Ahead of their party in Melbourne with Max Cooper this Friday - a joint venture with Darkbeat that also features Vibrasphere, Danny Howells, The Mollusk and Steve Ward - Red Sky spoke to the young Englishmen about the influence of surroundings, marketing driven music and banging the shit out of it until peoples ears bleed.
Australian tour dates:
08.04.11: Melbourne - Red Sky vs Darkbeat presents Vibrasphere, Max Cooper, Danny Howells + more @ Brown Alley
09.04.11: Sydney - Shrug & Subsonic presents Max Cooper @ Good God Small Club
15.04.11: Cairns - Northern Alliance II feat Max Cooper and Tetrameth
Red Sky: When and where were you when you made your first beat? Max Cooper: It would have been in Nottingham, UK, probably in about 2006.
Favourite album of all time? I don’t have a single favourite, as I’ll prefer one over another at any give time based on what mood I’m in. But one I have found myself going back to most frequently over the last year or two is “and they have escaped the weight of darkness” by Olafur Arnalds.
Favourite city to play in the world and why? London, because then I can have a night out with my friends. That’s not to say it’s the best place for gigs in the world, that is more dependent on events than cities - there are good and bad parties in every city. All that said, some of my favourites would be Tel Aviv, Moscow, Paris, Porto, Amsterdam.
Your contribution to the techno scene has been prolific over the last year, with dozens of standout releases. How or where do you seek inspiration? I think if you look at the world objectively then there is inspiration everywhere, especially in nature and natural form. I also find it helpful to take in modern art, and listen to music of course. I’ve always been fascinated with perceptual illusions, symmetry, geometry, dimensionality, the interaction of disorder with order and these sorts of things which seem to underlie both the arts and sciences, and are everywhere around us in the real world when you look for them. When I look at things like that then it’s easy to be in awe, and then I’ll try to translate some of that feeling into my music. Or sometimes I’ll just write a club banger! It’s best to go with how you’re feeling at the time I think.
Has this great volume of releases been the result of a surge of creativity or do you generally have a high output of production? It takes me longer than most to write each track, and there are a lot of people that release much more frequently than I do. But I’ve been working hard on productions for the last few years, so I’ve managed a reasonably steady flow. I would like to cut back so I can spend more time experimenting and developing each track, but it’s always a balance these days, as you have to maintain a regular flow of releases, at least at the start, in order to build a profile.
Professional geneticist by day, night lighting as a professional musician - do you have time for a life? What intrigues you outside of these fields? I haven’t been doing any genetics for a year or more now, as I’m completely snowed under just trying to keep up with music commitments, which by themselves hardly leave any time for a life, no. Luckily I live in a big house with lots of friends, so I get some socialising done during the week. As for what intrigues me outside of genetics and music, I already mentioned a few things, but generally I’m interested in everything that has depth to it. One prominent interest of recent with the travelling I’m doing has been comparing the lifestyles, attitudes, politics, media and customs of different parts of the world - it’s really interesting how people’s mindsets are influenced by their surroundings. In some places it’s scary the crap that people get indoctrinated with, but I guess the internet is starting to break that down as we can see.
The duality of your image definitely makes for a good promotional back story - how much of the battle of making it in the electronic music scene today do you think depends on marketing alone? It’s impossible to put a figure on it, but look at the chart topping music of today - TV talent competitions combined with massive marketing budgets regularly hit the top, where it’s more about the perceived story and image of the artist than the actual music, as long as the music ticks the relevant boxes. So it can be totally marketing-driven, but there are plenty of great music-driven success stories out there as well. As for the electronic music scene, luckily it’s not lucrative enough to attract that sort of approach generally, and there are many successful electronic music artists whose marketing is basically zero. I think that sort of artist may be on the decline though, but as long as we have the independently minded music geeks with their network of press and communications it’ll be ok!
What kind of sound can we expect to hear on your upcoming Australian tour? I think I’m mainly doing live shows, so it will be the sound of my stuff. As to what exactly I’ll be playing I can’t say, I don’t ever decide on a set list or style before a gig. I have all my music, more than 100 tracks, in my live set, which I play partially like a DJ set, whereby I’m trying to build a set and progression that I think is most appropriate for the event. So sometimes I’ll go really deep and melodic, sometimes more electronica and glitchy, or sometimes I’ll just bang the shit out of it until peoples ears bleed.