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Mick Chillage interview


INTERVIEW WITH MICK CHILLAGE

 

Mick Chillage, is quickly becoming one of the most prolific electronic artist in his native country of Ireland focusing mainly on CD album releases in recent times, but also most recently on his
Bandcamp page that can be found here.

Mick Chillage has been producing various strains of electronica since 1996 and is one half of Dublin based radio DJ’s The Chillage Idiots who have been playing a wide range of music within the spectrum of electronica on Dublins XFM. His Influences are wide ranging from John Barry to Kraftwerk to Eno to Larry Heard & beyond.

His distinct sound combines atmospheric soundscapes and melancholic melody which he prefers to create from scratch rather than sampling someone else’s work. So far Mick has released material on Pete Namlook’s legendary Fax records in both solo and collaboration with Lee Anthony Norris as Autumn Of Communion. Mick released his debut CD album “Tales From The Igloo” in 2009 on Dublin based label Psychonavigation.

You can hear his music on his Bandcamp page.

1) Hi Mick, first of all thanks for doing this. Could you tell us a little about yourself and did you started making music?

Thanks for composing such a nice interview Jeff. Myself, well I’m based in Dublin Ireland where I have lived since I was about seven years old. Music is in my family both my brother and sister can play instruments and my grandfather also played the accordion. My parents both have a love for traditional Irish music so I grew up listening to a lot of that but honestly never really cared for it much. I started making music in 1996, at this point in my life I didn’t own a computer or wasn’t particularly interested in them so I purchased a Roland MC303 which was aimed more at the dance music market, after some time I eventually learned to program all sorts of electronic music on it but got tired of its limited sonic capabilities and realised I needed to expand with some synths.

2) What are your most important influences? Vangelis, Pete Namlook & John Carpenter comes to my mind…

Influence wise, those you mentioned in the question are definitely high in the list. My earliest true influence would have to be John Barry and his scores. I guess seeing “Goldfinger” on TV for the first time at about eight years of age was a life changing moment, those massive brass swells and epic string arrangements and the jazz elements just seemed so otherworldly, a million mails away from the music I usually heard at home. The first album I owned on vinyl was the James Bond 10th Anniversary a double vinyl which comprised of highlights from each movie from Dr No To Diamonds Are Forever, It was a ninth birthday present from my parents.

3)  Listening again to your tracks after having done the mix tribute to you and AOC, I can’t help but noticing how pure your soundscapes are and pristine. You must spend an awful lot of time in exploring sounds?

Most of my finished pieces are usually the result of experimenting with my synths firstly, I very rarely set out to make a track with a preconceived concept or composition in mind. With much of the equipment I use, a mixture of Analogue and digital synths, there are so many possibilities its often chaos at the beginning, often creating sounds that on their own they are quite interesting but when trying create something that fits in to a musical coherent piece they don’t work so well so I will go to work on calming them down into something more usable which is probably why they sound so pure or pristine to you. One thing I try to avoid is re-using a sound or patch, a lot of artists tend to have a sonic trade mark like BOC with their de-tuned pads, while it can give an act an identity, I prefer not to save any patches that I use in a particular track, I just record the performance and mix and arrange it but don’t save it to the synths memory or midi dump the sysex. Having said that I guess my music has a certain sound that is identifiable, I guess I’m drawn to certain frequencies and tones and my approach of synthesis is self-taught so I tweak and edit sounds in almost a uniform way.

4) Wondering about the machine you use: let me guess, a mini-moog, a korg, a prophet 5?

