Bleep: You’ve got a really coherent visual aesthetic, would you like to extend it further and across more aspects of your work?
oOoOO: Is that a nice way of saying I don’t have a coherent sonic aesthetic? Actually, I think the new EP and everything I am working on now is much more coherent than what I’ve done before. Before I was trying to put a million influences into my songs, but hadn’t figured a way to fit them in efficiently. On the older songs, its obvious I’m experimenting with how to combine them into something that’s distinctly my own. So you get songs like Mumbai and Hearts on the same release even though they are very different. But I think there is more of a distinct oOoOO sound now.
B: Tri Angle has a strong sonic identity which almost feel like an artists’ collective. What type of relationship do you have with the other acts signed by the label ? Do you guys hang out?
O: I’ve played and hung out with a lot of the people on TriAngle and really like everyone I’ve met. I’d probably hang with any of them more often if the nearest ones didn’t live thousands of miles away.
B: You’ve worked on remixing Lindsay Lohan, any other popular culture figure’s sound you’d like to add your touch to?
O: Yeah, any major pop stars that wanna work with me in any capacity, even if its just hanging out should get in touch. I am ready for whatever.
B: This one is more of a request…I’ve heard you like Jana Hunter (We’re fans too), is there a possibility of a remix or a collaboration with Lower Dens in the future?
O: Maybe yeah. That could be interesting.
B: Do you see recording equipment and the studio environment as a source of inspiration or rather as tools that allows you to realise your musical concepts?
O: Most of my studio equipment is virtual so its hard to fetishize it the way analog musicians do with like old synths and amps. But the tools themselves are inspiring to an extent, yeah. I write and record at the same time, like probably a lot or even most people making electronic music, so messing around with the plug ins becomes part of the process. Learning new plug ins can be inspiring.
B: What is next in the pipeline for oOoOO?
O: I’m working on a lot of new material at the moment. Hopefully I’ll be ready to put out an LP later this year.
Bleep: With a few aliases to your name, why the new one? Does it refer to something specific apart from being the act of ‘non-intercourse’, sexual exercise?
Sensate Focus: I think at first I was drawn to the word ’sensate’ in terms of the sensation of sound, as opposed to it being some kind of means of expression or communication. My music doesn’t aim express or communicate anything. So the idea of sensate was to focus on the sound as the main area of interest. In this sense, the point of the music isn’t directed at the goal of understanding its message. So the idea of Sensate Focus seemed to fit my agenda here.
In this case the sound is not meant to be anything unusual, for example its not an exercise in creating radical new synthetic sound textures. Instead it focusses on the chordal and percussive sounds and patterns found in some forms of club music. Particularly chord stabs and pads you might hear in House and Techno music. In this it follows a similar template to my work with Mat Steel, as SND, but is slightly different in terms of the specific sounds and patterns it explores.
B:Can you elaborate on where you might be taking Sensate Focus as an artist? I.e. some of your work as Mark Fell crosses into the realms of installation and audiovisual performance.
SF: Ideally the label will release work that can be played in clubs and people can actually dance to is. The label and project will be including other producers but all released under the name Sensate Focus. I already have a few people on board to work with. Also my solo work tends to be quite messed up, so i wanted to make a stylistic distinction between that and this.
In the solo projects I have been releasing recently, the work uses some simple programming structures to generate the patterns. Whereas with Sensate Focus, the initial idea is that everything should be made with the pencil tool in a grid based music editor, for example: Logic, Cubase or Digital Performer. I never use this tool in my solo work to create patterns. So this is the main difference in terms of production and thats why the logo for the project is the pencil, also Peter at Editions Mego had loads of pencils made. They are meant to look like the pencil in Logic or something similar, I liked the idea to give this some kind of physical form outside the software.
B:Is this to be an output for more accessible Mark Fell productions? What’s the connection with Editions Mego?
SF: It’s not meant to be any more accessible, popular or less experimental than any other work I do; those kinds of questions don’t really interest me. Primarily it’s meant to be music i like. I have a big problem with the whole idea of calling some music experimental and others just popular. Think for example of the beginning of acid house music, for me this was as experimental as anything coming out of research centres or more ’serious’ musical practices. Obviously some music sounds weirder than others but i would just put this down to a question of familiarity or more or less unusual; not that one is more normal and one is more experimental. So for me editions mego is an ideal platform to undermine that distinction.
