Vinny Villbass Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Vinny. Your new single, Trust is released on Oslo label: badabing diskos. Tell us about what the tracks title means for you?

Thanks. «Trust» is an interesting thing. One thing is the importance of trust between people, both geopolitically and socially. But one question that has become equally important after the isolation during the pandemic is: Do you trust yourself? Who are you as a person without the collective safety net? And do you need to trust yourself in order to trust others? Trust is quite a rabbit hole if you have too much time thinking about it.

The title is my hope for a little bit more «Trust» in this world. It’s a fine thing!

You also provide the vocals, how important do you think words are in Dance Music given the amount of instrumentals around?

This track was made in the darkest time of the pandemic, so this vocal is more a scream for help and anti-social frustration (HELLO… IS ANYBODY OUT THERE), then any (if any) importance of including words in dance music. But I definitely mean that vocal in club music should be more on the poetic side than some kind of concrete meaning. The meditative part of dance music is fragile, so better to leave it up to the clubber to define an actual meaning to the lyrics. Also, the voice is the most intense instrument that we have, so it should only be used with love and care. Not sure this scream for attention is though, so you are more than welcome to skip to the instrumental version.

The label was set up this year and this is the third release. How have you found the experience so far? Have you discovered any particular positives or negatives to running your own label?

I have been involved in a few labels thru the years, and there are 2 important things running your own:

  • You don’t have to wait forever and ever to get the tracks out.
  • You can involve your favorite people and create a collective of likeminded.

We are already a colorful bouquet of house music enthusiasts in Oslo releasing on badabing.diskos in near future, and playing at our monthly badabing nights thats been running for 10 years. Sommerfeldt, Frifot, diskJokke, Boblebad, LAFT, Sounds of the Suburbs, etc..

Talk us through how you produced Trust. Do you start with a single idea or can it be inspired by something outside of music? Do you have any favourite pieces of software / hardware you like to use?

I am very analogue when I produce. I don’t use sequencers and play everything by hand on my synths to get a human groove to it all. I usually start of with creating a loop of synth layers that should sound warm, but also driving. After that I start filling in with drums sounds and percussive synth sounds that enhance the groove. Then I layer out the structure of the track and start with the details. Well, for this track anyway. I try to do it differently every time. Repetition has never been my strongest side. I enjoy detailed changes over time.. It is way too much boring loops in club music these days. But luckily you have people like Four Tet, Bonobo, Bicep etc pushing boundaries of sound collages.

How would you describe the club scene in Oslo? Any recommendations for bars, restaurants to visit also?

Oslo is still a very small city, but a lot has happened the last 5 years. Its turned more international in many ways, with its fantastic restaurants, food courts, bars and cafe’s. But the clubs are still very restricted by governmental laws about closing hours and alcohol restrictions. We might be the only country in the world where we have governmental nightlife spies going undercover to make sure the clubs follow the rules. I definitely think that a government undermines people’s ability to develop their own moral if you introduce too many unnecessary laws. In that sense I do miss Berlin and the community-driven freedom aspect you experience there.

Outside of club music what are your most important influences/ (any painters, writers etc)

Nature expands my senses. I love to be at my 300 year old cabin in the mountains and smell the fresh air, feel the wind in my face, while practicing some meditative outdoor carpenting.

How do you see the future in terms of how artists, musicians will be able to make money regarding streaming etc?

The club and concert scene is going to be more local in the future. More local residencies on clubs, which makes sense also in an economical way, because you reduce the unnecessary costs of flights, hotels etc.. and the impact on nature. So stay true to your local crowds!

When it comes to selling music, bandcamp and new sites alike are going to take over for todays horrible income distribution from sites like spotify. SHAME! And also, the best labels today earn more money on selling merch online than on music. So watch out for badabing coffee mugz and organic tooth picks.

You play guitar in diskJokke. How did you learn to play and what is your favourite guitar?

Diskjokke is my dj partner since 2000, and when he released his first album, we got our heads together to perform his music like a band. At the moment I could only play «nothing else matters» by Metallica, but luckily we toured enough for me to learn how to play properly.
I bought my Fender Telecaster in Hamburg when I visited to DJ for the Minimal Anders guys in 2010. Loads of fun, I wonder if they are still throwing parties in this super harbour warehouse… 🙂

Tell us about your involvement with Osloclubcast and the importance of radio in 2022?

I started OsloClubCast back in 2012, as a promotional channel for the Oslo club scene, first internally in Oslo, but the later years thru international concert videos to promote Norwegian club music. I now run OsloClubCast together with my man Daniel Vaz, and we have a youtube channel with more than 50 000 views. So the importance of radio is still huge, but FM transmitters has been replaced by youtube, soundcloud and spotify playlists.

People need music more than ever. The importance of a hug has never been more relevant. So please go out, dance, hug your friends, and find your inner rhythm. This is why our slogan for the badabing club nights is: «Come alone, come together»


Staniz (Abstract Sounds) Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Staniz. What inspired you to set up your own sample pack label Abstract Sounds? What do you think makes it unique given the vast amount of others on the market?

When I decided to open Abstract Sounds, I thought I wanted to become a symbolic label for a musical genre whose world of samples was not well supplied from this point of view. I really love creating sounds, reworking, sampling etc I am very experimental that’s why I decided to open my own sample label. The uniqueness of the label depends above all on who manages it and what the label is about. In addition to being an exclusive label of Loopmasters, this is already an additional plus, and the whole community of our fans knows how much time we dedicate to them to help them in every way possible in facilitating the most difficult processes of production.

Can you also tell us about why you decided to set up your own record label? Which elements make a great piece of music for you?

The labels as mentioned in the previous question, were born mainly for a purpose. Then it also evolved into a music label when I decided not to release my tracks as an independent anymore but through my own label. One of the elements that cannot be missing in my tracks is a long, deep and warm pad.

You have just released ASV002 with tracks from both yourself and Nerve Maze. I thought Abstract 7 was a particularly wonderful piece of music. Can you talk us through how you created and produced it? Do you have any favourite pieces of software/ hardware you like to use when making music?

Let’s start by saying that since the pandemic arrived I have hunted a few but very significant tracks on a personal and sentimental level, Salerno a track that tells the place where Staniz lived and grew up on a musical level. Venice is my favourite city for its culture and tradition. Then we have Stop a track that was created to fight against anything negative in the world, from war to discrimination to everything. And finally, we have February an important month for me. After doing this intro I start by saying after these 4 tracks were released in 2020 and 2021, I started not making music anymore to reflect on what I really wanted to release as something new. And so when I decided to do Abstract 7 I always saw it as a particular track, to listen to, to dance to, to love. It is an emotion, it is not a trace for me. One of the software that I love and use is Ciemno.

Growing up can you tell us about the musical influences (artists) that helped shape what you do now?

My favourite artists since I was little have been Daft Punk, they still are and always will be. But growing up I started listening to everything from classic to rock to Jazz to Techno. I have many artists who have influenced me but let’s say that Daft Punk with all their albums can contain many things.

Where did you learn about music production? What would be the key piece of advice you would give to someone staring out?

My desire to make music comes when I discover the duo of French robots. Since I saw for the first time one of them saw and heard their music I was bewitched. I am self-taught, I studied music than when I started to grow up, but the most solid part comes from my desire to do, let’s say from believing in what I was doing.

How do you see the future for musicians and how they will be able to sustain a living from making music (also in terms of streaming and so on)?

Well, in my opinion, music needs to revise its values a bit. I am against some platforms that violate the morality that music was born for. So that making music today is simple, the difference lies in the feeling that is instilled within it.

Most of your releases do not include vocals. What are your thoughts on the use of songs in Dance Music?

I am a lover of songs with the voice, but my philosophy thinks that a track without the voice if done well is like a painting, not everyone can decipher it correctly, with the addition of the voice, this passage fails.

