When did you start making music and what was the contributor factor that made you to do so?
I’d been playing guitar since I was 8, kind of compulsory, it felt like a chore. I asked for a keyboard aged 13 and started playing stuff I like on my own terms, which is about when I started writing.
How hard was it for you to create, record and release your first material?
First EP I did it on a old desktop Apple Mac (which I bought with a postgraduate loan) with samples and a pair of vintage 1980s Yamaha keyboards (from Cash Converters) + a mini-mixer which gave a lo-fi sound. The recording involved a lot of layering to get the elements sounding pro. I put a lot into it the process – everything really – it was hard work. I thought this could be my first and last release so let’s make it a valid and engaging piece of art, a document. The mood was right all my influences were in place.
What is the main art form that influenced you in creating? Was it only music or did movies and other forms of art influenced your creative process?
Yeah movies, early memories of TV – quite a lot of sci-fi as a kid. Kubrick’s 2001 had a big impact on me as a precocious 10 year old. Influences can be, I don’t know…interpersonal and socio-political vexations, the new Bladerunner film’s cityscapes provided a mental image guide for me on new song on the forthcoming EP. Certainly the mood of some books e.g. the Sorrows of Young Werther, imagery from that guided me on once. Nausea (Satre), Hesse. Poetry. Other music mainly – musicians doing something authentic, truthful and with edge.
What are the steps that an idea takes before becoming a fully fledge song? And how does that idea affects the way you build an album from the ground up?
I can be jamming, or a melody can enter my head whilst I’m walking or washing up or pissing or anything, depends what’s on my mind. I don’t have a method. Let me think, for instance…new song High Command is about a bad trip (on a pill with a death’s head skull on it), I wrote most of the lyrics whist having to sit down in the beer-garden of some club in East London completely fucked, I thought I was dying, not had to endure anything like that for years. I started sketching down the lyrics in my phone. Next day I jammed them over drums and bass-line programmed by Ed (the other guy in Detachments). Over several more sessions I layered it up with other sounds – synths, atmospheres and guitars. It took an increasingly frustrating amount of time to mix and to balance the arrangement. Not a pleasant experience for me really. The result is good though. Another example – Holiday Romance – I had a jam after watching The Holy Mountain alone, there’s some bizarre purely creative energy and presence surrounding that film. The lyrics (which were ready soon before) are about a Swedish girl I’d been living with for years, we’d recently separated and she told me she was going on hols to Spain, pang of the heart ensued. The song fell together quite easily, but I wasn’t sure it was good enough in that form. A couple of weeks later I completely re-recorded it with James Ford on all his vintage synth gear, it was our first session – initially he came up with some new, heavy crunching beats – which were not suitable, so a few days later I tricked him into using those beats for You Never Knew Me instead. So we did Hol Rom again using my home-demo as the arrangement template. Result.
What do you consider the most important traits that a song and an album must have before you consider it to be completed?
For a song to be complete, it’s instinctive when you know, it must sound satisfying, It must hold the right level of intensity and atmosphere. Do you mean the production? The writing is the most important bit though, the song must be defined and crucially it must somehow encapsulate the essence of the soul, of a feeling. For a complete album – I suppose it must have a very subtle narrative thread, it should naturally feel like a coherent sequence of events.
What are the actual steps that you take when you are creating? Do you need to enter or go to a certain setting in order to get creative?
I use an iCloud notebook that I type ideas into, I consult the notes whenever they are needed. Also, if e.g. Eddy sends me a beat and I like it – I might just jam to it instantly and record it on my iPhone. In general, my iPhone is full of little recordings actually, riffs to vocal/lyrics ideas. Too many, I need to file them and sift out any gems, but that would be a few days of tedious work, solid. And the computer contains a lot of sketches. I’d like to go away to some secluded location without distractions and work on songs, but that’s just a dream right now.
Except art are there any other external or internal factors that influence you when you create, if so what are they?
Chain of Secrets has a middle-eastern feel, I wrote it during 8 months living in a Turkish area of London, also it was during a period when the media was first pushing ISIL to manipulatively instil the masses with fear, in an Orwellian manner. So, I’m often influenced by my environment and the zeitgeist. I believe that is the duty of authentic art – to encapsulate something of the zeitgeist. Contemporary art-forms should somehow reflect or respond to the era in which they exist in order to qualify as valid. It can be in a subtle manner or a way in which something pre-existing is subverted. But the subtext of the intention/vision must somehow be primed with something of the human spirit of the times, that’s how I feel anyway.
What is your main motivation to create and be creative?
It’s not a conscious decision, it just happens and I am compelled to do it. It’s just how I’m wired. Sometimes the prime mover is a cathartic compulsion, sometimes a process in which an purging is necessary. Sometimes I just respond to other art-forms that I find vital and inspiring.
How long does it take to go from a song to an album from scratch to the fully recorded version?
It’s different for every track, they’re all individuals. The new EP/mini-LP which is out this autumn, each song took several times longer to finish that anticipated. Lyrical revisions, vocal performance edits and detailed layering in of sounds – the latter is extremely time-consuming. The recording took weeks (a few sessions per week) I was pissed off in the end. The album ‘Detachments’ that I made with James Ford took about 10 consecutive days in total – intensive work midday to 2am daily. We were focused. James had an engineer who did all the tech stuff so he and I could concentrate on purely artistic matters, that is the way it should be done.
Do you take multiple takes of the songs before settling on the final version or do you go with the flow and just do one take?
Quite a few of vocal takes and then lots of drop-ins which can become painful. That’s digital recording – there aren’t many limits/boundaries. But with playing instruments I don’t bother with many takes, I edit if things need altering. A lot more time is spent on layers and effects. The necessity to be constantly reviewing/listening back is the great thief of time. One day I’d like to try a solo album where each song is comprised of just 4 tracks and do two takes for everything, with only a few effects.
During live shows what do you like to do more, experiment and improvise on the basis of the existing album and songs or you are more likely to recreate the recorded material as faithfully as possible?
Faithful but with a wild element thrown in.
What are the main ingredients that makes a live show special for you?
Good energy from the crowd helps. So I can react to them.
Do new ideas appear during live performances? If so how to do you proceed in order to materialize them?
What is the perfect time of day and weather that makes you creative?
I can’t relate to this question. Inspiration can strike anytime.
What are your future plans and what advice do you have for people that want to get into creating music?
We’ve got an EP / MiniLP out on Young & Cold Records (of Germany) in autumn. A few shows this year…e.g. a big show at Wav-Gotik-Treffen (Liepzig) with Boy Harsher and Black Marble in May. I also have a solo side-project (that is rather different) in the pipeline.
Advice on a music career? Don’t do it, get a normal secure job and save your life! Haha, I don’t know, I’m the wrong person to ask, nothing has ever run smoothly yet.