The Glaswegian techno don talks juicing, chocolate, drum machines and why he hates silence.
You should be asking something else – I mean, why me?! I’ve always felt the music is coming from somewhere else. I have no clue where it’s coming from.
If you weren’t making music what would you be doing?
Quantum physicist, no doubt about it. I study that in my spare time even now…
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My best two pieces of advice were ‘If you make it, don’t take the easy route and get lazy’. The other was, ‘Be you at all times, not who someone wants you to be’.
What inspires you?
Life, science, nature, my parents, my girlfriend, classical music and hearing multi-layered chords I’ve never heard before, challenging myself to make another genre of music.
What’s the next big thing?
I can’t tell you yet as it’s not quite finished. Soon!
Best club experience?
Too many highs to mention, but a bizarre one was me playing with Jeff Mills with a cast on after breaking my leg and struggling to stand up in agony. We were doing my Glasgow residency in 1995. Jeff Mills was getting funny looks from the locals outside my house in Erskine that afternoon!
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Laminating photos and framing pictures. The most tedious, boring thing I’ve done. Even working as a ceiling fitter when I was 17 was slightly more interesting. Just.
How do you know when a track’s finished?
When there’s no gaps left. I cannot stand gaps or spaces with no sound in a track, so every single track I’ve ever done has no silence in it.
Jeff Mills was getting funny looks from the locals outside my house in Erskine that afternoon!
When did you realise you could give up your day job?
My day job was only ever a means to feed my hunger for buying synths – I always knew I was going to be a musician. I was born on a peace camp and grew up on stages in front of people.
Which song do you wish you wrote?
A new one is Boards Of Canada’s ‘Reach For The Dead’ and an old one is the theme from The Bourne Supremacy by John Powell. I made an edit of that which combines parts of the whole film and lasts 30 minutes so I could listen to it for ages. The original is only two minutes long. Criminal!
What’s the easiest way to make it in the music industry?
There is no easy way if you are not at the right place and the right time. Getting yourself to the right place at the right time takes a lot of planning, a lot of money or good fortune.
What’s the worst track you’ve ever released?
There is no worst track. I wouldn’t release music I didn’t love at that moment. But there are a few that were badly mixed and mastered which I really regret as they ruined them.
Recommend us a film.
Inception. Most of Nolan’s films are great but Inception was just awesome. You need to watch it four times to understand each layer on its own. Most people haven’t realised that.
Recommend us a book.
What are you addicted to?
Chocolate and drum machines.
What do you lust over?
The new Alfa 4C Spider in black with red leather.
What one thing would most improve your life?
More juicing, less chocolate, more drum machines.
What’s the worst gig you’ve ever played?
Jesus. With all the highs there’s always some lows and some just unthinkable disasters. St Petersburg, Russia, is up there. I got booked years ago to play this Hitman And Her–style place and lasted two records before I was asked to play pop music. I refused and was asked by some very dodgy looking men in suits to play for 30 minutes while they looked for someone else to play instead. I just took the record off and walked out after five seconds. It was a shocker.
Collaboration: rich creative experience or pain in the ass?
Totally depends on the artists involved. I’ve had both. Right now I’m working on two, both are an easy pleasure. Both still unannounced…
What one piece of software/kit could you not do without? Why?
The Virus TI Snow. Amazingly versatile synth.
Art or money?
The secret is balance between both of them. If you lean too much into underground art, you get underground money. If you lean too much into money, you get bored quickly if you’re doing it for the love of music. If you’re doing it only for money, then the art will find a better home.
Strangest place you ever wrote a track?
Clydeside Scottish Bus number 23 from Erskine to Glasgow when I was 16. Batteries in my SH-101 while taking it to Stow College.
What’s your single biggest frustration in the music industry?
The disconnect between promoters and clubbers. Some of them don’t listen, they just book whatever a certain agent has. If the promoters knew what clubbers really wanted to hear, the lineups would be very different and much more varied.
What’s the worst thing about making music?
You know exactly what you want to do, but can’t find the right way to do it. It’s an eternal frustration for me that means I need to take regular breaks to overcome it. Love for the art.