And finally. What plans do you have moving into 2022 both for yourself as an artist and for the label?

Bianchi. Check this 🙂

Nerve Maze, Staniz – ASV002 – Abstract Sounds is released May 5


Harry Harrison (DiY) Q&A

Photo by Emma Goldsmith.

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Harry. Let’s start with your debut book charting the history of the DiY Sound System. Can you tell us about the actual process of how you wrote the book? (I was thinking in terms of remembering things, if you prefer to write at night or morning – did you write all day or in short bursts). Was there a piece of advice from anywhere which particularly helped you during wirting?

Thanks Greg. The heyday of DiY and the wider free party movement was in the nineties, obviously. By the end of that decade I began to form a book in my head, thinking that apart from the slightly crazy story of DiY itself, the book would be of some historical importance concerning both the origins of free parties and just general life in the nineties on the outskirts of conventional society. I wrote some sample chapters around 1998 but then shelved them for many years. After seven years in San Francisco and then busy years in Wales with children I got serious again in 2018, wrote some sample chapters which I sent to Velocity Press. Colin was very supportive and offered to publish, so I took two months off work, sat down in May 2021 and got serious, finishing the book late last year. I did a lot of interviews and note taking in preparation and decided to try to write 1000 words per day. I started first thing in the morning and if I got to that that target, I would just close the laptop and head out all afternoon, something greatly assisted by being in North Wales in the summer.

Can you tell us about the music that shaped you growing up?

Big question. My first love was probably post-punk and indie in the early eighties. I was fortunate to grow up in Bolton, which although being a shit-hole is only twelve miles from Manchester so I had an unbelievable music scene on my doorstep. As outlined in the book, I met Pete, later DJ Woosh, when we were in our mid-teens and he introduced me to a wildly eclectic mix of music such as Fela Kuti, Kraftwerk, Carmen McRae, John Coltrane, Hawkwind and Planet Gong, Crass and Flux, Led Zeppelin, Nina Simone, Pharaoh Sanders, Gil Scott-Heron, On U Sound and on and on. We were both devotees of Factory and I retain an abiding passion for Joy Division and New Order. We got into the Smiths then noisier bands like Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers and punk bands such as Fugazi and MDC. Before the Year Zero of acid house we both got heavily into hip-hop and electro and when I met Rick (DJ Digs, now Grace Sands) in 1986 we were ready for acid house to unite all these influences.

As most people follow a typically mainstream approach to life I was wondering who or what events influenced you to go down the route you did politically? Likewise with the desire to run free parties?

The core members of DiY all arrived at acid house from different paths. Growing up in Bolton in the early eighties, our gang of mates were heavily influenced by Crass and the other anarcho-punk bands. At the same time, we were going to the Hacienda from when it opened (long before it was successful) and free festivals such as Pick-Up Bank near Darwin and later Avon Free Festival and Glastonbury. Basically anywhere that music was being played and drugs consumed we were there and again we were lucky to grow up living between Manchester and Liverpool. People took anarchism and alternative culture seriously in those days and that it was drove us politically. In my book I outline how we managed to merge electronic beats with the spirit of the Hacienda and the politics of free festivals. We were at the Blackburn raves in the late eighties and travelled to Orbital parties such as Biology around London only to be ripped off. It seemed an obvious step to us in 1989/90 to combine all the elements that we loved into free parties. We began doing big, unruly house parties around the NG7 area of inner-city Nottingham, started doing all-night raves in 1990 then met a group of progressive travellers at Glastonbury in 1990 after which we began to jointly throw free parties anywhere and everywhere.

What are your feelings on social media and its effects on culture? Do you think if it existed back in the early 90’s that DiY would have been able to effectively operate as they did without the authority’s interference?

I’ve been asked this question a few times and it’s very tricky to answer without sounding like a boring middle-aged fart but I genuinely don’t think that the whole free party scene would have lasted ten minutes under the glare of social media. I think that what happened was that a radical new form of music (house) collided with a radical new drug (Ecstasy) and they just fitted so fantastically well that the explosion that followed was inevitable. What wouldn’t have happened though was the fact that it was all so underground and hidden, meaning it lasted for a couple of golden years before being discovered by the media. I look back and can’t believe that events such as Castlemorton or even small free parties in the middle of nowhere were organised with no mobile phones and no flyers. Overall with social media, as with the internet in general, it’s a bit like when Chairman Mao was asked about the effects of the French Revolution nearly two hundred years later and he replied ‘it’s too soon to tell’. Technology will clearly be the making of humanity or its death knell, the jury is still out.

We have been talking a lot of the past but what do you think of contemporary Dance Music and how it has evolved from when you started to DJ? Is vinyl still important to you, or have you transferred to digital?

I’ve never been a DJ myself, just an organiser of many of them. I did play out a few times in 1989 but it was a disaster, I could never stay straight enough to mix. Pete, my oldest friend from Bolton, who DJ’d for many years as Woosh and sadly died in 2020 was a vinyl fascist. He hated digital DJ’ing. I’m the other way, records are heavy bastards and I enjoy having 22,000 tracks on an iPod.

Why did you decide upon Velocity Press as the right place for the book and how did that contact come about?

The DiY crew were, and remain, big believers in the Principles of Discordia such as the cosmic significance of the number 23 (we did our first DiY event on my 23rd birthday on the 23rd November 1989. The book will be published on March 23rd) and also synchronicity, the theory that coincidence is much more than just a random occurrence. So, having written a third of a book, I began asking writer friends such as Matthew Collin if they could recommend a publisher who would fit with the values of myself and DiY. Both he and two others mentioned Velocity in the same week so I took it a sign and so I sent what I had written to Colin Steven at Velocity and received an email back within a few hours offering to publish. He’s been very supportive and the relationship has gone well so far.

What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?

I own a couple of guitars but am in no way a guitarist and a drum kit but am a very average drummer. What really blew our minds was the sampler. It just changed everything when they became affordable in the early nineties. We had two Akai samplers in the DiY studio and even though they would now be obsolete they just turn every possible sound into a potential instrument. I personally remixed several tracks back then and had one on the album we did for Warp in 1993 but I decided I just wasn’t a musician and have stuck to organising, being a gobshite and words since then.

DiY also ran night in clubs such as Venus which was a great venue in Nottingham. How did the experience compare with the free parties?

Over the years we did literally hundreds, if not thousands, of clubs all over the UK and the world including some real greats. As well as Venus, we had DiY nights at the Hacienda, Space and Pacha in Ibiza, The End Up in San Francisco, the Paradiso in Amsterdam, the Ministry of Sound etc and we loved clubs. I always said that we wanted to take the music of the clubs to the fields and the attitude of the fields into the clubs and I think we achieved just that. However, as I make clear in the book, there was nothing to compare with the sheer illicit thrill of being out in the countryside at dawn, three sheets to the wind with hundreds of kindred spirits dancing to some quality music. Magical.

More broadly speaking, in retrospect what difference do you think the free party scene made to the UK given how long the Conservatives have been in power, or do you feel it has more to do with personal change?

Tricky question and one I try to answer over 272 pages in ‘Dreaming in Yellow’. I always tell my kids that DiY changed history and they just roll their eyes and wander off. I do believe that though. I think we opened many people’s eyes to just how controlled the countryside really is, how the state will crush anything that they can’t control, how alcohol and violence are not the only weekend leisure option and how the British licensing laws are just Victorian. We fervently believed in an alternative way of life including and all that entails and we established a huge collective of people who were influenced by our actions. At our parties we had crusties, fashionistas, students, travellers, estate crackheads, clubbers, black, white, old, young, straight, gay and just downright weird and never had a single fight. People from previously hostile geographical areas travelled crazy distance’s to attend our parties where they hugged each other and shook hands. Our actions lead directly to the Criminal Justice Act 1994 (the one that made ‘raves’ a specific criminal offence) but the Tories were reacting to the fairly outrageous ‘fuck-you’ of Castlemorton and an inevitable clampdown on people organising outside the law. As DiY spread our wings around the world, settling in San Francisco/ Amsterdam/ Thailand/ Australia that egalitarian vibe became global and lives on to this day.

