Last week I stumbled across the music of Krowne. It is dark, percolating electronic mood and I fell immediately under its spell. This led me to contact the man behind the music and inquire whether I could ask him some questions. He said yes, so here’s our conversation via email:
Q: How long have you been making music and can you name some artists or
people that inspired/inspires you in your craft?
A: I’ve been a DJ first and foremost for about 12 years now. You get to the point of being a DJ and playing other artists records, that you decide it’s time to start making your own. So for 6 or more years I’ve been a producer. I’ve spent a while learning the ropes and defining who I am as a producer.
My influences range from a lot of things, first being my dad and my older brother, who in their own ways have been a driving force in my life. Artists that inspire me are folk like, Curtis Mayfield, EL P, Mr. Lif, Richie Hawtin AKA Plastic Man, Kelpe, Aphex Twin, Jel, Flying Lotus, MF Doom, Edan, PreFuse 73, Boards Of Canada, Jeff Mills, Dave Angel, and my producer friends that surround me daily like, Asthmatic Astronaut, Strut, Scuffy Q, Lucky G, The Oxygen Junkies, Kid09, Jimmy The Hideous Penguin and The Apprentice. The list is endless!
Q: The first time I was in Edinburgh during the early part of the previous decade, despite having a visitor’s eyes, I had a distinct impression that there was a small scene of artists who seemed to be bubbling around beneath the larger aura of the city’s night life. There were the bars and clubs around Cowgate, the touristy areas and then the super night clubs such as the MC Escher-esque Espionage, but once we got all of that out of the way and hooked up with some knowing people there were smaller, darker bars and lounges that seemed to form a rough outline of a ‘scene’ of electronic music. Artists who spun and played in a more deliberate way, not just to get a floor to move or drinks to flow. Are my interpretations of the city wrong? Or is there a scene that has grown from this? Who are your contemporaries or friends and collaborators within the scene, or do you have to trek elsewhere to find like-minded folks?
A:You’ve pretty much explained the scene in Edinburgh. Like you said, you have to go to the deep underground in this city to find the real folk that are making the best electronic music. At one time there was great clubs like “The Venue”, where you were guaranteed a night to remember, but that’s changed now. The small venues scattered through out the city is where the real music is going down. I always see unexpected live performances by people like “The Bays” & “Themselves”, who might I add blew my mind away with how amazing they are! Above I mentioned some of my friends that are making things happen in this city as well as guys like Chemical Poets, Texture (BlackLanternMusic) and Sileni (BlackLanternMusic).
Q: Speaking of Edinburgh, does the city itself influence you? The modern/ancient feeling that pervades it, from ancient streets and buildings to historic attractions to the clubs that might have lasers and dance floors surrounded by mirrors in one room and walls hewn into the earth complete with mock-torch lighting in the other? Your music is electronic but has an human, slightly orchestral touch to it. Does this come from living and working within a city with such visual ties to history? Or does the city affect you in different ways? If so, tell us about it.
A: Edinburgh is most definitely a big inspiration to me. I’ve lived here for about 5-6 years now with my lovely fiancee. Visual surroundings impact your life whether you realize it or not. Although I can’t pretend that thought occurs daily, but I write more meaningful music in this city than I have any where else. The mixture of new and old is exactly what, in my eyes, my music is about. To me its hard to think that any idea is a new idea, so I just use what I like, whether its old or not! Also this city is full of interesting and talented people, and I just love being a part of it.
Q: Speaking of cities, there are echoes of other cultures on some of the tracks. Any other places on this island Earth where you spend/have spent some time that influenced you? (i.e. ‘Flipping Over’ has an Eastern flavor to it).
A: Well I’m Irish and I spent the first 18 years of my life there, which of course I love! My home means a lot to me and has shaped who I am today. I listen to a wide variety of music and its mainly from this that the inspiration comes from. I look for particular sounds that stand out to me, and I think that translates in my music. The Flipping over track is interesting to me cause its the only track I’ve written in that style. Watching Japanese Movies and hearing the soundtracks to them as well as listening to early Wu Tang tracks made me come up with the track Flipping Over.
Q: Walk us through the way you work. Does each track start differently, i.e. do you always start with crafting beats until you have something that inspires you to put sounds on top of/around it? Any programs that are integral? Or are the noises and tones generally the inspiration? Do you play other, more traditional instruments and do these factor into your creative process as Krowne? Or are all the tracks different? Any particular time of day or night where you feel the most creative/productive?
A: When I sit down to write a track, it usually starts with drums or sometimes with a synth line. To begin with I build up a loop made up with beats, synths and bass. I do this until the loop starts sounding like it has the makings of a track. This isn’t always the case, I’ve got folders of stuff that’s never made it past the loop process. Usually I already have a rough concept of what the track is going to be and building the loop helps develop this, by having a wee jam with the sounds to see what possibilities they hold. Once I have got the sounds the way I want them, I start building the track. When I’m building anything can change and generally I start adding new ideas and sounds in as the track develops. A hard part of producing is not to use the same structures all the time, which can happen without you realizing. I like different changes in my music, which hopefully adds more depth to my tracks.
