Name: Konstantinos Soublis / Fluxion
Current Release: Perspectives LP on Vibrant Recordings
Recommendations: Music For 18 Musicians by Steve Reich; No14 by Mark Rothko; Untitled Colour Fire Painting – Yves Klein
If you enjoyed this interview with Fluxion, visit his excellent website, which will take you to plenty of press articles on him and his work as well as his social media profiles.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
My first attempts to make something of my own was when I was around 15 or so. I was lacking the means but I remember we had a piano in the house and was playing always with the sustain pedal on, softly touching the keys to create ambiances. Then I got a present, my first synthesizer and slowly started to record on cassettes.
My influences at the time where composers like Philip Glass. The repetition in his music resonated with me. The soft tonal shifts, the organic movement and the emotional depth made me gravitate towards repetition and subtle change.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
I was learning the piano for 3 years, at an early age. Then I stopped. I felt that I wanted to do more things with sound. I clearly remember I was going to see a movie, and I could reproduce some parts that had made an impact. I always had this fascination with score music, the leitmotifs, and what it created alongside image.
I went on to study music technology in the UK, to be able to create and do what I need without depending on others. It was the 90’s and there was an explosion within electronic music, and everyone was turning their back on big establishments, record companies and big studios. It was all made in bedroom studios, mastered and out. It was quite political in a way, come to think of it. You do what you feel right, no A&R, no criticism. It seemed that anything was possible.
While studying I started to learn about Music Concrete, the Futurists and several movements that changed the possibilities. I took it all in, the ambiances of Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Richard James, until I stumbled upon some records by Basic Channel, that felt like nothing I had heard before. It was like people until that point had been trying to play parts of music using mainly what they had available in their studio without expanding the instrument palette. This resulted in music that sometimes sounded a little “cheap” in execution. So when I first listened to records by Basic Channel, they felt very organic to me, like a movement flowing naturally, not forced.
That was a moment were I was already experimenting with ambiances and repetition. And it felt to me that there was something there that could be expressed with them.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I think that when I started collecting and selecting music for my first records, it was more about the process. I wanted to express myself through music intonations and through repetition. Most of the time, these pieces would be live and improvisational. So the challenge was to get it right, and to stir the ship to a direction that had a beginning a middle and an end.
There were no edits, either it worked or not. After a point I needed to express more and expose myself more through composition. I feel that through the years I have created a certain environment for myself, from which I like to tell stories.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My first studio had some analogue synthesizers (Roland SH101/Jx3P, Korg MS10), a console, and some effects. Now it’s the same with some small additions. It hasn’t changed much over the years, but I am doing a lot of sound work in my computer, combining different sounds to create my own.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
I don’t rely on technology that much, when I feel creative. I move quickly and try to capture and write what I have to say, and then built around the idea.
I will not try to connect things for hours or make sounds for ever in order to express something, as the moment is gone. Technology should serve a purpose, even if the purpose of someone is to just to mess around with it.
Sometimes, messing around using technology can lead to beautiful results, sometimes to nothing.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
The environment I have to create serves my purpose. Software gives me the ability to write and determine the direction. I don’t think it manifests itself in my work. I was listening to a demo by another artist with a friend of mine and a fellow musician, Savvas Ysatis. He told me: ”You know I hear his machines, I don’t hear him …” I think this sums up my position about technology.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
Its an important part for every artists to move a little from his/her space, and communicate with another artist, musician.
I feel that the best approach for me is to work face to face, at the same studio. This creates a unique atmosphere that cannot exist remotely. But if that is not possible I exchange files, like with my collaboration with Rod Modell on Transformations.
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?
I start early checking mails and then listen to music and things I have done the previous days, weeks and see how they feel. Then If I have something new that I want to try I do, or if I want to continue something done before. I feel that I need to have a reason to get in the studio. A certain mood, something that I need to do. I think my everyday life blends with music.
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?
Ripple Effect, my last album (2018), came about with the very conscious decision that I wanted to aesthetically bring two different worlds into a dialogue with each other: soundtrack- and electronic music.
I started writing the score for a non existing movie, and I had a certain plot and development in mind. So it was like writing music for scenes. It felt fulfilling to work on that project, because I felt that there was a reason, and a story behind it.
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?
Usually creativity for me is related with moments that are emotionally charged. Something that triggers my need to express and communicate it. There is no ideal for me ... If you don’t feel something about a piece of work, nobody will, however outstanding the production might be.
So I think its all about a frame set and a moment in time, that everything works and falls in place, then you move on.
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?
It's related to the point that you can see reactions in real time of something that you play live, trying to see if they feel the same as you about something. I like improvisation - but to the extend that it is based on the work or music I want to present.
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?
A sound might help you to shape an idea. A personalised made sound can lead you to a more intimate idea. For me sound is a creative aspect of the music. It’s the colours you create to make a painting.
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?
Music has the ability to talk straight to our inner world. It doesn’t have to be analysed to be felt. To me usually is related to images. I hear a piece of music and I am “seeing”. Sound can be used and be transformed in so many ways, that seems endless.
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?
I feel that like most my life creates the canvas of my creativity. There are moments that I want to function conceptually and support an idea. There are moments were I want to express a feeling. I like to have this freedom, and that keeps me on my toes and makes me challenge myself.
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?
Music is a fundamental language, we all should have access to. It has this unique ability to speak to our inner world, like no other. We consider it our own, like no other art form, and it becomes a part of our lives. I don’t feel something will change in regards to this relation.