Snow Strippers

Like for Andy on The Merv Griffin Show in 1965, silence is sexy for Snow Strippers. NR explores the US band’s universe, one made of sound, images, and few words.

You just got back from your very first European tour, and have ahead of you the NA one.. Are you currently recharging the batteries or went straight back into work mode?

We’re always working cause we love what we do.

During the last couple of months you had an incredibly upward trajectory: Media coverage, web exposure, some pretty big collaborations, and the tours and dates are bringing your music to a wider-than-usual audience. How are you handling it?

Doesn’t feel that much different honestly we are grateful though.

You always describe your ethos as free styling. Now you are quickly moving away from the underbrushes and more towards the spotlight: are you planning on keeping things “DIY” or are you thinking of scaling? I’ve read that you were thinking of releasing clothes, which you started doing by now, curating other artists’ images and artistic direction, and dropping films via your Label, Nice Bass Bro.

Everything we do will always be our own vision and yes we said we were going to and we did.

You seem to have a very dedicated fanbase! I did a reddit check: it was impressive, and very informative –Loads of very interesting threads deep-diving on the Snow Stripper lore. It is almost as if your fanbase aliments your myth, how’s your relationship with them? Do you think of it in terms of image-construction?

We love talking to our listeners cause we like our music too and they changed our life and we are forever grateful.

Speaking of reddit: I quote “It’s just banger after banger after banger… never knew anything like it ..Is it just me that feels that this band has more hits than any other artist ?” Which is very true, your sound is very consistent and your production very cohesive, even though you’ve been around from relatively little..You drop a lot of music, but it always stays fresh and coherent. What are your plans moving forward? Keeping the recipe as it is or thinking of experimenting in new sonic territories?

I think we’ll always experiment or try fresh shit that just kinda comes naturally why wouldn’t we wanna try and make some new shit.

Since we mentioned hits: what defines a hit, today, for you, in the midst of infinitely available content?
A song a lotta people can fuck with or even a few people fuck with it a lot idk.

I am curious to hear your take on sped up Tik Tok songs, remixes and mash-ups. There’s a parallel between the controlled-chaotic nature of your sound and how the platform allows users to sample and repack aesthetics and sounds. It is by now, becoming almost industry-defining, with some mainstream powerhouses adapting to it. Thoughts?
I love the sped up and slowed down tik tok songs

You have experimented with different stylistic coordinates and made them yours, to the point where one cannot subtract your aesthetic stances from your sound..what comes first? Music or Visuals?
We like both !


Fave style icons?
Tati

Credits

Photography · Marc Souvenir
Creative Direction · Aina Marcó, Marc Souvenir
Art Direction · Marc Souvenir, Rita de Rivera
Hair and Makeup · Venus Hermitant
Special thanks to Good Machine PR

Mount Kimbie

Before Sunset

On the eve of Sunset Violent’s release, Mount Kimbie’s fourth studio album, the first one featuring Andrea Balency-Béarn and Marc Pell to join the band, founding members Dominic Maker and Kai Campos discussed with NR new beginnings, shared languages, rediscovering ways of being artistically together, and The Sunset Violent’s genesis.

Tomorrow is the day The Sunset Violent will finally be out in the world, how are you feeling?

Dom: We are very excited about it. Later tonight we’ll have a listening party with a few friends but it’s still all quite surreal when it finally comes down to the album release day, and it’s always a special feeling. It marks the beginning of an exciting and active time for us. So, yes, we are pumped up and very excited. We’re just gonna have some beers and, and take a second to actually, like, I don’t know, enjoy it. 

This is the first record produced by the new Mount Kimbie. Did that feel different, writing and recording with Marc and Andrea officially on board? 

Kai: It didn’t feel completely new, as Marc and Andrea previously worked with us on Love What Survives live adaptation and tour. We performed together for several years, morphing the songs from previous albums into something quite different on stage, imbuing them with a different energy. The Sunset Violent is really the result of those years of collaborating with Marc and Andrea and performing extensively on stage. It’s been a gradual process, it didn’t happen overnight..but we feel fortunate to work with them because we have been able to develop excellent chemistry as a group –each of us brings something different and complementary to the table, Marc and Andrea have unique perspectives on music that blend well with ours, and together we’ve developed a shared language that works seamlessly for us.

I mean, over these seven years, both of you experimented and pursued your own mediums —Kai with DJing and electronic music, and Dom with producing in more classically-mainstream environments, while Andrea is a trained classical composer, and Marc has vast experience as a sound designer. What felt particularly interesting to me was the record’s cohesiveness despite coming from such a diverse set of experiences and possibly very different musical inputs. You just mentioned a shared language: How did you manage to find it?

D: We’ve been unable to get into the same room together for quite a few years, because of COVID, travel restrictions, US Visa issues, and all that kind of stuff. So there was a lot of outside interference happening. Finally, when all the outside-noise ceased, we found a moment to do a short but very focused writing session. I guess we kind of rolled the dice a little bit with it, we weren’t sure if it was going to work, we were wondering if maybe we just didn’t have anything to say together anymore, or maybe our paths weren’t crossing in a certain way anymore..so we traveled to the desert with an open mind and, as with our previous records, everything started falling into place. We both became excited about guitars as a primary focus, Kai sending me riffs and me focusing on writing lyrics and vocal melodies on top of those. We spent about five to six weeks in the desert, just churning out initial sketches and ideas without a specific goal in mind. Kai returned to England and shared with Marc and Andrea the material we produced. They rented a studio intending to refine and re-record the demos with better equipment, but the essence of the demos was lost in the process, so I would fly over for extended periods, and we’d work tirelessly on the album day in and day out. Gradually, the album took shape and gained cohesion. We brought in Andrea and Marc as needed and also worked at Press Play in South London, Andy Ramsey’s studio. These sessions were insightful. Dilip Harris served as the executive producer, guiding us with optimism and openness, curating our ideas. From there, the record neared completion.

It’s interesting that you were initially dubious that you’d be able to find a way of meeting each other again, artistically, after both have branched-out. In some ways The Sunset Violent feels close to Love What Survives but in some other ways, it goes very much beyond that and how it sonically played out. Were there elements that you consciously wanted to keep of what Mount Kimbie has been up until this point for a record that still signals a new era for the project? And, conversely, what were some things that maybe you wanted to leave out and move past?

D: We always consider the elements we want to retain from record to record. Over the years, we’ve noticed that finished pieces often have a certain characteristic that sounds like us. While we may attempt to move away from it, there are aspects that always seem to come back. With Love What Survives, I was particularly drawn to 80s influences in production, such as cold wave and post-punk aesthetics, an interest carried into our latest record. However, there was a significant shift in our approach to songwriting. Previously, I focused on production first, letting the songs emerge naturally. This time, we started with the songs themselves and made production decisions afterward. During the demo phase, we used limited equipment like the Linndrum and a Casio CZ 1000 synth. The idea was to ensure the songs stood strong on their own, with production details to be refined later. Surprisingly, the sounds we created in the desert became the backbone of the record. While we intended to replace them later, we found the simplicity of the equipment appealing. This approach resulted in a different type of record, although it still fits within our sonic journey.

It feels like a very warm record, at least to me, which I think is characteristic of Mount Kimbie’s sound. I’d say that, after revisiting your entire catalog, I find a consistent warmth and melancholy in our sound, accompanied by a tenderness underlying it all –But maybe it’s just my personal interpretation. Did you ever think about what defines your style and sound, after 15 years of career, or are you really not that much preoccupied with it?

K: I don’t think we consciously think about style in that way. It emerges from the decisions we make, sure, but it’s not pre-planned. You’re right about the feeling of tenderness in our music; it seems to come through regardless of our intentions. Generally, when you’re working on something, feeling surprised or even slightly embarrassed about what comes out can be a sign that you’re expressing your true self. It’s like you don’t have a choice in what you put out; certain pieces just resonate on a deeper level. It’s akin to describing your personality or appearance—it’s something that develops naturally over time.

Yeah, I get it, It’s something you can’t really control, in a way. And were there, particularly from a lyrical standpoint, any specific influences shaping the songs? Did you aim for an overarching narrative, or were you going for more of a freeform approach?

D: It was definitely more freeform. Each song and instrumental piece inspired something different, I let the music dictate the direction, while drawing inspiration from short stories, something I’ve been obsessing over lately. One particular influence was the lyrics of “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies. I always loved the song, but never paid much attention to the lyrics until I read an interview where they described a scene of scuba diving in the Caribbean. There was something about the simplicity and playfulness of describing a scene that resonated with me. It helped me realize that I was overthinking my approach and inspired me to be more playful with my words. Naturally, many of the more emotional lyrics are more personal, reflecting the struggle to find happiness and maintain stability in life, touching on aspects of my upbringing and personal growth. Overall I’d say I went for vivid imagery and painting a picture with as few words as possible.

Another interesting narrative element are the visuals accompanying each single release. You’ve always collaborated with various artists across different mediums, including past collaborations with Tom Shannon, or the ever-evolving collaboration with Frank & Tyrone Lebon. Are visual elements an integral part of the Mount Kimbie world-building and storytelling? 