The equipment I use, no Moogs as yet, I have two korg’s a Prophecy which I picked up in 1997, its a digital mono synth very powerful and unique with its multi Oscillator synthesis system, it can create rather impressive wind instrument sounds with lots of expression but an interface that will make editing a drag at times. The other Korg in the MS20 mini a recreation of the 70’s analogue classic its semi modular patch bay is quite frustrating to say the least so I’m not massively impressed with Korg so far, The MS20 is fun though with the SQ1 Sequencer and the standard front panel is great for creating powerful basses and leads etc. One of my fave bits of recent kit is my Mopho X4 by DSI which is a relation to the Prophet 5. the Mopho features largely on most of my albums created within the last three years or so. its a four voice analogue. I still use my Novation Supernova II [Digital] which is a classic analogue modelling synth, which supplied most of the sounds on Faxology etc. I’ve got two other bits of analogue, The Waldorf Pulse 2, a rather harsh sounding analogue, it takes quite a bit of tweaking to calm it down ha ha. I also have a Doepfer MS404 which use to belong to Russ Gabriel of Ferox records etc, a great little mono synth for creating authentic 303 style sounds and much more..

5)  How many years did it take you to settle your studio?

The studio has been progressing since 1996, I guess it never truly stops as I plan to purchase the new DSI Rev2 in the Autumn a 16 voice poly analogue!

6) You & I aren’t so much of different age, you lived through the 90’s, how was the scene in Dublin back then? Did you hang out in raves, chill-out rooms?

I got hooked on the sounds of Acid House in about 1988, up until that point I never really felt that I was part of a particular music scene or culture, where most people my age where either dedicated goth’s Rockers etc, I kinda liked bits of everything like Prince, PSB, New Order, plus the soundtracks of John Carpenter, Vangelis etc.

In School I was quite an outsider I guess, I wasn’t into football and regular sports, preferred to ride my BMX and create art so Acid House just clicked for me,although it arrived two years after I left School it just seemed like two fingers to conformity, something about its brutal minimalistic machine groovesand the twisted buzzing alien frequencies captured my soul. In the late 80’s Dublin record stores started stocking the music as much of it was breaking the UK charts and Ireland was very much influenced by what was happening in the UK. It took me a while to find a club that played Acid and Techno.

Eventually I discovered an underground club in Dublin city called Sides D.C. that had been a gay club and played more alternative sounds since the mid 80’s. So through the early 90’s I spent most of my Saturday nights there.

You could hear anything from Orbital, Joey Beltram, Primal Scream etc, I would also from time to time travel to Belfast to go to raves. Eventually Sides got taken over by “E” culture the music and the crowd changed Happy hardcore and sweaty Rave as I liked to call, it became a dangerous place to venture into, fortunately other venues popped up around Dublin, some promoters booked acts like AE, Bandulu, Kenny Larkin etc so I would still check out many of these nights right up unit maybe the early to mid 2000. Dublin’s electronic scene today is pretty much dominated by Techno but the quality end of it.

Oh, so safe to say I was fairly active in the Rave scene back in the day, but only as a reveller, never got involved in promotion of parties.

7) Your collaborations with Lee Norris seemed inspired a lot by early BDP, Rising high and New electronica.

Both myself and Lee, have a rather large range of influences, the ones you mentioned are surely in there are lots more from the 90’s for sure but we go way back, for Lee and myself Gary Numan, Tangerine Dream, John Foxx, Japan, Eno, Kraftwerk, er Vangelis for me, Lee’s not so keen, I also liked Herbie Hancock, Cabaret Voltaire, DM, YMO, Yello, Art Of Noise etc.. We are still getting influenced today as we still consume lots of music new and old.

8) What’s your opinion on the state or current electronic music?

The current state of electronic music ha ha, whoa, that’s quite a mind field. I guess I can only express my opinion on the scenes that I follow quite closely, Ambient and IDM perhaps. While its a truly great time for any wannabe artist to start out with the cheap availability of DAW’S And soft synths,

I do feel there’s an awful lot of deeply generic sounding electronic music out there, wether its down to all the Ableton/fruity loops tutorials on YouTube or the sound packs which are just lazily used by so many.

As a beginner to the art of making electronic music it’s very easy now to create a four chord progression over 16 bar section with lush sounds out of the box! To make a mark in the scene you really have to think beyond these structures, I think composition appears to be secondary and that

production quality is more important these days? within the digital world of preset soft synth patches and digital rendering it’s almost impossible to sound awful, personally I do find music that is created 100% within the digital domain a little flat sounding and becomes a bit tiresome on the ears particularly for long sittings so the composition and sentiment of the music needs to be more soulful, imaginative and emotional to keep my attention.

