never knows – process part 315
One week, a Roland TR-808 and a table covered in guitar pedals.
Have you ever felt suffocated by limitless possibilities? I always do. I live in an uncomfortable tension between wanting to create something that I’ve never heard before and feeling overwhelmed by too many options. I privilege process over product and tend to treat making music like a living experiment where it’s all constantly in flux and evolving. Ironically, that limitlessness is a trap where I get stuck.
One day, I opened my studio door and was confronted by “what the fuck am I doing here?” before I’d even turned on the lights. I was determined to get unstuck and upend my too-much-process that inclines toward doubt, and gets bogged down with dark questions. I decided to make some rules that would commit me to quick labor.
I set out to get back to basics. I don’t necessarily know what to call the music I make, but with an 808, I would be digging at its folk roots.
So, I gave myself one week with the classic drum machine and a selection of stomp boxes to see what I could pull from these knobs, buttons and wires. I had no interest in creating something retro, but rather creating something out of techno’s rudiments.
I am interested in the 808 as an analog machine, one that creates sound from circuits rather than ones and zeros, but more importantly, I love its sound. The history and mystique of that sound! I wanted to participate in its history by using its very limited palette. The 808 doesn’t do much, but it does it really, really well.
To my ears, these pure, simple intentions with purist, simplistic strategies do create a sort-of techno roots music. They very obviously draw from techno’s origins, and create a depth and richness that I couldn’t have created with a laptop.
When in the studio, if I’m not learning something – about myself, sound synthesis, interface, language – I get really bored. If my studio doesn’t feel like a classroom, a therapist’s office or a laboratory, I cut the power and bike home. The questions I am always asking myself as an artist, “Who am I?” and “What am I making?” are never answered in some sort of auto-psychoanalysis. I’m not growing as an artist “by revealing mystic truths”.
But I try.
Never Knows can also be found out in the world as the wonderful Marc Kate, who does many things – including among them, running the very interesting, Why We Listen. Check it out.