D: Every visual project we’ve undertaken has involved placing our trust in talented artists we believe in. The directors we collaborate with are highly accomplished and have a wealth of incredible work behind them. Duncan [Loudon], the Lebon brothers, are deeply embedded in a network of creative individuals they trust. Tegen [Williams], who worked on the Fishbrain” visual, and Duncan, who created our latest Shipwreck visual, are examples of this. We have full confidence in their abilities, knowing whatever they produce will be exceptional. Tegen, in particular, had to work under tight deadlines, yet managed to produce incredible work with intricate charcoal drawings. She brought her own unique vision to the project, taking it in directions we had never imagined. This is precisely what we hope for from the creative collaborators we engage with—a fresh perspective and interpretation of our ideas.

K: The beauty of working with smaller budgets is that the quality of each person’s contribution becomes more apparent. Great work doesn’t necessarily require a large budget; it stems from good ideas. While ample funding can sometimes compensate for a lack of creativity, without good ideas, you’re at a disadvantage. Everyone we collaborate with is motivated by a genuine interest in the work rather than financial gain. We typically work until we feel we’ve created something compelling, then reflect on the overarching themes of the project: Through conversations with our collaborators, we uncover surprising elements that enrich the story.

And how are you guys approaching the upcoming tour? Prepping something special?

D: I mean, in a similar vein with what we’ve been doing with the videos, we’re collaborating with Duncan on something special for the stage. We’ve just finished four weeks of rehearsals as a band, and we recently did a pretty terrifying live session two days ago. It was our first time performing live as a five-piece, playing the new songs, and it went really well. It was a high-pressure situation, but we came through. We’re always focused on the music, but we also have this exciting project with Duncan that I won’t spoil.

K: Shipwrecks video itself was a result of our discussions with Duncan about stage design. We’ve been closely working together on stage setups, tackling budget constraints and logistical limitations.. And I gotta say we’ve arrived at an exciting concept that we’re eager to bring on the road –It complements the music and the album’s themes well. You can find some hints in the Shipwreck video, as both are part of the same conversation.

The way you approach things feels extremely personal yet open..

D: It’s like having a good conversation with a friend –Sometimes, you allow yourself to realise things that have been there all along. For us it’s always been like that: You need to have a back-and-forth for things to reveal themselves. 

Team

Photography · Angelo Dominic Sesto
Movement Direction · Sem Osian
Styling · Meja Taserud
Hair · Chrissy Hutton
Grooming · Tina Khatri
Photography Assistant · Cameron Pearson
Styling Assistants · Johanna Crafoord and Ella Coxon
Location · Indra Studios

Credits

  1. Marc is wearing knitwear and bracelet OUR LEGACY, trousers MSGM, shoes Marc’s own. Dominic is wearing shirt TOOGOOD, trousers BRAIN DEAD, shoes BRAIN DEAD x OAKLEY FACTORY. Andrea is wearing shoes REJINA PYO, dress, tights and belt Andreas’s own. Kai is wearing trousers OUR LEGACY, shirt TOOGOOD, jacket and shoes Kai’s own
  2. Marc is wearing hooded jacket JAMES MONTIEL, trousers MSGM, shoes Marc’s own. Dominic is wearing shirt TOOGOOD, trousers and shoes BRAIN DEAD. Andrea is wearing top, jewellery and tights her own, pedal pushers stylists own, shoes REJINA PYO. Kai is wearing jacket and trousers OUR LEGACY, shirt TOOGOOD, shoes JAMES MONTIEL
  3. Dominic is wearing shirt TOOGOOD, trousers BRAIN DEAD, shoes BRAIN DEAD x OAKLEY FACTORY
  4. Kai is wearing jacket and trousers OUR LEGACY, shirt TOOGOOD, shoes JAMES MONTIEL
  5. Marc is wearing hooded jacket JAMES MONTIEL, trousers MSGM, shoes Marc’s own
  6. Marc is wearing hooded jacket JAMES MONTIEL, trousers MSGM, shoes Marc’s own. Domininc is wearing jacket OUR LEGACY, trousers BRAIN DEAD, shoes BRAIN DEAD x OAKLEY FACTORY
  7. Andrea is wearing shoes REJINA PYO, dress, tights and belt Andrea’s own. Kai is wearing jacket and trousers OUR LEGACY, shirt TOOGOOD, shoes JAMES MONTIEL
  8. Marc is wearing knitwear and bracelet OUR LEGACY, trousers MSGM, shoes Marc’s own. Dominic is wearing shirt TOOGOOD, trousers BRAIN DEAD, shoes BRAIN DEAD x OAKLEY FACTORY. Andrea is wearing shoes REJINA PYO, dress, tights and belt Andreas’s own. Kai is wearing trousers OUR LEGACY, shirt TOOGOOD, jacket and shoes Kai’s own

Phase Fatale

Introjection

NR presents Track Etymology, the textual corollary to nr.world’s exploration of contemporary soundscapes: A series of short interviews delving in the processes and backstories behind the releases premiered on nr.world’s dedicated platform.

Hello Hayden! It’s a pleasure being in conversation with you. How are you feeling about the release? 

With this record, I pushed forward my techno side reflecting the direction I’ve been heading towards the past few years, where I want to take myself and the label. I explored new production methods like broken beats and using more digital instruments to create a future leaning dance floor sound. 

It seems that lately you have been dedicating yourself a lot to the production-side of your practice. Last year, it had been 5 years since your last solo EP, and now we’re already getting Love is Destructive. What changed? did you feel the need to build more upon your personal take on music and get in a more narrative mood? 

I never really stopped producing. I also released my last album in 2022 and the one previous on Ostgut Ton in 2020, combined with many collabs, VAs, and remixes. So while there was a gap in EPs, there was never a gap in the music. However, I definitely enjoy working on a more dance floor 12” again as it’s more concise and to the point, serving the purpose to work in the club. I feel like I needed to create my take on current techno elements used and push it forward with this EP which makes more sense in this format. 

‘Ambivalence’, ‘Love is destructive’, ‘Introjection’ – Titles of your new production seem to be quite closely thematically linked. How do these titles reflect the conceptual landscape of the album, and what narrative or emotional journey do you aim to guide listeners through with each? 

These titles link to a journey of love lost and love found. I believe uploading the music with meaningful titles combined with the artwork provides a more cohesive package for the record itself. But it’s open to the listener’s interpretation at their will. 

What were the influences and core elements that have shaped your project, and how do they intersect with your journey as a DJ and producer? 

The main influence is the cross-pollination of producers such as Regis, Silent Servant and Function and my roots in guitar music like My Bloody Valentine, Godflesh and The Cure. What I like in these bands is the combination of harsh noise with a musical structure palatable to a larger audience. This balance I also try to achieve in my own music.

“In techno in general, I look for this balance of sonic experimentation and boundary pushing which is all locked in by repetitious and danceable rhythms. The heaviness is subliminally inserted into the music itself.”

The relationship between sound and embodiment has been a recurring theme in your work, with references to the corporeal experience of rhythm and resonance. How do you explore the tactile dimensions of sound in your compositions –What is your relationship with audience perception, and how does your knowledge of audience response to tracks inform your compositional process? 

When producing club music, I always imagine how it works on a dance floor I’m familiar with such as Berghain, and it’s usually inspired by moments performing or dancing there. I look to accentuating different frequencies as means of controlling the body while also keeping the spectrum well-balanced. There is only a finite amount to store within the music, and it’s also important not to overdo it. In terms of composition, I arrange with the notion that the tracks are used within a DJ set. So they are composed in such a way that the changes hit at the right time creating more drama in the mix. 

As an artist deeply embedded in the underground electronic music scene, you occupy a unique position at the intersection of countercultural resistance and mainstream appropriation. How do you navigate the tension between subcultural authenticity and commercial viability, and what strategies do you employ to maintain artistic autonomy while engaging with broader audiences? 

I grew up playing in post-punk and synthwave bands so that’s my background. I always look for new sounds in those worlds and combine them together in my techno sets as well as carry that influence into my production. I think it’s important to still acknowledge how these sometimes seemingly disparate genres are actually very connected since their beginnings and subconsciously weave that notion together in sets. I listen to myself in how I want to approach my music and only work with likeminded labels and artists who I connect with in their approach rather than being influenced by temporary trends that urge others to change their sound at a whim. 

This record is dedicated to Silent Servant, your mentor. Grief finds expression in various artistic forms, including music. In techno, a genre often associated with its pulsating rhythms and immersive sonic landscapes, the exploration of emotions like grief may seem unconventional. However, some artists have managed to infuse their music with a sense of melancholy, loss, and introspection. How do you perceive the role of grief in techno music, and how do you approach incorporating or evoking such emotions in your own compositions? 

Juan made the artwork for this record, and I think it’s probably one of the last ones he made. We never had a chance to talk about the new technique he used for it even. It makes the whole record combined with the titles and images of roses and cold machinery quite mournful. So many steps and movements of my production, DJing and music in general are somehow connected to Juan so it was very heavy to go through with this release to say the least. Even in techno, it’s possible to make room for grief because the genre lends itself to create other worlds and paint a picture of an alternate reality with the use of certain atmospheres and melancholic melodies taking the listener to another dimension to reconcile with it. 

In the era of algorithmic curation and streaming platforms, the role of the DJ as a curator and tastemaker is evolving. How do you perceive the evolving nature of DJ culture, and what strategies do you employ to maintain a distinct artistic voice and ensure your creative output remains innovative and boundary-pushing? 

