Part 2

Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? 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?

Louis: We both have other jobs - I am a part time music production tutor and Lawrence works for a record label, so day to day things can change.

I find that there are a number of things that I try to fit into my day to give myself a sense of routine and this is vital to managing my mental health. These are: a run or some kind of exercise, cooking at least one nice meal, an episode of a TV show, half an hour on my Shakti mat. Sometimes the obsession with music can feel all consuming and take over your day so I choose to separate these things, preferring to listen to a podcast rather than music while I do them - it’s important to get a break.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of 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?

Louis: The track on our album called "Casper pt.1" was first created hours after I met my nephew for the very first time.

I went straight to the studio from the hospital and created this breathy sort of synth that, to me, sounded like new life. The problem is that once you’ve decided the track is going to be about someone dear to you or be a memento of this really significant moment in your life, you become way more precious over it and so this made it really difficult to complete. We wrestled with that main synth part, trying to get it exactly right. There are longer versions, shorter versions, hip hop versions and techno versions of this track. In the end we just kept things simple and brought the focus to the simplicity of that initial feeling.

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?

Louis: I’m not sure I see there being an ideal state of mind for being creative. On the one hand, amazing art can come when you’re feeling heartbroken, depressed, angry, anxious and on the other hand creativity can flourish when you’re feeling happy and confident. It’s dangerous to think that you can only ever be creative when you’re in a certain state of mind, this is what leads too many creatives to addiction, thinking they have to be fucked up to be able to create, feeding a ‘tortured artist’ narrative.

I think you should just respond to whatever state of mind you’re in at the time. If you’re pissed off, make something hard hitting that is gonna relieve some tension, or if you’re feeling sad then make something that’s going to help you process that emotion.

All I really do to help maximise creativity is to watch, read and listen to inspiring things. I see being creative like the health bar on a computer game. Sometimes, it goes down to empty, which usually manifests as a writer's block and at this point you have to feed it with experiences or interesting art before you start working again.

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?

Lawrence: The relationship between the club and studio is so important to us when making music. The experiences we have in certain moments when DJing feeds straight back into the studio. If a track we’ve been working on has a good reaction in our sets, it gives you confidence and belief that it is good enough to be released.

This works vice versa as well, if a track doesn’t seem to work in the mix and it doesn’t get the reaction we’d like then we probably know it’s not up to release standard. Also, when we’re in the crowd at festivals and clubs, we can see first hand how specific moments in the set have amazing reactions, hearing new sounds for the first time that give us ideas when we’re back in the studio. DJing has so much improvisation to it, whether that’s slowly bringing in bass frequencies of the incoming track or using effects like reverb to create tension in the set. This has a direct influence in our studio sessions.

Towards the end of the songwriting process, we use automation and modulation to create similar effects to the ones we do in real time when DJing as we know that this works and will help the track have a bigger impact in the club. It’s going to be a euphoric feeling being allowed back into live music environments.

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?

Lawrence: A specific, unique sound can spark the inspiration for a whole composition, especially when looking through samples or using our outboard gear. When we’re writing we try and use the right sounds at first but sometimes it’s better to use placeholders. It’s important for us to make sure the momentum of the song writing process is fast and to make sure the energy levels stay high in the studio. We then go back into the project once we’re pleased with the key elements and work on specific sounds until we’re happy with them, replacing sounds if need be and adding effects.

Sound design is something we’ve become more and more interested in over the past few years but for us we need to focus on that separately from the compositional process.

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?

Louis: Not sure that we can really relate to this! Sound is a very separate sense to us. The only thing we could say is taste. Having tasty snacks in the studio makes writing more enjoyable and we have named a lot of Logic project files after things we’ve been munching on while making tunes.

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?

Louis: I would say before I was ever an artist, I was a teacher. I started as a volunteer when I was 16, working with young people with learning difficulties and now teaching music production in a sixth-form college.

I think one of the main stumbling blocks for most people is actually believing that you can be an artist. Because the product you are creating, can be so undervalued, it often takes a lot to convince people, and mostly yourself, that this is worth your pursuits. Access to the creative industries is also restricted and serves the more privileged and this is an enormous problem. In my teaching I try to help inspire and encourage young people from all backgrounds.

My experiences as an artist, working in the music industry feeds my abilities as a teacher and the constant inspiration from the young people I work with feeds my art.

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?

Lawrence: Recently we have been working in Dean St studios and creating Dolby Atmos mixes of our album. It is essentially taking the stereo mix of a song which involves two channels into a software that allows 120 channels. The space this creates in a track is mindblowing and allows you to have instruments and sounds coming at you from all angles, not just left and right. Imagine listening to a piece of music in a 360 degree space. It enhances the listening experience but also allows songwriters to add in many more elements without worrying about cluttering a track.

The creative opportunities the software creates is really exciting and as the technology develops we are starting to see headphones and speakers having the capability to listen in this format. It moved from Mono to Stereo about 70 years ago, so it feels like it’s time for a new format. It’s been a really exciting project to work on and hopefully we’ll have news to share on it soon.

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