Name: Mark Brandon aka Model Man
Current Release: 'La Fille Aux Cheveux De Lin' (Model Man Rework) is out now. Get it here: Stream it on Spotify.
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Debussy was one of your early musical loves. What drew you to his music?
I found the CD of Debussy’s piano works played by Pascal Roge in my mum’s collection. From the opening few bars of “Suite Bergamesque” I knew this was something special. The music resonated with me.
Why was that?
For a few reasons. The harmonies are complex and rich. It has humour and playfulness, but still is profoundly moving. That’s a difficult balance. Comedy and drama have more in common than you might think.
What's your take on the importance of musical theory?
I know a bunch of music theory. Sometimes I think it really helps me other times I don’t think it matters.
I'm asking because you were, at one point, "kicking against your classical exposure".
Well, initially I thought classical music was all about form and structure and that electronic music was the opposite.
But the older I get I think I’m leaning towards it being the other way round. So much classical music I love really pushes the boat out. Penderecki for example. And Arvo Pärt.
So will you start incorporating these influences more in your work in the future?
Classical music has always been a part of my musical journey in some way. I’d like to work with a string quartet in the near future. That would be fun. I love the sound of it and would like to have a go at scoring something.
With any remix, you can take a lot of points of departure from the original. With a classical piece, there are literally endless possibilities which segment to use. What made you go – this is the one?
When I’m in the flow of working I just lock into what’s exciting and carve it into something that works to my ears.
I was familiar with the piece and there was a melodic section that stood out. I looped it till I could hear the groove contained within it. Sampling is sometimes like holding up a magnifying glass to a piece of music. You find that there is something happening within that small frame.
Can you describe the process of building the track, please?
I sampled bits of the piano I liked. Harmonic sections and melodic. Then looped bits til I could hear in my head the sort of groove I wanted to make. Then built it up from there. Bass, drums, percussion. Mostly played in live then tweaked and manipulated. I wanted the track to unfold gradually so I worked on the arrangement til it felt right.
The first incarnations of the remix didn’t have any vocals. They were a lot more minimal. But the label liked the vocal version I think because it was a bit more accessible.
I'd be curious as to how you see this rework: As a new version, a remix, a reinterpretation – or something else entirely?
Yeah I guess you would call it a rework or a re-contextualisation. Kind of like I’ve eaten a Debussy risotto and the rework is next day’s arancini balls.
Classical musicians are always extremely worried about the intentions of the composer and their hypothetical approval of a performance. In your case, do you think Debussy would have liked this track?
(laughs) I honestly don’t know. But I definitely tried to keep the integrity of the music to some degree.
Like with the harmonies Debussy uses. I’ve kept them intact. But you just got to follow your heart and do what turns you on.