It’s true that more than ever people look to who the DJ is and what defines them beyond just their music. Which on one hand I understand, as someone more into bands, usually the image (or lack thereof) played a role into how we perceive their music whether that was through artwork, photos, music videos or performances on stage. So I think the same can be applied to techno as it evolves. On the other hand, what should still remain most important is the DJ’s selection and their ability to technically mix them together while reading the vibe of the space they’re in. I’m a musician because it is the creative way to express myself so it inherently stays true to me, while I constantly search for new or old sounds to inspire me and broaden my sonic palette. 

The notion of “genre” in electronic music is both a unifying force and a constraining factor, often shaping audience expectations and critical reception. How do you negotiate the boundaries of genre in your own work, and to what extent do you see yourself as a boundary-crossing artist pushing the limits of categorization? 

Unfortunately, some people like to cast artists into one genre and leave them there, thinking categorically, no matter if they evolve, instead of just listening and updating their preconceptions. I’ve always defined my project as techno but perhaps with different influences, while others try to pigeonhole my sound based on my background or what other artists around me think to play. I think the best way to redefine and push the limits is just to constantly showcase your sound with releases and sets, hence why I’ve been saying ‘techno’ all the time like a broken record. 

Your label BITE has been instrumental in showcasing emerging talent and pushing the boundaries of experimental techno. How do you envision the role of independent labels in shaping the future landscape of electronic music, and what criteria do you use to identify artists who embody the ethos of innovation and experimentation? 

Labels play an important role in defining their own aesthetic in music through the sound as well as its visual concept and the way they present their art to listeners. I want to show my connection to dance music and what I find cool and interesting while hopefully building up new artists in who I believe. When releasing someone, I usually listen if their music is also influenced by genres outside of techno itself and somehow combines it all together into a sound that is definitively them, so that one could tell it’s them in a blind listen. 

I wanted to close on a lighter note..I want to peep a bit behind the curtain: How do you approach the creative process when producing new tracks? Do you have any specific rituals or routines? 

I usually get an idea while DJing or just listening to music for a song I want to make, whether it’s a sequence, rhythm, melody or just a general mood or style. Then I translate that idea in my head to reality with either hardware or software which usually somehow changes or evolves in that process. Because I’m on the road so much now, I’m learning new ways to work on the computer but still retain the spontaneity and rawness of the hardware I’m used to working with all these years. But this learning process is cool because it lends itself to new sounds and methods. The most difficult part is understanding when the track is finally finished, to stop playing around with it, and let it go. That all comes from just doing it over and over again. 

Team

Interview · Andrea Bratta
Artwork · Silent Editions
Photography · Shuto
Pre-order the digital album here
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LOREM

SEAGULLS

NR presents Soundsights, Track Etymology’s sister column: An inquiry into the convergence between sound, its visual expressions, investigating music’s intrinsically visual narrative quality.

I wanted to start by delving a bit into the past. As I was researching your work, I found myself amidst an incredible journey down memory lane when I realized you were part of Aucan! I was 14 when Black Rainbow came out, and I remember that record being one the first passages I encountered toward two things: the more experimental side of electronic music and the world of music writing – online reviews, music theory, blogging. It was when I started to be conscious that a discourse around music existed, one beyond “simply” listening to it. At what point in your career did you decide to move towards different mediums, or rather, why did you feel the need to build upon music and annex to it a different, transdisciplinary narrative and experiential dimension?

Haha! I’m glad to hear you listened to Black Rainbow! Aucan was a seminal experience for me – we really shared everything for many years, and developed something which transcended the individual level. After nearly 10 years and over 300 live shows and we finally took a pause, I felt the need to find a place where I could converge various priorities. I studied philosophy, and then arts & design. During that time and along with friends, I co-founded what would become Krisis Publishing. I realized that to discover a new and authentic language, I needed to integrate the diverse, often conflicting, elements I was engaged with. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach to the project thus came naturally.

The pandemic, in a way, further propelled me in this direction. Until then, following Adversarial Feelings (2019), LOREM was predominantly a sonic project. However, the inability to tour for live shows forced me to explore new expressive avenues. I started producing AV live sessions in the studio designed for home viewing, aimed at audiences to experience them as they would a Netflix series—this format seemed most fitting given our confined livelihoods at the time. This shift led me closer to what is now the project’s narrative aspects, which today remains one of my primary interests. It was during this period that I conceived the idea to create several installations, such as the first iteration of Distrust Everything, which I introduced at Graz’s Elevate Festival in 2021.

“The limits of my language mean the limit of my world.” The opener of Wittgenstein tractatus that rings exceptionally true for AI and language models. Musical language and computational language have long been intertwined in LOREM production, and, as your press release states, Time Coils is “imbued with global cultural correspondence and reimagined connections sourced from a wide range of references.” I don’t want to spoil the fun of discovery, but I’m curious to hear from you about some of the influences and central elements behind this project and how they concurred to form its language/world.

The relationship between language and our experience of the world is indeed one of the fundamental aspects I aim to explore with LOREM. Significant influences for Time Coils, as well as for my practice, come from authors like Franco Bifo Berardi, Federico Campagna, Jacques Derrida and Timothy Morton, among others. Today, machine learning provides advanced statistical tools for working on data corpora (texts, images, videos) from an inter linguistic perspective:

“I am interested in building archives of samples (and texts), and interpolating them to examine the interstices… to hear a hybrid sound between a voice and a guitar, to see a face that is also a tree, to read a text that lies between Thomas Pynchon and Franz Kafka.”

This approach was actually the starting point for writing Time Coils. I employed this method both on my samples and on those collected from a wide range of sources. The datasets include traces of soundtracks from early Walt Disney films, old school dubstep tracks, re-synthesized rap acapellas, and Italian prog music. Often the references are completely unrecognizable and become something else, but I like the idea that an attentive listener might discover traces of other works in a completely new form.

Did you have more of a narrative-oriented approach to the record or were you more interested in atmospheres and leaving sonic and visual traces for the listener to follow?

While the narrative dimension has become essential for LOREM, with Time Coils I felt compelled to refocus on purely musical exploration. Working with images and especially texts means that the music must always complement the overall experience. This requirement doesn’t weaken the music per se, but it does confine it within a specific framework. Over the last couple of years, I’ve attempted to differentiate my compositional approach depending on the consumption context. On one side, I am keen on advancing an inquiry into states of consciousness through texts and large-scale audiovisual narratives and installations. On the other, I’ve chosen to pursue a strictly musical path with my audio releases.

“Time Coils, therefore, departs from the concept of crafting a narrative and is instead an opportunity to create a sonic landscape, a sort of auditory swamp that results from a continuous process of self-digestion.”

Back on the AI Language-music adjacency, how do the two processes intertwine in your approach to composition? What do you think composing an algorithm and composing sounds have in common?

I would say that in this case, algorithmic writing is a part of the musical writing project. Perhaps for a “classic” programmer (or should I say a “real” programmer), the code is the true product of creative intervention. In my case, however, the output of the algorithmic processes is never the end result. Ultimately, it’s always me who picks up the pieces, trying to fit them together organically, sometimes without hiding the flaws.

Over the past few years, I’ve been developing methods to integrate machine learning into my musical production processes. These involve sampling, time-stretching, granular synthesis, and recorded instrumental music. I started in 2016 by using simple LSTM (Long Short-Term Memory) systems to generate percussive MIDI files, which reinterpreted beats from my jam session recordings. Later, I began recording the automation I applied on samplers via SysEx to create datasets that would help train other models. Recently, I have also started to focus on audio manipulation, including simulating microphone re-amping, blending completely different types of instruments (such as analog instruments with synths, or percussion with vocals), and generating synthetic rap vocals that I can control with my own voice.

Throughout your work I find that the concept of interaction is a central one: machine-man, man to man, the individual and the group, visual and sonic languages. AI is not only generative but also perceptual, much like ‘real’ audiences. It simulates neural networks through mathematical abstractions in order to perceive inputs and register them. What is your relationship with audience perception, and how does your knowledge of audience response to an art piece or a live exhibition inform your interactions with machines?

Certainly, the hybridization of various disparate elements greatly interests me. I’m not particularly keen on framing AI as a generative tool. It seems much more intriguing to view it as an agent of transformation and hybridization.
When interacting with the audience, however, I generally do not seek a direct exchange.

“In designing live performances and installation, I always aim to create a significant asymmetry between LOREM and the crowd. I want those who listen and observe to be overwhelmed with stimuli, to force them into an experience that allows for only one possible point of view.”

The work of artists like Kurt Hentschläger or, in some way, Sunn O))), is an example of what I mean, I believe. At the same time, I enjoy embedding hidden references, “encrypted” messages, and correlations, to open questions and reflections through ambiguity. This approach can lead to profoundly deep interactions post-experience. Occasionally, an audience member may approach after a show to inquire about an insight they had or to propose new interpretations. For instance, I once spent an entire evening discussing the script of Distrust Everything with a scenographer who had come to see the work, and with whom I have stayed in contact ever since. Those moments are particularly rewarding, as they allow me to connect deeply with people…

Since we’re discussing languages and interactions, I’d like to make a digression. I began this interview by mentioning the early 2010s: a time of peak music media and blogging. I recall reading Deer Waves (shout-out to Italian hipsters worldwide), Pitchfork, and all the usual suspects. Your work is deeply intertwined with technology and the nature of media(s) itself, with music being one of its key components. I’m curious if you’ve ever considered how platforms and the circulation of music actually influence the composition of music itself. Think about “MySpace Bands,” or SALEM and the emergence of Witch House with its Web aesthetics. We’ve witnessed the era of SoundCloud rap, which is self-explanatory, and nowadays, and nowadays TikTok is shaping how mainstream labels function and the pop songs structures. I’d be really curious to pick your brain on this particular matter.

