First of, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about both of you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, what instruments you can play, and where you live would be pretty standard?
Thank you for considering me for the interview. Always grateful , but both of us ? I’m reminded of the time I heard someone say of Aphex twin “Yeah they’re great”. I feel a little bit special now =)
There is only one of me. One is enough. Carbinax ( a.k.a.2ndMOUSE ) is just me, Chris M. I live in Northern Ireland now but I lived in the Isle of Man for 9 years as I went off on a merry jaunt of discovery and travel, intending to see the world, and never got more than 200 miles from where I live. I’m something something years old, married, have a Yorkshire Terror ( sic ) pup who is right now guarding us from a leaf that dared to blow past the front door. My life is a multimedia frenzy, and I love Marvel.
When you first started making music, was there a particular sound or artistic/musical influence that you would say was your biggest inspiration to start pursuing the creative path yourself? Are there any bands that you would say are your "core" or "prime" inspirations when making music? Are there any new bands, or styles of music, that you are currently exploring that may possibly be evolving your sound?
It germinated over a long period of time, like a seed in the ground.
The very first spark happened when I was about 10. I had saved up for my first pocket radio, and I lay under my bed covers fascinated with the radio interference and weird squeals of the long-wave signal fading in and out, and there was one station in particular that I listened to, called Radio Luxembourg. I believe it was a pirate radio station, broadcast from a boat somewhere.
One night they played “The Model” by Kraftwerk, and it was almost as if I didn’t have ears until that moment. I was captivated by that sound of synthesizers. That track birthed something, and I had no idea of this at the time, but can see retrospectively, that it was some kind of an epiphany. The seed was planted there and then.
Years later I heard Jarres’ “Oxygene” which made that seed grow a little more.
Again, a few years after that, I started getting into Depeche Mode and had practically everything they made on vinyl. They added another piece of the jigsaw by teaching me how to layer sounds and textures, and I banked all of this somewhere in my mind. A few years later, I got into Acid House, but it wasn’t until I heard a track called “Techno Music” by Juan Atkins that I knew I wanted to create music. As for other bands being core or prime inspirations, I listen to a wide variety of music, and actually don’t listen to a lot of electronic music besides a few that I would consider exceptional, like Boards of Canada, Plaid, Future Sound of London, Funckarma, but I listen to a lot of other stuff like Soundgarden, Warpaint, a lot of Bowie at the minute, and I guess those things bleed into what I do, and I pick up on other ways of doing things through some kinda osmosis.
I’ve been experimenting with worn-out analogue sound lately, and a few of the tracks on the most recent album “Snowglobe Citizen”such as “Perpetual Snow” , “Laniakean”, and “idiome” sound in the same kinda ilk as Boards of Canada due to the textures and soundbites I used. I love what they do, and as they themselves said, Music has the rights to children, so I don’t think they would be too disappointed if my experiments led me into similar territory. Snowglobe Citizen can be found here https://2ndmouse.bandcamp.com/album/snowglobe-citizen
When it comes to making music do you find that your environment plays a big role into atmospheres and sonic direction of your music? Or are you a person more inspired by the internal thoughtscapes provided by the mind?
I’m inspired by sound and its infinite combinations. I’m not one of those artists that has to wait for their “muse” before they can write anything. For me, every sound has a kinda DNA and I can hear the whole track within that sound before the track has ever started. I dont need to sit around waiting on a thunderbolt before I can create, and in almost 20 years, I’ve never once had writers block, because I have an infinite supply of sound.
What would you say are your favorite themes and topics to write about? What draws you to those themes?
I find I’m compelled by bubblewrap.
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically? What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career? For sure, it has changed me. I always had some need to create. Before I started making music, I drew, and was actually selling pencil portraits , but I wasn’t creating.........only copying, and I needed something to engage my imagination. Music gave me a way to tap into my imagination, and make that internal dialogue real and tangible. The happiness I feel when I create something that has never existed before, is beyond words.
The biggest challenges I’ve facedare my own self-imposed limitations. I compete only with myself. Another challenge is other peoples apathy and indifference to music, just because of the sheer amount of it online.
I remember someone talking about printing money to boost the economy, and it dawned on me that the more there is of something in circulation, the less value it has.
