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Bleep Interviews Sensate Focus


This week sees the launch of a new sub-label of Editions Mego. The label is called Sensate Focus. The artist is Sensate Focus. The release is called Sensate Focus 10.

The man behind it all is Mark Fell from SND. We decided to catch up with the man himself to see what it is all about…

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….

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