Part 2

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?

A day in my life is pretty straightforward - I pursue a single-minded and solitary lifestyle - and this has been further enabled by the circumstances we face during the pandemic.

I enjoy exercising, reading, cooking or watching the odd series or movie as much as the next guy, but I’m in a phase in my life where my work comes first and my schedule is tailored around maximising the hours I have available to be productive and free of distractions.

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?

I suppose it’s too early to judge based on merit or performance, but I think this album (and the work I’ve been doing in the last two years, since the pandemic became our reality) has been one big breakthrough for me.

The reason being, primarily, that the professional and social circumstances in which I now find myself, in tandem with the adjustments I’ve had to make in order to adapt, have reinvigorated my creativity and confidence. On many levels, I feel like the music I’ve been writing is finally in alignment with what makes me happy and best represents what I’m about.

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?

The creative state of mind is, in my humble opinion, a concept that has been analysed, discussed and debated to a degree that I find confusing and counterproductive. I think it was John Cleese who once described creativity as “a way of operating”, and while you might find this definition a little pedestrian, I think it can help delineate basic factors that enable it.

While these factors may vary from person to person, I’ve discovered that having an ergonomic, distraction-and-disturbance-free environment to work from as well as an amount of available time that allows you to feel comfortable, are integral parts of my strategy to be creative. This is the launching point from where I can begin to experiment and solve “problems” in a playful and creative way.

Having the luxury of time on your side and eliminating external pressures on your workflow is also crucially important to developing the requisite confidence in trying new things and extracting maximum value from your mistakes.

Fear of failure is the most adverse mental state I can think of, with regards to creativity. To quote Frank Herbert: “Fear is the mind killer”.

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?

The little experience I’ve had with this (extremely interesting) field was when during my undergrad studies, having taken a module in music therapy. It’s a pretty well-known and scientifically proven fact that music has a profound effect on people’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs and the effects can be good or bad.

I’m little more than a curious reader, I’ve always found the brain, and the purportedly small percentage of its potential power we use, to be a source of great interest. Although most studies have been inconclusive about (or outright dispelled) the claims of permanent effects from the “Mozart Effect”, I still think the indisputable findings of cognitive arousal that come from listening to and playing music are fascinating and promising, with regards to treating serious brain challenges such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

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?

That’s an extremely expansive question and one that, in the present era of hypersensitivy we find ourselves in, is tricky to answer. What makes it challenging for me is that the definitions of the lexicon are in a constant state of flux - being refined or altered in real time - and some of us, whether it be due to temporal or cultural reasons, can struggle to keep up.

Having said that, I’ve always considered most forms of artistic expression to be a basic and primal urge we humans have; it’s rooted in our sense of identity, so appropriating or copying something that bears no connection or meaning to me seems unauthentic and, therefore, pointless.

In that regard, I’d be willing to accept that any lines that are suggested or drawn, do so in the spirit of authenticity. In my experience, it’s a reliable metric to distinguish what an artist’s motive or message is really about.   

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?

Unless you’re referring to synaesthesia, I’d say that that the most prevalent and relatable example of a sensory overlap can be demonstrated in our perception of food flavour.

Despite the fact that taste and smell are separate senses and use their own receptor organs, they actually work interactively to enhance the information sent to our brain. You could argue that the sense of touch, sight and even sound can all be stimulated by food and thus enrich our experience - but that goes beyond the scope of determining flavour and doesn’t constitute a sensory overlap (the food would taste the same without them).

In the auditory sense (pun intended), I’ve read a bit about the interplay between our hearing and touch, when perceiving environmental oscillations (sound waves and mechanical vibrations), but at the moment it mostly concerns the further understanding of neural connections and how this knowledge can be harnessed to treat impairments.  

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?

Until recently, I was reluctant to ascribe much social value to my music. It’s not that I think it’s outright worthless or that functional, club music is not capable of resonating with an audience outside a club environment.

But in all truthfulness, it’s irrefutable that the majority of the music being made in these genres is rarely addressing or promoting any kind of agenda - and neither are the people behind it. Sure, there are a handful of artists that admirably use their visibility for great causes but it’s less common to find a consistent body of work that is completely intertwined.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the (unexpectedly) positive outcomes of the disruption caused by the pandemic was to examine the relevance of my music - in absence of DJing and nightclubs. This introspection, together with certain existential questions I considered (as most of us undoubtedly have, during these dark times), gave me the sense of urgency to widen the scope of what I was doing and, hopefully, encourage others to think and do the same.

At the very least, I think it’s incumbent on artists in any discipline to consider what relevance their work has on everyday life, especially at this moment, when the traditional modes of communication and appreciation have been changed.

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

There’s no shortage of wise, profound, silly, obvious, inspirational, romantic, dubious and downright cringeworthy quotes out there that seek to distill and describe the essence of music.

I’ve always thought of music as a language (it does have its own rules and grammar) but what makes it truly universal and transcendent is that it can be understood and enjoyed on different levels, regardless of fluency.

In that sense, I’d say that its message is capable or reaching wider and deeper than words and evoke a stronger emotional response than words alone.

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