Solipsism: Infidel Interview #54
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?
Sure, my name is Craig Murphy (I’m a solo artist), I’m 42 years old and I live in Glasgow, Scotland which is in the United Kingdom. I play guitar and keyboards/synthesizers, though if I had to choose one it would be the synthesizers. I’m not a natural guitarist and really only play my own music on it, if someone asked me to play a song by anyone else, I’m not sure I’d be able to and I definitely wouldn’t want to; I’ve never seen the point in playing other people’s music.
Solipsism is a deep spiritual concept relating to the belief structure where only the self can be validated as to be in existence. Would you consider yourself a solipsistic? Or is philosophy something that merely interests you? If not solipsistic, what philosophy(ies) do you find resonate with you the most?
I tend to disagree about your definition of solipsism. Many people have this belief that it is a selfish philosophy where one is only concerned by the self due to the erroneous interpretation of solipsism where people believe that they can only be sure that they, themselves alone can truly exist. However, solipsism as a theory emerged during the renaissance and the birth of objective, measurable science.
Solipsism was an abstract way of teaching people to believe what they see with their own eyes and reach their own conclusions regarding various issues rather than relying on the church or state to dictate their beliefs for them.It was a thought experiment that encouraged people to challenge the religious orthodoxy of the day and believe in science, particularly the emerging physical sciences where phenomena could be repeated in different laboratories under the same conditions and achieve the same results.
So solipsism was and is about believing in your own mind, rather than believing your mind is the only mind. It’s a philosophy that challenges you to stand by your own actions, convictions and judgements and essentially be yourself. I chose the name Solipsism because A) I like the theory and B) I like to make my own music in my own way regardless of what the current trends are. Is electronic music where you started making music? Or did you have previous musical background or experience before hand? If so does/did your previous musical experience affect your electronic compositions?
Yes, I started off making electronic music and have pretty much continued in that vein throughout the years apart from when I was working with the band Shoosh which was a sort of psychedelic folk band, I played synths in the band, so I was still pretty much working in electronic music I guess. I come from a production background primarily and learned how to play instruments later, I did it a bit back to front compared to a lot of people, but it gave me a solid grounding in production techniques and mastering techniques and this allowed me to create my own music from start to finish with a professional sound, which many musicians aren’t able or willing to do. A lot of musicians can’t be bothered with the technical side of it, I’m the opposite, I absolutely love spending time working with sounds, tweaking them beyond recognition and mashing them up. I just love working with sound, it’s a very enjoyable and responsive experience that I also find has therapeutic values I can’t precisely describe. It makes me feel happy I suppose, though that’s a very mundane and broad definition, but it’s the truth also.
What would you say would be you short term, and long term, goals for the band? Obviously you have many, but outline or describe some of the one's most important or crucial to you right now as a band?
The short term and long term goals for Solipsism is just to keep making music. I’m only interested in creating music, the commercial side is secondary to me, so I don’t fret about the longevity of the project, nor do I worry about what people think of it. I make the music for myself first and foremost. Anything else is a bonus.
What sort of processes do you go through when making music? Do you have a formula(s) that you follow, or do you feel it out as you go along? Or is it more of a mixture of the two?
I don’t knowingly have a formula for making music, but I’m sure I’ve hard wired some patterns and techniques into my brain over the years that will no doubt materialise in my work. I do try to have a particular sound in a lot of my work, though whether this comes from technique or something more spiritual I don’t know and I don’t really question it. It is what it is. It is probably a mixture of both formula and inspiration. Something must first inspire you before you can use the techniques or formulas to create the music, the technique alone won’t produce music with true meaning. So there has to be something deeper that inspires you, some people have muses but all of my music is a result of my own experiences at various points in my life. It might mean something different to the listener, but each track and album I work on, stems from my own experiences and regardless of how abstract those experiences may be, they are deeply meaningful to me. So my music is primarily made for myself and if people like it, that’s a bonus but I would make it regardless in any case. Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music? If so, is there a reason in particular that draws you to said creative outlet?
There are many processes, programs and effects that are vital to my work, but trying to explain their relevance in written form is a difficult thing to do. Each person has to find their own way of working, so me saying I do X,Y and Z is not going to be of any relevance to another artist. As my favourite artist Frank Zappa famously said. “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture”. That quote always makes me smile, especially if I get a bad review :) What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any bands that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?
I really hate mentioning other bands that have inspired me because the truth is, I can’t really think of anyone that inspired me specifically musically. There are obviously a lot of musicians whose music I love and admire, but to be honest, I would say that my own experiences were my biggest inspiration. I get inspired by philosophical theories, rolling landscapes, bad weather, traffic jams, things that people have said and done, but there’s never been a musical artist that’s jumped out at me and made me think right, I must become a musician. It was an organic process that developed over many years and many experiences, both good and bad.When it comes to non-musical media, what do you find yourself most inspired by, and what about it draws you to it as a source of inspiration? Do you participate in the gaming world? Avid reader perhaps? Maybe cinema fan? Combination of some lol?
