Click here to see a complete list of reviews. Click here to see a complete list of interviews. Click here for links to artists and labels . Click here to visit our main menu page. Click here for email address.

MORPHEUS MUSIC INTERVIEW - AMONGST MYSELVES

25.10.12 - on release of Ambient, Landscape and Space

 
    AMONGST MYSELVES - AMBIENT, LANDSCAPE AND SPACE AMONGST MYSELVES - AMBIENT, LANDSCAPE AND SPACE AMONGST MYSELVES - AMBIENT, LANDSCAPE AND SPACE AMONGST MYSELVES - AMBIENT, LANDSCAPE AND SPACE         

AMONGST MYSELVES - AMBIENT, LANDSCAPE AND SPACE AMONGST MYSELVES - AMBIENT, LANDSCAPE AND SPACE AMONGST MYSELVES - AMBIENT, LANDSCAPE AND SPACE AMONGST MYSELVES - AMBIENT, LANDSCAPE AND SPACE   

Q: Could you tell us something about your early experiences with synths?  

My first actual synthesizer was a Yamaha CS-15D which had a great warm sound. It was a monophonic synth with a basic VCO / VCF / VCA arrangement. I did have noise making gadgets before then as well.
My first gadget was something one of my brothers had built which was called a "Beep Barp" as this is the sort of noises it made. After this I made up a kit which was the basis of an organ where you had a stylus type keyboard. It was more fun hacking the circuit board by soldering wires and seeing what happened.
Like most of my gear, the first thing I did to the CS-15D was pull the back off and had a look at what made it tick. I had a fiddle with the trimpots inside and it didn't quite sound the same ever again. You see, this machine had a preset section on it as well which had the standard sort of instrument that sounded nothing like the real instruments they were labelled as.
In that era I was doing melodic stuff with the keyboard - classical works along the line of Switched on Bach and the odd original piece. At the time I was also in a band doing Shadows covers along with other similar era types of music so I would often drag the synth into that music as well.
I didn't record many of my compositions during that time as I was still at high school and I didn't really have a way of recording. We did have really old reel to reel recorders that didn't really work. So it was a total live experience in those days. I came across a photo at my parents place which is me doing an unscheduled performance one night when I was about 16 I think.

  Q:  How did you first begin recording your own ambient music?  

My first ambient style of music probably happened when I was at university. I was studying in both the film and music departments at this time. I had access to a couple of 4 track reel to reel machines as well as Ensoniq samplers which at the time were way out of my league. Of course I was supposed to be doing film work and curriculum based music but I always managed to sneak extra bookings in as most students spent as little time in these places as they had to.
I was also in a band which did electronic based dance music with a blues influence. We spent lots of time building up a studio, in fact that was a band practice activity as I don't think in that 4 year period we actually did what would be considered an actual band practice. The studio was located at the principal member's place. Here we had managed to get a 1 inch 8 track machine up and working but the cost of 1 inch tape limited the amount of recording I could do. I stayed with the 4 track machines most of the time and all the music was played in live. We also had a Yamaha music computer as part of the setup but my ambient style of music didn't work well with this computer. The simplest option was always to play live and do lots of improvising. I miss the live recording element a little now as back then you were forced to do it live whereas now I'm in front of the computer most of the time.
Note to self - do more live / improv stuff.

   
     
Q:  To what degree would you say you 'write music' or does it just happen, grow or emerge?   Mostly I make it up as I go along. Often a sound instantly makes me play something on a keyboard and I'll pay some time and attention to this to see if it develops into something that is interesting.
Sometimes I have an idea with regard to creating a sound based on convolution or time warping which can lead to the basis for a mood which I would then develop into a complete track.
Recently, though, I have felt that I've not done much in the way of new work. During the whole process of ALS I was working with old tracks apart from a couple of new ones. It was a three year process from the original planning stage to the day I burnt the master dvd for ALS. During this time I spent very little on new Amongst Myselves music. I was almost scared of trying to write new music. How weird is that? So I've started making time for music in the sense that I will sit down and do something for a morning or a day if a piece is going somewhere interesting. I have several tracks that are what I'd call 'exercises' where I have taken a simple idea and developed it but not something that I would release.
Luckily I've started quite a few new tracks that will definitely be released on an upcoming album.
  Q: When planning Ambient, Landscape and Space - what was your original goal?  

