Sampling, and manipulating sounds on your own is hugely important to your process. I know how much you like artists such as Burial and Stars of the Lid, but how influential is the process in good hip-hop to you? I keep thinking of J Dilla when it comes to your own flourishes, and layered explosion of sound.
I have been a fan of hip-hop music all my life. Since high school I fell deep into the Rza, Kool Keith, Dan the Automator, Jeru the Damaja, stuff from the nineties especially. Prince Paul I am a huge fan of, Gravediggaz is one of my favourite bands. And the other band I was in, Think About Life were more directly influenced by hip-hop, specifically Public Enemy. I have a really keen interest in what is called production now, but what I feel is the artform of creating a song, and balancing sounds. That takes me a lot of places, and hip-hop is one of them. I love Rough Draft, and Madlib as well. I feel like J Dilla was amazingly unique. His compression of lo-fidelity techniques – he sort of used those to create a textural signature, which is something I really admire.
That idea of a “textural signature” is something that is also synonymous with you. Well, I really appreciate that, it’s very important to me.
You mentioned Think About Life, do you think you will work together again? I don’t think so, I think we have run our course. We are all at different places in our lives, and they are not particularly keen on touring, and perhaps being in a band. And you know, I am not really sure that I want to be in a band either! I prefer working individually a lot more. Living with people on the road, and suffering the indignities of the road is hard. I find working on my own music is where my joy comes from. Mostly my touring as Miracle Fortress enables my studio time, and working on music more comfortably. I am not interested in becoming part of a gnarly rock band or anything [laughs].
Do you think that you have an hermetic temperament? That the deeper you go into production, you are increasingly more content with being on your own in the studio? Yes, definitely. It is how I started making music as a teenager, I began in my parents office on their computer, learning how to make music on it, and electronic music-making, so it has always been my natural state. Collaboration is where I feel out of my element and more challenged, maybe.
How do you feel then about working in a producer capacity with other people, then? I have made some attempts [laughs], but I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I have worked with some artists in town, here in Montreal, but oftentimes it is difficult to act as a producer for a young fledgling band who have an idea of what they want to sound like, and pretty quickly the situation can deteriorate, and you basically just end up documenting what they are doing, and that isn’t my interest at all, as there are more technically gifted and proficient recording engineers out there in the world. So I have to find a good situation, I would have to find an artist who is really interested in having my take on their songs and being open to it, and appreciate how my music sounded and thought it could help their songwriting.
How has your live rendering of this record been so far? It has been much more successful than the Five Roses attempt, at how we tried to translate that record, The reason I am enjoying it more now is that I am mainly playing solo, except for a drummer, as there are more drums on this record. But for the most part I am trying to stick very closely to how the records sound, and trying to recreate most of my process by using sampling and looping techniques live, and have that be more of the performance than trying to teach a band how to sound like my songwriting ideas do in the studio, as it is kind of impossible. I am embracing it a lot more. Just the notion that I am playing, I know how much of a role it plays in being an artist, and I have come to understand that, and am keeping the live environment in mind when I am writing in some way. It’s not a negative thing at all, it has allowed me to focus a little more on another aspect of how the music is going to be heard.
What changes in the process? I don’t perform, for example, the instrumental sections of the album live. Those are things that exist in a plutonic state of being recorded. I suppose it helps direct the process, for example, that I should write something in a key that I can actually sing [laughs] or will basically translate and not be in conflict with itself. Helpful guidelines emerge.