I also like the kind of relationship between the same group working in different combinations and under different pseudonyms. Think for example of the amazing work done by Tack Head, Fats Comet and Mark Stewart and the Maffia. It seemed like different versions of the same song would turn up in different guises – that situation fascinates me. For me, the best example of this is ‘DJs Dream’ by Fats Comet and ‘Hypnotised’ by Mark Stewart – two versions of the same thing that form a dialogue with one another. Not knowing the story behind the production of these records perhaps ‘Hypnotised’ is a car crash of a remix of ‘DJs Dream’, or perhaps ‘DJs Dream’ is a polished remix of ‘Hypnotised’. But it seemed to me the tension between the two releases, and words ‘ream’ and ‘hypnotised’ articulated a complex position in relation to the political climate in britain at that time.
B:Can you give us an idea what’s next for Sensate Focus as a label and Sensate focus as an artist?
SF: I’m just working on the second release and a remix of the first release. I think i will make a track with my son who is a DJ based in Leeds and I think I might also ask my dad to work on something with me. Which would be quite mental….
Bleep: Could you give us a bit of background as to how the collaboration came together?
COSEY: Mute invited Chris and myself to play as part of Mute Short Circuit at the Roundhouse in May 2011. They mentioned that it would be good for fellow Mute artists to collaborate, which appealed to us. Then we started thinking of who we’d like to work with that would be different for us and we thought of Nik. We’d seen her play previous to Factory Floor and then with them so we knew and really liked her work.
NIK: I first met Chris & Cosey briefly at the ICA at Cosey Complex with Factory Floor, then later my manager at the time Paul Smith, who is also Chris & Cosey’s, invited me to what he called a biggish do at the Tate where Cosey was performing. Her performance was an eye opener and blew me away just like Throbbing Gristle did when I first took home 2nd Annual Report from Mute’s basement. So when I received the email from Cosey asking me to perform with them at the Roundhouse in May I was thrilled to say the least.
B: Did the three of you discuss a direction / vision for the set, or did the outcome purely take shape through improvisation?
C: We proposed a very loose approach to allow for as much freedom for us all as possible… just for Nik to come to our studio and jam to some rhythms together and see what happened. Then take that into a live situation as soon as possible to keep it fresh and energised. So the outcome was solely down to the improvisational approach we decided on from the get go.
B: Although the musical output from your respective camps takes different directions, do you think there are links that bind you together in terms of approach to sound and attitude? If so, how did these similarities – or differences – affect the creative process of working together?
C: I think the similarities of our approaches to sound making were crucial to the creative and working process. We’re all pretty much very open minded to allowing for anything to take its place within what we create. It’s a pretty physical process rather than theoretical. We feel our way through the sound working with the audio and its affects, drive and power. That’s what’s the most exciting thing for me personally, that we’re all conduits and facilitators for the manifestation of a collective work. Chris and myself have always worked like that and we knew Nik had a very similar approach.
N: I think individually we have our own staple sounds and investigative approach to our tools/ instruments. As I was not sure where we would begin, I began playing in a way which was familiar, sounds I’m used to working with in Factory Floor – after a few moments of playing together though, these sounds started to bend and take on a shape that fitted nicely into Chris and Cosey’s own language. It’s a joy playing with two people who are so obviously in tune with each other and to be able to fit in is a real honour. I think one major factor that unifies us is the ‘no fear’ to instinctively push ourselves into territories that may nudge us out of our comfort zones, but it only really works well if you have trust in your peers. It was like they led me down a dark ally blindfolded, but I had total faith in were we were going.
B: I liked that the crowd responses were left unedited, I felt it gave a strange physicality, a human angle to the recording – Was there a conscious decision to invite the listener to that live environment rather than present the pieces as a traditional album experience?
C: We wanted to make the gig available as soon as possible because a release would complete the project. I guess the album stands as a documentation of intent, execution and conclusion. That makes it sound a bit cold which it most certainly wasn’t. It was such a positively charged atmosphere at the gig and that energy from the audience was definitely instrumental in, and a contributing factor to the sounds we played live. The release also enabled the many people who couldn’t get into the gig itself to hear it as it was – unedited, a direct recording. So I suppose it’s not a ‘normal’ album – which hadn’t even occurred to me to be honest. It just was what it was for us all.
B: Can we expect to see future collaborations between the three of you?
C: As we all have separate projects it’s difficult to find time but we’re hoping to get together again for sure.
