Super funny Toronto based duo Phedre kindly made us a wonderful glitchy disillusioned party-driven mixtape and answered a few precise questions. Daniel Lee and April Aliermo are really the guys you were looking for and we are glad Toronto is a source of such a good musical project. We were impressed by their first record, Phèdre, but Golden Age, the second one, is even better! Some kind of artistic pop is growing here and this musical attitude gives birth to some histrionic performances on stage. Phedre are organizing a party right in front of you but you’re still hypnotized by their tracks to give a fuck.
EC:Whitch House, Synth Pop, Dream Pop: these are the labels used to describe your music. We really don’t appreciate this kind of classification. Why do you think we need to find a specific genre? Is it necessary to put someone’s efforts inside a preconceived set?
I’d say Phedre is Soda Pop. Cherry Cola or Orange Fanta. I guess people like ideas they can easily understand and relate to. If something is “unclassified” or “unknown”, it can be scary for some. We like to approach our work the way some bakers or chefs do: sometimes we make pizza other times we make a nice coconut shrimp stew and other times we are barbecuing. We love all sorts of flavours and textures. Our cravings at the time dictate what is next on the table. Food is food. Music is music.
EC:Relate to the previous question: does a genre affect the musician’s way of creating?
It can definitely keep some people stunted. Maybe it helps others evolve. I guess Rodin’s sculptures got better and better? Or did they get boring to see all the time? It really depends on intentions, I suppose.
EC:Having the same tastes and interest could be common among different individuals but when it comes to produce something concrete it could lead to unbearable divergences. How do you find your work as a duo? Does your music come more from a clash or from a pleasant meeting?
We’ve been working on projects together since the day we met, some 10 years ago. Everything we make as a duo comes from a balance of explosive energy and calm energy; a fine yet dramatic balance between fire burning and a tranquil sea. We’re constantly inspiring, encouraging and criticizing each other until we’re both happy with what we’ve got. Sometimes its quite effortless and other times we can drive each other crazy. In the end, it always works out.
EC:We read a funny story about your creative process: “Legend has it that Daniel Lee and April Aliermo entered an attic of an unknown location over three late summer nights.” Is it true? What is your creative approach?
True story. We really like to immerse ourselves in whatever we’re doing. I guess most people who make things become obsessive that way. It can definitely lead to intense restlessness but you wrestle with it until you have conquered it. Conquer or die.
EC:How is a live Phedre performance like? Which kind of backgrounds do you prefer for your shows?
Our favourite musicians to watch really bring it. They can be going wild with gusto or can be very still with immense feeling. They’re all feeling, though. We’ve been trying to channel that. We also love taking our friends on tour when we can. It makes it more fun and contributes a whole other energetic dynamic to the show. Ken Park played keyboard for us in Europe and Beta Frontiers in Mexico. Sometimes our friends Leah and Eleanor dance on stage which takes the party to the next level. Once, Arowbe of Times Neue Roman came on a little tour just to rap on one song. He sat under a gold cloth until it was time for him to do his thing. It was hilarious and dope. Its also fun when its just the two of us on stage with some distorted projections in the background. Christian Arab designed one for our last tour where Janet Jackson turns into a demon and then suddenly there are avatars of us in Second Life flying around.
EC: What are you listening to at the moments? Which artists are under your radar?
Daniel has been listening to a lot of ghettotech and footwork – – – DJ Godfather, DJ Rashad, Detroit Grand Pubas. He’s really into super fast beats at the moment. I’ve been listening to a lot of Can, Anika and Moss Lime. I’m more into relaxed grooves at the moment. I’m also watching this awesome documentary about Delia Derbyshire, one of the Godmothers of electronic music. We’ve also been really into our hip hop lately – – – I can’t get “Your Style” by Troy Ave feat. Mase out of my head.