To simplify, it’s very easy to make a mundane Techno or Ambient piece thanks to modern technology but to create something with longevity and a strong identity that is a lot more difficult and takes talent and a real passion for one’s art.

9) I know how much of a cinema buff you are, how much does it influences your productions? (AOC2 has a sample of “Silent Running”)

I’m not sure I would consider myself a true cinema buff but I am quite fussy about the movies I watch. I guess much of the 70’s movies left a big impact on me, I love a lot of the early Science Fiction and road movies of that era, from Vanishing Point to THX 1138 to Jaws and The French Connection. I just loved the dark grittiness of the often flawed characters, the practical stunts and effects where much more inventive and the stories where much more believable, obviously today the art of cinema is still delivering the goods but rarely in the mainstream world. Popular culture just gets dumber and dumber, as in the music scene you have to really look away from the mainstream to find true gems.

10) Who is the most overrated electronic music producer and the most underrated in your opinion?

I’d have to be careful mentioning overrated artists, while there are many I consider overrated I’d still hate to miss a possible opportunity to collaborate or remix with some bigger artists in the future. Underrated is a strange one, I’ve mentioned certain artists before in such light on forums only to be attacked by someone misinterpreting the sentiment. “How can you say that about such and such?” thinking that I’m saying they aren’t very talented or it’s some form of criticism. What I mean is that they are under the radar for such an amazing talent and should be more popular considering the music is of such high calibre.

A few I would mention who deserve greater accolades are: Peter Benisch, Mark Van Hoen, Kettel, Spyra  and Ochre.

11) Top 10 music albums of all time?
Top ten albums, seen as there are so many genres of music. I’ll just focus on electronic for this question, this list could vary from day to day.

1) 808 State “90:”

2) Biosphere “Substrata”

3) Chapterhouse “Blood Music-Re translated by Global Communication” Heard it before 76:14

4) John Carpenter “Escape From New York”

5) Peter Benisch “Soundtrack Saga”

6) Locust “Morning Light”

7) Vangelis “Blade Runner

8) Harold Budd “White Arcades” or  “The Room” can’t decide which is best

9) Pete Namlook and Mix Master Morris “Dreamfish” so many to choose from but this is the first one I heard by Peter

10) Various “Artificial Intelligence” Life changing comp, easier than picking something from the whole AI series on Warp.

12) Top 10 movies of all time?

1) Blade Runner

2) Jaws

3) Vanishing Point.

4) THX 1138

5) Bad Boy Bubby

6) Mad Max

7) 2001 A Space Odyssey

8) American Beauty

9) On Her Majesties Secret Service

10) Alien

13) Tell us more about your new project Architects of Existence with Eric Taylor ?

Architects of Existence with Eric started a few years back, I basically connected with Eric through Facebook and over time we were both exposed to one another’s music, Eric expressed interest in a collaboration and I felt it was right also. His music is very expressive and quite diverse from found sounds to ambient textures and distinct compositional themes. Eric is based in New York so we just transferred files back and forth. The first album came together quite quickly, it is quite a sprawling ambient affair with subtle hints of Berlin School and cinematic influences with our idiosyncratic flair, something that we feel may demand a few listens to reveal some deeper hidden depths. The album was completed almost two years ago but as I have had quite a prolific run in the last two years Dave at Carpe Sonum had to schedule a release strategically as to not clash with other projects of mine. Eric & I have recently completed a second album which we see’s us taking our sound further, again four tracks but in its current form may need a double CD release.

14) How has your Bandcamp page transformed the industry for ambient artists like you?

Bandcamp really is a leader, it gives the artist so much freedom, from designing and managing your own page, offering both digital and physical and instant revenue for physical sales, all digital sales revenue is issued within 24 hours usually. For low key/Niche artists like myself I don’t have to wait months and months for royalty statements and the usual digital channels take a major chunk and I feel it is really not worthwhile to a certain degree. There’s also benefits for the consumer like offering various file formats with no price difference is quite unique and a feature I think is essential for people who like high end audio.

