‘IDM has become a by-word to the experimental scene in the last 20 years. Native to ‘Aphex Twin’ country, Cornwall, UK. Being armed with Renoise and youth, Awentekr could teach a lot of us about what it means to be intelligent and musically gifted. #WEATNU DM was pleased to have a interview with him.’
How are you this evening?
Awentekr: I’m good thank you, busy but good… Yourself?
I’m well, thank you. We’ve been hearing your music for some time on #WEATNU OUR. Could you tell us a little about it?
Awentekr: First of all, thank you for playing my music on WEATNU, all support is appreciated and I firmly stand behind what WEATNU is about. I’d say my music is predominately what people would call IDM but I like to add a bit of ambience and space to it. I also try to mix complex drum patterns with more ambient synth sounds. Of course, I make other music as well but I’d say that’s probably the backbone of most of the material that is released so far and is being released in the near future.
You’re very welcome, glad to have you with us. Since you write IDM/Ambient influenced music, who are your influences? I’m sure I can name one, but I’d rather hear you say it.
Awentekr: I’m influenced by a lot of musicians and producers. I got into electronic music through Kraftwerk and still consider them one of my biggest influences, Nigel Godrich is a big one, John Frusciante is another favourite of mine, both his electronic music and his previous solo work. Artists like Aphex Twin, Autechre & Venetian Snares too. I’m sure there is more I could name but I’d be here all day.
I was going to say, Aphex Twin, but that’s assuming isn’t it? If anything I hear more a touch of Autechre and even some BoC, either way, the quality is superior in design, the way you create these patterns.
Awentekr: Haha, AFX is most likely on 90% of electronic musician’s lists. I have to list him though, got to represent my fellow Cornishman.
He has become the name on most IDM artists lips these days hasn’t he? Mr. James. But let’s get back to you. Are you the analogue or digital type, or both?
Awentekr: At the moment I’m digital. I use Renoise pretty much exclusively. I’ve used Reason 5 in the past but it wasn’t flexible enough for what I wanted to do, I also used Logic Pro for some live band recording projects. However in the future I hope to add analog gear to my setup. I’d much prefer to be using real synths and machines but unfortunately money is an object right now.
Do you create the sequences with computer keyboard or midi controller through Renoise? Because I personally use it also.
Awentekr: It depends, sometimes I like to just program the numbers, chords and notes but being a musician who plays a few instruments I like to play some of the parts in by keyboard. It all depends on how the track feels to me, it goes on a song by song basis and if I can’t get it right by programming I’ll play it in and vice versa.
I have the headphones on now and listening to your new album, when is this one going to be released?
Awentekr: There’s no set date yet but it shouldn’t be too far into the future, I hope. There’s just a few things left to finalize…
You’ve mentioned that you play other instruments?
Awentekr: Yes, I’ve played drums for around 8 years so that’s where my love of programming drum patterns comes from. I also play guitar, bass and piano
Classically trained or have you had music theory?
Awentekr: I’ve had music theory through school and then a year of theory in college but it’s never something I’ve paid much attention to. I rarely ever showed up to my music theory class I learn most songs by ear whether its drums, guitar, piano or even programming. I think listening is an important skill for musicians and is often overlooked, training your ear by playing along to records and figuring out tones, melodies and chord changes by ear is very important and healthy for musicians. I hope more musicians decide to learn by listening in the future. This is not to say theory isn’t important, they are both equally important but I feel there should be a balance and for this reason, music theory is something I will work on in the future.
How do you usually begin a new song?
Awentekr: All it takes is just an idea in my head or something I’ve heard to set me off. I always start with a blank template and there’s not really a set process I go through. No instrument that I choose first, nothing, it’s completely different every single time.
Do you create the music with sampled instruments or mostly VST?
Awentekr: I like to use VST’s a lot and really get into them, again I rarely ever save these sounds or have a template as I try to make it slightly different every time. I’ve really been loving the SH 101 VST I have recently. I do use samples in my music but that’s mainly for percussion. I have used kalimba and bell samples in some of my music recently though so I’m gradually venturing into it. I’m thinking of working with vocal samples a lot more in the future, it’s something I’m going to look into.
Very cool, so you’ve been playing with Lush101? My favourite as well.
Awentekr: Hmm, it’s not that one. I can’t remember the specific VST or who it’s made by but it’s great. Hopefully someday I’ll be using a proper 101 and not a VST.
I’ve heard some remixes as well on your soundcloud.
Awentekr: Ahh yes, I enjoy giving my own interpretation of other peoples work. The first one I did was a remix of a song called ‘Bus Rides Make Me Sleepy’ by a musician called Lwpss. The second was a track I did using an acapella from UK Grime artist Jme’s track ‘If You Don’t Know’. I plan on doing a lot more remixes in my free time in between my own releases.
Great stuff, and I hear some Radiohead on the Bus Rides Make Me Sleepy RMX.
Awentekr: Yeah I used a vocal sample from Radiohead’s ‘Reckoner’ on the Lwpss remix, they made them available for people to download and remix some time ago.
I really dig the open delay on this one with Thom Yorke’s voice.