Distribution platforms and modes of consumption undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping our aesthetic experiences, and they certainly influence artistic languages, probably as they always have. As I mentioned, the experience of the pandemic and the subsequent changes in consumption habits heavily interfered with the evolution of the project. I doubt I would have moved so close to the narrative dimension if we hadn’t all been in lockdown for months.

That being said, I’m uncertain about the direction that the music industry will head in the coming years. Frankly, it looks like a colossal mess… There are numerous factors at play in regards to that: the need for fairer and more inclusive distribution systems, the emergence of new technologies based on decentralization, the critical role of algorithms in shaping musical trends, and the emergence of “instant” platforms like TikTok, as you mentioned, among others.

Speaking of the evolution of media, I recently read about “neural media,” which K Allado-McDowell has theorized as developing out of network media in the mid-2010s amid increasing human-AI interaction. K’s description of neural media’s mechanics posits the concept that our ideas of individuality and identity formation, as well as what itmeans to communicate as a human (among other living beings), are about to be majorly recalibrated. What role do you think audiovisual expression, a language that is already forward-oriented and one you have been experimenting with for years now, plays in such futurable socio-cultural landscapes?

I can’t give you a general answer. What I try to do and what I recognize in the artists that I admire, is an attempt to produce aesthetic experiences that have a strong emotional impact while simultaneously “showing the scars”, so to speak. Their works create a space of ambiguity useful for recognizing the artifice, and without hiding it. This way, to use a phrase by Hal Foster, “…artifice, the Utopian glimmer of fiction, can be placed in the service of the real.”

Why did you choose SEAGULL as one of the two singles anticipating the full-release? What drove you towards the concept of flocks and shared-perception, and how does it relate to the record’s structural narrative?

I began working on the video with Karol Sudolski, a friend and collaborator on the LOREM project from early on in the creation of the Album. Karol is one of the people who inspire me to think of LOREM as a hybrid identity, which sometimes speaks in my voice but other times expresses itself as a collective, a chorus. We simply felt that the track was perfect for the flow of the video, which features a single continuous shot within this swamp of organic and inorganic forms.

Are you thinking of other outlets for the Time Coils narration to be experienced? Something transmedial like what you did for Adversarial Feelings, out on the publishing house you co-run, Krisis.

The first is a large-scale AV installation, ARC, which features a walkable dual-channel large LED wall that displays visualizations of contradictory states of consciousness. I created it with Visioni Parallele, and it will debut on Saturday (April 13th) at the Mattatoio in Rome. The work is based on the idea of intertextuality that I mentioned earlier… here, the question might be, for example: what a morph between excitement and boredom might look like? Perhaps something akin to me scrolling through Instagram on the toilet.


In early May at L.E.V. Festival in Gijon, there will be a new iteration of the Distrust Everything project; an immersive chamber that narrates a speculative dream emerging from Mirek Hardiker’s Dream Report Archive. These projects are in dialogue with the album, in a vague way, because they share the same approach, but they are also related to it as I continue to reuse the same datasets, which keep expanding.

What is Krisis role in the economy of your varied and intersectional practice? Is that a place where you focus more on curating others? Taking a step back from “your” own work and constructing bridges for others?

We founded Krisis Publishing in 2009, and I manage the editorial direction of the project alongside my friend and fellow researcher, Andrea Facchetti. The main focus of our project has always been and remains the politics of representation: we are interested in examining, through various lenses, the impact of media cultures on contemporary societies.

Both of us have academic backgrounds in philosophy and design/arts, which makes Krisis the platform to formalize and disseminate both our research and the works of pivotal authors. We typically handle the editing of the books we publish ourselves, and this has enabled us to connect with artists, theorists, and researchers we respect and admire. Among the notable authors we have published are James Ballard, Timothy Morton, Simon Reynolds, Kate Crawford, Hal Foster, Vladan Joler, Sofia Crespo, and also friends like Silvio Lorusso, Luca Pagan, Filippo Minelli, Corinne Mazzoli, Ryts Monet (just yesterday we launched the pre-order for the book we developed with him).

In recent years, we have begun to move beyond the borders of printed paper. Krisis functions not only as an independent publisher but also as a curatorial platform, producing audiovisual projects, music albums, events, installations, exhibitions, public talks, etc.

Certainly, there are parallels between my research, that of Andrea’s, and the editorial line of Krisis. In recent years, we have intensely explored the theme of the relationship between language, reality, and identity, the political implications of AI’s emergence, and the articulation of ecological perspectives. In a way, Krisis serves to me both as a source of input for LOREM and an opportunity to translate into theoretical language the issues that concern the project.

Last but not least..Nomen Omen. Why LOREM? A nod to unfinished but in-itinere linguistic forms?

Lorem is a model for extracting correlations within corpora of unstructured texts.
When I started working with texts and machine learning to enhance the emergence of intertextual correlations, I began by removing all character names from the literary texts in the datasets. I wanted the machine to confuse the characters, thereby overlapping the information pertaining to each. I have now started to group different types of characters using different letters (L, M, D, etc.), but initially, all characters in my datasets were named LOREM. When it came time to name the project, all these LOREM’s were already there…

Interview · Andrea Bratta
Photography · Omar Golli (ARC Installation)
Time Coils out on 26.04.24 via Krisis Publishing Pre-order the album here.
Follow LOREM on Instagram and Soundcloud
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Didi Han

Didi Han is a prominent figure in South Korea’s blooming electronic music scene, her career marked by a fusion of diverse influences and innovative sonic explorations. With a background in textiles and fashion and a love of electronic music production, Han brings a unique perspective to her compositions, blending elements of tradition and experimentation. Her EP ‘In The Zone’ garnered widespread acclaim for its immersive soundscapes and evocative atmospheres, showcasing Han’s ability to craft compelling narratives through music.

Having established herself in South Korea’s electronic music landscape, Han has witnessed the scene’s rapid growth and evolution firsthand. She is now based in Paris and draws parallels between the current scene in her native country and the French capital a decade ago. She envisions a future where South Korea’s electronic music scene attains similar global significance. Han is fuelled by a passion for music and a commitment to pushing creative boundaries. NR joins the artist in conversation. 

As a musician who traverses various electronic music genres, how do you approach blending different styles and sounds in your compositions?

There are so many artists that inspired me. These include Four Tet, Skrillex, or many producers from the 90s. I try to practice something new, and bring inspiration from past projects as well. This approach can bring some new sounds, I guess. But even when the music has something new, the fundamental elements in there can’t be new. All music genres share similar fundamentals, even if the sound differs. I try to understand the basics of music as much as possible. It’s like cooking, how you combine familiar ingredients. 

Your EP In The Zone” received acclaim for its innovative sound could you walk us through your creative process and inspirations behind the EP?

At that time I bought a TR 8s and I started to compose with this machine. I often begin by sketching ideas with this machine, even though I later replace the samples. I concentrate on how these beats could drive movement. Living near a busy street in Paris, I was constantly exposed to sirens, which contributed to a sense of anxiety within me. I believe this EP reflects that period of my life. I incorporated sounds from vintage synthesizers to evoke a 90s vibe.

Having been a part of South Koreas electronic music scene how do you think the landscape has evolved over the years and how different is it to working in Paris now?

I’ve noticed that South Korea’s electronic music scene has been rapidly growing. I heard this is similar with the scene in Paris about ten years ago. I think that in another ten years, South Korea’s electronic music scene will be as significant as France’s. Good thing in Korea, people are more excited about these kind of events because it’s rarer than in France. However, working in Korea as DJ is quite hard because Seoul doesn’t had proper DJ booking agencies so many artists are managing themselves and facing challenges. But I heard there are some company starting managing this so I guess it will be better and better. 

You trained as a textile and fashion designer, how does this influence your music?

After I started being into music production, I realised the similarities in the creative process between fashion design and music. Both involve finding inspiration and developing it into a form of art to share with the world. This process has helped me develop ideas for EPs and express myself through music and show myself to people.

What advice do you have for young creatives looking to work in the industry?

Do whatever you want and follow your heart with your pure passion.

Credits

Photography · Adam ZM
Styling · Pierre-Alexandre Fillaire
Hair and Makeup · Angie Marqueton

Tadleeh

Seekers

NR presents Track Etymology, the textual corollary to nr.world’s exploration of contemporary soundscapes: A series of short interviews delving in the processes and backstories behind the releases premiered on nr.world’s dedicated platform.

Hi Hazina! Should we back up a little bit? When did you first get in touch with music?

I started with music when I was young. In my house, we always had music playing. I really liked how music could affect people. I started learning guitar when I was seven. Playing an instrument let me express myself in new ways. I loved practicing, trying new music styles, and making my own songs.

