Going back to your first brush with the dance – was it a brother or sister, radio or something else that turned you on to it?
Growing up, my sister listened to a lot of electro-pop. Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, early Prodigy stuff. That definitely had an impact. New Order, too. All that amazing UK electronic music I always loved.
Why do you think that electronic component appealed to you so much? And still does.
Because I use a lot of classical elements. I’m basically into minimal classical stuff, and that is very similar to electronic music in many ways, it’s very loop-based, so I think maybe it wasn’t so much the fact that the music was electronic but because it was electronic it made them play in a certain way. And that’s what I’m into: loop-based music, simple melodically. If you take music and remove all the frills and break it down to the bare components – to the fundaments – and see how you can convey a message musically and what it’s about, it’s quite simple. The challenge is that with this simple structure you have to make something amazing, so you almost need the simple structure to have a lot of depth, richness and complexity in how the notes interact and function.
Growing up, my sister listened to a lot of electro-pop. Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, early Prodigy stuff. That definitely had an impact.
Do you find you have to rein yourself in and remind yourself you’re making music for clubs? Do you often get lost in the theory?
Um, it depends what I’m setting out to do. The album, for example, was me saying I don’t care about club rules, I’m just making what I want to make. But my next EP is something that can be DJed with, so it’ll be mixable and this and that.
Why stay connected to the dancefloor at all?
Because I like clubs! I still play in them every weekend – it’s still part of the way I like music. Although I step away from it I don’t want to step away totally in one go. It needs to happen naturally – my sound needs to develop. I’m not ready yet to lose touch with that side of things.
When you say your sound needs to develop, what is it that you feel you need to improve on?
I need to improve my techniques, develop my musical maturity, my ideas.
You’re self-taught. If you’d had formal musical training would that have helped with the techniques?
It’s not so much that I need to improve on them; I’ve never had any and I want to find my own way.
I still play in clubs every weekend – it’s still part of the way I like music. Although I step away from it I don’t want to step away totally in one go.
But you’re synonymous with great melody, so does that take you a long time to get down?
Sometimes it happens naturally and quickly, sometimes it’s a battle. It depends how lucky I am and how clear my original idea was.
Given your degree in computational biology, are there any mathematical or scientific processes involved when you make music?
I think… well… science is all about patterns, understanding and manipulating them, and music is patterns in sound so there are similarities. My degree was me sat at a PC building theoretical programs, playing with abstract systems and figuring out how to explore them. Writing music is quite similar: the abstract system is the music, the notes, the structure and how they interact. It’s just a lot less precise – in science there are clear rights and wrongs. The main thing is having done research you learn how to teach yourself, how to set out and accomplish a goal. You learn to focus and push and get it done.
If you’re hard on yourself and push yourself, is that why you play mainly your own music in your hybrid live/DJ sets, because you don’t find much stuff you like?
I do find it hard to find stuff to play in clubs, from my own catalogue as well as others. When I started out I loved loads of music, but as I go on it gets harder. When I go searching I have to listen to hundreds of tracks to find one I like.
The abstract system is the music, the notes, the structure and how they interact. It’s just a lot less precise than science.
Have you developed go-to artists over the years?
I think people would be surprised you haven’t said Aphex Twin or anyone from Border Community?
Yeah, people compare me to those, but it’s not what I play often. They don’t release much and it’s not very club-compatible. Mihai Popoviciu is someone else I like – he has really high quality production.
Is clean, HD, high quality production what you aim for yourself?
Definitely. I put most effort into the psychoacoustic element. When your brain interprets signals from the left and right it interprets how wide sounds are, how big the room is, where they come from. Your mind builds up a picture of the space of where the sounds come from, so I put that in my tracks; to make them immersive, so they surround you and you are in them. That widescreen detail is my main focus.