Drugs. Without them what would have happened? How would you evaluate their impotence and also any negative consequences to club culture as different substances appeared over time?

Hah. Well, to be honest, none of it would have happened without the extremely well-timed appearance of Ecstasy. It just combined so magically with synthetically created dance music but I don’t think that devalues the experiences and achievements of a generation of believers. You can’t take away LSD from the epic and revolutionary changes of the 1960’s and in the same way, with advocating reckless drug use, you can’t remove the drugs from the nineties. There have been lots of negative experiences. Many of our generation have died, some from overdoses, many submitted to addiction and some have permanent impairment but I don’t think that anyone who was involved in the rave/party scene in the late eighties and nineties would go back and change a thing. I don’t think that ketamine and cocaine did may people favours but by Jesus, we had a wild time.

Is music still the answer?

One of them, plus of course love, justice, equality, freedom and fun.

Dreaming in Yellow is available from March 23


vaghy Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Tamás. Let’s begin with the piano and why you feel the instrument has stood the test of time and its seemingly never ending capability of convening human emotion?

Thank you for your interest. For me, the answers are in how  the piano is built. It seems very simple, there are strings, hammers and keys. Despite all this, it is the instrument played by Theolonius Monk, Lang Lang and the list goes on. The human factor is the key. The most wonderful thing is how people can play the same apparatus in many different ways. This leads to a certain cohesion between artist and instrument that is unmatched, and unique In my opinion the sound and  physical range of it makes us able to express million of emotions and all their variations.

Your debut artist album: Minimalism is a beautifully played, evocative piece of work. Can you tell us how long it took to complete and how you actually record the piano in the studio – do you have a favourite microphone you like to use?

The project vaghy is one that has been long in the making. In the beginning it was more of an electronic type of production. For some reason the songs didn’t come together like I wanted so I decided to go with a minimalist approach using only a piano, and it worked. The songs started to take shape, the piano moved everything forward. The instrument that I recorded the album Minimalism on, is an old Swedish pienette which I stumbled upon by accident at a store and liked the sound so much that I bought it then and there. It has a lot of mechanical noise and because it only has 64 keys the sonority range is limited. When recording, I had to work with these attributes in a way that they would benefit the songs. Recordings were preceded by lots and lots of experimenting, luckily because I have my own studio there was no time limit. It wasn’t easy to find the correct placement of each microphone, took a lot of tries. I usually used ambient mics in the surrounding space and a large membrane mic to record the keystrokes from above. Because of this, every recording session was preceded by a complex setup process.

But the end products were well worth the amount of effort put in, it was great to work with the recordings.

I tried plenty of microphones because of how special the application was, the industry standards didn’t prove to be a solution. I used Neumann and Audio-Technica devices to create these complex solutions that resulted in the final sound.

How do you compose a piece of work? Does it began with single note or do you get inspired from something else you have heard, or watched, or seen, or from something completely unrelated like reading a book?

It’s very rare that I make a song that I have composed in my head previously. Improvisation is an element of mine and I often have these sort of sessions. Just press record and start playing. These usually lead to a theme or idea that I start working from. But there are also examples of just one playing becoming a song,  the one called ‘Rush’ being one of these. I usually find minor mistakes in these recordings but if the flow of it is good than these don’t bother me, the song comes first. The album ‘Minimalism’ is entirely made up of personal stories and I can only hope that whoever listens to it can find and create their own. This might seem a bit old-fashioned as music consumption has sped up so much that not many albums come out with a concept like this.  This needs time and cannot be rushed. I have the incredible luck with my label, Theque Records, who are partners in this.

Where did your passion for analogue synthesizers originate from? And what do you think they can convey / add to music that a more traditional instrument cannot?

I have been interested in synthesisers since I was a kid.  I was drawn to their sound, their versatility. I have tried lots of different ones from software to hardware options. For some reason I prefer the physical versions, I need to be able to to hold it, turn the knobs, and not just with a mouse or controller. The feeling is very different when you are holding a real instrument. I am not an analogue maniac but in many cases they add a certain something to songs that gives them colour, makes them very unique. I loved the Mood Taurus, but I didn’t have the money for it, so I decided to build one with extra functions, and it has been a staple at every concert ever since. I am open to digital instruments as well but they have to have the adequate character. One other aspect that I have to be able to bring it with me everywhere.  The setup for my live performances is designed in a way that if needed I can easily tweak the tunes or themes. The reason of this being really challenging is that I don’t use a laptop. I am currently working on something new, I transformed an 1978 Vermona organ and added a unique feature that I haven’t seen anyone else do. There will be recordings made with this at my live performances, and hopefully the instrument will be there at my record launch concert in Budapest.

Outside of music which artists, writers etc have continued to inspire you most?

I’ve used to do a lot of applied music writing in the past, so I’m mostly inspired by film scores and soundtracks. But of course I am excited about fine arts, photography, mainly in the form of exhibitions. I visit a lot of these if I have the time.  Aside from music, I am a movie maniac, the different stories are always a good source of inspiration.

The word Minimalism has been used to describe many things from music to architecture. What does it mean for you in relation to the album?

When it comes to the album it has several meanings. How these songs were initially made on a keyboard, slightly overscored, that didn’t quite work so I reworked them to a sole piano and they immediately came to life. This is one of the reasons behind the albums name. On the other hand I played the keyboard in different bands since I was 18 years old. Stepping out of this meant that all the authority and decisions became mine. To me, this itself was minimalism as it was very different to what I was used to. In a band the focus and  responsibilities are shared, which has both its benefits and drawbacks.

It is an incredibly exciting journey.

Tell us about your relationship with Théque records and why you felt it to be the right home for the album?

The encounter between me and Theque Records was incredibly lucky. I didn’t want to release this album with a big label nor did I want it to fall into private hands. I felt like I needed a team who I could think together with, and whom we had the same goal with.  When I approached them the chemistry was almost instant, and I could feel that this was the right way. Of course this takes a lot of work but it is well worth the effort. They are very open to my ideas and so am I to their professionalism. It is a working symbiosis.

What can you tell us about the forthcoming plans for Piano Day Budapest?

I have been organising Piano Day in Budapest since the beginning. Unfortunately the events had to be cancelled  in the last two years, but in 2022 we are back on track. It will be held on the 30th of March, in one of the hottest venues in Budapest, on A38 . The lineup will include two Hungarian performers, Konkoi and the Wave Of Sound, both solo productions and talented young individuals. We have Badfocuss coming in from the Czech Republic, and after them I will perform too. For me it’s always strange to play at my own event but it seems like I’m the only one who has an objection to that. 🙂

And finally. How do you see the future for the creative arts in terms of how musicians etc will be able to generate income for themselves? And do you think the role social media plays in all this is a positive one?

I think it’s very difficult for creative artists to assert themselves in todays world. Music consumption has accelerated and transformed unbelievably. It is no longer fashionable to make albums because the market expects fast production and because people’s music listening habits have changed. They don’t really have time to sit down and listen to a vinyl. People use streaming options like Spotify or Apple Music on their phone to listen to playlists the same way they’d scroll on TIK-TOK. If the first few second aren’t catchy enough, they just skip right onto the next one.