Now I’m into electronic music. I really like old hip hop, liquid, and drum n’ bass. I got my first vinyl, a Liquid mixtape, from a market in Camden Town.

I read about your background in Cinema Studies, and of your fascination with the evolution of both diegetic and non- diegetic sound in film. How does this translate in your writing process?

When I write, I listen for sounds in my scenes just like I do for the visuals. I think about the noises in a quiet forest or a busy city to make my stories feel real. I want to make readers feel like they are really in the world of my stories. I am excited to keep using these ideas in my work and to find new ways to connect with readers both in their minds and hearts. The movie style is in ‘Lone’ and will be in my next work too. It’s my way of making things. The cinematic field is present in ‘Lone’ and it will be present in my next work as well. It’s an automatic composing style from my side. 

What was the overarching narrative behind your new record, ‘LONE’?

‘LONE’ is a musical journey that delves into the depths of introspection, exploring the intricacies of solitude and the profound moments of clarity that arise from it. Each track is a chapter in the story of a solitary individual navigating the complexities of their inner world, grappling with introspection, and ultimately finding solace in self-awareness.

I’ve started composing it during 2020, just one year after my debut release Ep as my new moniker Tadleeh. The album begins with a sense of isolation and uncertainty, reflecting the protagonist’s journey into the unknown. As the narrative unfolds, themes of resilience, growth, and empowerment emerge, driving the protagonist to confront their fears and embrace their true self. 

Speaking of diegetic and non-diegetic..It’s interesting how context determines the reception of music. A record like ‘LONE’ could work in several frameworks. During your career you held numerous residencies in radios, played in clubs.. In which settings do you mostly present your music? Does the context influence your presentation?

I’m used to play my EPs, former productions and album during my live performances. My presence in Radio is connected to dj sphere, that I also love a lot! During my entire career I did both, spacing between club events, festival, radio show or residency as well as galleries. I don’t think my personal works fit well in a proper club, where I actually prefer to dj. ‘LONE’ sounds better in an intimate place. 

Yours is an extremely varied and experimental career — different labels, different medius, different settings. How did you approach ‘LONE’, considering it is your first LP? Is it a crystallization of your journey up until this point as an artist?

I started making music when I was a teenager, and starting my very first project Petit Singe in 2013, releasing on Haunter Records (Milan). From that point on i’ve released many different  works in many different support (12’’ vinyl, 7’’, tape etc).

Approaching my first LP was a deeply introspective and transformative process. I saw it as an opportunity to distill the essence of my artistic evolution and present a cohesive narrative that reflects the multifaceted experiences and influences that have shaped my musical identity. I’m already processing some new work for a new album. 

As per Sarah Thornton, club culture presents “Three principal, overarching distinctions which can be briefly designated as: the authentic versus the phony, the ‘hip’ versus the ‘mainstream’, and the ‘underground’ versus ‘the media.” This was in her seminal book “Club Cultures”. The year was 1995. I often ask producers and DJs their perspective on the contemporary clubbing landscape. You were the creative mind behind the now retired, forward-thinking events series Sine Confine in Milan, so I assume you had a first-hand experience of how these categories interacted in a unique setting such as the one you were curating. Do you feel those distinctions are a bit outdated or do they stand the test of time?

I believe that the experiences of club culture cited by Sarah Thornton can be all present, only in part, or even all absent even if we are talking about the same event or context. As a DJ and as a curator of musical events – therefore as a “victim” and “perpetrator” -, I can honestly say that the “underground” aspect is the most questionable and difficult to respect. The public doesn’t trust: they always need digital context to ensure the “who, how and why” of a specific event. Curators themselves don’t have many sponsorship choices these days, other than the obvious one on social media.

These mechanisms, in my opinion, arise from a public that is absolutely wary of what it doesn’t know, of being surrounded by “offline” people. Unfortunately I think that the artistic proposal is downgraded.

Neither on the part of the organisers nor on the part of the participants is there a desire to be false, not to be fashionable or not to be underground enough. But I think that this discussion can be broadened to an anthropological, rather than musical, in-depth analysis. They are status quos that human beings have, regardless of club culture. Sine Confine – which is not completely finished, I hope – had – and has – the same purpose as any other organisation: to enhance the work of artists who consider themselves in line with their own tastes.

The underground scene often has difficulty finding funding, and is forced to finance itself. Those who move in this field often know the risks, in terms of turnout and economics. And this is where social media comes in handy. So, who is right and who is wrong? The ordinary citizens who do not finance niche events, or the organisers themselves who, for fear of losing out financially, rely on mainstream social media? It is a war that is too deep-rooted and sees many active participants: the public, organisers, urban spaces, institutions, financiers…

As for my personal Sine Confine project, I hope that one day it can restart and become operational again, far from the consolidated sexist and chauvinist gazes in this country.

Sine Confine was an “art and music platform.” You also produce sound-based installations and commissions, most recently for Munich’s Haus der Kunst —there’s a clear trans-disciplinary component to your practice, could elaborate a bit on that?

Yes, I think that an artist can flush out art everywhere, in every discipline and places. 

I’m really happy of being part of Tune program – curated by Sarah Miles -. My music is absolutely open to any spaces and situations. Me personally, I love being involved in different artistic contest: curating (Sine Confine), listening, viewing… I love to merge multiple opportunities and people.  

Your music feels heartfelt but liminal..It has this intimate but detached feeling to it, almost like an invitation to enter a conversation but only to be left on its doorstep, stuck between its reflexive moments and sonic implosions. How is your relationship with the listener? Is it something you think of while composing?

I want to make songs that feel close and personal, using heart songs and thoughtful music to bring people into the feelings of the songs. The in-between feeling you talked about is what I aim for, making a place that is both close and wide, known but also mysterious. I do think about how people will feel and connect with the music when I write it. But, I focus on sharing my own feelings, experiences, and creative drive in an honest way. I think that if I stay true to my own vision and am open in my expression, I can make music that deeply connects with others. I hope to evoke emotions, provoke thought, and inspire introspection in those who choose to journey with me through my music.

There’s this quote I obsess over by James Joyce, it was part of an essay on Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, “This music smells like sex.” I think it sums up perfectly the drama’s themes and overall sensorial experience. We often tend to associate music to visual metaphors, but I think smell is an underrated sense —What would your music smell like?

Wow! I didn’t know about this particular Joyce’s quote, and I have to say that I definitely agree, even if I never thought about this interesting connection between them. I mean, smell is also proper of music. And come to think of it, I have a certain smell in my mind linked to the theatre halls. The seats, the main wood stage, the “waiting smell” for the show to start. 

That being said, since I’ve never deeply reflected about this, I’d rashly associate my music with the odor that’s in the air when something has been set on fire. 

Interview · Andrea Bratta
Artwork · Visio
Pre-order the digital album here
Tadleeh will be performing on April 5th at Rewire Festival. Find out more here.
Follow Tadleeh on Instagram and Soundcloud
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Violent Magic Orchestra

WARP

NR presents Soundsights, Track Etymology’s sister column: An inquiry into the convergence between sound, its visual expressions, investigating music’s intrinsically visual narrative quality.

Hello guys, thank you for being here, it must be pretty late now in Japan. How are you feeling about the upcoming release? It is your first LP since 2016! It’s been quite a journey! Global tours, several collaborations, a lot of experimentation. There is this restless component to your work, always evolving and shifting both sonically and conceptually. Is this record your way of crystallizing what you’ve been up to these last 8 years? What made you finally settle down?

Our music has always flirted with genre-bending, but for this record in particular, we aimed to incorporate various genres into our sound more than ever. Perhaps what has changed the most is that this time, we aimed to capture what we think is the essence of our live shows, rather than focusing on a specific sound, having toured a lot since the release of our previous album —Our main inspiration for this record stems from physicality and the ways our audience interacts in a live setting with our sound. Of course, Techno and Black Metal are still our two sonic compasses, but this time we drew from a wider plethora of music genres like hardcore, noise, and industrial. It is also the first record where we have a female lead vocalist, Zastar, the last member to join us!

The experiential referentiality of your music is definitely felt in the new record, and its presence makes even more sense considering that you describe yourselves as a performance art collective. I was listening to Warp while watching the visuals Rafael Bicalho created for it, and I almost felt like I was in a 3.0 musical drama. There is a sort of lingering quality to it, those almost fading vocals mixed with the track’s physicality and the alternating moments of calm and soaring. It was as if I was listening to source music for a film. What was the concept behind it? Is it one act of a longer narrative that continues throughout the whole record?

Self-consciousness is definitely a recurrent theme throughout the record, at least in its narrative aspects. In “Warp,” we depicted Zastar swimming in an abstract, undefined space, searching for objects to anchor her sense of reality and body. The goal we had in mind was to convey the feeling of a mind and body that had been separated and are now attempting to reunite in a quest to reinstate a feeling of individual wholeness. Rafael is one of the many visual artists we collaborate with; it is very important to us working with these incredible artists who help us give a visual body to our ideas.

I am very curious about the artistic direction of the release. There is an incredible emphasis on the aesthetic component of all your projects, your live gigs, the way you communicate online —All these visual elements seem to form a unicum with your sound, and, as you said, you collaborate a lot in order to achieve it. What fuels this curatorial approach that you have?

