Name: Will Long aka Celer
Occupation: Producer, sound artist, composer, poet
Current release: Celer's Sunspots is out via Oscarson /Two Acorns.
If you enjoyed this interview with Will Long/Celer, visit the official websites of Celer and Will Thomas Long. Or check out our earlier Celer interview, in which Will expands on a wider range of topics.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
Heartbreak, sadness, depression, happiness, hope, disappointment ... the usual things.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
It's not something I can plan, it's a response to circumstances or events. If these were predictable or controllable, so would be the course of life.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
No, there's no standardized process.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
Again, this "creative mindset" stuff is for the birds. I'm making something as a response to things that have happened in my life as a regular part of everyday, for whatever I can earn by making as much as possible to get by.
I wish I could be like Grace Jones and go to Nassau to work in a studio and record an album, but they aren't us. The only difference is choice of the mindset. The rest of us live it.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
I start with a picture in my head, a feeling - what did that feel like?
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
To answer that one has to first assume that every idea has a beginning and end, a question and an answer, an action and a consequence.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
Control? My goodness, what a concept. As if we really have control over anything ... as far as the music controlling the narrative, I don't think so.
Things happened the way I remember them. To me, at least.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
This is usually why I don't spend a lot of time making something. Those new ideas and alternative roads are just that - something different, and usually, life often develops faster than we can comprehend, or slower than we have patience for.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
It can be a burden. I'm very lucky to be able to do what I do - to be able to survive by making music and art - but this is primarily because I can't do anything else.
While it seems nice to be able to do what you love - which I do, due to the personal interrelation of music, memory, and feeling, it can be incredibly difficult.
I grew up in a strict evangelical family, and because of that, I view spirituality with skepticism, and lack of interest. No, I view it as personal.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
The idea of completion is a fantasy, or an advertisment. I find that unfortunate, but realistic.
Every work is just another step. Forwards and backwards.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
I don't really think about this at all. However, in the last two years I've been reissuing albums from the beginning of my catalog, on fully pressed CDs with expanded artwork, and remastered music. This has allowed me to present it in the most ideal way I can, as I wasn't capable of it back then.
That being said, I don't really evaluate it beyond placing in its particular time, and presenting it as best I can as a document from then.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
I produce, and mix everything 100%. I've been working with Stephan Mathieu for mastering for the past few years, and I hope to continue that.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
Yes, both before and after. I likely never stopped in the first place, because life continues. Maybe one day I won't need to say anything else.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
While I do view the tasks differently - unless you are making a coffee based on a memory or experience as motivation - the main difference is that a barista gets a reliable hourly wage.