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?
For me it all relates to deadlines. I enjoy the times when I only have a couple of tracks to finish in my own time as much as I enjoy the rush of having to meet a deadline and the focus it can give the creative process. I am easily distracted and tend to do a few things at once but while I am off doing other things my mind is on the current composition. I will often move to a different space and play where I am at on a loop, not paying it any attention, just letting it play along and then noticing when it feels too long or disjointed.
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?
They feed into each other. Ideally songs are developed live so they naturally grow out of what’s working in the live space and what isn't, but we don’t always have the luxury to do that now. So once a track is finished we have to figure out how best to create it live and then refine it after each show if it’s not working as well as we feel it should.
Our current live show allows a lot of room to improvise due to the way we split the songs up in Ableton live and the controllers we use. It is hugely important to us that live electronic music feels like it's being created by people who are not just staring at their computer screen watching a pre-made structure play, so we put a lot of time and effort into creating a live system that allows us to ride the vibe of the room in real time.
The energy of the live environment is something we like to try and re-create in the studio. During the making of the last album we would setup like we would for a live show, then jam an undeveloped song with a full dub mix for 20mins with the studio dark and speakers up loud, vibing off each other. Once finished, we would bounce down a stereo version of what we had done and cut it into a composition, and then lay that edit back into the recording and cut the multitrack down to it. Once we had that basic new song structure we would work to refine it.
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?
I am always hearing compositions in the outside world, the way random sounds can suggest a musical structure, I often use recordings of these sounds as a way to start a new track: sometimes this original sound field stays in the track, sometimes it slowly disappears as the tune develops.
For me recorded sound, sound effects and dub mixing are the melodies in my music. I need to work with others to add more traditional music into my sound.
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?
Definitely stepping out of stereo and into a wider field of sound is a start, to be enveloped by sound where you can close your eyes and just be in the sound. Then for me the next sense is vision. I love it when the two are completely connected live, being delivered in real time, more than just a VJ jamming along, but a real connection between the live music and the images, a chance for music to support the eyes.
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 have no real idea why but I have always been drawn to music and video, I was not particularly good at fine arts so when the first video cameras and video projectors became available, I found a medium I could add to sound to create a live experience.
My approach to “Art” is to just keep doing it while enjoying going to it. I love “Art” and experiencing other people’s creativity, both abstract and political work. I am constantly going to galleries and sonic art shows.
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?
The thing I like about music is it can be enjoyed intensely as a main focus and/or also as an adjunct to images or just in the background. It can carry a very powerful emotional experience for people.
I am intrigued about how the “AI” development will allow music to be “just” created by a machine - will this be as satisfying to people? I imagine certain types of music will go this way.
I am also watching developments like what Ninja Tunes are doing with their N-jam app, where anyone can make new versions of tunes. With the releasing of sample packs by labels for people to make their own versions of favourite songs, it is now so easy to make music yourself.
Music will always have a place, whatever shape it becomes.