We always check Instagram! Scrolling, exploring all the time. We usually brainstorm a lot so that very precise images of what we want form in our minds. Those will then inform our research, and down the rabbit hole we go. The same thing applies to our collaboration with other musicians; we want to keep aesthetics and sonics parallel, informed by the same general idea.

You describe VMO as a multimedia performance art project. How do you approach creation? Does music come first or Is it about feeling and aesthetic rather than songwriting?

We operate precisely as an art collective, only our media is primarily music, trying to aggregate conceptual structures to sonic palettes. Visual and music, concepts and sounds. Everything usually starts with a visual idea of what we want to portray, and then from there, we work it into a sound and choose the people to work with on that overarching concept, musically and visually.

Interesting. Considering the multitude of influences you have and the collaborative nature of VMO, how do you function as a collective?

We work, well..collectively! [they laugh.] We usually gather inspiration from a variety of sources, books, poetry, films, music, nature..anything really. K, who functions as a sort of “chief curator” explains his influences and what he wants to do to all of us and then we work together to achieve the final result we want to go for.

You mentioned movies, literature, poetry. What were some of the extra-musical references for this particular record? 

Each of us has his own individual inspiration, of course; we have a lot of different interests and media, drawing from various inspirations that manifest in our work. There are numerous histories occurring around the world all the time. For instance, Black Metal is influenced by Christianity, Afrofuturism is deeply ingrained in Detroit Techno —Different histories influence each other and are simultaneously distant yet close. Cross-pollination might very well be another of the main themes of the record. Think of “Stranger Things’ ‘; An incredibly pop show presenting a clear 80s aura, but mixing it with horror tropes in a quotational yet twisted manner.

There’s an almost reassembled-collage quality to how you operate, exploring sonic dichotomies, musical and visual tropes, featuring elements  that are at the same time disorienting but familiar —Yours is an almost unheimlich sound. How do you manage to keep all these different inputs together in a coherent result?

In a sense, it’s almost complete experimentation, and there’s a lot of trial and error. We take the time that we need to create something we believe its worthwhile, mixing focused work and abstraction. We try to convey abstract idea in precise sonic and visual coordinates, mixing the two up from time to time.

Another very important element in your work is saturation, both musically and visually. Your music challenges the listener, and I mean this in the best possible way. What made you gravitate towards such a confrontational sound?

We always were drawn to the physicality of certain music genres. Metal, gabber, techno: It’s kind of a natural thing for us to seek abstract ideas expressed through “violent” music. It is what we have always liked as listeners and artists. 

Before we say goodbye, I wanted to ask: What’s a VMO live experience? Prepare us for the upcoming world tour!

We aim to create an environment that everyone can enjoy, almost like a theme park. However, we also improvise a lot, as every crowd is different and reacts differently, and we always try to go with the flow. It’s curious that we have this very, at times, complicated sound. However, what we want is to present and offer our performances to audiences in the most accommodating way possible. We aim to provide people with the easiest way possible for them to enjoy the experience itself.

Interview · Andrea Bratta
Photography (in order of appearance) · Genki Arata and Tatsuya Higuchi
Follow VMO on Instagram and Spotify
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Mumdance

In Love Again

NR presents Track Etymology, the textual corollary to nr.world’s exploration of contemporary soundscapes: A series of short interviews delving in the processes and backstories behind the releases premiered on nr.world’s dedicated platform.

In Love Again and Five Years feel quintessential Mumdance but at the same time headed towards new territories. Listening to the tracks I had two reactions: Bobbing my head as a timid attempt to dance in the studio I was in, and reflecting on how the UK sound continuum, something you have been rightfully associated with, is intrinsically hybrid and continuously moving. You are now almost 15 years in the game, a veteran, if I might say so, but you continue to experiment and evolve your body of work. You have been close to it in so many ways throughout more than a decade: What would a Mumdance definition of the UK sound be?

I’m happy you enjoyed the music. It’s actually been quite a challenge to wrap my head around how to make happier, more optimistic tracks and incorporate them into something that matches my aesthetic. But that is part of the journey – I’m glad you picked up on the fact that I have always tried to evolve and challenge myself with every release. I’ve never really sat down and thought about the reason why, apart from it just always felt like the natural thing to do. But as I sit here and think deeply about it, it amuses me to realise it’s actually something that I latched onto at a very young age from my parents talking about Madonna and how she always reinvented herself, which as an idea fascinated me. I think constantly experimenting with my sound has been something that overall has created challenges  career-wise, as a lot of people haven’t really known where to ‘place’ me. But at the same time, I feel happy that in my own small way I have broken some new ground, added to the canon, and helped to slightly shift the paradigm and allow newer artists to be able to express themselves more freely with their sounds.

In terms of defining the ‘UK sound,’ it’s an impossible task to encapsulate a whole country’s sound and musical heritage into a few sentences. The UK sound which I enjoy exploring, is underlined by lots of sub-bass and weight in the low end, engineered to play on a big sound system, with complex rhythms, and more often than not, a dark, futuristic mood. Other than that, it’s actually quite a puzzle to define, as the very nature of the hardcore continuum (and the very nature of life itself, in fact) is that it is constantly changing. I could list 500 tracks which encapsulate the UK sound, but as I only have a few paragraphs, I’m going to say ‘Swarm‘ by Doc Scott and ‘I Luv U‘ by Dizzee Rascal are two tracks which sprang directly to mind for me when I read the question.

During the very recent club ‘history’ (perhaps we need more quotation marks as I’m referring to the last couple of years), the idea of a defined musical scene mutated, evolving past geography toward a form of digital ubiquity. The continuous hybridization of sounds and the increasingly international profile of electronic music made things more diverse and, at the same time, more standardized. How do you navigate this paradox?

I don’t think this is a new thing, although I definitely agree it’s been accelerated. Nothing exists in a vacuum. In my mind, the core of any culture is shared meanings; then a lot of the time, further innovation comes from the conversations between one culture being exposed to another, between countries, cities, between people. Baltimore Club is an example that I have always found really interesting, as the first wave of artists like DJ Technics were all sampling breaks from imported rave records from the UK, which in turn were breakbeats that the UK had sampled from imported hip-hop records from the US, processing them and speeding them up. So, it’s this interesting symbiotic feedback loop which created something entirely new and innovative at many different stages of its cycle. This is just a quick example which sprang to mind as I write this, but once you start to recognise it, conversations between cultures play a big part in many innovations in art and music. It really interests me as an idea and is one of the main reasons why in the past I have done a lot of collaborations with artists from around the world and a lot of back-to-back DJ sets with people who are specialists in different genres to me. 

In terms of where we are today with technology and culture, increased connectivity has increased conversations and the volume of art being created, which, like anything, has a plethora of consequences that could be deemed ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

“I love being able to send my music all over the world at the click of a button and am fascinated by technological innovation, but I think one downside of the digitisation of culture and the rate at which people digest it today is that a lot of the time, scenes and localised sounds don’t get enough of an incubation period to develop properly.”

In the past, a lot of the UK scenes – hardcore, jungle, drum and bass, garage, grime, dubstep – for better or worse, were all time-limited by the production process of pressing physical vinyl. This had its upsides and downsides, but a by-product was it naturally made things operate at a certain pace, which I think led to a much deeper exploration of sound and embedding of the music within our collective consciousness.

I guess with regard to navigating my own work, although I am very in tune with what is happening in music, art, and the various zeitgeists, I try my best to not focus at all on what my peers are doing, instead just following my interests and focusing on music which provokes a reaction within me, be it emotional, physical, or cerebral. That’s the key to it.

Usually, the jargon associated with musical cross-pollination feels somewhat…violent, almost. The formulation often goes something like ‘Genres bleed into each other.’ However, in your new record, the sounds don’t seem to bleed; rather, they play with each other. I understand that this might sound like mere semantics to you, but due to my professional inclination, I can’t help but fixate on language. This is your second record after a three-year hiatus marked by significant introspection. Are these more joyful, welcoming sounds a reflection of a new era for you? How much of your feelings are imbued in your music?

Yes, I definitely feel like the MD series marks the start of a new era for me – ‘Mumdance 3.0’. I have always referred to my musical activity in waves/eras. The first wave of Mumdance was from 2008 to 2011 when I first emerged and was working a lot with artists such as Jammer & Diplo. I think this was epitomised by my ‘Mum Decent EP‘ and ‘Different Circles – The Mixtape‘ (Both released in 2010). During this time, I was putting out music which had a foundation in grime & the UK hardcore continuum but was strongly influenced by regional music from around the world, especially what was going on in Mexico & Brazil at the time.

The second ‘wave’ of Mumdance started in 2013 after a 2-year hiatus with the ‘Twists and Turns‘ mixtape and was a lot more UK-centric and introspective, focusing on all the sounds which I grew up with: hardcore, jungle, drum & bass, shoegaze, and cross-pollinating it with ideas from my more contemporary interests; techno, and musique concrète – which is the sound which most people today know me for. The idea with that was to completely invert where my influences came from; instead of looking outwards around the world, I looked inward to my upbringing.

With this emerging third wave, as my last wave was very dark in mood, I made a conscious decision to do the completely opposite and try to make some ‘happy’ music and operate within genre boundaries with which I wouldn’t normally be associated, such as filter house. As I said above, it has been a real challenge, but I realise more and more that art is about the process, and this is how I like to spend my time.