This week sees the release of the brilliant new releases by Mi Ami and Coyote Clean Up… Just another week in the life of 100% Silk – one of the most consistently brilliant record labels in recent memory. We decided to catch up with label boss, Amanda Brown and try and discover more about all the music they seem to be revealing to the world…
Bleep: 100% Silk has such a strong identity as a label yet is incessantly prolific when it comes to releasing records. What kind of policy do you have to finding and releasing new talent?
Amanda Brown: My policy about releasing has always been – if the music’s amazing then it deserves to be released. I don’t believe in being closed door, especially since demos are where real magic happens and how you get connected to SILK across the world. I hate this idea that labels have become so stuck in their ways, that they won’t consider new music. I think in the end it only does a disservice to that label – you have to grow and spread and revivify all the time. As for finding artists, they mostly come to me. I’m lucky enough too to get referrals from the SILK artist family, be a part of that community, and there’s such a network there. I’m extremely fortunate for that.
B: In light of the previous question, what other links, in terms of spirit and approach, bind together the material that appears on the label?
AB: Sensual, sideways, luxurious, contemporary, playful, joyful, irreverant, naturalistic, stylish – these are the words i think of when i imagine a 100% SILK artist and record. It’s some symbiosis of all these aspects that makes dance music so pleasurable for me.
B: Although your background has been immersed in Not Not Fun and your work as Pocahaunted, 100% Silk has an obvious and particularly raw understanding of dance music. What are you own personal experiences with the genre, and did you always intend to start-up a dance label?
AB: I used to listen to dance music when i was a pre-teen, early nineties. I was a huge Dee-lite, CeCe Peniston, and Blackbox fan and a friend’s older sister used to go to these crazy London and New York clubs and come back and tell us about the down-tempo groove soul/acid party girl vibes and I’d go nuts, get so jealous. I dabbled in a bit of hilarious techno – “James Brown is dead” – and some over the top UK big picture stuff – KLF – and of course had lots of my mother’s disco records – Evelyn “Champagne” King was a favorite. But no, I never intended to start a dance label. It’s a pretty shut-off world, with lots of purists, and I always figured I wouldn’t be accepted, seeing as I love dance for it’s freedom and humor and exuberance.
B: L.A. has always been a hotbed of musical creativity but there seem to be especially interesting things coming from the area right now. Is there anything about the place that inspires you and your label contemporaries?
AB: L.A. is where I’m from, it’s my home, so I have endless praise for it. It’s corny, but i think heat is always inspiring, being hot always makes me create more. People say it’s competitive, and it is, but mostly in other music scenes – I’ve found the dance/DJ underground here to be awesome, open arms… and it’s beautiful, and there’s fresh fruit on every street, and who doesn’t make better music when they’re full of fresh fruit?
Bleep: Can you give us idea of your studio set-up and your usual process of making music?
Mo Kolours: My set up is small, just some bits and bobs to hit and shake! A couple of bust-up old keyboards, a mic, and some records. I’ve got some Philips SBC HP250 headphones.
B: It’s somewhat essential to mention your ancestry in relationship to your music. Both of your EPs are awash with the Sega music of your father’s homeland. Was it always a conscious decision to incorporate it into your work?
MK: Sega is an influence for me, but it wasn’t a conscious decision to put it in the music. My attempts at making stuff, are a reflection of all the music I love and more.
B: In light of that, how far is your work influenced by your other home, e.g. the sights and sounds of South London?
MK: South-London’s population mix fuels my interest for all cultures and their musics, you’ve got representatives from every corner of the globe!
B: You work closely with Paul White of One Handed Music. Is there anyone else you would like to collaborate with?
MK: It would be great to work with more people….so I’m always on the lookout.
B: What contemporary music are you listening to currently?
MK: Listen out for Tighface, Ujean Wilda, and Al Dobson jr.
B: Your debut EP was released digitally as well as on vinyl and most interestingly, cassette. How important as tangible forms of music for yourself and where do you sit on the digital/physical divide?
MK: Records and cassettes have some irreplaceable qualities. They have a history, a story, a smell, they develop a kind of characters of their own, and evoke memories. Not to mention the sound-quality.
B: What can we expect next from Mo Kolours?
MK: More beats, collabs, gigs, and general hitting stuff and jigging around!
