'Ere we go again...
Greetings and felicitations from the Planet Zog!
Okay I promise that any truths coming out in this won’t be so truthful that they annoy you. I’ll just try to gloss over the bullshit so you can keep thinking everything with me is happy and wonderful. It occasionally is :-)
Right then, for those who don’t know, I’m one of those freaky dudes who started playing music the moment he picked up something to make music with. It happened to be one of those blowy things with a little keyboard down the side and I was 3. This got upgraded to a miniature Bontempi organ with a internal fan so loud it was like switching on a Harrier jump jet. Fortunately, this was further upgraded to my grandmother’s harmonium, a couple of Yamaha organs and finally, some years later, to a Korg MS20 and an Akai GX400D tape machine!
I made plenty of shite with this setup and indeed I do have evidence to prove it :-)
That was around 1979-81. Thereafter, the next upgrade was to add a Roland Juno 6, a Korg KPR77 dum machine and a 4-track portastudio.
I made an inordinate amount of shite with this setup too and yes, I do have the evidence to prove it, presuming it’s not all rotted away at the back of the garage (R2R tapes). A lot of it has singing on it though so don’t get too excited!
By Replicant time the device being nice was a Korg T3. Between there and Nemesis in 1999, stuff used included an 8-track portastudio, an Akai S1000 having formerly belonged to Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve. Used it a lot on Maelstrom. Oh, the Juno 6 had upgraded itself to a 106 some years before. I just forgot to mention it! A Roland JD800 found its way into the mix on Maelstrom too. Poor fellow.
After Nemesis, notwithstanding the bullshit deal I had for it and the hassles surrounding that, I also came under pressure to actually earn some money. So I spent the next 12 years or so working in various roles at DHL. I don’t suppose they mind me mentioning it was them. I still did music - Lughnasad being the next album in 2002-3. This used a Korg Triton and not a lot else.
A few more years of gainful slavery went by and then up popped Binar, my collaboration thing with Paul Nagle. I still wasn’t doing my own music at this time but Binar put out a fair bit of material and had much fun in the process! In terms of gear by this time - modules : yeah stuff like Nord Rack 3 (oh how I miss my pretty pretty), Roland JP8080, Novation KS etc.
From 2009 I began a prolific round of recording again. By this time it had become the age of ProTools and software synths. So I hacked the living shit out of the latter and quite possibly used a few legally acquired softsynths too! You hear the results of these sessions on the Vanguard albums and Adagiometry EPs over at AD Music. By the time of the final mixes for those projects, all my gear was legal, since Avid had found a way of making ProTools squeaky clean by then!
In the last quarter of 2016 I released Harmonics in The Silence, followed all within the next year by Shadow at The Gate, Organon and Pareidolia. These are all major suite-length works consisting of long interconnected pieces, each suite being around 3.5hrs long and consisting of 15 pieces.
Because of the length of these works, you really do have to be a fan of the music and not so bound by gadgetry, as expecting to hear these on CDs, DVDs and stuff just isn’t easy. Okay Andy so why the heck did you do them then? Well… I’m a composer not a technician! I can generally put myself to one task and that is making music. When it comes to the rest - perhaps thinking about pressing to CD, getting some live work organised, generally selling the project and getting it known about so it can actually generate revenue… nah. Why? It doesn’t make sense that does it? Nope, doesn’t. Well maybe not to you it doesn’t. But when you bear in mind that I actually suffer from fairly acute social anxiety and have been known to get agoraphobic at times (don’t laugh - I’m not the only electronica composer who has this and not even the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or so on - it’s a synther’s bane for some reason), then perhaps it makes more sense from your perspective. Heck I don’t know if this is a confidence thing or what it is. But it is a thing and it pretty much answers the question I know some of you have always puzzled about - how come I’m such an accomplished-sounding, long-standing composer but I’ve never had work featured anywhere on TV, film, games,ads etc. Never won awards, never gone on tours, never been able to popularise my work in any way feasible to me. I wouldn’t go as far as to say these things terrify me. It’s more like there’s a wall in between me and them and I can’t even begin to do any of that stuff without it making me cringe. Now, I imagine the fully-sane-minded of you out there may be wondering how the heck I can carry on being what I am without really anyone knowing about it and without expecting really any reward or feedback at all.