In answer to your question, my feelings and outlook on life are definitely reflected in the music I make; they by their very nature are a sum of my experience. MD001 was a transitional record for me, just finding my feet again in the studio, but MD002 definitely feels like something new. For ‘Five Years’, I wanted to make a track which joyously celebrated half a decade of sobriety and the work I have done on myself in that period. ‘In Love Again’ references being back in love with music after a long time away and signals in my mind a return to form – that track really feels like an amalgamation of the ideas from the first wave mixed with the ideas from the second wave.

The Mumdance Archive is impressive. It stands as a testament to how, throughout your career, you have witnessed the evolution of the clubbing world and evolved alongside it. You have worked as a sound engineer in commercial settings, curated parties and events, delved into the purest underground scenes, and navigated more mainstream waters. After a hiatus, you are now 1 year back and seemingly fresher than ever. What did clubbing and electronic music mean to you then, and what do they mean to you now?

I’m very proud of the MD Archive; it took me a long, long time to put together, maybe like 18 months – it was my pandemic project. All my work was so disorganised and spread out across a number of old computers and hard drives, all in different locations. It was a very long and tedious project to go through everything and make sense of it, but at the same time, it was very timely for me as it was a period when I was feeling very lost. It helped me remember who I was, where I came from, and what I had achieved.

What I like about the archive is that when you see everything all together – the mixes, music, and interviews – you can see the progression in my sound and the progression of me as a person and artist. Also the aforementioned waves which have come and gone, and the themes that have stayed present throughout. I think a lot of people think I just play and create music randomly from disparate scenes, but there is a lot of thinking behind it and there are moods and themes which run through it all. Having everything in one place, you can really see it.

Another reason I put the archive together was trying to take power back from social media companies and big tech; so much digital culture has been completely lost over the past 20 years due to websites and hosting services going down or out of business. Which is both sad and scary. 

An amazing thing about the archive is that it has evolved to become a platform from which I can broadcast radio. As a result of that and in tandem with Discord, a whole community has organically sprung up. When I do radio broadcasts, all the listeners meet up in the discord and there is a really buzzing live chat which has developed a new level of interactivity between artist and audience which I honestly have not seen anywhere else. There was one time where I hadn’t had any dinner, so listeners sent a pizza over to my studio live on air so I could stay and do a longer show & another time where when I got to the studio the CDJs weren’t there, so listeners just sent me their music live on air & we just all listened to each others music for a couple of hours; there have been some really beautiful experiences & I can comfortably say that the MD Discord is one of the friendliest places on the internet. Everyone is so kind, funny and helpful there. Social media always just upsets me, and the discord server is a complete antidote to that.

Electronic music still means as much to me today as it always has, I’ve accepted that I am here for life. I’m not out clubbing every weekend like I was when I was younger, but I stay connected and if something is interesting to me I will make an effort to go and experience it first hand, even if it means saving up and traveling to another country, which is something I have always tried to do throughout my life;

“I’m a firm believer that you can’t form a proper opinion on something unless you have experienced it first hand.”

I want to give a big shout out to my friend Chris Yaxley who gave a lot of his time and energy helping me code the archive. He is one of my best friends from childhood; we started DJing and buying records together when we were 12, so it was really nice to revisit all this with him.

5MD002 is out on your new label, MD Dubs. How does MD Dubs differ from Different Circles? Why did you feel the need for a different outlet?

MD Dubs serves as an outlet solely for releasing my own music with a relatively short turnaround time, whereas Different Circles functions as a highly curated platform for showcasing other people’s music. I believe MD Dubs also signifies a general levelling up at every stage of my production process. I can honestly say that the tracks on MD001 and MD002 represent the best music I could have possibly made, utilising the best equipment available to me at that specific moment in time. The tracks are mastered at Abbey Road by Alex Gordon, who truly understands my vision and possesses an amazing ear. Recently, I’ve begun sharing my studio with a mix engineer named Alex Evans, and we’ve naturally started collaborating. As someone solely focused on mixing as a career, he is a master of his craft and adds a dimension that I could never achieve on my own, teaching me so much in the process. In previous stages of my career, I handled everything myself, but this time around, I’m trying to explore a different approach.

Whenever I start doubting myself and if my output is good enough (which is quite a common occurance), I remind myself that I spent countless hours working on it, revising and refining it to the best of my ability within the time frame allotted. It’s been mixed by a Grammy-nominated mix engineer and mastered at Abbey Road. It truly represents the best I could achieve at every stage of the process. 

“As I wrote the shoutouts for MD002, I was struck by how many people played a part in bringing the EP to life and creating the visual world around it. I think thats a beautiful thing.”

You stated that each MD Dubs release will be accompanied by a Sholto Blissett painting. You always referenced a wide plethora of extra-musical elements in your work, one of the most dear to me being William Gibson. Besides musical influences, what drives and inspires your ethos as a creative the most?

I’m really happy to be collaborating with Sholto Blissett; His paintings remind me of a mixture of Fredric Edwin-Church and Giorgio de Chirico, they resonated with me from the very first moment I saw them. I always make it a point to attend graduate art shows to see what the new generation is creating each year, and that’s where I first encountered his work, pre-pandemic. A few months later, during the pandemic, his art was still on my mind, so I decided to commission a painting from him. He cycled over and personally dropped it off, and we’ve stayed in touch since then. When I thought about what I wanted to do with the MD series, I thought of his artwork immediately. I believe it really complements and encapsulates what I’m trying to achieve with the series. Working with him has felt natural and organic, and I love that each artwork actually exists in the real world. It’s been amazing to see his career blossom, and I am certain it will continue to do so.

Of course as a musician I get very inspired by other musicians, which is part of the reason why Logos and I wrote the track “Teachers” – to express our gratitude to those who have influenced us. Outside of music, I draw inspiration from various sources; books and literature are definitely among them. Reading a book is like ‘updating your software’ and expanding your worldview. There are authors who have been highly influential to my work as an artist. William Gibson, for sure, and more recently Jorge Luis Borges (I’ve literally read everything he ever wrote), Gabriel García Márquez, and, on a deeper level, Thich Nhat Hahn. Reading is akin to travel and art; it exposes you to someone else’s way of thinking and doing things.

Visual art and art theory are very influential to my work on a conceptual basis. Minimalism is a core theme that runs through all of my discography. I come from a working class background and have no formal education in art (or in music, for that matter), I’m completely self-taught through reading and experiencing as much as possible firsthand. Conceptually, El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, and Agnes Martin have influenced my music by embodying abstract minimal art stripped back to its core, often without any sort of reference to the real world. This influence extends to the graphic designers I work with. I spend a long time discussing art and design Alex Gross and Lucy Wilson at All Purpose studio, who handle all my design work & have become good friends. This time around, there was a conscious decision to convey a lighter mood with the graphic design while still keeping it super minimal to reflect the music. If you look at the artwork for Radio Mumdance Season 03 series, you’ll see the influence from Lissitzky and Malevich is very apparent.

I believe that while conceptualising, theorising and engaging with art in its various forms is enjoyable, there has definitely been an over intellectualisation of dance music in recent years, which can become tedious. I admit that I’ve been guilty of this at times, but I always prioritise keeping things fun above all else.

“I want my work to represent a collision of high and low brow culture.”

DJing is a somewhat conversational discipline. On one end of the club there is you, your taste, your sound, on the other there’s the audience, with their vibes and moods: Different audiences lead to different conversations –DJing happens in between. Does your experience as DJs and these conversational elements of the discipline inform your music production, or is producing the space where you reclaim total autonomy for where you want your sound to go?

Nine times out of ten, I create music with a focus on the club in some shape or form. I always ensure my tracks are highly functional and easy to mix, with DJ-friendly intros and outros. However, everything in between is always centred on innovation and communicating something in a unique way. I try to take the accepted paradigm and bend it into a strange shape, so it’s recognisable yet feels alien. I’ve mentioned in past interviews that I try to make my tracks like firework displays for a sound system. I think this ethos is particularly evident in ‘In Love Again”.

In terms of DJing, lately I’ve been focusing on 4-deck extended sets. When I began DJing, I only did one-hour sets with two decks, but now I prefer longer sets—five, six, eight, even ten hours. I have a lot of music I want to share and a lot to communicate, so longer sets make more sense for me. It’s also very gratifying to soundtrack an entire evening for people who are strapped in and committed to the journey. Learning to use four decks has been very enjoyable as well. If you listen to my DJ or radio sets, you’ll know I don’t use any sort of syncing. (Let it be known that I have no problem with people who do; I just find syncing more confusing than enabling) However, I also enjoy the fact that at any moment, my set can fall apart in quite a dramatic fashion—and quite often it does.

“But that’s what’s human about it, and I’ve learned that the human element is what everyone truly appreciates the most.”

Last question: What more do you have in store for 2024? Something you are particularly excited about?

In the past, one of my weaknesses has been inconsistency. I tended to work in frantic bursts, and then burn out completely. This time around, I’m aiming for a calm and consistent output of good music. A marathon rather than a sprint. I plan to release four MD Dubs releases this year, one every three months. Additionally, I’ve been collaborating with an immensely talented choreographer named Zoi Tatopoulos We have some very interesting projects in the pipeline…

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that Different Circles will be returning in 2024. We are in the process of putting together a compilation called ‘Ping Volume One,’ which originated from an in-joke with the Discord community. This joke evolved into an episode of ‘Radio Mumdance called “The Ping Report” and now it’s blossoming into a conceptual compilation, marking a new chapter in the label’s lineage.

