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?
Jared: There is something special about the energy when you get multiple people in a room who have a similar vision for a song that you are working on. There is a certain spontaneity that develops which can make for some very interesting sounds and song writing. At the same rate, file sharing is great cause it allows you to take your time and really look at an idea and dissect it on your own terms.
Sasha: Funny thing about this is that most collaboration is indeed conducted non realtime, and online. Jams are seldom properly recorded but are fun and inspirational. I have messed around with online jam services in the past (Rocket network, Ninjam) but to date latency is still a buzzkill. If anyone has fixed this, please reach out to the @F7A twitter.
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?
Sasha: I am, and always have been a freelancer and have 0 set schedule. Day, night, all the same to me. Maybe this is why I crave patterns and solid timing? I am exposed to new locations and equipment daily. Nicotine and caffeine help.
Craig: Most days I work my day job as an electrician. In the evenings and weekend when I feel inspired I sit in the studio and write or just tinker. The only time I have a schedule is when an album is due. If I had it my way schedule would never come into the equation.
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?
Craig: I write a beat on a drum machine and then start jamming out a bass line, chord progression and melody. After that I start to arrange the parts and slowly build on each part. After I have a basic song created I send it off to others to refine or vice versa. Typically, a song will exchange hands multiple times between all members until we are all happy with the final result. Probably the most dear song to me is the song “Ritual” by Delerium. That song and every other song I have worked on have all started the same way, usually just a simple beat.
Sasha: Sometimes there is a concept for a piece and you try to follow it through and stay on target. But most times the song will begin to live its own life as you progress, you just follow it. The opening DX-7s on Deadened set the tone for me for that whole song.
Jared: There is no specific process for me, sometimes it starts with a beat, other times a sample that gets manipulated, other times a lead or top line. There are always ideas playing themselves inside my brain, sometimes I can catch them, other times they disappear.
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?
Jared: I think it applies to what kind of music you are making in regards to state of mind. I'm not sure an ideal state of mind exists for me. Alcohol has always been an accellerant into hyper creativity for me personally.
Craig: The ideal state of mind is peace. The more relaxed I am the easier the ideas flow. The best strategy for me is stay on top of my daily responsibilities and have a clear head.
Sasha: I find that constantly exploring new techniques will inevitably take you somewhere that you haven't been. This is a bit of a shotgun approach though and you don't always have the luxury of time. Layering stacks of synths and samples and playing them live can be quite inspirational. Following Youtube tutorials for just about anything can bring unexpected results, too.
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?
Jared; When you play live, there are occasionally times in a song when your live addition is a bit 'loose' and lends itself to some improvisation and experimentations. Occasionally you will try something live that you immediately recognize as interesting and you can take it home and put it into a separate song, or even turn into a new idea or patch.
Sasha: I am not part of the FLA live lineup but I do sometimes have late night jamspace sessions just to be LOUD. Bringing these ideas home and refining them works out well.
Craig: There is little to no connection for me in this way.
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?
Sasha: This definitely goes both ways. sometimes you just need a bread and butter bass patch to hold it down and other times the patch/sample will be the foundation that you build around. Movie and field sampling are still great ways to add width and quirks to something static.
Craig: I see this as one of the most important parts of composition. The way a melody sounds is very important to it delivering the message it carries. I use plugins and effects to shape every sound that I record. Synthesizers are all about this principle. Sampling is great for this as well because it allows me to manipulate the simplest sounds into things I would never have imagined originally.
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?
Sasha: Mid/side mixing and effecting has become a bit of an obsession for me. It's some kind of voodoo that has been a part of mastering since the advent of stereo recording. The tools available now make it much easier to experiment with. Seeing Meat Beat Manifesto live made me see (and feel) that there is a whole other world below 60Hz. I swear that they calculate some song tempos and keys from 20 cycles per second all the way up.
Craig: Sound as it relates to touch and sight. The images it can bring to your mind and the feeling of the electromagnetic speakers pulsing the sound radiation through my nervous system when its turned up to an unreasonably loud volume. Sound becomes an experience that is beyond everyday reality when you let go of your world and live in the moment of that piece.
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?
Sasha: I like music and lyrics to be somewhat ambiguous. misheard lyrics and masked instrumentation make things very personal to each listener (Thom Yorke is brilliant at this). On the other hand, cutting straight to the point hits hard.
Craig: Art for me is an escape from reality and a departure from society and politics. The more I try to push a concept with my music the less success I have. Peace and freedom is my approach. If I can help someone else feel unchained from their daily grind that is success. I am also content just writing music that only I listen to as well. Sometimes my approach is just for personal reasons.
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?
Jared: The sheer amount of music available on streaming platforms and the fact that anyone and everyone has the ability to make music has diluted and devalued the industry. Years ago, a band's record either sounded great (professionally recorded) or it sounded kinda shitty (recorded at a home studio). Now everyone has the ability to make studio quality music at home, increasing the overall quality of music but diluted the industry with so much of it. In the future a stream of crypto currency that is itself the musical data could be consumed by the second, with minimal infrastructure between the artist and listener. This removes the middle-man, lower costs for consumers and provide much greater compensation for the artist (and immediate payment).
Sasha: There was an iPhone app that I used to use when walking or cycling called "Kids On DSP". I think that it's been out of production for at least 5 years now but it was a really cool look forward. The iPhone headset mic would pick up all of the ambient city noise around you and stretch/pitch/stutter/delay it to a very minimal techno kick and bassline. I don't know why more people didn't get into this but I'm sure that the concept will be used again. I would love to write backing tracks for something like this.