Part 1

Name: Loz Goddard
Occupation: DJ, producer
Nationality: British
Current Release: Loz Goddard's new album Balloon Tree Road is out via Oath.
Recommendations: Boards of Canada – Tomorrows Harvest; Gescom – "Sciew Spoc"

If you enjoyed this interview with Loz Goddard and would like to stay up to date on his activities, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.   

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started out in bands first at age 13/14 roughly, so quite an early start. I played drums and wrote guitar parts for a few years before moving to making music on my own. Often with bands, the practising, recording and jams are difficult to organise as you really need everyone present and that can be a little tedious. Doing it on my own felt like the right move and that was around age 18/19.

My early influences still influence my music to this day. Boards of Canada, Squarepusher, Autechre, Aphex Twin, LFO, Luke Vibert ... Pretty much most of that kinda thing. A hell of a lot of Warp Records stuff!

Being into music already it’s never really been enough for me to just listen, I always want to create. Listening to music inspires me to do exactly that, so starting a solo project felt quite natural. The first few years were completely free of any pressure, just jamming ambient and IDM style stuff that I was already surrounding myself with when listening.

For most artists, originality is 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?

To an extent, I’ve probably answered some of this above. I was definitely emulating what I was listening to back when I started making music. Autechre’s ‘Incunabula’ album and the more chilled out tracks by Aphex Twin such as ‘Acrid Avid Jam Shred’ are two examples of the sort of thing I was trying to create.

For me, the initial learning process of that was loads of fun. I’d actually mention that as a bit of a production tip – to start off by doing some sort of emulation of artists you like. Of course, that will fade away as you develop your own sounds and style, but it’s fine to start with.

My journey so far as an artist has seen me dip into deep house, disco, jazz, ambient and breaks, so it’s been quite varied. I tend to take inspiration by what I’m listening to at home or in my car or whatever, and that changes a lot. I tend to have ‘phases’ with what I listen to, and I think that can be heard in my music to an extent. For instance, I made a lot of house/deep house with disco samples back when I was listening to a lot of Disco and Funk (around 2016-2017).

These days I’m listening to all the same kinda stuff that I started out with - so Ambient, IDM, Drum & Bass, Breaks and Jazz. I feel that I’ve gone full circle and ended up back where I started, but with all the additional production knowledge and experience, that’s a nice way of looking at it.

How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?

I feel like my identity influenced my creativity a lot more back when I was producing a lot of disco/house tracks. When you find yourself in a certain ‘scene’ with a lot of other artists & friends doing similar things, you’re always going to have a slight sway toward that scene whenever you enter the studio.

The last few years though, I have found myself wanting to distance myself from that particular scene and just make whatever music I fancy making at the time. It’s great being part of a scene, but inevitably the same kind of bookings and requests for remixes come about and for me that got a little boring.

These days, I use my studio sessions to create exactly what I want to create, without consideration of an identity. I just make what I think sounds good to me. Of course, with this approach the music I make changes depending on how I’m feeling, so I’ve ended up with a bunch of tracks ranging from completely ambient & beatless, to uptempo & club-ready.

What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

When 2016 hit and I’d had a couple of releases that did really well, I started to feel the pressure of ‘needing’ to have a string of releases planned for each year. I started to fall into a routine with making music that meant my hobbies and seeing friends suffered a fair bit. I’d often turn down plans and cancel things if I thought I’d not worked enough on music that month or week.

I was planning a year+ in advance which was insane when I think back. The pressure of that between 2015 – 2018 also sprouted another huge challenge, and that’s working through a creative block. I had so many studio sessions back then that had me questioning if I was even any good at making music, but I just battled through the block. Of course it’s massively rewarding to battle through a block and come up with a decent idea, but it’s hard work. Hard work does pay off though, as when you hit on that good idea you are reminded why you’re doing what you do and that feeling that you’re ‘winging it’ musically fast dissipates.

Nowadays I tend to just have a break if I’m not feeling inspired. That break can last hours, days or months. I’ve put so much less pressure on my musical output and for sure it will be the way I remain. I’m having way more fun both inside and outside of the studio now.

As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?

My first instrument was a Yamaha Jazz Drumkit back when I was probably 10 or 11? I’ve been extremely lucky in having supportive parents who were completely behind me learning instruments, so of course that’s been hugely helpful.

From learning drums came the inevitable joining of bands, and from there I picked up playing guitar too. I still have my first guitar, an Ibanez Ergodyne EDR-470 which saw a lot of use back in the day. That was a bit of a metalhead guitar, which was a choice made because of all the metal I was listening to as a kid.

Once I decided to try the music thing as a solo artist I bought a Korg MicroKontrol to control Ableton and launch samples and clips from. Buying that was a result of entering the world of electronic music – all of my studio gear has been heavily influenced by the music I’ve been listening to at the time.

Got into synth-driven house music and bought a Juno 106. Got into the acid toughness artists like Paranoid London and bought a TR-8 drum machine.. The music I listen to has always been a deciding factor in choosing what to buy.

Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?

Oh yeah, for sure. I bought a Roland TD 30k Electronic Drumkit back in 2018 and that’s changed my music-making a lot. Being able to play my drums live straight into a track idea rather than program it or sequence stuff on a drum machine feels so much more real.

Playing live drums/instruments into my tracks has also taught me that not everything has to be perfectly quantized and crisp, even in dance music. Too much dance music these days is over-produced and I think playing live instruments into these kinda tracks retains more of that organic feel – something which I always try to capture in everything I make.

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?

Up to now I’ve only done one collaboration project, with Harry Wolfman for Dirt Crew Recordings. He lived down in London at the time and I was visiting the city often. Weirdly enough though, we did the entire EP through file sharing.

File sharing suits me the best for making music with others, as I am not always a fan of meeting up to work on ideas. I have always done music on my own terms, and file sharing is perfect for that. However, back when I was in bands and played the guitar a lot more, jams were the way to go. What I guess I don’t like is the structure around meeting up to sit in a studio to work on music, it almost feels like you’re forcing it a little.

Sending and receiving music from other friends who produce though is great. I really enjoy listening to anything made by anyone I know regardless of the style/genre. I’m interested in music, and if you’re making music and I know you even a bit, then I wanna hear it. Getting feedback is such an important thing for a lot of people, as so many artists doubt if their tracks are any good – so yeah, keep on sharing with your mates!

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