For me, music is my life. I forget to eat, drink, sleep when i’m in the zone, and it becomes increasingly more difficult to stand out when the net is filled to the point of over-saturation with tracks that were made on a mobile phone app at the bus stop in 10 minutes, not to mention the sheer amount of soul-less “noise” we are encouraged to click on. People got bored with all that, and are reluctant to click anything. This makes my task even more difficult as promotion isn’t something I excel at.
Do you ever find it difficult to balance the creative and technical aspects of musical creation? How do you strike the balance for the need to craft and tweak your effects and sounds, in contrast to actually just getting the song itself created with structure and melody? What sort of element of creation do you prefer, the sonic shaping or the song creation?
I’ve got no problem balancing the two. I think they are intrinsically inter-connected. Because i’m inspired by sound, the tracks are usually born out of experimentation with various effects, and one informs the other. I love making melodies, because I know people didn’t listen to the beatles for their state-of-the-art sound, especially by todays standards, and yet, they STILL outsell everything else. Melody is the one thing a lot of modern electronic producers forget, but its something I really focus on. People aren’t gonna play a track on repeat because you turned a bitmap into a drone and got the dithering right. They will repeat play only because the melody was soooo good they just had to hear it again.
There has to be a balance. If a track is all about production, but there’s no melody, it’s pretty pointless. Likewise, if a track has a good melody but the production is terrible, its a big ask to get someone to listen to it more than once.
Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music?
I’m really into Native Instruments, and buying Komplete 10 was the best decision I ever made, and the sound quality of things like Reaktor, Rounds, Monark etc... is superb. I’m a big fan of their Molekular too.
I use NI Maschine for most of my beats these days, or Battery, but I have hundreds of VST synths from Big devs, and little lesser known devs, and they all have tonal strengths and weaknesses, so it all depends on the track. Some synths excel at bass, some excel at pads. One particular synth I have a lot of love for is called Phutura by a little known company called Phuturetone, and for deep reese-style basses, its amazing. I’m also a big fan of Cableguys Curve, and some other more esoteric things by Sugar Bytes.
When it comes to creating sounds, what's your attitude on presets and samples? Are you someone who creates all of your own sounds from scratch? Or, with so many sonic possibilities available from preset and sample backs, do you find a way to balance their inspiration into your creativity?
I tweak everything to suit. I don’t create presets from scratch, but if I need a particular lead sound, I’ll flick through presets until I find something that’s close, then I’ll adjust it until its my own and sounds more embedded in the track. Its very difficult to create a sound that hasn’t been made already, so i’m open to using presets as long as it’s not a sound that’s immediately identifiable, or its been done to death countless times already.
Other then the genres that you are most typically known for working with, and being inspired by, are there possibly guilty pleasure bands or genres drastically different your usual repertoire that find themselves working their way into your inspiration? Well, the kinda electronica I make typically has a wide eclectic sound, and I won’t put myself into this or that pigeonhole as I find that limiting to imagination. I have 2 guitars, and I can’t play a note on either of them, but my aim is to learn slide / bottleneck guitar, and include that in my music I’m open to electronica fused with that haunting desert guitar sound, and the sounds of walking through the nevada desert, with the sun beating down....vultures circling, and coming across an abandoned ghost-town, with tumbleweeds blowing down the dusty streets, and the twang of haunting slide guitar, with a menacing mashed up lo-fi beat. I’ve dabbled in this before, but using guitar samples. It would be more gratifying to know I’d played the guitars myself though.
What sort of influences outside of your primary artistic expression help move or guide your artistic expression? I've often heard from musicians that their mundane jobs or family lives often provide a unexpected platform for inspiration.
I find sunshine affects my music a lot. I’ve recently been to Malta and Corfu, and the sunshine definitely lifts the spirit.
Here in Northern Ireland, the weather would be described in levels of “grey”, so on the odd occasion when we get some blue sky, I find myself making much happier sounding music, and on occasion, have made some electronic reggae
Is collaboration something that is actively important to you? Do you have any individuals you are particularly successful, or unsuccessful, in collaboration with? Has there been any collaborative based songs that you would say stand out to you? I’ve never done a collab. It’s not that I’m against it. It’s just never arisen in conversation. I’ll do remixes, and I’ve been remixed by others, but I prefer being a solo artist
What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?
I’ve always wanted to make music for a film, or a documentary. I’d love that to happen, and I’ve had a few people approach me about it, but it never amounted to anything but hot air. Maybe at some point, someone serious will get in touch
My focus is just on improving the overall sound, and the production sound, to make it sound evermore professional
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience? Truth, Fidelity, Bubblewrap.