Q) Congrats on Human Energy, do you care about what people think about an album or do you create it for your own self expressionism?
Thank you! I of course care what people think about my work but it doesn’t affect the process or intent. At the end of the day I’m trying to make something that puts a smile on my face. Hopefully it does the same for others.
Q) Do you consider timelessness with your music? i.e. What it will sound like in 5, 10 years time?
I think it would be rather bold to intentionally write “timeless” music. You really have no control over that. Sometimes music that is timeless also borrows heavily from current trends. The difference is the power of the song. The song transcends trend. Music that you can break down into its simplest elements and still have something that sounds amazing is what I consider timeless.
Q) You’ve had a long relationship with Ninja Tune, what’s unique about their perspective and how has that influenced your output?
It may seem like a long relationship but it’s actually pretty short in relation to the entire span of my career. I’ve only released one album with Ninja Tune, not counting the b-sides collection that came out in 2015, so it feels like a new and exciting relationship. I definitely feel a great balance of comfort and pressure working with Ninja. Comfort because they tend to give me a great amount of freedom to do whatever kind of music I want without stepping in and dictating what kind of music I should make. At the same time I feel quite a lot of pressure to do my best work due to the staggering amount of influential releases that Ninja Tune has put out in the past, in addition to the incredible other artists they are currently releasing!
Q) Seems like there’s a family feel with Ninja, what’s your relationship like with other artist on the label? E.g. Bonobo
Bonobo is my homie! He lives up the street from me here in Echo Park. He’s the friendliest guy and has a very warm nature to him. I’ve noticed most of the other artists on Ninja Tune tend to have this sort of friendly glow to them. There’s never a feel of elitism or egoism that goes on with a lot of other electronic label artists. Ninja Tune is constantly putting out music that just gives you good vibes and all their artists represent that I guess.
Q) How do you approach collaboration when producing music and song writing? Is it a joint process or do you work individually and then come together?
It differs from person to person, project to project. Sometimes there are geographic limitations and sometimes there are self imposed limitations. With Sepalcure, for example, we tend to only write in the studio together. That way we maintain what brought us together to collaborate in the first place. Just two homies kickin’ it in the studio making each other laugh and having a blast. I find that in general it’s way easier to collaborate with other producers in the studio than online. With singers however it can be a bit more difficult. A lot of the time I will do my best work with vocalists when the song has already been written, they just need someone to add production to it to make it “pop”.
Q) Can you tell us your connection with Jesse Boykins III and the creative process behind the track b4 the night is thru? How did that track come together?
I’ve known Jesse Boykins III for around 10 years now. We instantly bonded when we met in Brooklyn via Theophilus London. We found a natural communication form between us that made it very easy to work together. He would easily take notes from me and I would do the same with him. Together we learned a lot about collaboration, song writing and music in general. He’s one of my best friends, in fact he was a groomsman in my wedding last year!
I honestly couldn’t tell you much about the writing of “B4 The Night Is Thru”. It was one of my earliest Ableton Live written tracks. I had been using Impulse Tracker for about 10 years up until then. I think we wrote it in 2008 or so. I just know it was one of those songs that we wrote very quickly and naturally. The longest part of the process, and consequently why it took so long for Love Apparatus to get released, was mixing the track. I’m not the best vocal engineer so it was a great learning curve for me.
Q) What advice have you been given that has resonated with you? And knowing what you know now, what insight would you share with developing artists?
My good friend Mike, aka DMC World Champion IE Merg, told me once to “Make yourself uncomfortable”. Never get too comfortable in what you’re doing. Otherwise you will never grow. The easiest way to do this as a musician is to change your process. If you only write music in one tempo range or key, challenge yourself to write in a completely different tempo or key than you are used to. If you only write music using software, try to write it on hardware. Even if the new process doesn’t stick I’m certain you will learn something that will affect the way you write music going forward.
Q) Perfectionism in creativity – a limiting force or necessary evil?
To achieve anything creative that is perfect by definition is impossible. Yes it is important to have certain standards and try to live up to those to the best of your abilities, but a piece of work will never be perfect. It is our responsibility as artists to abandon our work at some point in the process. Chances are that there will always be something you wish you had done differently to the work, so it is with this inevitability that you should also understand that perfection is unachievable and an unreasonable expectation to set for yourself.
Q) How much are you influenced creatively by external factors and wider issues such as culture and politics?
It’s hard to literally reflect external factors in non lyrical music. Instrumental music, for me, is about capturing an emotion sonically. In the past few years since getting signed to Ninja Tune and essentially becoming more “successful” I find myself being way less self-loathing, depressed and wistful. My emotions have instead turned to gratitude, love and joy. My music currently reflects this shift in mood and emotion, in the same way my previous records may have reflected the melancholy I had felt at the time. It is true that the current state of the world politically is quite terrifying and hopeless. I hope that my music can give people a sense of hope, as for me writing Human Energy was part of a coping mechanism.
Q) Technology has become a vital part of the creative industry. How will technology continue to influence creative practice in the future?
Technology has become a vital part in our lives as a whole, so to pinpoint exactly how it will influence the creative process is quite challenging. I think everyone’s relationship with technology is different. Some, if not most, people wholly rely on technology to create. Others may have to limit their interactions with technology in order to find their creative zone. Some people go back and forth between technological reliance and independence. Technology is becoming less recognized as some other thing and more like something that’s part of you. I think that we have come to a point where technology has become integrated with human life. Our phones and laptops are essentially cybernetic extensions of ourselves and thus play a heavier and heavier role in our creative endeavors wether we like it or not.
Q: What are you obsessed with right now?
Other than my wife and my cats, just writing music really!
Q: What’s the difference mentally, between playing smaller venues vs festivals?
I get more nervous sometimes playing in smaller clubs than I do at large festivals. In clubs I feel more of a face to face human interaction and thus more pressure to perform well whereas festivals tend to be quite dehumanizing which makes it way easier for me to go on stage and not feel so nervous. When you look out at a large crowd at a certain point the amount of people don’t really register in your brain like they would in a small club.
Q: With that said, what are your thoughts on Field Day Festival?
Honestly I’m not really sure what to expect. After you have been to as many festivals as I have they all start to blend together, with a few exceptions here and there. From the looks of it, Field Day is pretty well curated so here’s to Field Day being one of those exceptions!
Q) The line-up this year is incredibly good, whom do you most enjoy on the bill?
I’m really looking forward to seeing Aphex Twin, Moodyman, Arab Strap, Death Grips and Flying Lotus. I hope I’m not playing at the same time as any of them, one of the pitfalls of playing at crazy line-up festivals!
Q) What can we expect from your set at Field Day?
I’ll be bringing you into a sonic journey through the world of Human Energy, or something like that.
24/04/17 Copyright Radd Nadesananthan