Awentekr: Thanks! I really like using a lot of effects in my music. It comes from my guitar playing. A lot of the guitarists I’m influenced by use a lot of effects. I really admire guitarists such as John Frusciante, Josh Klinghoffer, Michael Rother, Jonny Greenwood and Robert Smith. I’ve always rejected the notion that using a lot of effects makes someone a bad musician or a bad guitarist, there’s a lot of skill in using them especially knowing how to get good and interesting sounds out of them. It always has to be musical for me.
There are many timbres in using effects, allowing the rawness to come forth, I support them fully.
Awentekr: Exactly, I’ve never understood why musicians who use them are so heavily disregarded as being skilled musicians by a lot of people. It’s ridiculous!
If that were the case then Radiohead wouldn’t be massively popular after 20+ years.
Awentekr: Exactly, there are people out there like you who understand it but unfortunately not everyone does. Each to their own!
What got you started in Electronic music and for how long have you been creating?
Awentekr: I started making electronic music probably in 2012 just little bits in Reason 5 and Logic Pro but never anything serious. I got started after my dad showed me The Man-Machine album by Kraftwerk and I just thought it was one of the greatest things I’d ever heard. Around the same time John Frusciante put out his first solo electronic record PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone and I thought that it was brilliant. Instantly after hearing those I wanted to make electronic music. As I got more and more into electronic music I started to take it more seriously so in around October 2013 I started to record ambient music in Reason, a track from those sessions came out as ‘Kobv’ on my first ep ‘Rane EP‘. I gradually got into weirder electronic music like Venetian Snares, Autechere and AFX. I also really loved the Speed Dealer Moms EP because of how insane it sounded to me with its complex rhythms and sounds I’d never heard before. Around this time I started to put together the songs for Rane EP.
So, you were influenced by the greats later in life?
Awentekr: Yeah! I mean obviously Kraftwerk are THE greats but I didn’t get into AFX, Autechre and such until the past couple years.
Are you working on other projects at this time?
Awentekr: At the moment in time I currently have two EP’s on the shelf, the one mentioned earlier that should be coming out in the near future and a collection of ambient tracks from 2012 until now. I’ve also taken a slight interest into grime and hip hop music. Artists like Jme , Skepta and Black Knights are really interesting to me, particularly the producers behind their music such as Jme himself, Deeco and Trickfingers. I hope to make some grime and hip hop based music in the future however I’m not sure if that’ll ever happen or whether it will come out under ‘Awentekr’. I’m interested in getting into DJ’ing at some point, in various styles of music such as IDM , house, acid, ambient and techno. I’m also in the early stages of collaboration with a really talented singer and musician that I really like called Nadine Carina. I’d like to do more collaborations with singers in time, maybe a whole album or ep of my music with various artists or one artist singing. As for my own work and more electronic music, I’ve been doing some tracks recently but they don’t really fit with each other, so I’m not sure whether they’ll be together on anything. I have some older tracks on hard-drives that I need to go back through and sort, delete, release, work on accordingly. A lot of unfinished acid, ambient, house and techno experiments that I assume will see the light of day at some point.
Great to hear that! Are you going to work with some artists here at #WEATNU?
Awentekr: I would like to but as of right now I have absolutely no idea so I wouldn’t rule it out…
How is your music received in Cornwall?
Awentekr: To be honest with you, I’m not sure. I’d say 99% of people listening to my music are on the internet. Which isn’t a complaint of mine at all; in fact it’s interesting to know that. The Cornish music scene outside of folk and metal is pretty much dead. I’m surprised that there isn’t a bigger electronic scene considering Aphex Twin is from Cornwall. I hope to be part of a change in the future so that electronic music plays a bigger part of the music scene in Cornwall. I guess the true gauge of that will be once I actually release some music in Cornwall and perform it live. I’d also have to go about figuring out a live rig for myself, I don’t want to just stand behind my laptop and press play. Something interesting for me alongside performing my tracks live would be just improvising on synthesizers and instruments. Improvisation is important to me but I don’t know how it’ll be received, the same goes for my music that will be released. But in all honesty, as much as I want to change to music scene in Cornwall, it doesn’t bother me if my music isn’t well received here. If it makes just one person somewhere else in the world feel something, whether it be Manchester or Utrecht then that makes me happy and gives me a sense of satisfaction as an artist.
I was reading the same with Richard D. James, he too finds nothing in his own town… It would be most unusual if you two were to meet by complete chance. And finally how has #WEATNU helped you?
Awentekr: Well it’s a possibility! Someone I know saw him in a cafe down here the other day It has helped me gain the confidence to put my music out there, before finding out about WEATNU I didn’t really think there were many other people interested in this side of electronic music anymore. When in reality there are people who love it and want more people to get into it. It’s also brought me some extra plays and downloads which I appreciate a lot, as I said, if my music makes just one person feel something then I’m happy.
It’s always a plus to hear that! What your favourite thing to do?
Awentekr: Listen to music; nothing will ever beat that in my opinion. The feeling some records can give you is indescribable.
Thank you Awentekr for having an interview this evening with #WEATNU Digital Magazine.
Awentekr: Thank you for having me!
#WEATNU Digital Magazine – Interview by Almark