This week sees the welcome return of Monolake (aka Robert Henke). He has a new album entitled “Ghosts” and is also doing an album launch party tonight in Fabric. We decided to have a few words with the man himself about his new album and his relationship with his music…
Bleep: ‘Ghosts’ seems to come with a whole creative aesthetic, from the artwork to the sound particles, what experiences have you drawn on to create this album?
Monolake: I very much like the idea of a record as being more than just a random
collection of tracks. When I work on music, I get inspiration from very different sources, and I try to make it all come together to form a bigger structure. In the case of Ghosts there is the story fragment, and then there are the photos I took in Australia, and of course the music. I continuously make music, write little stories and take photos. Sometimes things just come together and start making sense. This happened to me when I started working on Ghosts. The cover photo was pretty obvious to me once I finished a rough sketch of the first track, and then the rest just happened. I like to create atmospheres and spaces. So once the overall tone was set, the direction became quite clear.
B: With the current culture of music consumption encouraging a short attention span, your album seems to instead require and encourage the long player format. What is it that you want your audience to experience?
M: Do you know the movie ‘Stalker’ by Andrej Tarkowski? You watch it and it is quite odd and disturbing in its slowness. It demands focus and at the same time it is totally ‘ambient’. The big WOW! moment comes later, after you left the movie theater. You suddenly realize that this was very amazing and spiritual. Ideally my music works in a similar way. Not sure if I achieved it so far, but that’s the goal.
B: How does this then transfer into a live show?
M: Unlike all Monolake live shows in the past, this one here is really aimed towards bringing the sound and the mood of this specific album on stage. In the past the live shows were slowly growing and changing, independent of record releases. This one is different. I spent a lot of time in preparations and in thinking about a good strategy here. It was clear to me, that I want to present it in surround, because I want it to be as immersive as possible. It was also clear that I want to find a way to transfer all the work I made in the studio on stage in a way that allows me to improvise. I need to have fun during a concert, too, and simply pressing play and dance behind the laptop is not an option. And also very important is the visual component. I am working with a brilliant artist and programmer, Tarik Barri, and I pushed him hard to develop a quite unique and special visual counterpart for the music. ‘The Monolake Ghosts in Surround Tour’ is a big effort in reaching a different level, show wise. I am quite happy how the preparations work out so far, but the first concert has yet to come. Let’s hope it works the way I intend it to work. It is certainly not the usual club food, there are some challenging moments in it, including a track in the middle of the set that has no beats at all and lots of tracks with different tempos and groove. I definitely want to play this in clubs, at prime time. Going to a concert also in a club must be an experience that is at least in parts surprising and different from what a normal DJ set would deliver.
B: The ability to microscopically record sound and manipulate it is still relatively new to music, how has technology changed your creative process?
M: I work much faster than ever, and it takes all much longer. Faster because I can make tons of edits in no time, and it takes longer since no technology answers the most important question in creating art: why do we do what we do? The more options one has, the more difficult it can get to make the right decisions. One always need to step back and try to find a distant perspective to the own work. It became very easy to get lost in detail.
B: Are you evolving with the technology or are you creating it to evolve with you? (Does the music feed the technology or does the technology feed the music?)
M: It is a feedback loop. However, after being involved in the creation of tools throughout my artistic career, I focus more on mastering the tools I already know, instead of exploring new ones. We are at a turning point, where the complexity of the tools becomes the main limitation for creation. I do not need more technology, I need more time to understand the potential of what is already right in front of me.
B: Your work within Ableton and your work as a professor shows your interest in facilitating information. How important is this dialogue, does it also feed back in to your own work?
M: I love teaching students, because they always ask questions I cannot answer. This forces me to learn and to rethink my own points of view all the time. If you want to be a good teacher, first of all you need to be curious and open. Talking with students is an occupation I tremendously enjoy for this reason. It keeps me mentally alive.
B: What are the reasons in having your own label to release your own music?
M: It just happened and now I am just used to the fact that I have total control over every detail. I do not want to give this freedom away anymore. Imbalance Computer Music is a one man show: I make coffee for myself, I write invoices, I define release schedules and get more grey hairs when my releases are leaked before they are even in the shops. Might not be very wise, economically, but I am a bit stubborn.
B: How do you see 2012 unfolding with your work and live show?
M: I hope the album and the concerts will be well received. I worked very hard on it all, and it would be nice to get some recognition for it. But as far as I can tell today, things look good. And there are a few amazing artistic possibilities for 2012 / 2013 on the horizon, which I do not want to talk about at this time….
