“Breathy” was the word that stood out on the press release for Audialist and his new EP ‘Square One’. And when you listen you realise it’s actually quite appropriate. On tracks such as ’She’s Just’ the Swedish producer has crafted a gentle dynamic squeeze on the vocal that makes words push in and out. It is so effective that a sonic experience is somehow made into a physical one, or at least simulates one.
Ambient is too weak a notion for this kind of music. This is a mature flexing of Felix Carne’s muscles – demonstrating a mastery of texture and rhythm, coaxing eardrum-tickling lows amid skittering highs. His fourth release for the Portuguese label Substruct, it’s impossible not to be reminded of Flying Lotus - no small compliment.
R$N caught up with Audialist to talk ear-cuddling voices, his creative process and the search for “oneness”.
What was your aim for this EP? What did you want to listener to feel?
I made these tracks over the course of about five months last year, and I can't say I ever had an aim for it. I needed somewhere to express my emotions, so instead of keeping them bottled up in myself I kept them bottled up in the tunes. Eventually I had built myself a little story. It's probably easy to tell from the mood and lyrics etc. what it's all about, but just in case anyone wonders: it's about a girl.
She really made me happy like no one else, but it didn't work out in the end. 'Poke Poke' and 'Square One' were made when things started going south, and while they might not be particularly good tunes they are the most personal and meaningful tunes I've ever made, along with 'Gone' from my first EP.
Where do you find your samples from?
Sites such as freesound.org, musicradar.com. Alot of my percussion and textures comes from my portable recorder (which is now dead. Would make a tune to express my grief but can't record any sick sounds soooo...), and alot of my speech and melodic bits are taken from random YouTube videos as well as my favourite shows and movies like The Office, Weeds, Skins.
How difficult is it to program those scattering beats?
Not technically difficult at least. The recipe for a typical Audialist beat is pickiness (if that's not a word I just made it up) with each sound, and keeping a lot of those sounds un-quantized. Also layering.
How did you learn how to make music? Why did you become interested in it?
I started out with my keyboard a long while ago, then got FL Studio when I was 15 or 16. I've basically imitated my favourite artists the whole time, and learnt about plug-ins and all that stuff along the way to the point where I can be a tiny bit more me.
How did you choose the vocalists on this EP? What do you look for in a vocalist?
I got some help from the badmen Menik and Occult who both hooked me up with their lady vocalist friends, Lylli respectively Jausme. As long as the vocalist has an ear-cuddling voice and can hit notes decently I'm all good. I'm really stoked I got to work with these two - their voices, which fit their tracks perfectly, and their musical talent took my tracks to another level.
How do you approach making a track? Do you begin with a structure in mind or do you simply let it take you wherever?
I always start by finding something that inspires me and gives me a picture of what the rest of the track could sound like. 99% of the time it's something melodical, like a pad. Then I make a 4/8/16 bar loop and add as much elements as I can/want to, try to make enough for a complete tune. Come arrangement time, I just use certain elements for certain sections of the track. Despite often having a mental plan of the track I sometimes drift off to something else though. The bassline and main melody in my track "Dead" sounded completely different just until I started to arrange the first drop.
How has your sound progressed since your early releases?
Tough one. I think I've become a bit more minimal. I used to make absolutely cluttered tunes, nowadays I try to keep the amount of cluttery down a bit. The greatest producers, like Mala and James Blake, only need three or four elements to make a timeless tune. That's when you know for sure you're one of the best in the game. I want to reach that some day.
Do you find making records easier now compared to your first releases?
Mostly, because I've got a good workflow going once I get inspired. A few years back it would take me from two to four weeks to finish a track, at best. Last tune I made, "Sleep It, Eat It, Drink It" took one weekend.
What other artists/tracks/albums are you listening to right now?
I need to mention "Without You" by Spooky Black and Greaf. Best tune of 2014. I also listen to a whole lot of Burial and Stumbleine.
Which track or artist had the biggest influence on you over the years?
Sorrow, no doubt. Not only does he have a great sound with his lovely atmospherics and punchy, crisp beats, he's also really unpredictable. He keeps jumping between genres and bpms, but he still manages to make unique music.
Do you listen to other kinds of music in your downtime or do you like to remain inhabited in the same music that you make?
Love me some d&b, grime, dub and reggae. Not really that different from what I make though. I always listen to metal and old rock tunes when I go skateboarding. Makes me feel all anarchic.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
Oneness. But yeah like I mentioned, I want to reach the stage where I can make a big tune with just a few elements. Other than that I don't know really. Keep evolving. Keep it real.
'Square One' EP (Digital & Ltd. 12" edition) is out now, grab your copy here.