This is why I believe in “forcing” the attention of people with live concerts, you can’t skip songs there. But the responsibility is also bigger this way, the end product has to be able to convey the message and be entertaining at the same time. These are the tools you can win over an audience with. One of the most important things for me is meeting the audience. I always leave time after the concerts to be able to talk to the people present. You need to listen to them, pay attention to them. There is so much to learn from and feed off of. Doing this over social media results in a much more superficial encounter. There are no thoughts, only likes and pretence achievements. But of course I’m not fighting against it, you have to keep up with the times and speak the language of the younger generations. Their habits control the way these companies develop their platforms. This pandemic was good chance to test out new online income opportunities, I am not one to decide whether if it worked or not. What I am sure of is that holding concerts in the online space does not work. You need physical contact because the whole concept of playing live relies on chemistry and you can’t get that across digitally to either of the parties.

Tamas Vaghy will release his debut album Minimalism on Theque Records on February 18 2022


Rob Burger Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Rob. Let’s start with your new album: Marching with Feathers. How long did it take to conceive and finish?

I began recording Marching with Feathers in the spring of 2020 and I worked on it slowly over the course of several months in my home studio. I hear people refer to “pandemic babies” and “pandemic records” — which is how one should classify MwF, but with the pandemic becoming so darn lengthy, it looks like I could have created a second pandemic record!

You have talked about how both the pandemic and BLM fed into its creation. Do you think music has the power to change the world or merely highlight what happens in it?

I believe music has a profound effect on people. Music is a language that transcends differences between people. I feel incredibly fortunate to play music, and I have experiences often where I may be playing with someone really different than me — politically, racially, culturally, whatever — and we can connect, and have an absolute blast together speaking our shared language. I think music, of course, creates a foreground to what’s happening in the world but it’s also such a powerful force for shared experience.

I imagine you must have a wealth of diverse musical influences. Which three (or as many as you like) would you say are the most important to you and why?

I love music of all kinds. I love the history of it, and the way it evolves. My influences reach far and wide…. everything from early to modern classical music, improvisational jazz, pop, folk music from around the globe. Some of my favorite artists include Miles Davis, John Lennon, Brian Eno, Alice Coltrane, and Nina Simone… music from South America, Africa, India, Middle East… film composers such as Nino Rota, Henry Mancini, Bernard Herrmann.

Outside of music which artists, writers, painters etc inspire you?

I’m inspired by the works of artists like Joseph Cornell, Agnes Martin, sculptor Alberto Giacometti, poetry by Elizabeth Bishop and Mary Oliver.

Can you tell us about some of the synths you use: hardware or software, how you learnt to play them, and how would you describe what they give to the music compared with a more traditional instrument?

I’m fascinated these days by what’s become available in the modular synthesis world, but I’m still learning about it. My primary instrument is piano and I grew up when imitative “preset” polyphonic synths, were becoming en vogue, but I quickly became primarily attracted to the limitations of instruments that are of one sound world. I love acoustic instruments, but I also use a lot of electronic organs, Hawaiian guitars, and treat them with effects like tape delay, ring modulators, and various filters. I do have a collection of rare instruments such as a Chamberlin, which is the U.S. precursor to the Mellotron — but I also use a lot of plug-ins, and now have an extensive library of sampled sounds I’ve created in Native Instruments.

The piano feels like one of the few eternally new instruments there are. Is there an infinite number of ways it can be played or effects added, or is there a more spiritual aspect to its staying power?

When playing an acoustic instrument like the piano, there are limitless variations one can create. It is because when sitting down at an instrument with such limitation, the musician is forced to do nothing but draw the most creative parts of themselves out.

How important in your musical development was your time spent in New York at venues like The Knitting Factory and The Kitchen?

I’ve lived in NYC twice. The first time was a very pivotal time for me. I was fresh out of music school and looking for ways to have a musical voice. The music happening at those places really introduced me to a freedom of expression that I had never encountered before. This was also a time I was listening to a lot more avant garde jazz and classical music. I started experimenting with the accordion, and was given the opportunity to tour with an early version of the Bill Frisell Band, and be introduced to some ground breaking performers like John Zorn, Arto Lindsay, and Laurie Anderson. Being a 23 year old with access to what was happening on the downtown NY scene at that time (late 80s / early 90s) was something of a dream, really — it was then and it is now, looking back on it, in equal measure. I lived in NYC again from 2001-2011 and it was different and super inspiring to return and be playing with some of the same characters, but I was in a different place professionally and musically by then.

Can music say more without the use of words in music?

I listen to a great deal of music sung in other languages, so it’s a strange question for me to answer because I very often have no idea what a song is about. I also speak music, really, better than I speak English so I’m always going to be tuned in way more to music than lyrics. I think the luxury of writing music without words is that the work can be even more open for interpretation. Words can lead people to places whereas with instrumental music, you can really go anywhere. That said, I love songs. I grew up listening to them, and I love playing in a support role with singers who write words.

buy Rob Burger – Marching with Feathers


Alan Russell (Black Vinyl Records) Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Alan. Black Vinyl Records began around 1996/97 in London. What can you remember about how easy/ difficult it was to set up a label back then, releasing on vinyl and how music was distributed pre-digital and with Social media?

Hi Greg, thanks for inviting me. Well, Black Vinyl was actually the second label I was involved with, as it started life as the ‘tracks’ offshoot of Hott Records that I had started back in (…hurriedly checks Discogs…) 1991/2. That label was funded by a ‘silent’ partner who owned a studio in the basement of an old school building in (pre-Gentrification) Farringdon, EC1. From here I started working with my first production partner Richard Green, who was the resident studio engineer, and we started doing a few things (The first single on Hott was by us under the name EC2). Back then the industry was mainly geared towards getting things signed to a major label, something I was extremely wary of as I didn’t want to make cheesy dance-pop or gimmicky ‘mash-ups’ that seemed to be the order of the day in the UK. So basically I persuaded the owner to start a label to release our own productions and to sign stuff from overseas, add our own versions and mixes and release in the UK and Europe. That’s how it started. I don’t know if it was easier or harder, but it was very, very different. No email, no digital files. Everything was done manually. For example artwork was all done with hard copies, biked from designer to printers and then sent to the pressing plant. Masters were cut by lathe and the ‘metal’ sent on a bike to the plant. The pressed vinyl was put into sleeves by hand. It was a very labour intensive operation. And everyone needed to be paid.…it was not cheap!

How would you describe the ethos of Black Vinyl Records?

Well, when it began it was all about releasing underground records that had no pretensions of becoming hits or crossing over. It was about making records for DJ’s to rock a club with. Sell a few thousand and do the next one. I was inspired by the likes of Strictly Rhythm in New York or even earlier by punk labels like Stiff Records, who eschewed the mainstream and sought to build trust in, and loyalty to, the label itself. I wanted Black Vinyl to be the sort of label you would buy on sight without even listening to it beforehand. In terms of the ‘sound’ of the label, at first it was about ‘tracky’ stuff, rather than vocals, which at the time I saved for Hott. So it was only after Hott finished and I took full control of Black Vinyl that this changed a little and I was open to releasing vocal stuff on the label as well. The over-arching ethos was, is and will always be, to release music we personally love. It’s never been about getting the ‘big names’ of the day or latching on to whatever is ‘trendy’ at any given time. We have never followed trends or jumped on passing bandwagons and we never will.

You spent a lot time DJ’ing in Europe. How did those connections come about and how did you find that experience compared with playing in the UK?

Well it started with a few gigs here and there – Germany, Belgium… I have no idea how or why….But then my ‘break’ came when Italian promoter Maurizio Clemente got in touch, initially, I think, because he liked what I wrote about in ECHOES, and I started playing regularly in Italy. Maurizio also managed Tony Humphries in Europe so I found myself playing alongside Tony or often in the same clubs as him but a week later or a week before! That went on for nearly ten years. I also had another manager in Portugal, Carlos Calico, who got me some amazing gigs in clubs like Kadoc and Locomia, two of the biggest clubs in Europe at the time. And I had Henri Kohn getting me regular gigs in Germany and I also played in Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece…even Norway, all way way waaaaay back! Crikey I even remember flying to gigs where it was still legal to smoke onboard! How did I find the experience? It was a different world! We were treated like stars, you know? Just wonderful times.

