I always had a strong emotional connection to music. It made me feel things very powerfully. And I found that the same could work in reverse, I could channel my feelings into musical form even without having any traditional musical training, all I needed was my feelings and the determination to express them. That all started long before my recent 10 years of touring though, of course I made years of nonsense before starting to find something worthwhile, and that learning process is still ongoing.
It’s just another realm for self-expression, I want to use every possible means to communicate musically, so if I can find something, however minuscule, I’ll try to use it. I’m also very lead by natural form, which is always full of structure at any scale we can observe it.
I spend a lot of time reading science and philosophy books, which are an endless source of visual inspiration. I choose my projects from these ideas, and then try to figure out how I can write music to fit each visual aesthetic required to tell each story. It’s a bit like scoring to a film which doesn’t yet exist. That’s how I’ve been doing things over the last few years since I embarked on my visual projects anyway. In the end, it’s just a way I can fuse my main loves of visual art, sciences, and music, and it gives me lots of opportunities for exciting and rewarding collaborations.
Sight seems to be our predominant sense. Embedded in our language in the form, “I see”, when we mean we understand something, for example. Perhaps the reason for it’s dominance isn’t all socially constructed, as sight does also provide information on a greater physical scale than the other senses, and may take more information bandwidth in our minds too, unlike some other animals with heightened hearing or smelling abilities. Whatever the reasons, our sight is very important to our experience, so it makes sense that when trying to communicate ideas musically, a visual aspect can enhance the effect greatly. It is easy to forget how important hearing is in creating our experience of the physical environment around us however. Our hearing also inputs to our spatial sense, as demonstrated powerfully by binaural sound. So that is another link to my work, which also employs a visual approach to music.
There are many ways of linking the two, but the most productive route I’ve found is for the science ideas to be visualized, and the music scored to this form. Alternatively, it’s possible to use science-data to generate sound, usually noise, unless carefully constrained. Or to use science-related ideas to constraint wider creative approaches. You might, for example, take a particular system, like the genetic code, and use it to map codons to three note motifs which will be arranged in sequence like the construction of a protein. Or a science idea can be used to inform what choice of instruments and melodies you should use to represent an idea, like “Woven Ancestry”, music built from ancestral instruments playing complex intertwined melodies. Once you get started down these ways of working an infinitude of possibilities open up. It’s rare for the science to define the music, or map to it in a precise manner, whereas it’s common for the science to be a useful creative tool. So the link should not be overstated, as it often is. My music is still fundamentally normal music.
I’m really interested in how music can be part of these bigger ideas and projects, be it relating to science, the arts, architecture, sociology, technology, or some other link I haven’t considered. I found some people sharing similar interests, so I thought it was a good opportunity to start a label to explore the ideas, and hopefully to create a community of people experimenting and building new forms of music. It is important for me though, that the music shouldn’t lose its basic character however, I’m not so interested in music which only conveys a concept without a pleasing music form. So that does constrain things, but I don’t want to make something which you need to read about to be able to enjoy. The conceptual side of the work is only there for people who are interested, and for those who aren’t, the music must be able to stand in its own right. Put another way, the label is there to see if conceptual links can be a tool for finding beautiful new music. I’m moving more towards the creation of new software and composition tools in this light, that is where the aims of the label probably have the greatest chance of success, as historically, beautiful new music has gone hand in hand with new technologies for creating music.
Most of the electronic scene seems like it will stick to it’s big evenly spaced kick drums for a while yet. It’s been like that for quite a long time, and the younger generations coming through seem to have a strong appetite for it too. But synthesis technology is moving forward in new ways now, and that could break the tide perhaps. We have relied heavily on traditional synthesis techniques like additive and FM synthesis since the early days of the synthesizer. But now with artificial neural network based approaches some new doors for synthesis may be opening up. Perhaps when applied to wider musical form too, we might get something radically new.
It was an intensely personal expression this time yes. Just me and my old hardware synths form nearly the whole album, with little input from outside. There are always so many voices, do’s and don’ts around music, everyone has such strong opinions. I had wanted to escape of that for many years, to see what would happen under conditions of total isolation, this album is the result.
Yes, I tied the wider project to the process of isolation, and made It about the brain, and the processes that create me, and us – all the things which were left after I’d removed all of everyday life from my thoughts. I wanted to get to the essence of what creates us, musically and visually. It lead me in some strange and fairly in-depth directions, as it’s quite an abstract topic to try and render, but it was very interesting, and hopefully musically and visually rewarding too.