Is it important to you that your music means something to other people, or is the personal attachment all that matters?
The personal attachment has to come first. I could never make or release something that I wasn’t behind 100%, but once it’s out there people can interpret it how they want. Certain tracks of mine suddenly have a lot more success than I expected and people make a connection to them, and that’s good.
Once the music’s out there you lose control of it. Once people acquire it it’s theirs to make a connection to. I had someone recently send me quite a long Facebook message saying they had some tough times with their family and their university course and they were saying that when they were most down the really tough Perc Trax things were getting them through it. I think they saw it as an escape. It’s interesting.
In terms of your process do you often start from nothing more than an interesting sound and work out a track around that?
Yeah, it’s really playing around with the stuff and seeing what happens. Because of the nature of my music it’s all very rhythmic so often it’ll be a kick, especially with the M.Base because with the envelope and the LFO you kind of get these things where it’s providing the kick and the bassline and it’s kind of moving about. On ‘Tension’, one of my bigger tracks on Stroboscopic Artefacts, one sound from the M.Base provides the kick, the bassline and some of the percussion. That idea of using one thing to provide the basis of the track’s quite appealing rather than having 20 things stacked up and losing your focus.
I made a point not to try to appeal to anyone – especially the people who maybe hadn’t been so interested in me before Wicker & Steel. I didn’t want to write an album for those guys. I thought that would be quite a fatal mistake. The reason some tracks got rejected when I was making the album was they sounded too much like previous Perc things, not because they didn’t sound like me. The idea was to push some of the rhythmic tracks a bit further and I didn’t want too many drone-y ambient tracks on there because it’s being done to death at the moment. I don’t think I wrote too many tracks; there are ten on the album and I think of the tracks I completed there were only about 12.
Is that typical for you, that you finish most tracks?
I discard a lot, but I discard them when they’re 16- or 32-bar loops which are going nowhere.
What’s the ratio, roughly? How much stuff gets chucked out?
Probably about eight out of ten end at that stage. Sometimes you can salvage something, if the kick’s really good or you’re happy with a sound that might become the basis of a remix or something, but generally I like to start something fresh, not meld together Frankenstein tracks.
You mentioned not wanting to do too many ambient things because you thought they’d been overdone. How aware were you of that in a broader sense, things like the industrial techno trend that followed in the wake of Wicker & Steel to some extent? Was that something you tried to avoid?
Yeah. I didn’t want to confuse people with a complete change of sound, but at the same time the industrial thing’s been taken on by a lot of producers, especially new young producers. Secondly, the connection between older industrial acts and the contemporary techno scene has been written about much more in the press, so I still wanted to have a connection to that because it’s still where a lot of my influences and roots are, but I didn’t want to make the definitive industrial techno album.