You are just about to release your debut artist album: Tracks From The Tropics on the classic Italian label IRMA. Can you tell us about how you produce music in terms of favourite software/ hardware? Where do you take your inspiration from when creating a track (other music, or something you have watched, Art you have looked at, or something completely unrelated)?

In terms of the mechanics, the whole album is produced in Logic Pro. I’ve got an iMac and some decent monitors and an Akai keyboard plus a few other bits and bobs, but nothing fancy. I do have a good friend down here (Torsten Stenzel) who has a very nice studio, so he did some keys for me (‘The Dream’) and we did some mixing down at his place, but basically it’s all fairly low budget, lo-fi, home-made vibes. As for inspiration, that’s tricky. Sometimes a track might start out with a sample or a loop that Janet or I have found, so then I start building drums around that loop or that sample, and often as the track develops that original idea might get dropped altogether and the track goes off in an entirely different direction. I think a lot of the other influences are quite subliminal. I like movies and I am very much into Politics and History and Art so yeah, I think all those things have an influence. As for IRMA, well I’m just so happy they have signed it! I’ve known Cesare for over 30 years and he was very open to the concept. I think it’s a good fit.

The album sounds like all your musical influences are spread across the selection of tracks. Can you tell us about those and about your musical past pre Dance Music (which bands meant the most to you musically and politically or image wise)?

I’m really pleased that comes across in the album. I’m of an age when I do actually remember the world before House Music so I was very much influenced by a huge raft of music that pre-dates House. The Clash were always the band for me when I was a kid. I liked a lot of the punky stuff. The track ‘War Dance’ actually began with a sample of the track of the same name by Killing Joke. ‘March Of The Saints’ is inspired by a track by Chris Bailey of the Aussie punk band The Saints. But I also love Santana and Tangerine Dream and Curtis Mayfield and Lou Reed and Neil Young and Augustus Pablo and Scientist and King Tubby, and the Philly sound and the Disco classics…loads of stuff from across the spectrum….and I think it all goes in.

Talking of which how did you see the evolution of House Music happen in London (UK) and who where its most important figures/ clubs?

I saw it all happen and payed a very minor role in it and all I can say is that it DID NOT happen in the way the History books tell you! There were plenty of pioneering DJ’s playing electronic music, 4-on-the-floor DANCE music from the mid-80’s and even before that. I was a regular at Heaven in Charing Cross Road WAY before ‘88 and was dancing to 4:4 beats with lasers and strobes and smoke machines YEARS before Acid House. Call it Hi NRG, call it electro disco, call it Industrial, it was all there. I was also a regular at The Wag Club and at The Dirtbox roving warehouse parties, long before House, so when Acid House did eventually arrive, we all found it a bit lame to be honest. All these ex-football hooligans doing E and suddenly discovering dance music and hugging each other! They were late to the party for many of us. As for the important figures, I have to give props to Dave Pearce. He may not be the most fashionable name to drop these days but he was playing the early House records on his BBC GLR ‘Nite FM’ shows way before anyone else on legal radio. He also gave me a big break when (through my wife Janet who worked full-time at GLR) he asked me to present the club guide on his show. It opened a lot of doors for me. Others who deserve props in London in the early days were people like Jazzy M, Dave Piccioni, Noel and Maurice Watson, Princess Julia, Trevor Fung, promoters like Patrick Lilley, Nicky Holloway and Steve Swindells, Fridge owner Andrew Czezowski, Mark Moore, Tim Simonen, Simon Harris. Bobbi & Steve, Paul Anderson of course, Matt & Jon of Coldcut, Tony Thorpe…also A&R people like Eddie Gordon, Steve Wolfe, Tim Rudling and Simon Dunmore. They were all doing different things in different places, often for very different reasons, but it all came together in this weird mosaic, and it laid the foundation for everything that has followed.

Some of the tracks started life over six years ago. I’ve revisited and changed them over time and they all started coming together as an album last year. The fact that it’s all done in a home studio here in Antigua does feed into the tracks as it’s a relaxed space that I can work in at any time. And having Janet on hand to give feedback and being around lots of good weather and nice sunshine and tropical plants and my dogs and the cat……yeah it all helps. But other than the odd steel pan or marimba on Herberts Vibe (Herberts is the name of the village I live in) and the dubby bass on a couple of tracks, it’s not particularly influenced by what most people may perceive as “Caribbean” music. I wanted to avoid being too clichéd on that front, just because I happen to live here.

Another important part of your musical history was as a radio producer for Kiss FM. What can you tell us about that time and about the significance of the station at that time?

I had some proper BBC training so Kiss recruited me nine months after they had launched. Along with the great Colin Faver I produced all the ‘specialist’ shows in the evenings and at weekends. My main job really was to try and turn club DJ’s and pirate radio jocks into proper Radio Presenters. I’m not sure I succeeded but it was a lot of fun!

You also wrote for the influential UK music paper ECHOES. What was your role there? How would you describe the importance of music journalisms back then?

This was something else that I kind of stumbled into. I was doing stuff at GLR and meeting these artists and often doing the interviews with them so I often had lots of unused material. One of the first of these was Loleatta Holloway, so I wrote up all the extra stuff I had into an article and submitted it to ECHOES. They printed it and soon I was doing regular interviews and reviews for them. That then developed into my own column and for a while there was a separate pull-out section called Inside Trax. For me, the thing I really wanted to do at ECHOES (and at Kiss too) was to get the “old heads”, the Soul purists, the Northern Soul guys and those “black music’’ lovers who dismissed early House as an irrelevance, to understand and appreciate that real House, the good stuff, was a direct descendant of the stuff they claimed to love and worthy of acknowledgement as such. It all comes from Philly and Disco and Funk and Soul. So getting them to listen to the great Soulful House that was around at the time was my mission.

What are your thoughts on House Music currently and how it has evolved since beginning Black Vinyl? Likewise with the quality of song writing?

I am going to dodge this one, not because I don’t want to upset anyone (ha!) but because I genuinely don’t listen to much of it these days. I know it’s a cliché but since I retired from DJ’ing I’ve had no need to keep up with new releases from a ‘work’ perspective. I graze the Traxsource charts now and then but rarely find anything that moves me if I’m honest. I imagine if I was still ‘in the game’ that I’d find plenty to keep a floor busy, but for home listening…..I tend to stick with reggae and dub and old stuff.

And finally. What are you future plans for music?

I plan to have no plans! Whatever comes along ya know? Since finalising this album I have finished about 5 new tracks, so I will be looking to place them. I’m learning more every day and really enjoying it. I’ve done a remix of a track called ‘Back 2 Love’ for Ken Johnston’s 488 Records label that should be out very soon and have also remixed ‘Watching You’ by Jazzmina for Willy Washington. That’s a collaboration with Todd Gardner that should see the light of day soon. As for Black Vinyl, we’ll see what comes along. I really like the stuff we put out by young SA producer Sphereble and am hoping on getting some more of that. Most artists prefer to start their own labels these days, and I don’t really blame them, so we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m under no pressure to stick to a schedule or to release a certain number every year, so really I’ll just continue to go with the flow.

Alan Russell – Tracks From The Tropics is released February 18 on IRMA records

Black Vinyl releases at Traxsource
IRMA at Traxsource


The Broken Cradle Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Eric. Tell us about how your love of music and the piano came about, where you first remember hearing it being played and how you feel it expresses what you want to articulate through music?

