Our second release is a three tracker, constructed from castaway ideas created by Encrypter and Ikeaboy.
Multiple loops created from hardware experiments were sent around with the recipients not given any context.
As a result, each track has a fresh approach to the ticks and tones of the creator with a new arrangement.
Here we talk to the artists about the ideas behind the tracks, and their different approaches to sound harassment.
Seq Arp // 02
The production is very tight on this, tell us about some of your work process...
I loaded up a few of Ikeaboys loops into my Octatrack (Mk1 for that vintage tone obviously) and started transposing things around and chopping up some drums.
The biggest breakthrough was using a really high-pitched melody and taking it down about 5 octaves in the sampler which gave a really gnarly low sub tone. Once I had that, everything else was constructed around it.
I took some little snippets of audio and time-stretched them into atmospheric sounds, worked on some LFOs to modulate a few parameters and made everything into loops on the Octa.
I tend to enjoy working on that more than anything else. Pure ideas machine.
Eventually, I constructed that plasticky drum pattern so decided to go with a bit of a retro electro vibe. I'd been really caning Special Request so I think some of his electro style tracks influenced me and sure aren’t we just jumping on that electro bandwagon anyway?
How did you go about the arrangement?
Before moving everything into Ableton, I ran the low bass through some fuzz and delay pedals to get some extra gnarl in there.
I tend to arrange almost exclusively from session view so once everything goes into Ableton, I just jam out an arrangement and fix up any small bits I don’t like, before putting all the bells and whistles in there. I think this track was the last time I used iZotope Trash before my laptop got nicked. Love that plugin so much.
The weird vocal thing in the background is a distortion patch I made with some weird modulations and delays if I’m remembering that right.
God knows what the original sample was!
I remember reading Alan Parsons talking about Dark side of the Moon where he mentions always keeping the black back wall behind the sounds visible. I think about that a lot and I think as a result my mixes tend to lean back in the top end which may be down to me listening to a lot of techno, in the early years, off third generation mix tapes.
Myself and Barry from WHOK and The Last Sound have talked about this over the years, we were reared on the same tapes.
As soon as the track gets a mental visual image in my head it becomes all about the balance and proportion of different shapes and objects, which is how I imagine everyone else does it too although they might describe it differently.
When you're sculpting sound through programming or patching, what kind of influences are behind the selections you make?
The sound design for this one was a nod to Dave's taste for hardcore techno, I wanted to make a track that could be mixed at 130bpm but has the clattering kick drums from that world. I aimed for warm distortion and tried to keep enough of each sounds dynamics so they would stay 3D. This is the fist pass of the track in Live after I exported the sounds from the iPad.
Tell us about some of the gear you used...
I started off the track on Korg Gadget using 3 Abu Dhabi loop slicers and Bilbao module all loaded up with samples I liked from Dave's folder.
I like triggering Gadget with midi with another ipad app called Yamaha Mobile Music Sequencer. It looks woeful but it's actually an IOS take on their QY series of sequencers the likes of Bjork, Aphex and Thom Yorke used (https://www.or-bits.com/blog/2011/03/views-from-an-accelerated-reality-2-aphex-twin/)
It has these configurable midi effects that allow you to try lots of variations on rhythm and melodies in a semi random way, so I just kept at them until something emerged and then more bits are made to compliment that.
Then I recreated the slices and Bilbao drums inside Live using samplers and drum racks and imported the midi from the Yamaha app, so I had a little sketch on a bigger stage with more possibilities.
Beyond that, very little gear was used, Ableton Live and the main melodic riff goes through the OTO Biscuit not doing anything drastic, just a touch of the filter and drive tone to smooth and darken it into shape.
When you're working on tracks, what's the ratio between losing track of time you're so into it and times when you have to persuade yourself to keep cracking at it?
If I'm not feeling it, I just go and do something else. If it's not easy to engage and enjoy making sounds, I take it as cue that I'd be better off riding my bike or making videos that day.
More often than not, while doing something else I'll find an idea or inspiration to apply to the track and come back to it with renewed enthusiasm. My attention span likes short, productive bursts.
You like to mix organic and electronic elements, given these were purely electronic samples, what did you do to make it seem quite lively?
Having cheated slightly and introduced a sample of a friend being branded with a hot iron,
I went all out.
I warped and gouged bits of speech, live room hiss, mic bumps, skin sears, and mixed them with the drier electronic elements, until I felt the track had some presence and immediacy.After some repitching and stretching of a sine whistle file, the track started to develop around this bass groove.
This EP is the first release under the SEQ ARP label and stands as a mission statement for the label. Hardware focused left field takes on techno and electronica.
You're a prolific creator of music across multiple genres, do you set out with clear intentions of the track you want to make or figure it out as you go?
This is gonna sound pretentious as hell but I tend to let the machines guide me. I’ll go into the studio and muck about on a machine with no real intentions most of the time and just see what comes out.
The beauty of working with hardware is you can just dick around a bit until you happen across something. When I started buying up a few bits of gear I set myself a challenge of sitting down each night for an hour and trying to bang out a track from start to finish using only 2 or 3 pieces of equipment and then recording it all live. A lot of the way I work now comes from training myself into that mentality.
Seq Arp // 01
I’m super jaded with the long-winded approach to arranging tunes now and like to just go off gut instinct. Turn off your brain a bit and see what happens I guess?
When you're working on these tracks, what's the ratio between losing track of time you're so into it and times when you have to persuade yourself to keep cracking at it?
David's answer will occupy this space much like the carp occupy the sea.