I use FL Studios, Ableton Live and my Novation Synthesizer to build my tracks. Unfortunately I’m not traditionally trained on an instrument, but I’m slowly picking up playing keys over the years. I know enough to know if shit ain’t in key!!!
I find that 1am is my perfect time for writing beats. I like the quiet solitude late at night and my whole life my brain has been a million times more active at night, so suits me. Although its not the only time I work as this is not always convenient. Not enough night owls out there!
Q: What are you currently listening to? Reading? Watching? How much do other mediums influence/affect your work?
A: Well I’m listening to a lot of Hip Hop from a lot of different style producers at the minute. Getting back into more Techno at the minute too, I had pushed it to the side to get the EP finished. I’m originally a techno DJ and producer, but my love for funk and Hip Hop has taken over a bit, but you can hear the techno influence in my music I think. Also listening to a lot of Electronica!
I’m reading Michio Kaku’s book called “Physics of the Impossible” at the minute. In short it talks about technology created in science fiction movies and how possible they are to create (if even) in reality or in a future reality. Very interesting read if your into time travel, teleporting or even UFOs.
I mainly watch science documentaries about time and space, physics, conspiracies and everything that comes in between. My favorite shows on TV, now and in the past or Soprano’s, Southpark, Simpsons, QI (English show), and the new Sherlock Holmes series. That’s all I can remember, I’m sure there’s more! Big into my movies, too.
The main thing out of all these that inspires my work has to be learning about space and time because that’s how music works in my mind.
Q: Your work seems to have a cinematic element to it. Have you ever scored any visual art (film/ installations)? Aspirations to?
A: You’re not the first person to say that to me, it’s not always intentional but I watch a lot of movies, sometimes several times, especially if the soundtrack is amazing. It’s something I would love to do and in a very small way I’ve tried out. My brother is a visual artist and I’ve made short soundtracks to short clips he’s sent me. I’ve made a few videos made up of old video clips for the band I’m part of called the “Vibration Terrorists”, which are on my Youtube channel (krowne09). But I’m no expert and they are just for fun. Vibration Terrorists are what I would call an electronic soundscape, which has the movie soundtrack quality, I take a lot of influence from the sounds we create together. Check us out at www.soundcloud.com/vibration-terrorists. All our tracks are jammed live on the spot and are fully improvised, oh and free to download.
Q: Music in the digital age, especially explicitly electronic music, tends to run along Synesthetic lines, i.e. tones and beats can be arranged and processed in ways that evoke visual perception inside the brain. Your music especially, along with other electronic artists such as Flying Lotus, Aphex Twin and Fuck Buttons, seems to really play with this idea, that a track is not just a sonic experience but a senses-wide banquet for the listener’s mind. Is pursuit of this senses-spanning effect something you actively seek when you craft a track or album? If so, where or who first exposed you to this idea of music as a visual or cross-sense experience, or how did you find it?
A: Yeah it’s the best possible result to get from writing a track, EP, or album. For this EP (Orders From Mars) I had a concept in my mind which involved space/time, bullshit conspiracies floating about the net and also about people opening their minds to think for themselves and not to be sheep! The best way to put any message across is in a visual medium, so if you can create that picture from sounds then you’re having the same affect on a person’s thinking. This was first shown to me by Aphex Twin’s music, the bouncy-ball track in the Come to Daddy album is the perfect example of this.
There seems to be a theme of ‘free-thought’ and ‘liberation’ from modern ignorances on ‘Orders From Mars’, especially Planet Take over and Dooms Day Hoax, both which appear to address manipulation of the minds of the masses by elements such as television and the media.
Q: To me, a like-minded individual, this implies you are on your own quest for ‘the truth?’ What are we missing? What sites, artists or organizations should untrusting and free-thinking individuals be looking to in an era where the internet has streamlined mass control? What scares you the most about ‘the hoax?’
A: Well, I watch a lot of things with people expressing their opinion on what they know or what they think they might know. So in a way I am on a quest and have been for a few years, for what exactly I’m still not sure. I definitely think that the world is more fucked up and twisted than a lot of people think, and I also think that the people in charge rarely have our interests in mind, more like the interest they are making on their investments. If you type in 2012 into the internet you could be easily sucked into the hype that the world is going to end, these same people that get sucked in seem to forget that the world was meant to end 10 years ago by the millennium bug and whatever came before that. This is what I mean about people being sheep.
Unfortunately there is no one source for finding like minded people online, you kind of have to watch everything and make your own judgment. Although everyone should watch Zeitgeist (1 & 2). I don’t follow everything in this documentary but a lot of it makes too much sense and I suppose that’s what probably freaks me out the most.
The hoax doesn’t scare me ’cause I think its bullshit really, if people believe it, it’s their burden!
Q: What is next for Krowne?
A: The next step for me is a new EP that I’m working on called “Quantum Living.” I’m hoping to have it out for Oct or Nov time. Other than that I’m just promoting this EP Orders From Mars and playing any gigs that come my way.
That’s that. Great insight into Krowne’s awesome music. The EP ‘Orders From Mars’ is available is out on BlackLanternMusic now, so go listen, download and donate to support a great underground artist. Special Thanks to Krowne and Black Lantern Music. Now here are the links; follow and enjoy!!!