Interview · Andrea Bratta
Artwork · Sholto Blissett
Photography · Sam Hiscox
Pre-order the digital album here
Follow Mumdance on Instagram and Soundcloud
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Angel D’lite

Cloud 69

NR presents Track Etymology, the textual corollary to nr.world’s exploration of contemporary soundscapes: A series of short interviews delving in the processes and backstories behind the releases premiered on nr.world’s dedicated platform.

Hello to both! Hope you had a great start of the week and thank you for doing this! The EP is sick! My first question is a pretty straightforward one, the textual equivalent of a warm-up: What brought you together on this collaborative journey?

Angel: My memory is actually a little hazy, as we started this project over a year ago, but Oli [Goddezz] had asked me if I wanted to work on something for Goddezz, and I had this idea to do a split EP with Lucy, a really good friend and an incredible producer. When our friendship was blossoming we were both in the early stages of production, always sending each other WIPS, encouraging and inspiring each other, so it’s super cute to have worked on this project together.. a full 360 moment. It’s been amazing to see and hear Lucy’s musical journey and how she’s grown as an artist and a composer, watch this space! 

LUXE: I feel as though Sadie and I have been talking about writing / working on some music together for a long while… We’ve always been close on eachothers production journeys – it feels really nostalgic and emotional to think back to our flurries of texts hyping eachother in our early days of production. Sadie was the first person to hear some of the first tracks I ever made and her infectious energy and encouragement helped me find confidence in what I was doing – I feel so grateful. Seeing her trajectory makes me so unbelievably proud and i’m so excited to see how life continues to unfold.

What were the elements of your respective sounds that you felt clicked together best and complemented each other? Additionally, what differences in your approaches did you feel add interesting twists to the tracks’ layout?

A: I LOVED working on the remix for Lucy, I loved hearing the wubby, textural sounds she used to make ‘Dance Enchantress’ . It’s really both of our worlds merging, with both the remixes and I think you can hear both of us in both remixes too! We are very different as producers and DJs, but I’d say we have a crossover of very UK bass kinda sounds within our productions and I think you can hear that in both the tracks and our remixes. 

L: I had so much fun working with Sadie’s stems, her gorgeous take on old skool nostalgia / euphoria was so refreshing to work with. I adore how both remixes turned out, I’m literally obsessed with sadie’s remix of my track!!! I love how we’ve created this common ground in our sound and production styles. 

If I were to put a label on the EP, I’d say it’s a UKG record, at least in its sonic backbone. UKG is a genre which elements are filtered into much of Y2K pop music, a current, if we can call it that, which has seen a big resurgence recently, almost to the point of saturation, as every trend deserving of that title should. Your EP strips the UKG resurgence back to the nostalgia and the pop-adjacency and brings it back to its roots: the club, dubstep influences, grimey sounds, a ravey funk. What were some of the influences behind this record?

L: Enchanted captures a really wide range of influences across the tracks, which are reflective of the ways in which mine and Sadie’s sounds crossover in our productions and sets. I honestly wanted to indulge in making something that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a nice melding of some of my main influences, trancey and bassy with a hint of garage swing. Dance Enchantress felt like a fitting name with the alluring little vocal chop.

A: I was actually really inspired by a tune from Lobec – 5am Nostalgia, a beautiful, euphoric end of the night dancefloor tear jerker. Cloud 69 is a Poundland knock off, but it does the job I suppose! 

The remixes move the record away from familiar territory, slightly more at a distance from UK sounds, while remaining coherent with the vibe of the EP. How did you select them?

A: It was actually Oli’s [Goddezz] idea to get some remixes (I think, as I say it has been a long time in the works!) Each remix is very special in their own ways. I admire all the artists so much and I’m so grateful to have them all together on this.

I’ve been a big fan of Baraka (as people and artists) for a while now and that was really exciting for me to get them on this project, as it’s also their 1st remix! They have such a unique sound that spans sexy naughties-esque downtempo, 90s gabber, modern trance and techno, but always ravey and sexy, there’s a mindblowing Baraka track for every time of the day or night. I had no idea what they would make for us, but I really couldn’t be happier with what they’ve done! 

Both FAFF and Local group are good friends of mine, I knew FAFF would bring their silly, camp, sexy energy to this release, and it’s totally exceeded any expectations, actually becoming my favourite FAFF production, it’s all of the above, fun and funky fresh. I knew whatever Local Group would make would be a dancefloor destroyer, everything they put out is an instant bassbin hit. It means a lot to me to have them on this, we have remixed each other before, but this track is really next level. 

L: I think once we’d got the 4 tracks done of 2 originals and 2 remixes between Sadie and I we were speaking with Oli (Goddezz Daddy) and thought we may as well develop things further by curating a selection of remixes. The selection of artists was important – we thought it would be fun to cover all the sounds we love and the genres and spaces that influence us. Local group, and FAFF are close London contemporaries, incredible DJs and Producers,  who Sadie especially has known for years. Baraka we thought would be an amazing addition to the remixes, we didn’t really know what direction it would go in and it turned out to be this incredible trip-hop ethereal 90s concoction!! Mabel I was really keen to get on as I’ve been obsessed with her deep bassy psychedelic trance fueled productions and have loved seeing her trajectory. I love her flip of my original. What’s key here is that the remixes have created a perfect storm of genre mashup influences which feels very central to the whole project – the remixes made the sound world feel complete.


Last question: Are you planning some special B2B dates following the EP
release?

Keep your eyes peeled

Interview · Andrea Bratta
Pre-order the digital album here
Follow LUXE on Instagram and Soundcloud
Follow Angel D’lite on Instagram and Soundcloud
Follow GODDEZZ on Instagram and Soundcloud
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Evita Manji

Phoenix Central Park in Sydney, AU

Grief, the Human Condition and Live Performance

Greek musician and vocalist Evita Manji is part of a new wave of underground club music producers that began her career in Athens and since then has performed in multiple countries across Europe. Her music is a mixture of contemporary club music, baroque pop, and experimental sound design which she uses to explore themes of death, grief, climate change and the human condition. 

Manji launched her platform myxoxym in 2021 and has collaborated with multiple artists, across various medias. One of her most recent collaborations with the artist duo dmstfctn was at HQI in London at the Serpentine Gallery, where she performed a live soundtrack for a interactive audiovisual performance titled, Waluigis Purgatory which follows an AI sent to purgatory. NR joins Manji in conversation about her practice and recent performances. 

Phoenix Central Park in Sydney, AU

You mentioned that your process has involved you locking yourself in your apartment for long periods of time to work on your music. What does the day-to-day process of this look like?

It includes the necessary human functions, eating and such. Also a lot of silence and thinking. The thinking gets out of hand at some point and that’s when the music-making begins. Small breaks here and there for cuddles with Heidi (my cat), a cigarette and herbal tea refills until I get sleepy and crawl back to bed.

Phoenix Central Park in Sydney, AU

You stated that your experiences with loss and grief have influenced your creative process, is that still the case and do you draw on any other emotions and experiences to create your work?

It still is the case. However, if you imagine grief as a city, I was only hanging around the center when I was making Spandrel?. I’m more into exploring the suburbs and the countryside these days. Travelling to other cities too but always staying within the country of uncomfortable emotions.

You were part of a church choir for many years, has this had any influence on your music and if so how?

It has influenced the way I understand and create music a lot, especially when it comes to singing. But in the way I compose my melodies too, though the effect is more abstract in this case. It’s not always there but it’s like a solid part of my identity I can return to when I’m not sure which way to go.

Phoenix Central Park in Sydney, AU

Considering your father’s involvement in music production and songwriting, do you believe this has provided you with certain advantages or unique opportunities in pursuing your music career?

Being surrounded by music and encouraged to pursue it from a young age is definitely an advantage I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for my dad but if we’re talking about actual career opportunities then no, it hasn’t played a role.

Your live improv style debuted at the Aurora Live Ambient Show, in September 2023, in Berlin. How did you feel before the performance, and did the experience meet your expectations? Did the spontaneity of the improv provide a sense of freedom, and is it something you would like to explore further in your music career?

I was excited but very stressed and seriously lacking sleep. It was such a last-minute request, I sketched out the live set on the plane on my way to the show, I was still editing 10 minutes before performing. I did enjoy the performance very much though, it was very special, I felt fully immersed in the music and sort of lost touch with reality.

Aurora Live Edition in Berlin

You recently performed at Londons Cafe OTO with artist Sarahsson. What were your hopes and expectations for this performance, and do you think you achieved them in the show? 

I was initially planning to present an elaborate version of my Aurora set but my hopes and expectations changed pretty much 2 days before the show when I decided to create a whole new live set. I wanted to play something not entirely related to Spandrel? , so I put together a bunch of music I made in the last few months and a couple of new versions of songs from Spandrel?. I was just hoping I will have it ready on time and I did manage to.

What advice do you have for young creatives looking to work in the music industry?

“To walk backwards and enter the circle looking outwards.”

Interview · Nicola Barrett
Photography · Clément Beaugé and Ruby Boland
Follow Evita Manji on Instagram and Soundcloud
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