Actually, there is an answer….
It’s simple. I’m a creature. F*ck knows what creature I am but I’m very conversant in music if little else (!), dwell often in those weird and whacked out dimensions where composers inhabit and tend not to land my UFO back on home soil unless I’ve got somebody’s whinge to sort out. Unfortunately, humans have become a bit of alien species with the exception of those I’m closest to. I do wish more dudes would make the effort to interact with me though cos even if I am one quiet mofo, I’m still human enough to want other humans around. I reckon most folk leave me alone because being somewhat muted makes me invisible. That’s quite advantageous at times but it doesn’t help me feel much like I’m part of anything either. And of course the weirdest thing of all is I’m the opposite of an attention-seeker like Trump, who is all ME ME ME all the time and expecting all the attention. All I tend to want to do is just get on with my work. Even so I still need the occasional pat on the back and do very much respond positively to praise or feedback really of any kind. Just don’t expect a response as much as you might get from others cos I’m shit quiet!
So what’s life really like for Mr Freaky? Well it ain’t good, it ain’t bad. I’m not depressed and plotting to massacre a shopping mall or anything. Even if I was can you even imagine a terrorist with social anxiety?! Poor sod would spend ten minutes freaking out about having to stand in a crowd before going to find a nice quiet space in order to fail again because well, everybody would talk about it and that woud be like all f*cked up and shit!
Actually I’m reasonably okay with my setup. Mother’s a bit whacked out, but my partner Kim is lovely and we have a fabulous pussycat who likes to work the synth knobs while I’m playing! I have absolutely nothing to live on and may have to consider seeking employment again in the near future, which at the age of 52 and with all this anxiety shite, just ain’t fun and may not even be viable. Those amazing sounding suites are great fun to make but they don’t attract much interest. That’s about 14 hours of music done in the last year and it’s worked out at around £75 income per individual piece. There are 60 pieces so add that up. Yeah I know… I’m so sorry the ability of the producer to fail to get noticed exceeds his ability to produce good music. But hey, here I is 25 ears later and I’m still here being me so at least that’s something eh :-)
I know some tosser’s going to get rich on my work once I’m dead because they’ll know how to present it and won’t have any fear to try. But that’s okay too because I won’t be around to care and at least I won’t be remembered entirely as a hapless twat.
And when I’m not composing, I’m either cooking dinner, playing with the cat, playing EVE Online, World of Warships or watching endless drivel on Youtube. Endless drivel can be very inspiring, if it wasn’t so close to the title of Pink Floyd’s last album!
My views on Electronica considering I’m supposedly some veteran of the scene?
Well, truthfully, honestly… what views? Erm… I’ve never met, communicated with or acquainted myself with anybody the average person would want to spend ten minutes listening to me chatting about. I -know- lots of people and they know who I am. But whenever I went some place there was some well-known EM dude, I’d make lots of excuses to avoid them due to the anxiety. I’ve probably got a bunch of people who think I’m just downright unfriendly, but some of these fellows have been misreading me for decades already and I’ve stopped bothering!
I shall simply keep on going. I am what I am and I can only do well what I have the skills to do well. I am bloody lousy at getting my skills to work favourably for myself, but neither can I switch them off nor adapt them to something else. Ergo - there is only the one honourable option: to bop til I drop!
And thus it shall be :-)
Just do me a favour - when I am finally off to Edgar’s new cosmic address or Bowie’s mothership, don’t start spouting off about me and my work as if it’s something awesome when you never did a thing to help it while its creator was still around. Erm, on that matter there is a little known fact that I spent 30 years training to be a shaman-wizard. Haunt you? Hehehe… try me :-D
Where to get AP music...