Another great difference between usual distributed digital outlets is that you have control of proper genre identification of your music, I’ve often seen my material being billed has progressive house on Beatport or other when it’s clearly Ambient or Experimental which means that the music is often mislabeled and lost.

Other features I love with Bandcamp is that fans get automatic updates when I release something new. With a bit of work through social media, blogs and forums you can promote your music pretty well, so safe to say it has revolutionised the industry for an artist like me.

15) You were the last release on Fax +49-69/450464, it’s quite an accomplishment but also sad at the same time, Peter was such a pillar of the ambient scene…And still is, even though he passed.

Yes the first Autumn of Communion with Lee, has a certain bitter sweet feel to it. Pete passed away two weeks after it was released. Both Lee and I are extremely proud of the release and feel its a fitting sawn song to Pete’s legacy but at the same time knowing that we will never hear anymore new material from him or no more releases on the sub label based on his incredible taste is still hard to think about.

There is huge void that just cannot be filled.

He was an innovator and kept pushing and nurturing the scene who gave some big artists in techno and a platform to express their experimental sides along with exposing lesser known talents. No other established record label would take chances like that, try getting a demo to any of the big labels in electronica now, it is just closed doors but Pete let his heart rule more so than is head and coming from a background in banking and finance showed he didn’t care so much about rules.

On a final note, has Ed Norton contacted you to be his double on the sequel of Fight club? 

No I’m still waiting for that call 🙂 In the meantime I’ll continue to make music and keep my day job!

  • 1 Interval two by Autumn of communion
  • 2 Rhea by Autumn of communion
  • 3 Special K (Mick Chillage’s Black Hole Mix) by Radio Scotvoid
  • 4 End (Sunrise For Claudio) by Autumn of communion
  • 5 Interval One by Autumn of communion
  • 6 Seroni by Mick Chillage
  • 7 Over ingia by Mick Chillage
  • 8 Approaching Antares by Mick Chillage
  • 9 Gamma Radiation by Mick Chillage
  • 10 Night Works by Mick Chillage
  • 11 Spaang by Autumn of communion
  • 12 Autumn Of Communion by Autumn Of Communion
  • 13 In The Valley Of Tanaro by Autumn Of Communion
  • 14 Part IV by Architects of Existence
  • 15 Earth Waiting by Autumn Of Communion

December 6, 2016 Leave a comment
orb-little-fluffy-clouds-530-85
Don’t search for any Orb tracks on this mix. There aren’t any. It’s a mix of the songs The Orb have used and sampled in the course of their first albums! Rock, pop, soul, dub, reggae, avant-garde electronics, Space samples, radio shows, jazz and classical are here 🙂 Enjoy this Orbesque mix!
Tracklisting :
1) A conversation with Ricki Lee Jones / Little Fluffy Clouds (1990)
2) Steve Reich feat. Pat Metheny : Electric Counterpoint – Fast (Movement 3)/ Little Fluffy Clouds (1990)
3) Ennio Morricone : L’uomo Dell’armonica / Little Fluffy Clouds (1990)
4) Bill Evans : Spartacus Love Theme / Spanish Castles in Space (1991)
5) Dunya Yunis : Abu Zeluf / Outlands (Glastonbury 26.6.93) (1993)
6) Prince Far I : Long life (Blue room 1992)
7) Martin Luther King : I have a dream speech / Outlands (Glastonbury 26.6.93)
8) Misty in roots : Man kind / Perpetual Dawn (Ultrabass 2 1991)
9) Burning Spear – Civilised reggae / U.F.Orb
10) Johnny Osbourne and Papa Tullo – Back Off / Star 6 & 7 8 9
11) The Upsetters Blackboard Jungle Dub / Outlands
12) Harry Nilsson – Jump Into the Fire / Drums on Little Fluffy Clouds (1990)
13) Mad Professor – Fast Forward Into Dub / (Blue room 1992)
14) Victor Lewis-Smith – An Ting / Towers of Dub
15) The Tape-Beatles – Desire / Majestic
16) Antonio Vivaldi – E, R.271 “L’Amoroso”: 2nd Movement “Cantabile” / Into the Fourth Dimension
17) Gregorio Allegri – Miserere / Into the Fourth Dimension
18) Trailer from Flash Gordon (1990) / Earth (Gaia)
19) Colin Wilson : Notes on Abraham Maslow: The Peak Experience / O.O.B.E.
20) Footage of Apollo Missions (Part 1) – For all mankind part 1 / Back side of the Moon
21) Sex Pistols – Big Tits Across America / Back side of the Moon
22) Footage of Apollo Missions (Part 2) – For all mankind part 1 / Back side of the Moon
23) Minnie Riperton – Lovin’ You / A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From the Centre of the Ultraworld
24) Bobby and Betty Go to the Moon (1966) / KLF : 3 A.M. Eternal (Blue Danube Orbital) [1989]
25) Peter Page as Rags the Robot Dog, Marya Small as Dr. Nero and Woody Allen as Miles Monroe in Sleeper (1973)