EC:Is there an haiku you would use to describe your music?
sweaty bodies eating food
norms and freaks unite
Morkebla is Alberto Rosso, Alberto Rosso is Morkebla. If you repeat this statement like a mantra you’ll get to the point this phrase will totally loose sense. And this is what happens when you listen to his soaking music, as you keep on listening you slowly loose sense as a human being melting yourself with sound. Have you had the chance to watch The Blob, really weird 1958 movie starring Steve McQueen? It is about a mysterious creature from another planet, resembling a giant blob of jelly, who keeps on getting bigger swallowing up every person who face his path. Why are we telling you this? Because Morkebla’s music is just like The Blob, absorbing everything that its sound waves hit expanding through the air.
Morkebla provided Eclectic Collective with this detached mixtape and to be honest with you we recognize a certain recurring pain in life that can’t be avoided. Morkebla isn’t painful, he only wants you to know the space that surrounds you is not empty but constantly filled by pasty sounds that slow down your common activities.
It’s a delicate question because beside the choice of the name, a matter that we’d like you to introduce us, it defines who you’re pretending to be. Morkebla is a musical entity born a few years ago from a condition and necessity to draw a part of myself into music, like painting on a dark blue canvas.
EC: Let’s prepare for a really simple question: in your opinion is there a difference between music and noise? Please note that I didn’t ask you “What is the difference between music and noise?” because this question entails the presumption that the difference exits.
There’s no difference at all, in my opinion even silence between different sounds is music itself. It just depends on how the “listener” perceives it.
EC: We want further ponderings from you on this matter. I don’t know if you’ve seen this John Cage’s interview (yes, John Cage is everywhere but he deserves it) talking about sound an silence. Listening to your production it seems to me that you want to include both noises and silence in your tracks. There are these pieces where you put noises apparently other than music but I feel that they’re very entangled with the composition.
It’s exacty what I wanted to obtain in some music of mine (the most ethereal and abstract works like “Nowhere, OK”) – now the idea is still there but Morkebla has become a bit more different with my last work (using lots of vocal samples for example) and will reshape every time again and again.
EC: Finally, I could say that yours is a representation of the activity of sound.
Thank you, that’s a good description indeed.
EC: We find that your first record, ‘Nowhere, OK’, is a sort of conceptual production: ‘Mooloolite’ is a representation of your illusory peaceful childhood, even if beside flashes of amenities there are obscure premonitions while ‘A Fish Hook in My Finger’ is the ultimate resignation at the end of a path that brings you to discover real and cruel aspects of life. Do you feel any affinity between you and this brief analysis of your work?
EC: I’ve never thought of it this way, but yes, I think it fits the description somehow. That album was composed in a bit less than 2 years which is quite a long time for just 3 tracks. Like a long life cycle.
EC: What kind of relationship did you establish with the small Haunter Records? It seems one of those label to be proud of in Italy music environment?
The Haunter Records guys are great friends – I did a track for their first tape compilation called “From Northern Italy, While On Our Way To Social Collapse” and a remix for a very promising guy named WEIGHTAUSEND. I also played live for a festival they do called Saturnalia – I would like to send them new music in the future for sure.
EC: Let’s talk about your forthcoming material.
After my last album on Reckno I have 3 more albums coming – 2 LPs and one tape. The first one is an LP for an American label called slumdiscs and it’s a split. I can’t say much more on the 2 other releases, but if you give a closer and deep listening to the mix I have prepared you will find some of this new material inside.
EC: We really like technical stuffs and nerdish instrumentation so let’s talk about what kind of tape recorders and microphones you used in the past to record sounds.
I used some Zoom H2 or H4n recorders plus some standard field recording equipment and 2 different TASCAM four track cassette recorders. I sometimes also use walkmans or my phone or whatever is there at the moment I am feeling inspired. I still own some of this stuff but at the moment I prefer to compose by using samplers, synthesizers and drum machines.
EC: Let’s talk about Morkebla’s initiation to music. Black Metal? Noise? Ambient? How did you explore these genres and how did you find them useful?
Well, this is a question I have answered many times, it’s just my musical background and I am nowadays very happy to see that all the musical “genres” are melting and contaminating each other, so that “labelling” what we are listening is luckily becoming more and more difficult. I like this idea and I think Morkebla is a good example of this developing contamination.
