May 17th, 2013 | E-mail interview by NINa
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NINa: Fake Empire is your solo project. The music includes a great deal of electronica. Is electronic music in any better situation when compared to guitar driven styles in terms of making, recording and producing? How are new instruments or devices accessible these days? Do you have any comments regarding originality or experimental values within Electronic genres?
Fake Empire is still in it’s early days and my goal has always been to fuse electronic and more traditional instruments together, I want to draw from as wide a scope as possible when creating music. This makes defining it in a genre a little tricky as some songs may be heavily guitar driven while others focus on a more ambient electronic sound, it really depends on my mood when I sit down to experiment as to where my focus goes.
The fact that good quality production equipment is now more affordable has meant that the “bedroom producer” is fairly commonplace these days, particularly in the electronic scene where most of the production is done in the box (using a computer). It becomes a little more difficult with guitar driven music as achieving that really “professional” sound requires some engineering experience and a live studio, particularly when it comes to recording live drums – it’s all about the room, something you don’t have to think twice about when you are plugged into a computer.
There is a whole new generation of affordable analog gear appearing on the market now which also means it is easier to achieve a slightly more raw vintage sound, most of the new wave of analog gear is all USB/MIDI capable so again it makes it easier to connect to your DAW and record. I know a lot of people don’t approve of this modern take on analog but personally I think it means you can focus more on the creative process and writing music.
The cool thing about Industrial music is that it fuses all those elements together so with a fairly basic setup you can get some good results. It would be fantastic to have an unlimited budget when it comes to buying instruments and production gear but that is unrealistic for most of us. The fact that you can get a professional sound by combining some live and electronic instruments and production means that a lot more of us can create music. The learning curve is steep but well worth it.
I am all for experimenting with electronic music, the more I learn about synthesis the more it really consumes my attention. I come from a mostly acoustic background (I was predominantly a drummer in live bands prior to starting Fake Empire) so it’s something new and exciting for me to learn. It’s easy to lose hours of your life just messing around with weird noises and soundscapes - sound design is definitely something I want to explore in the future.
NINa: What are the most important attributes of a composition that you usually accent in your songs?
It all starts with a melody, generally played on a guitar or piano, that will set the tone of the song and give me a sense of how it will progress. I then start layering instruments over the top to build it into a finished piece. Songs with unusual or very emotive melodies have always had an impact on me, there are just certain combinations of notes that can entirely change your mental or emotional space, this is something I want to explore with Fake Empire. Melody is a very powerful thing and for me it is the first thing I want to stand out.
As a drummer I also enjoy interesting rhythms. At the moment I am really into glitch style beats and the fact you can make complex patterns from random machine noises, there is something strangely human about machine noise patterns and it is fun experimenting with non-traditional drum sounds, it’s amazing what you can sample and turn into a drumkit.
NINa: Presently, not only are you employed as a graphic designer required to design art but also develop websites which technically is a totally different story. I enjoyed your official website and its interactivity. Currently you are a Creative Director in a design company in New Zealand. Having been involved in design for the last 10 years, have you noticed any specific changes when it comes to trends as well as clients' needs?
I think clients are far more aware of social networking these days which has changed our process when establishing an internet presence for a business, social sites have become part of our everyday life so your business has to be there to compete and establish a presence. I’m not convinced that social media actually drives business or converts sales and new statistics are showing that it may not be the best place for businesses to focus their attention.
In terms of changes specific to design I think print is definitely dead – these days we focus almost entirely on online design and identity development. Design seems to go through phases of complexity and simplicity, I’m really enjoying the simplicity of a lot of the design work out there at the moment, it has become more about creating an easy experience and communicating your message as clearly as possible which is ultimately what design is all about.
It’s also interesting to apply traditional design concepts to new technology, this is one of the things that makes the industry quite exciting as you constantly need to adapt to new methods and experiment to find out how you can use this new technology to communicate your message in a way that connects with the user. Traditional design principals always apply but as the mediums expand and change you get to work out new ways to push the boundaries.
NINa: Social networks come and go, stealing attention but also money and users' private data. Well known companies as well as bands will remain big regardless of whether they’re utilizing social media or not. Doesn't you self-esteem suffer from being shown that not original music but a number of 'friends' speak for one's importance? Isn't it all about wasting time yet being pressured into a 'requirement' of a social media presence?
Thanks to social media we now have a global society, like anything it has it’s positive and negative points. It is ultimately our decision to participate in this global society so we need to take the good with the bad if we chose to do so. I say ignore the numbers and just communicate honestly.
Social media and the Internet have changed the music scene in a powerful way, they enable global collaborations to happen very quickly and the results can then be shared with the world. My recent collaboration with Sean from File Transfer Protocol
wouldn’t have been possible 15 years ago but now we have a song that anyone can download for free and a music video that received over 12000 views in just a couple of weeks, it all seems so crazy when I reflect on what we achieved in such a short time but that’s the power of social media.
The power is definitely in the hands of the artist now and labels are having to redefine themselves at their very core. There are so many amazing artists writing and producing their own music and the community of artists is so strong and supportive of each other that it is now creating the new model of what the industry will be. Signing to a label to get your music in front of people is no longer the only way to do things, if you want to write music and share it with the world you can, you won’t get rich or famous but for most of us you just do it because it’s something you love and have to do.
NINa: Most rational people are not aware that their subconscious mind lives its own life. For instance, when you casually keep seeing numbers such as 11:11, 12:12 etc. and other occasional connections, this phenomena is called synchronicity which had been experienced by many people all over the world. It may sound like a child game, but in fact experiencing these situations means you're ready for the next stage of self-awakening. Have you come across any occurrences that kind?
Ironically I was thinking about this question and looked up at the clock and it was 11:11pm
I spent a few years studying philosophy and some more esoteric subjects and synchronicity or “meaningful coincidence” was something that I came across during this time. From a reductionist point of view these things are just looked at as coincidental or just events that will statistically happen on occasion.
When you take some time to form a basic understanding of quantum physics you start to see that ultimately everything is connected at a base level, this could be described as the “oneness” that Buddhist practitioners have talked about for centuries. There is no clear division between one thing and another, the only thing that creates a separation is our own mind.
If you consider that everything is connected then potentially there are no random coincidental events at all, everything in some way has a meaning. There is a great English philosopher called Neil Kramer who speaks about this subject in great depth and it is well worth checking out his work.
We struggle to identify synchronicity because we are very much caught up in day to day life and lack the clarity to process it correctly. We let television and other forms of media tell us what is acceptable to think about so rarely take the time to look at these sorts of subjects. Our culture focuses on consumer driven lifestyles and status rather than awakening.
When I had a regular meditation practice established in my life I had a few experiences that I would describe as synchronicty, but you really do need to do the work to get there. When you turn your attention inward and explore your own consciousness you can then begin to experience the outward world in a more intuitive way.
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Pictures come from Fake Empire archive, all copyrights reserved by their respective owners. Questions proofreading: SanDeE.