With this in mind, we are quite keen to see what they get up to in 2012. And they already seem to be doing a lot…
They have already announced a European Tour showcasing some of the label’s brilliant roster including Balam Acab, oOoOO, and Holy Other.
Playing at Tri Angle’s London showcase is their latest signing, The Haxan Cloak.
We decided to catch up with the man himself and discuss his approach to music….
Bleep: Your work seems to have a very cohesive sound palette and atmosphere, what inspired your project The Haxan Cloak?
The Haxan Cloak: The Haxan Cloak comes from a vast array of influences. I seem to have some inclination toward the darker aspects of society and culture. I think this is a main theme that permeates the music I make.
B: Coming from a sound art background, there seems to be a real physicality to your music, what are your interests in sound, and what experience are you trying to convey to the listener?
THC: My interests in sound are absolutely very textural. I feel much more compelled towards tone than I do toward rhythm. I don’t really consider the role of the listener when I am making music, however, I do often hope, in hindsight, that listeners are able to be as engrossed in the sound as I am.
B: Your works seems to build the bridge between the organic and the synthetic, from live instrument recording to digital manipulation. What role does technology play in your music. Does it enhance or hinder?
THC: Technology doesn’t necessarily enhance or hinder, it merely facilitates. I’m not really a huge ‘gear’ person. I like to have as few implements as possible when it comes to making music. The most difficult part of making music is a clear concept. If you don’t have a strong idea that you believe in, no amount of technology can cover that up.
B: How do you approach transferring your music in to a live environment?
THC: I appreciate that an audience likes to hear familiar material, however, I’m not such a huge of fan of recreating my record faithfully in a live context – you may as well listen to the record at home. I take elements of my recordings and essentially remix them live. In this way, the audience still gets a snippet of something they recognise, but they also get to experience something completely new within this familiar framework.
B: You have just signed to Tri-Angle Records, what other contemporary music do you feel inspired by? Is there anyone out there you would like to collaborate with?
THC: I don’t know if I feel inspired by much contemporary music. Some artists I like, off the top of my head are: Actress, Grouper, Eddy Current Supression Ring, Alexander Tucker, Death Grips, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Theo Parish, Hype WIlliams, Beyonce, Lil’ Wayne…I could go on…
I’d like to write music for Matthew Barney, Bela Tarr or Harmony Korine.
B: What have you developed since your album on Aurora Borealis, what should we expect from your upcoming release?
THC: I’ve developed a stronger sense of who I am as an artist and a clearer vision of how I’d like to develop and challenge myself. The next release will be a continuation of textural themes explored on my previous record. It will be more rhythmically driven than the last and will be very different, however, still undeniably mine. I hope.
The track above ‘Holy Other – Feel Something (The Haxan Cloak Remix)’ is available to buy now exclusively on Bleep.
In 1996 Blue Angel Recordings (later Blue Planet) an imprint of the legendary Rising High label released the Drum ‘N’ Bass for Papa album by Plug AKA Luke Vibert. In early 2011, Luke Vibert told Ninja Tune that he found some long-lost never heard before DATs dated 1995-1998 from his Plug moniker.
Ninja Tune have none done the graceful thing and just recently released a collection of tracks from the same era with the brilliant “Back On Time” album. It’s pretty brilliant so we decided to have a few words with the man about his Plug side…
Bleep: Has re-listening / re-visiting the Plug project influenced your current music making?
Plug: No – it feels like a different person made it…
B: How has your music making process changed from when you first made Drum ‘n’ Bass for Papa?
P: I used hardware then, sequenced by an ancient Atari, and now I just use my laptop, so it’s pretty different…
B: Is the recording process / production process different from your other material under different monikers?
P: No, I just use whatever I have at the time… I can’t make the music of Plug anymore [or I would!] but it was hours of going through samples then hours of putting them together/cutting them up/arranging them etc… I don’t really have that kind of time these days.
B: Who do you listen to these days?
P: Same old shit as always really…Funk, Jazz, Moog music, Easy Listening, Disco – anything interesting. I hardly ever listen to anything new (perhaps cos I spend so much time making it).
B: Can you envisage producing under another moniker in the future?
P: Sure…especially if I start making stuff that doesn’t really sound like anything I’ve done before (which admittedly hasn’t happened for a while now!). Although my usual reason for new monikers was cos I’d signed with a new record label and had to make a new name up!