EC: Do you have a specific approach in listening to music?
I enjoy listening to almost every kind of music, usually I just sit in my studio with vinyl or digital tracks and let everything flow – sometimes I also listen to music outside with a walkman or mp3 player.
EC: What are you listening at the moment? Are there any artists you’d like to share with us?
Some of them are inside the mixtape, plus I’m listening a lot to Heith, S Olbricht, Vaghe Stelle, Unfinished Portraits, Rainbow Lorikeet, AL-90, KETEV, Beatrice Dillon, etc.
EC: Can you tell us more about your relationship with Sara Cattin who realized some visuals and artworks for you? Is she able to give shape to your ideas or she brings her own vision of your work?
That’s an old collaboration – now me and Sara are not working together anymore. My last A/V collaboration is with an Italian artist called Marco Mendeni and can be seen here: http://www.ursss.com/2014/10/morkebla/
EC: Why did you decide to release your works on tapes?
It’s just a label’s choice – I like tapes but as I said I’ll hopefully be doing some wax release very soon.
EC: Is there an haiku you’d like to use to describe your music?
I’ve just googled for some haiku and I found this one I like:
Question why I’m here
And I’ll tell you right away
My troubled soul is now healed.
Albyon Ambient Dub pioneer Halcyon Daze has been hiding his music for 20 years and finally he has decided to share with the world his early age compositions revisited through the producer contemporary tastes. ‘Polar Opposite‘ and ‘The Lights of the Soul‘ saw the light of day in 2013 and reveal Halcyon Daze’s mastery over synths and live improvisation. He indeed always improvises on pre-recorded live stuff so his tracks are each time unique and slightly different.
Halcyon Daze provided Eclectic Collective a wonderful mixtape that we let be described by the producer himself. “I have been writing ambient dub, ambient and electronica since the early 1990s – this a collection of tracks and artists that have helped me relax and also continue to inspire me in my own musical creations.”
Listen to the Mixtape on Tape.ly.
Listen to this gorgeous exclusive reworked version of one of Halcyon Daze’s most stunning tracks, ‘Aurora‘, that he made for us. Press Play button and let it flow throw your body.
Halcyon Daze came into being in my last year at University (my cousin came up with the name!), and I use it to create recorded collections of all the tracks I write in various different musical genres – spanning classical to ambient, dance to electronica. I did briefly have a side project called “The Cloudman”, but I always returned to Halcyon Daze….
EC: What about your early days as a musician? We read in your bio you got into music very early and that you’re a versatile instrumentalist.
Music was very definitely in my blood, as my parents and grandparents were musical – I’m pleased to say that my kids have also shown an interest and some musical skills too). I started learning piano and clarinet when I was about 8 years old, and I gained a music scholarship when I went to High School. I passed a number of musical qualifications whilst at school, but I always found that exam-taking was very restrictive. I became a far better pianist after I stopped taking exams, as I put all my efforts into learning music that I enjoyed. I also taught myself the sax. However, piano has always been my main love when it comes to musical instruments, and this has now moved onto synths, as the possibilities are endless.
EC: How had music studies been influencing your music approach?
The key change in my musical approach came during my 2nd year at University, as I had the opportunity to start composing music, but I also had free access to the University music studio (I had no kit of my own at the time). Having headed off to Uni expecting to be primarily learning about Bach, Mozart etc., I spent most of my final year experimenting with sampling and production – it was a blast. From this point on, writing electronic music became my hobby; I invested in some basic kit, and wrote enough material to fill approx. 35 albums over the following 8 years.
EC: We also read you had been far from music scene and from music production for 12 years. Did you find any remarkable changes in music environment when you decided to come back? It was easy starting again at the point you left?