I have loved music since I can remember. Some of my earliest memories of music are from a walkman my dad had and I would listen to tapes of Billy Joel, Van Halen, Foreigner, etc. I started playing piano when I was 7 or 8 years old and that led to a lifetime of music discovery for me. We always had a piano in our house and I remember my uncle would play it on Christmas day when he would visit. Those were always special moments that live eternal in my memory. When I was 14, I wrote my first song on the piano and it clicked with me how the lessons and time spent could help me write my own music. For me, this opened doors to express my feelings about everything through music, whether it is ambient music now or the thrash metal band that I played for in high school. Today, as a father, music is often a way for me to express my own feelings of growing up and watching my children grow into their own personalities and lives.

Your breath-taking new album: Post Mortal sees a series of themes explored each lending a piece of music its title. How would you seek to guide the listener through the experience? What should they prepare themselves for?

I think the wonderful thing about music, especially instrumental music, is that it can take on a lot of different shapes and meanings. For me, this album was written to explore the idea of the afterlife. More specifically, my thoughts around being a father of 3 small children and recognizing my own impermanence in their world. I think this album is best listened to from front-to-back as it is a story and a journey. Each song is a chapter and it all connects together as a whole.


Can you talk us through the process of conceiving and then creating a piece of music by describing how one of the tracks was made?

For this album, I actually wrote most of the song titles out before I started the music and that informed how I wanted to go about creating the pieces. Remembering, for instance, starts with a simple piano riff that is a little bit off kilter, much like you would feel when remembering someone who is gone. It is pretty, but there’s an unease and unsteadiness to it because we never remember things as clearly as we think we do. The song eventually disintegrates into a wash of sound where the piano is barely audible. Most of the sound design here was made in Vital or Pigments and really the entire song is based around that one, simple phrase on the piano. Everything else is ornamental.

How important are electronics in your music? Which effects do you value most? And can you tell us a little of how you create the sound of the keyboards/ piano you play so evocatively?

For me, the electronic elements are important in how they marry with the acoustic elements. I love straddling that line between a piano and purely synthetic noise, because in the end it’s all just sound waves, but how they hit our ears and how they feel is important. Some of my favorite VSTs include Noire (piano by Nils Frahm), Stratus (Olafur Arnald), Arturia Pigments (sound design, synth sounds), Vital (Matt Tytell’s beautiful wavetable synth for sound design), Newfangled Audio’s Generate (synth with attitude), and Baltic Shimmers (sound design). As far as effects, a little reverb can go a long way. I use reverb and delay on almost all of my songs, but I think the real magic happens in incorporating noise and field recordings into the song and playing with saturation. I try to give my music an element of humanness because working in the box can sometimes produce a very clean and artificial sound, which is the opposite of what I’m trying to create.

Can music that is not obviously happy say more about the experience of being human?

I think William Faulkner said it best: “The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.” Conflict isn’t necessarily happy or sad, but it certainly drives much of what we do or say and how we act. I’m a somewhat optimistic person and, even if my music sounds a bit somber, it is really rooted in hope. There is a lot to be grateful for, even when the human experience can be trying and difficult. I don’t think that sad music has a monopoly on the human experience, but it is certainly easier to dig into because that is often where the conflict is.

More broadly speaking, is creativity/ moving forwards hindered by the concentration of too much nostalgia both culturally and musically?

I don’t know! It could be in some instances, but it can also bring forward a power in music. We love and hate the past, but we can’t necessarily escape it or pretend that it doesn’t impact how we act and create today. I think where it can get in the way is by focusing too much on how other people have created music and been successful and thinking that you can replicate that and unlock the secrets of success. Some of it, maybe, but I think that can lock artists into a cycle of not wanting to change and leads to stale music.

How do you feel about the future in terms of how artists will survive making music?

I think artists are survivors by their very nature. I believe the pandemic has opened up possibilities for artists that weren’t necessarily seen as viable before, such as live streaming or online music festivals. I believe the pandemic has forced us to connect more with each other and use social media in a social way and not just as a billboard. I think the future is bright, especially as artists that treat this as their sole income can return to touring and playing shows. I don’t think the streaming giants will change anytime soon, so those are really just tools for sharing your music and hopefully connecting with fans (unless you’re on one of the major labels with a billion streams).

And finally. Do you think music ever has the power to effect change?

Someone wrote a note to me the other day that said my album had really helped him melt away some anxiety that comes with seasonal depression. It was the first time someone had vocalized that my music had helped them in a way that I never really thought about and it was the best thing I could hear about my music. I believe that music has the power to connect us rather than divide us. I think most musicians, especially indie artists, are creating because they love to create and there is this hope in each one of us that our music will connect with that one person. That is change and it is powerful.



Sean La’Brooy (Analogue Attic Recordings) Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Sean. Let’s start with the release of your debut solo album: Out Moving Windows. Tell us about the meaning behind the title?

Thanks for having me!

One of my favorite occasions for listening to music is during a commute. Whether it be by train, plane or car, headphones on, looking out the window, giving the music your full attention and watching the world go by.

There’s a particular contemplative sentiment that goes with that experience, and I guess that’s what I was trying to tap into with this release.

The album plays beautifully and is very rich in depth and emotion. How long did it take to compose and produce its completed release? Are you ever left feeling like you have rushed something for a deadline or do you always give time the space needed?

These tracks were made between late November 2020 and March 2021, I had been making a lot of music within that period of time, and these tracks felt like they worked best together for this release. There was no deadline for these fortunately!

Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks from the album? Including any favourite software/ hardware you like to use?

The first track on the release, entitled Splash, was composed around a collaboration with trumpet player Fernando Ferrarone. I first made the groove by recording percussion and claps in my studio; it has a slightly different feel to it because it’s in a 6/8 time signature. I then started layering on the pads which all come from a synth I’ve been enjoying recently, the Ensoniq TS-10.

At that point, I had Fernando come into the studio and we jammed over it for a couple of hours and recorded a bunch of takes. I then took best of the recordings and continued to layer on more elements and arranged the structure to be tight.

The music has an ambience drifting throughout. Where does inspiration for creating music come from: hearing other music, or something you have read, or an unrelated sound from the world outside?

I draw a lot of inspiration from other music, across many genres and styles, but I think the ambience comes from a desire to make music that is less dance floor oriented. I wouldn’t say unrelated sounds influence my music, but I definitely aim for particular emotions.

Can you tell us about some of the other musicians who have played on the album? And where some of the field recordings where recorded?

Oliver Paterson (plays guitar on Thank you For Everything), is an amazing musician I’ve known and played with for more than 10 years. He has made a few appearances on Analogue Attic with Alex and myself. He’s known for his beautifully melodic guitar lines which are perfectly on show here.

Kalia Vandever is a trombone player who regularly plays in jazz bands across New York. I first heard her playing an ambient solo trombone set in Brooklyn using a microphone a loop pedal. She has a really distinct energy in everything she plays, and everything sounds so deliberate and meaningful. I was very lucky to have her play with me on Triplet Falls.

Fernando Ferrarone is a monster of a trumpet player who regularly plays in jazz bands in New York, particularly salsa bands, where he brings the party. He deserves 97% of the credit for the first track on Out Moving Windows for the beautiful lines he plays.

Most of the field recordings in this are from a huge folder on my computer of the hours and hours of recordings I’ve taken over the years. Most of these were from improperly labelled takes that I haven’t been able to identify, most likely in country towns in Australia as well as some nature clips. There are also pieces from my apartment in Brooklyn and a recent trip to Mexico.

You cofounded the label Analogue Attic. How would you describe the process of running a record label in the digital age in terms of generating income (streaming), the importance of PR, the place of social media etc?

There are more outlets for people to engage with music now than there were when we first started Analogue Attic, and people’s listening habits will continue to change over time. We think it’s really important for people to be able to access our music wherever they want to listen to it, whether that be on Bandcamp, through streaming platforms or on vinyl. We have some great partners that make that possible for us. Some labels create a vibe by only releasing music on vinyl or tape, or boycotting streaming platforms. That can be cool as well, but we’ve always preferred to make it as easy as possible for those who want to listen to our music.

