Since 2007 Canadian duo AUN have been line-stepping and genre-bending their way through the experimental music landscape. Comprised of Martin Dumais and Julie Leblanc, AUN have been called industrial, shoegaze, ambient and everything in between, but their latest album Alpha Heaven has been widely regarded as light, serene and more accessible than their previous darker offerings. Making use of retro instruments and techniques alongside their typical electronic mastery, AUN's more recent music would be very much at home as the soundtrack to a sci-fi film and takes cosmic inspiration from time, space and the mysteries of the universe.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
When I was nine years old I was heavily into Kiss and Alice Cooper, but discovering Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream when I was ten changed my life. I started experimenting with tapes and pedals and synths in 1980-81.
What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic work and/or career?
Changing gears to almost exclusively beat-less music after 15 years of playing and producing techno. Focusing more on textures, melodies and playing real instruments, has made me learn a lot more than if I had just stayed on my previous course. Coming full circle, I am now incorporating this knowledge into more rhythm-oriented compositions, what felt redundant, now feels fresh and liberating. All very cyclic.
What are currently your main compositional- and production-challenges?
Every artist faces a different set of challenges. As AUN we are mostly time challenged, trying to balance family, touring and recording, which can be strenuous but it's becoming more balanced.
What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?
I honestly don’t think I have ever started a piece in the same way ever. The last method used yesterday was, creating new material from heavily processed randomised sampling of our own songs.
How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
Since we don’t have very specific directions or often change methodology, compositions are mostly improvised layering. In concert we are currently moving into our most improvised period yet, as opposed to setting out to play our material in a somewhat recognisable fashion, as we have done on a few tours. I’m more interested in trying to create something new every chance I get.
How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition?
I’ve studied acoustics a bit, but not enough to have a good enough perception for it to be a factor in the creative process. I rarely compose with physical space in mind, unless working on multi speaker set ups, which is rare.
But I do like space travel as a theme.
Do you feel it important that an audience is able to deduct the processes and ideas behind a work purely on the basis of the music? If so, how do you make them transparent?
My themes and music are mostly opaque and ambiguous even to myself, transparency is not a concern in my creative process and end result. I’m more interested in art that is mysterious or at least that does not reveal itself too easily.
In how much, do you feel, are creative decisions shaped by cultural differences – and in how much, vice versa, is the perception of sound influenced by cultural differences?
I can only theorise that not having many role models around in Canada when growing up in the 80s, and sourcing influences from Europe and later from the USA, has forever made me feel like an alien in my own country. The heinous corrupted state of Montreal and the rest of Canada puts us to shame, and in return while we are really not a political band, I really feel a bit of rage in some AUN music is dictated as a shout to our local cultural state and vacuous music industry.