My life, equipment and style changed signifcantly during my 12 year lull! There were various reasons for my sabbatical – work (and the lack of time as a result), we had 2 young children (and so my priorities changed significantly too). I also found that I was starting to struggle with musical ideas – possibly as a result of having written so much in a relatively short period of time. I was made redundant from work in 2012, and this gave me the opportunity to not only invest in some new equipment, but also permitted me the time to write! It felt like I had an explosion of ideas bubbling up, so I actually didn’t find it difficult to re-start. The biggest change was the tech – not only my equipment, but also the power of the internet. 15 years ago, I was using a Yamaha DX27, Kurzweil K2000, and recording to a tape deck via a 12 track mixer. I always designed album covers, but they were a result of creative photography overlaid with text. I now record to WAV files via a 24 track digital recorder, primarily using my awesome Roland Fantom G8 synth. It is really surreal to have so many of my tracks, new and old, on Reverbnation and various other sites – it is also so exciting to see 3 of my new albums on iTunes, Amazon, Play store etc. It has also been quite surreal to be included on mixes by other artists – something that would never have happened when my music was just on cassette!
EC: Where does Ambient music come from and where Halcyon Daze’s Ambient music comes from?
I’ve always found that Ambient and Ambient Dub is a very versatile musical genre, and is totally determined by mood. Some of it can be so uplifting, some can purely chill you out, whilst some can really take you to a very dark place. In light of this, I guess my own musical creations are also determined a little by my own mood at the time! My first attempt at an ambient track was back at University, using sounds only created from samples of water in my bathroom sink. The result was quite bizarre, but also really opened my eyes to the possibilities. I don’t do a huge amount of sound sampling now – primarily because the sound library on my Fantom G8 is so versatile.
EC: Does Derbyshire provide you the right mood to create your music? What about its music scene?
To be honest, I’ve not really gotten out and about that much locally recently. However, I have a friend that owns a local art gallery, and they have some really cool musical acts on there. We recently went to see Metamono – they’ve built a monster of a sound station using pretty much only analogue gear – there music is a bit out there, but it was so interesting to see the way that they work.
EC: Talk a bit about your gears, we’re always very interested in how artists create their personal sound.
I’ve tried a number of different creative methods over the years, from recording live improvisations, totally pre-sequencing a track to a combination. These days, I tend to pre-sequence a number of short melodies, basslines and atmospheres, and loop them. I then create and record the track as a single-take “live” performance, by mixing the presequenced stuff with live improvisation. This does mean that every time I perform a track, it will be slightly different – as can be seen if you listen to the original version of “Aurora” in comparison with the track on the EC blog.
EC: What are your plans for the future?
My intention is that my next album will be a beat-free full length ambient collection, loosely based around the Cosmos. I have already written the first track “The Caverns of Enceladus”, and have received some positive feedback from my Reverbnation followers.
I’m also hoping to be doing a gig at our friend’s gallery soon – just got to work out the logistics of it all…..
EC: Are there any artists you find inspiring? What about your recent listenings?
I’ve always found musical pioneers to be of great interest – particularly in the field of electronica, and other later spin-off genres. The likes of Gary Numan, Pink Floyd, The Orb to name but a few. I was very lucky to finally see Gary Numan perform live a few months ago – he’s a legend. My all time musical hero is Pete Namlook; he tragically died a couple of years ago, but had already racked up a massively extensive back catalogue, both on his own and with a variety of guest artists.
I first got into Ambient Dub after I’d heard “The Blue Room” by The Orb – I’d heard nothing like it before – so much going on…. Since then, Banco de Gaia, Global Communications, Biosphere and HIA were high on my playlist; The greatest recent ambient dub discovery for me is OTT – a former stable mate of Shpongle – his music is fantastic – lots of variety, and some briliant melodies. My musical taste does seem to be widening as I get older too – I listen to a lot of rock, particularly the industrial sounds of NIN and Celldweller. However, Ambient Dub is most definitely where my heart is.
EC: Is there an Haiku you’d like to use to describe your music?
I found this a little difficult as I’ve never written a Haiku before! I therefore asked my 14 year old daughter Ellie if she would have a go – she came up with:
From arctic to space
Journey through the Universe
Rhythm will guide you
I reckon she’s nailed it – this describes my music pretty well!