Generating revenue from music sales has never been easy for anyone, but having your music out in the world is the best way to get booked for shows, and that will always be the most straightforward path to income for musicians/DJs.

The spirit of independence runs strongly in what you do. Where did that inspiration come from? And how would you describe the more business end of club culture in terms of creativity at the moment?

I guess I have a very different background to most artists releasing music within similar circles; I went to jazz school and played in bands well before I got into electronic music. I very rarely DJ and so I don’t spend much time thinking about where my music can fit in a mix or what time of the night it will work and that sort of thing. I don’t care too much about being unique from other artists, but I do think it’s important to draw on your own influences.

What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?

I have a beautiful Yamaha Clavinova digital piano in my New York apartment, my friends chipped in to get it for me for my birthday recently, so it has that nice sentimental value to it as well. I also have an upright Carnegie and sons and a different digital Yamaha back in Melbourne.

In terms of influences who has been the most important both within music from outside of it (writers, painters, poets etc)?

There are way too many artists to put my finger on just one, but I’ve been thinking about Keith Jarrett a lot recently (largely because arthritis has taken over and he can’t play the piano anymore, which is sad). He’s one of my biggest inspirations, I think he’s one of the best musicians ever because of his command of melody and harmony as well as his technical ability.

And finally. Do you think music culture will reshape in any way after Covid-19? Have you formed any plans for 2022?

Last year I noticed a lot of producers releasing music that was abnormally ambient for them. I think there were loads of artists who knew their music wouldn’t be played to dance floors and thought differently about what they wanted to put into the world as a result. I don’t know if that’s still happening in a noticeable way, but I think it’s exciting when electronic artists who usually DJ think beyond the dance floors.

I have no formal musical plans for 2022!

buy Sean La’Brooy – Out Moving Windows – Analogue Attic Recordings


Forest Robots Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Fran. Let’s start with your awe-inspiring new album: Horst & Graben. Can you tell me why you chose that title and what it means for you in 2021?

In Geology, Horst and Graben refer to regions that lie between normal faults and are either higher or lower than the area beyond the faults. These are the areas across a landscape that are rifts or river valleys (Graben) and ridges (Horst) and that you often traverse when hiking and mountaineering, especially on long distance excursions. Recent hikes during the last year had me thinking about these topographical features and their analogous qualities to our everyday lives-our ups and downs, highs and lows.

These recent hikes in concurrence with the political and natural climates of the last few years (and made more volatile by the current pandemic), started me on a sort of philosophical journey about the highs and lows of spiritual, social and economic cycles we go through as a society and how the speed of these cycles seem to be on overdrive at the moment. The album’s title refers to the current state of these cycles.

The album was partly inspired by David George Haskell’s book ‘The Songs of Trees’. How did you first encounter it and can you tell us about how his words could create a sonic landscape in your imagination?

I’m often on the lookout for books that help me widen my knowledge about the natural world and The Song of Trees was one of those online algorithm based recommendations that happened one late night in the early Fall of 2020 while browsing through my computer instead of being in bed sleeping. I remember making a mental note but it wasn’t until a month later that I remembered the book had piqued my interest. Soon after, I bought it and right away Haskell’s narrative took over my attention.

In general, books about nature are easy to visualize in my head, to the point that I can associate places I’ve travelled to the visual aesthetics the author describes. This in turn, helps me relate to the narrative with a greater sense of accuracy. Haskell’s book was no exception. In fact, his prose made it all that much easier to visualize his narrative. Maybe being a hiker and mountaineer might have something to do with this visualization ability but it does help tremendously if the author’s narrative is especially captivating. In the case of Haskell’s book, each element fed off each other.

Having said that, and going back to the first question and what sparked my philosophical journey, Haskell’s stories helped me propel my own narrative and my own observations I was drawing. His themes helped me fill in the blanks of what I was going through in my head by giving me a deeper understanding of the connections between ourselves and the natural world around us. It gave me the confidence to draw conclusions about why we’re doing a disservice to ourselves, and understand how our species is constantly doing a disservice to our own spirituality and the spirituality of the natural world.

The album was mastered by Taylor Deupree (12k). How did your relationship with the artist come about and what do you think he has lent the final sound?

I have been following Taylor’s musical journey since 1994 when he released an album in collaboration with Savvas Ysatis as SETI on the now defunct Instinct Records (the label was bought out by Knitting Factory Records back in 2003) for which he also worked for as Art Director (many releases featured his art direction) and mastering engineer.

At the time, Instinct Records was a portal to discovering other great labels such as Fax +49-69/450464, em:t, and Ninja Tune. It was also a portal to discovering more of Taylor’s work under different aliases, such as Human Mesh Dance, Prototype 909, Futique and Drum Komputer. For a while, it seemed there were one or two releases a year that involved him in some capacity or another. Needless to say, it was a rewarding experience following his work during the 90’s.

But after the 90’s I lost track of his musical output for a while and it wasn’t until the last few years that I rediscovered him and much to the delight of my ears, he continues to be as prolific and rewarding to listen to. Not just that, but he also runs a wonderful label (12K) with lots of great releases including a few of his own.

Since the time I began composing (2004) to the time I began Forest Robots (2017), I have learned about the process of creating an album-from demo recording to mastering. However, one thing I’ve learned in particular is to sometimes let certain aspects of putting an album together be done by other people. In that way, by seeing others work their craft, you can also learn to improve yours. So with that in mind, I reached out to Taylor.

The man is a busy creator and curator though and it took sheer synchronicity for him to be available to spend time on the album and finish putting all the pieces together. I can’t express enough how grateful I am to have had his assistance. He has a tremendously deep intuition and understanding of the hierarchy of each instrument within a composition and how to best manage that hierarchy to achieve the clearest sound. His stately experience benefited the sound of the album a great deal.

On a personal level, it was a rewarding experience working with him after following his work for three different decades. There is a feeling of reaching a full circle of sorts with this album and Taylor’s involvement in mastering it.

Can you describe the process of how you created one of the tracks from Horst & Graben? Are there any favourite pieces of software/ hardware you like to use in making music?

Oftentimes, a composition begins outside of the studio and it doesn’t begin as a musical idea either. Instead, it begins as a line of thinking. It could be philosophical, spiritual, or emotional. It can be a certain feeling of introspection, gratitude or awe, usually sparked by a view or a place I’m exploring in the outdoors. The idea then gets complimented later on by other things, like a book, a film, documentary, a television program, or current events taking place either where I live in or in other parts of the world. Once I’ve had some time to process what I’m thinking about (usually takes weeks or even months), I then ask myself, ‘Is there anything that I can contribute to the subject?’. If the answer is yes, I then ask myself, ‘How can I best say this?’. That’s when the studio finally comes into play and I begin to think about what instruments I want to use, what musical direction I want to take.

Before I began recording Horst & Graben, I had purchased an Elektron Digitone and an Analog Heat. However, during the first two months these two were in the studio, I mostly played around with them in a learning capacity and didn’t record anything with them.

When I finally decided what musical direction I wanted to go with Horst & Graben, I knew I wanted to have a warm, nostalgic-like, electronic sound throughout the album. Something reminiscent of electronic and ambient works from the 1970’s. It was then that it became obvious I would use both Elektron machines. A lot of the electronic tones from the album come from the Digitone processed through the Analog Heat. The rest of the sounds came from processed piano.

The track, This World Is Held Together By The Beauty Of Humble Places struck a particular chord with me. What can you tell us about the video which accompanies it?

