Interview: SWARMM [Holotone]
SWARMM's music turns the listener into an intricate vortex of emotional dynamics, where he expertly maximizes the limits of contemporary electronic music and combines his fondness for visual arts with the rigor of experimental practice.
He is preparing a new EP on Holotone, a record label founded by Daniele Antezza (half of Dadub), who for some years has focused on proposing new approaches to making electronic music through his various projects.
TF: Hello ... where did you studied and who influenced you to explore musical processes? And what were your influences?
SW: I'm currently finishing off a degree at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying electronic music. I’ve been studying music for a long time now. I started in classical music as a violinist at Chetham’s school of Music back in 2010, and while I was there, I discovered the joys of heavy duty electronic music, starting with the discovery of Aphex Twin’s 2001 album ‘Drukqs’. Being in Manchester for six years, I quickly came across Autechre, and got overly obsessed with sound design and bass orientated music. Classical music composition had a big influence on my approach to working with audio. Most notably spectral composition, from the likes of Iannis Xenakis, Gérard Grisey, and Tristan Murail. This fundamentally changed how I thought about music, from the more traditional sense (western harmony), to thinking more about sound as frequency and timbre, which can be manipulated through experimental techniques of notation, and more easily, through audio production.
TF: What new hardwares did you apply to make new album, titled "Extract / Transform / Load". Do you have a particular method while working in the studio?
SW: I mainly approach music making through lots of audio processing. So before I start composing music, I like to create a fair bit of sound design to work with. I have a eurorack setup which consists mostly of DSP effects, which I use like an external effects chain to process audio. From here most of my production is within the box, using some programs like Max MSP to further mangle what I’ve recorded with the eurorack setup. My sound sources are mostly foley based, so anything audio I can get my hands on. I make an exception to use some FM synthesis when I need it, but I use it sparingly within my music making process.
TF: What do you think is the role of new technology in composing music? Do you rely more on digital or analog sound?
SW: I definitely rely heavily on digital processing a lot more than analog. Does it sound better? Who knows, I don’t. I like the freedom of programs like Max msp, It’s incredibly liberating to have the infinite possibility of creating anything conceivable, although this can be a hinderance too. I’v been keeping a keen eye on the development of machine learning and AI as a tool to compose music. I think technology as it currently stands is an extremely powerful tool, and I’m excited to see how artists will adapt this into their process, for example the work of Holly Herndon. I guess I’m interested in enabling creativity through the adaption of technology.
TF: What is your relationship with visual arts as a artist and as an individual? moreover, could you talk about your favourite art works or even a particular art movement that inspires you?
SW: When I started learning music production, I also learnt 3D graphics in parallel. I’ve always enjoyed creating audio, then realising it visually, and vice versa. I see the two workflows to be very similar. All the visuals I create are related to music in some way. I had the incredible opportunity to start working freelance as a VJ and motion designer for Fold (club), which allowed me to experiment and to really hone in on a long term aesthetic and visual identity for their UNFOLD series of parties, something which is still ongoing. I really enjoy Nam June Paik’s work, especially his ‘Electronic Superhighway’. I’ve also been heavily influenced by films, for example David Lynch’s Eraserhead, where the use of sound is on par in terms of importance to the visual. I remember listening and watching that film distinctly.
TF: And last but not least, could you tell us a bit more about your future projects?
SW: I’m currently co-running an independent record label called Laminar Flow, which focusses on left-field / dystopian electronic music and interactive media. We are currently working on an interactive virtual environment for a new series of releases. For the SWARMM project, I’m currently working on an album, based around the manipulation of sound inside abandoned virtual spaces by simulating physical acoustics inside a game engine. Thank you for the great questions, and for reading!
Release date: May 08th, 2020.
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