Interview with Yagya

November 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Icelandic producer  Aðalsteinn Guðmundsson has been creating atmospheres under the moniker Yagya since 2002 with Rhythm of Snow, released on Force Inc. His third album, Rigning, released in 2009, set the benchmark for not just dub techno, but electronic music as a whole. Yagya has studied computer science at the University of Iceland. It’s an understatement to say that he has a ear for beauty and melody in his productions. This year, he has released his 5th studio album called ‘’Sleepygirls’’ on Delsin. We chated over the course of a few weeks on Facebook. Here are the words that came out of it!

1)What gear / equipment do you use ?

My computer does everything, since I only use software samplers. I quite like it like that since I have so much control over everything. I recently bought a midi keyboard, which I’m starting to use now. In the past I’ve been using only the mouse to draw the melodies that I hear in my mind. For me as a electronic musician, sound and music is heavily intertwined, so speakers are very important. since they are my one and only link to the music (unlike, say, guitarist which relies on the guitar and skill to play it). Currently I’m using Quested V2108, PSI A21-M and Avantone Mixcubes. I truly believe that they are what matters most for me (along with the room they are in) as inspirational monitors can help create inspirational music. They don’t make the music or the sounds, but musical and honest monitors help me choose the right sounds, they will tell you if the track feels good and/or if it sounds good, and how everything fits together. I’m still exploring this territory, but I feel like I can trust this 3 set monitor combination regarding musicality and sound engineering. Not all speakers were created equally, so one has to choose carefully.

2) Your soundscapes are very unique..You like texture a lot and rhythm seems less important to you on previous albums but on Sleepygirls I thought rhythms were just as much important. Was it intentionnal ?

I guess it was partly intentional, I wanted to make loops that grooved a little bit more than my previous stuff, without being purely for the dance floor. It was just something I had fun with, since I tried not to force anything on Sleepygirls

3) How does the landscapes of Iceland influence you ?

I like mountains and the sky and the ocean, but I can’t say Icelandic landscape influences me directly. That said I don’t think I’d like to live in a huge city without sensing the tranquility of nature for an extended period of time. I like the calmness you often find in Iceland.

4) Are you aware of the immense cult following that you have ? Not only in the dub techno community but in post 2000, you are a very respected electronic musician.

Well, I can’t say I’m aware of any cult following, but people have mentioned it to me once or twice. To be honest I try not to think about such things, because I’m fearful that it might affect how I apply myself in making music. Perhaps if I convince myself that I know how to make music, I will stop trying to better myself. It’s a slippery slope. I kinda need to make beautiful music and can’t afford to take it easy, because I think contentment is the enemy of advancement.

5) Rigning is such a masterpiece. Could you tell us how you made the record and where did the inspiration/idea behind came from ?

