Interview: Sarin [BITE, X-IMG]
SARIN, the A/V industrial technoid electronics project of Emad Dabiri, releases his first ever full-length album Moral Cleansing on BITE. After debuting on the label last year with his Kuleshov Effect EP followed up by a collaborative 12” with Imperial Black Unit earlier this year, Dabiri advances his sonic identity by leaps and bounds through his application of subtle pop and electro elements with a greater focus on groove and melody, syncopated basslines, FM synthesis, and his signature cut-up sampling. The album showcases SARIN’s core elements as one of the main influencers in the current EBM techno wave with his brutally minimal sequences and abrasive drum programming. He began operating as SARIN in 2013 in Toronto before moving to Berlin in 2014. Since then he has been actively touring the world with his live performances & DJ sets. A remix 12″ of select tracks from the album done by Broken English Club, Privacy, Teste, and Phase Fatale will follow in January 2020.
TF: Tell us something about you. Where did you studied and who influenced you to explore musical processes?
SA: I grew up in Toronto and received my Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Ontario College of Art & Design in a program called “Integrated Media”. Since high school I was interested in video art and through university I became attracted to more experimental live audio/video and media installations. Around this time I started to become influenced by a collective of Toronto based artists called “FameFame” that included Jubal Brown, Tasman Richardson, Josh Avery, Ellie Chestnut and others who had graduated about a decade before me from the same university. They were very intelligent cool cats that in some ways represented the modern embodiment of the Burroughs / Gysin cut-up spirit but applied to new media. Eventually I would work with several of them on special Videodrome events named and somewhat inspired by the Cronenberg film. Musically I was first exposed to the genres of E.B.M. & Industrial by chance as a kid playing a PC game called “Descent II” which featured a really dark electronic soundtrack including some tracks written and produced by members of Skinny Puppy. From there I dove deeper via the internet and exposed myself to a lot of new music that I would otherwise not know about. At that time everything in Toronto was about hip hop, pop or indie rock so it was up to me to do the research and dig deep. During this time I was experimenting with audio production mainly to compliment the video side of things and it wasn’t until after I graduated university that I was building tracks and taking it more seriously as music on its own. I was growing increasingly disillusioned by the art world (besides a small core group of friends) and was attracted more and more towards making and playing music which appeared to be a more honest & pure form of self-expression at that time.
TF: When you look back to your career with all its highs and lows, can you imagine having done things differently? Is it more fate or choice?
SA: I think a career is something you’ve been doing for at least a decade. I’ve been living off this music thing for the last 3-4 years so it still feels kind of new to me. Before that I was working at the university I graduated from along with side jobs related to video production and the personal creative A/V & music stuff was mostly for fun. One thing I would have done differently is to have left Toronto sooner and planned out my exit properly. I have fond memories of the city, made lifelong friends-collaborators and cut my teeth there but it seems culturally dead. The high cost of living and archaic laws regarding nightlife made it hard for an underground electronic music scene to thrive. I don’t think it was always like that and it doesn’t have to be. The other reason I say I should have left and pursued music sooner is because I’m 35 now and feeling old within the club context of going out to see friends play or to my own gigs. I guess everything happens for a reason! I also would change about a million other things too …
TF: Which aspects of sound do you examine recently? Is it important for you the impression that your music produces on the audience?
SA: For the album I tried to bring back more pads, layers and textures for a few tracks. I felt I was stripping down my productions a little too much in recent releases. I’m also constantly exposed to new techniques and ways of thinking thru my various collaborations with friends. I learn a great deal from them. I also learn a lot from doing remixes and working with parts from other producers. Regarding the second question; yes it’s important that I leave an impression. I’m not really interested in making senseless dance music. I want there to be some other element involved, however small, to give it more meaning to me personally. I want to inject some reality into my music in a scene that sometimes appears devoid of meaning. How effective or noticeable that is to the audience I don’t know but it maintains my interest.
/ϟ/HUREN/ϟ/ VS. SARIN - VIDEODROME 2012, TORONTO PHOTO BY: HAMILTON REYNOLDS
TF: What do you think is the role of new technology in composing music? Do you rely more on digital or analog sound?
SA: Both! I believe affordable soft synths can be as valuable as a super expensive analog synth sometimes. It depends how you use it. Personally I find that the idea can be more valuable than the tool being used to execute it. Soft synths have become so advanced that you don’t need a huge budget to start making cool music – just interesting ideas. I follow the HUREN credo of $cumtronic$ ™® ©.
TF: Can you tell us more about ''Moral Cleansing''? What does it bring to your work? Which are the perspectives you want to explore through this?
SA: I’m not sure what it brings to my work. To me it’s just a continuation of what I’ve always been doing & the same conceptual approach generally as in my experimental audio/video roots in Canada. I’m obsessed with history, politics & documentaries so I channel that inspiration into my music – whether through lifted & fragmented samples, aesthetics or the video cuts I make to compliment my tracks. I’m a sponge that absorbs a variety of mass media and selectively injects some ideas into the music. Regarding this album I took inspiration from napalm, foreign intervention, vigilantism, CIA torture/mind-control and end of world scenarios.
SA: When I about 8 or 9 my Mom brought home an old portable electric organ for me that she found at a garage sale. When you turned it on it had this loud fan that would whirl up before it would play anything. I didn’t know what I was doing but it was fun. The first synth I bought was a bright yellow Dave Smith MoPho keys – it was the first real serious step I took towards music because now I had financed my first piece of gear on my credit card. I went to the store with a friend (SINS) to advise me and tried a few things out and settled on that. It could hit that mean growling bass sound I really wanted and was obsessed with for years.
TF: Our typical question ... any book or movie that you would like to recommend to the public to feed your creative side?
SA: I’m reading “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, who inspired Hunter S. Thompson a lot. It’s fun. I just watched “Deliverance” which is a 70s thriller featuring a young Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight. I recommend both. “Squeal like a piggy!!!!!”
TF: Thank you Emad!