The original plan of ALS was a live performance. It was never planned as a CD and DVD release at all. There was an idea of releasing something in the form of point of sale for show goers.
Having played live in rock bands I always wanted to take Amongst Myselves to a live audience. The idea was to have three performers - my brother, Garry, on electronic percussion / keyboard; friend Bernhard on guitar synth and myself on various synth.
The reason for three people was to keep things simple. Beyond three people and you start to have problems with practice times. Even with three people it was still a juggling act when they have full time jobs.
Along with this was a large projection which is largely what is on the DVD. The idea being that the projection is what the audience was watching and the band were performing parts of the music. I had a backing track which was synced to the video.
Alas the whole project disintegrated for numerous reasons and it was decided to create a concert in your living room version of both the vision and audio. I recorded most of the original parts played by the band that were not in the original recordings and also shot the band performing two of the tracks. I spent a good 18 months from the time of cancelling the concert to releasing the CD and DVD.
It was an interesting experience. I've certainly not lost the want to do live performances but I think my approach next time would be to compose specifically for a live performance.

         
Q:  How did the idea of combining audio and visual content for this release come about?
 

I've always thought of visuals and audio as part of Amongst Myselves. It's only been the last ten years that people can cheaply and easily create visuals that can be affordably delivered to an audience. Even more so now through web sites like Youtube and Vimeo since they have become an everyday part of user's life hence replacing television.
Having had the background in visual creation I often think of the visual before the piece.

  Q:  What brief was set for the imagery to accompany Ambient, Landscape and Space?
  There was no brief really. These pieces have no narrative and the music has no fixed meaning so the idea really was to create something that was visually interesting that suited the music. In a couple of tracks like "Ship of Dreams" we have created a narrative out of the music, probably because that track out of any of ALS, is a more conventional composition.

         
 
     
Q:  How would you suggest listeners approach the album to get the most out of it?
  Find the biggest screen possible, sit as close as possible and turn the sound up really loud. It's certainly not the sort of thing you watch on your portable device. Like all my work it's aimed at total immersion.     Q:  How exactly did you collaborate with Bernard Haseloff and Garry Roberts?
  My whole idea of a live performance is that it is live. But due to the synced images I had certain restrictions to make the performers stay in time with the images. Based on this most of the performing was a simple "here's the music to play" which was also based around the performers ability and hardware available. The exceptions are the tracks "Demon Haunted World" and "Interlude" which I let both Garry and Bernhard loose on, to do as they pleased. So to be honest the word collaborate doesn't suit the situation.
         

Q:  How would you say working with fellow artists compares with your solo endeavours?

  I found the experience to be very hard to be honest. Generally I am a pretty easy going person who enjoys other people's involvement and working together but when it came to Amongst Myselves it was crossing over the line too much for me. Again it was not originally intended as a collaboration.   Q:  What do you imagine is the future for ambient music - how do you think it can develop to remain fresh?   I think in lots of ways the freshness takes care of itself. Lots of people come and go but there are the stalwarts who change their styles along the way as well. Currently I find that we are in a more drone zone, which I really like, but what I am hearing is all quite similar and I can already hear the direction changing.
When I am not working on music I often have internet stations on but I listen in a very ambient mode which is not really listening at all. I do sometimes wonder whether this is a good thing to do though and how listening to lots of one type of ambient may be affecting my own composition choices.
         

Q:  How would you like to develop your own contribution to the field?

  Keep trying new things. I'm not really a genre-nazi and I think I am comfortable with the idea that I can essentially compose anything that remotely fits the ambient genre. To me the constant theme to put into ambient music is un-reality, fiction, new worlds, new landscapes. To keep bringing personal experiences into the music and vision.        
         

Thanks to Steve for allowing us that interview.

AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS AMONGST MYSELVES - FRAGMENTS