Inteview: Λ / Π [Trait Records]
Born from a love of cerebral & kinetic exploration, hardware manipulation and complex, diabolic bangers. Amber Arizono and Nic Brown (friendships) are taking these elements and applying them to an electronic framework. Λ / Π is about opening portals and exploring inter-dimensional patterns, cognitive exploration and raison d'être. 2019 saw them unleash their debut 12” EP ‘Telluric Current’ via cult Melbourne imprint Trait Records.
TF: Tell us something about you. What’s your background? Where did you studied and who influenced you to explore musical processes?
Λ: Well, there’s two of us and we come from opposite sides of the planet. I come from a small city in Alberta Canada and Nic is from a very small town in Western Australia. It was nearly 6 years ago in Melbourne, that we met at the 24 hour Pleasure Planet closing party. Nic studied sound design and engineering in Melbourne and had been making music for a fair few years before we met with his other music project called friendships with visual artist and band mate Misha Grace. I actually studied jewellery design and because I have been working and managing nightclubs for the past 12 years, I think the exposure to dance music definitely had an influence on me but Nic was my direct influence that lead me to explore actually making music. As a teen I was very into grunge and heavy band music like Nine Inch Nails so I naturally tended to gravitate towards more intense, aggressive stuff and would spend a lot of time exploring the internet which eventually lead me to finding heavier electronic music that inspires me to make today.
You live in Melbourne. How does this place influence you as an artist?
Λ: Melbourne is a such a great place to live, it definitely feels like home to me now and since I’m not from here, I really appreciate the experiences I’ve had and what this city has to offer. I’ve met some great people and made some really amazing friends here... some who are musicians, producers, DJs and visual artists and I love how they all possess their own fearless way of approaching music. I guess being around so many different creative forces like this pushed me to want to respond and contribute to this in some way. I like how people seem to just play whatever they want which opens up a lot of opportunity not to have too much of a preconceived opinion about a style of music so that everyone’s a bit more open to something a bit different. I personally really enjoy a “mix bag” set where you can take it anywhere you feel like going and see if anyone comes along for the ride. It keeps my attention and doesn’t just become boring monotonous techno.
Do you think that an excessive media exposure tends to cause harm to music? Is it more disposable than a few decades ago?
Π: I think great art will always shine through. If it's really special it will be pushed into hands and exposed... I don't think this is harmful. Music is cyclical, forms will reshape and dissolve, then inspire, manifest and form again. Great pieces of work will stay constant. Is music more disposable? Accessibility to all types of music is becoming immediate, this is super exciting. Digitisation of music is normalised, is digital disposable?? I am hungry for new, inspiring work, I am happy to spend a day diving through disposable digital media to strike revelation.
TF: Does Λ / Π has some rituals before start producing? Please share some notes about your creative process.
Λ: The rituals we can share with you are these: Step 1- Cook something really delicious and good for you so we don’t get distracted by our stomachs mid way through a jam session. It’s important to have fuel to sustain us through otherwise we will quit half way and start making food... if we get hangry, it’s pretty much game over and it’s really hard to get back to where we were if we run out of batteries half way. So food is a very important part of our music making ritual. Step 2- Have a discussion about what we want to make and what the purpose of it is... we’ve been doing some releases for compilations recently so we would discuss the mood or vibe of the track we want and work out what equipment we would like to use to create to suit the release we’re working on. Step 3 – Jam until we find something that feels right or jam until you’re too tired to keep jamming anymore but always record... Step 4 - Sleep on it and forget about it for a couple days and listen back to it with fresh ears and see if anything has potential.We know it when we hear it and if nothing feels like it fits...save it for a rainy day, move on and start again. Step 5 – Once we get something that we’ve locked into we’ll keep adding to it until we’re happy. Then we both get a turn doing an edit version and the end result is usually a splice of the two. Step 6 – Have a good ol fashioned dance to It and see how it makes us feel and if it matches the mood that we are looking to create, great! If it doesn’t... Save it, file it and start the process again. Sometimes it can be a slow and lengthy and sometimes we can finish a track in a day. We tend to go on quite a few tangents so it's a pretty unpredictable process. Π : Absolutely! We make and share food, we talk, we smoke and drink. We chat about creative pursuit and vision... then if the energy is right, we start to create and play with hardware. Sometimes this is a fast and immediate process, sometimes it's slow and calculated, sometimes it doesn't happen at all. The energy and build up is most important - if it's not there, we don't bother.
TF: How is your live set up going to be? Any particular equipment? What’s your favourite track to play live and why?
Π: I have always been from a software background - so designing music for me has always been "in the box". Amber has always wanted to push away from software constraints to focus on dedicated hardware that we can then translate live in a logical manner. We have been running our live sets pretty streamlined with mostly Elektron gear (RYTM, Octatrack) with a 303 and Mopho. Our secret weapon that never leaves the studio is the Red Sound Systems DarkStar synth - the most bizarre and creative piece of equipment (please look it up). The best tracks to play live are the ones that we create in the moment... that is the joy of hardware equipment. You can really just set boundaries and rules and just play for hours, creating and shaping.
Can you tell us more about your next release? Do you have in mind other projects?
Λ: We’ve been working on a bit of new stuff but we’re still in the refining stage. We’re still trying to align what we both want out of the next release which can be a little tricky at times because we both can be a little nit-picky. The end result is always a compromise and never really ends up the way either of us intended which can be a really good thing when you find happy accidents that can be developed. We both know that we wouldn’t have found those little sparks our own in the same way so we’re quite open with the direction that the next release could end up in so we’re allowing ourselves a little more time for tweaking.