primary purpose, their primary purpose is rooted in devotion. I say a lot more about this on my Instagram TV channel. But I think to keep it brief I would use this famous quote, “we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams”. By which I mean, dreaming and creating is very, very important in social and political spheres, because this is how we create the future, by dreaming.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?

Music has the awesome power to transport the listener to heavenly realms, to literally fill a room with the presence of powerful forces way beyond everyday existence. When someone is drawn into that space, life and death become meaningless, all that matters is that moment of ecstasy.

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