The title of the track is a phrase that has stuck with me from the first time I read it. It is one of those quiet but monumental kinds of statements. We have a tendency to focus our attention on visually stunning views-especially in nature. Waterfalls, mountain tops, river gorges, grand valleys, but it’s the quiet and often out-of-view places that make the outdoors thrive. It is these places where wildlife usually dwells and where it is created, nourished and renewed every day. The places we don’t run into, we don’t walk by, we don’t get to on purpose. This is what I wanted to convey in the video-quiet moments in those quiet places.

Do you think music has more depth, resonates more with the human condition if it isn’t obviously happy or uplifting? What are your thoughts on the place of nostalgia in the creative process?

That’s a tough question to answer. However, I will say, on a personal level, the kind of music that has endured for me strikes a balance between a nebulous and direct approach in its message. At times it can spark intense emotions of positive exhilaration, other times it can make you feel a sense of nostalgia or bitter sweetness. A great test for me when it comes to music, is when a composition can do the aforementioned but also manages to grow along with you throughout different stages in your life.

Who are your most important influences both within and from outside of music (writers, painters, poets etc)?

From within music, David Bowie and Brian Eno stand out the most. Bowie because of his fearless approach at exploring genres, his drive to evolve and his valiant efforts to try to never do the same thing twice. Eno because of his willingness to operate outside of the norms and always be open to allow a multitude of influences from different disciplines to the creative process. Films have been a great source of inspiration as well. Directors like Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, Alfonso Cuarón, Hayao Miyazaki, David Lynch, Taikia Waititi, and Stephen Chow among others have always been great conversation starters in my head. There are many writers I enjoy too, however, because my attention is very genre indifferent (If I like the subject or premise, I purchase it regardless of genre), I don’t have any particular favorites. My influences in writing are more book oriented rather than author oriented.

In what ways do you think that electronic music can translate into political thought? Is it more important for Art to be political or should it just reflect personal emotions?

Another excellent question and one that I’m also not sure I have a definite answer to but, I do feel, like any other musical genre out there, political music often starts with a title, then maybe a dialogue sample (for which electronic music is very adept at lending itself for the use of samples) and ultimately the artist guiding the listener through the music’s intention via lyrics, liner notes, interviews, ect. As to the importance of art being political versus personal, I think if you were to draw a Venn diagram, we’d find that oftentimes, both can be one and the same. Personal emotions can drive personal politics after all.

Horst & Graben started out from a spiritual stance and that spiritual conversation drove the emotional and social justice aspects of the conversations it is covering. So again, there is an overlap in these and it’s never one or the other.

If you would like to find yourself anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’m a fan of Google Earth and the application is a great place to find and access information for an area of the world you would otherwise have no clue about. When I’m on it I am usually drawn to far-away-from-civilization places. I find the application rather addicting but also highly educational as well. One area I would love to spend a great deal of time (if money and numerous responsibilities were no object at the moment) would be the Nunavut Territories in Canada. I find the Geological and topographical aspects of the area absolutely breath-taking. I may yet find a way to visit someday, but visiting such places requires a great deal of logistical preparation.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

First and foremost for the pandemic to subside but for that to happen, common sense needs to persevere over misinformation. I look forward to that happening. Meanwhile, I also look forward to continuing to hone and grow my skills as a composer. Every instrument currently in my studio comprises a musical journey and I feel I’m just under half way of that journey with most of my instruments, so there is a lot of room for growth and learning and that’s something I can always enjoy and look forward to.

buy Forest Robots – Horst & Graben – Elm Records



Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Mara. Tell us about the meaning behind the name IOKOI?

Thank you! The meaning behind the name IOKOI and how it came to life is due to a mix of my fascination for different aspects of asian culture, as well as for the term “reflection” in a broader sense. I remember reading a Chinese legend of the Koi carp, that swam up a waterfall and transformed into a dragon through its endurance and perseverance.

To shape the name I took the aspect of endurance and perseverance symbolised by the word “koi” and mirrored it to the other side. For me, this is a playful way to combine the meaning of “koi” with my belief of life as a moving wheel fuelled by a constant and precious exchange between the self and the other, in order to grow.

Which artists have inspired the course of artistic direction you have taken in life? Who left the most indelible impression growing up?

I’ve been inspired by many artists, for various reasons. But if I have to name some key moments in my life and artists connected to it, important names for sure are Björk, Erykah Badu, John Cage, Anna Homler and David Bowie. The last indelible impression was left quite recently – while still growing up – by Peter Greenaway and his movie “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover”. 

Tales of Another Felt Sense of Self is your latest release for your label –OUS. What is it that makes you feel most comfortable releasing there?

As co-founder of the label -OUS it feels like releasing as part of a family, this goes for the artists but also for the people in the background involved. The feeling of having a home-base, where different forms of projects can have a home is something really beautiful.

Which of the five senses is most important in your work? What do you seek to translate to people in your music?

Since music is my primary output, I’d say hearing is the most important. But besides that, while composing every other sense somehow shapes the final outcome of a piece. When I am in that process, different patterns can be revived through a particular way of impulses given by other senses within that very moment, that trigger something that I later translate into music. As mentioned before, the aspect of exchange between the self and the other and the involvement of different senses within a specific environment can alter the shape of a work. I seek to translate a very personal experience or sensation within my music. 

Talk us through how you created one of the tracks from the EP and some of the software / hardware you use? Do you start with a single idea or do you get inspired by something you may have seen or heard outside of the studio environment?

The composing process of this EP was beautiful and took place in a constant exchange with Michele Foti, who shot the video triptych to “Tales of Another Felt Sense of Self”. For me, it was a new method of composing, tested out previously in other (commissioned) works Michele and I did together. After having sent him the first tracks that later were to become part of this EP, I realised that I felt the need to reshape the songs structure to match the narrative of the videos.

To answer the more technical aspect of your question, I mostly worked with the piano, voice, field recordings and samples on TOAFSOS. The recording software I use is Logic – but that said, I’m not such a tech-nerd and am working on getting better in the technical aspects of production. I’m very intuitive in the way I work and record, and so especially what happens outside of the studio environment mostly triggers what later becomes a piece of music.

Accompanying the release is work from Michele Foti, olfactory artist Klara Ravat and graphic designer Sarah Parsons. Can you tell us about your involvement with those artists and how you see their reflection of your music?       

Especially during times of social distancing, I felt the need to create a product that could somewhat stimulate different senses on different levels. The people I chose to collaborate with are persons I value as human beings and artists.

With Michele I developed a whole new way of de-/recomposing my works, as mentioned above. I knew immediately that his documentarist and raw approach to video and recording, as well as the use of tape could underline the music with the unfiltered touch I was looking for.

Klara and I have known each other for a long time and have collaborated before on a commissioned installation. The way she translated my emotional mood boards into a scent, which evolves throughout the whole duration of the EP, is still unbelievable to me.

Sarah Parsons brought a whole other level to the release through a book of 208 pages, in which she makes the very essence of the work visible by merging patterns of stills from Michele’s videos with text fragments.

I feel that the long processing time was needed and worth it, so that the various personal reflections of the music could match one another and turn into what in the end became one multi-sensory release.

How would you describe the importance of the human voice in music? Are songs as relevant as they once were?

Every form of sound has an important existence, whether in a song-form or with the involvement of the human voice, according to the very personal perception of the listener.

What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?

Right now, my favourite instrument is the Korg Microsampler. It is the most recent piece of equipment that I’ve bought. The possibility of creating an instrument out of whatever sample, including voice, really enables me to compose new material in a way I didn’t know before and had been looking for.

And finally what are your thoughts post Covid-19 and how the world will function in terms of music. Are you hoping for any changes?

A very difficult question… In music, I like what the band Senyawa did: for their last album, they decided to welcome multiple independent labels around the world to co-release it jointly. I think this was a beautiful sign of creative thinking on topics like borders, openness, and trust.

Generally speaking, I really don’t know how the world will function post Covid-19, but I hope that this moment of stillness can somehow lead to new forms of exchange and creativity and a stronger sense of community.