I made that album on my laptop and my pc, and it took a loooong time because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. There were three records that inspired me while making Rigning: the first one was Rhythm of Snow, I wanted to make something similar since that was my first Yagya album. But I didn’t want to listen to it, so I just used my memory of it. (My plan has always to make the odd numbered record similar to what I have done in the past and for even numbered albums I try something new.) The second one was Laughing Stock by Talk Talk, which is such an amazing album. there are some great tranquil moments on that album that I wanted to imitate on Rigning. The third one was Blade Runner Soundtrack by Vangelis, which is sooo great! I love that film and I love the score.

Rigning wasn’t inspired by rain, it just happened that I used field recordings of rain in all of the tracks, so when the album was almost done it seemed natural to emphasize on that theme.

6) You said previously that you heard melodies in your head. That is intriguing. Do you have a set of samples or just do everything on the spur of the moment ? Basically, tell us a little about your composition process ?

Sadly almost nothing happens at the spur of the moment, since everything takes a rather long time. So I need to think up stuff that might fit for the track and then make it happen by searching for raw sounds (mostly very basic sampled analog synths) and tweak it until fits into the soundscape. Usually I try to lay down some chords and a kick, and create a basic mood, then I add layers to that to make it more complex. I play around with it and tweak it until it’s coherent and sort of “talks” to me. That’s a very important part and can take a long time. I try to make music that makes me feel like it’s more than the sum of the sounds.

Regarding the melodies in my head, I think once you have a basic foundation of chords/pads and rhythm there is often an implied melody, something that comes naturally. It’s easy to hear, I might hum it along and then I can draw it with my mouse. of course there are days that I’m just banging my head against the wall, but it’s important to keep working on it. I never create a track in one sitting, there are usually countless sessions for each one. When I’m making albums I work on it as a whole, so nothing is done until everything is done.

7) You’ve mentionned being influenced by Vangelis score on Blade runner, would you like to do a film score in the future ? Have you yet been approched to do so ?

When I was younger, before I made music under the monker Yagya, I tried to make music for 2 or 3 short films.  It was fun, but I haven’t done anything like that again.  If I had the proper resources (i.e. time) I would love to write a film score, but only if I would get artistic freedom to do what inspires me (or if me and the director would really sync).  I think it can be rather hard to write music for others since they sometimes have requests that you don’t agree with, it simply isn’t the same to follow someone other’s vision as following your own. But, oh man, I’d love to write something like the Blade Runner score, or at least my version of it.  It’s probably immensely satisfying if things work out, and the film and the score compliment each other perfectly.  I know, it’s very hard to do and I would have to practise endlessly before that happens!

8) I’ve seen that you’ve toured a lot around the world : Japan, Russia, Nederlands, Germany..No touring in America (Canada & USA) yet ? We ought to invite you to Mutek…

Well, actually I was a part of Substrata festival in Seattle last year (2013) curated and organized by Rafael Anton Irisarri.  but other than that I haven’t toured in America. I find America fascinating, it’s so huge and so many great things in art and technology originate from there.  I have never been to Canada (only USA (New York City and Seattle)), and of course I would love to play at Mutek!  Playing live in the right venue for an excellent crowd can be a very rewarding experience.

9) Why is it important for you to release physical records (cd, vinyls) in this day and age of digital format ( mp3) ?

For me personally it just seems more real somehow, a physical object that you can hold in your hand and say “It’s done”, it gives me a sense of accomplishment, plus it’s a symbolic artefact that I can place in my shelf and move on. I think it’s similar when I buy music, it feels good to own the record you love, instead of streaming it or listen to it on youtube. That said I don’t buy CDs anymore, I just buy vinyl and mp3/flac. (But I will of course try and continue to put my music on CD as long as someone wants to release it and buy it.)

10) What would be your top 10 records of all time ?

1. An MLO Production – Io

2. Maurizio – M4.5
3. The Orb – U.F.Orb
4. Elliott Smith – Either/Or
5. Goldfrapp – Tales of Us
6. Gas – Königsforst
7. Rhythm & Sound w/ Love Joy – Best Friend
8. Peter Gabriel – Passion / Music For The Last Temptation Of Christ
9. Philip Glass – Music with Changing Parts
10. Kings of Convenience – Declaration of Dependence

 

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