I’m a huge fan of most forms of genuinely creative media. Be that film, books or works of pictorial art. I’m also not averse to more commercial art, but in general, I prefer art that makes me think deeply and question how and why it was created. The appeal of commercial art most likely stems from conditioning as a human being in a highly functional but perfunctory society where the ordinary, rather than the extraordinary is considered normal and acceptable. People probably aren’t even aware how the structure of a mundane society affects them, but it does in many ways and one of the most subtle ways is the normalisation and acceptance of commercial culture. It affects everyone, regardless of how much they try to repress it. So I can enjoy different forms of art on different levels. The art that has the deeper meaning is the art that sticks in your mind though and if you’ve only been exposed to commercial art, then I believe you are truly missing out on a deeper experience as a human being. 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?
Very much so. Music changed my whole life dramatically. It was the single most important thing I’ve ever done for my own well being. It expands your mind, it expands your knowledge and it expands your ability to perceive how others think and feel. I genuinely believe that being involved in the arts makes you feel more human, less like a cog in the wheel of society and more of an individual with a genuine purpose. We’re not on this earth to work for other people, pay taxes and die. We each have a unique gift to create something from nothing, every person has that gift and every person should use it because it will lift your spirit and give your life a purpose you might have never known it had.
Other than what you currently produce, what other sorts of genres, instruments, and sounds would you like to use in the future? Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity? If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them?
I’ve currently no intentions to wander into new genres or instrumentation, but that’s not say that I won’t, I never make plans. Today, I mostly make ambient music and techno music which are really at opposite ends of the electronic spectrum from each other, but I enjoy the change from time to time. In the past I worked on ambient IDM and also psychedelic folk music with the band Shoosh, but I never make a rational decision to work in a genre, it just develops. Like I said in an earlier reply, I prefer not to follow trends and just work on music that I like working on, anything beyond that is a bonus. Other projects that I’ve worked on are Shoosh, Solipsism & Nacht Plank and Ashtoreth’s Gate. The latter two projects are both ambient in nature also. The one artist more than any other that I would have loved to have worked with is Frank Zappa. He’s been such an inspiration to me though funnily enough, in a non-musical capacity. I’m a huge fan of his work ethic, his do it yourself attitude and his stubbornness in the face of adversity. He refused to bow to the pressure of commercialism by and large and still managed to carve a hugely successful career for himself. As a musician and band leader, I believe he was unparalleled in the 20th century and the sheer scope and range of his output is testament to this, he covered everything from country to jazz/fusion to avante-garde classical music - a musical pioneer no less. He was a hugely talented self-taught individual and I would never have made it into his band as only the best musicians of the day made it in, but in my dreams, that’s whose band I’d be in. He also did his own thing regardless of what people thought of him or his music and for that he must be admired in my opinion. In saying that, we’d probably have argued a lot as he was and I am a difficult person to get along with at times. I don’t suffer fools gladly and have no time for small talk or gossip. I’d rather be alone with my own thoughts than in the company of people I have little in common with.
In an industry that is driven by sales, and consumerism, what are your thoughts on digital downloads (legal and illegal)? Do you feel that streaming and digital download stores aid the accessibility of music? How bout music piracy? It obviously hurts sales in some regards, but it also boosts the access and distribution of the release which could lead to potential fans who do come to shows, buy physical copies of music, and get merchandise? Do you feel there would be enough turn around in that sort of system or are you firmly against file sharing?
The main thing for artists is to remain creative and true to themselves. The minute you begin to create art for other people, is the minute you begin to stop being yourself and begin being the person that you think other people want you to be. You have to remember though that you are only perceiving this to be true and it may not be the truth in reality so you are risking your individuality to coalesce into a smorgasbord of various guises in the hope of pleasing other people. Some, many in fact are willing to retire their individuality to be a piece of the cake, but in the end when you’re part of the cake, you get eaten up and shit out. It’s better to remain true to yourself as when it all comes down to it, you are the only person you have to answer to and if you want to sleep at night, you have to remain true to your feelings. Regarding digital downloads and digital streaming services, I’m actually a fan of them as it has helped democratize music and open it up to people from various backgrounds who may not have had the chance to participate professionally in the past due to the hefty costs involved in physical formats. Physical formats are also bad for the environment, for example CDs take one million years plus to bio-degrade. So as artists and as human beings residing on a planet with finite resources and a rapidly depleting ecosystem, we must consider other alternatives for distributing music and artwork in general to the public. People often look to artists for inspiration and if there is one thing the planet needs more than anything else right now, it is for humans to look after it properly, treat it as the gift it is and do not abuse it. If we as artists can inspire people to be more environmentally conscious via our own actions, then this must be considered the greater good. Capitalism is an outdated economic model that relies on artificial scarcity to sustain itself. It is a system that helps the few and harms the many and although I am not averse to selling music, there are other ways we must think of how we do it. I have a very large collection of CDs that I never play now, I’m a huge fan of Spotify and I’ve found so much new music through it that I would have never found via traditional record shops. In saying this, I have no problem with other people releasing CDs, vinyl or cassette tapes, nor do I have a problem with other people buying them as that is their individual choices. I personally prefer to listen to digital music via spotify - premium users listen in 16 bit, 44.1KHZ wav format, that’s CD quality. So the old arguments about MP3s being rubbish are no longer relevant as there’s no longer any need to listen to digital music as MP3s, you can actually buy digital music in 24 bit, 96KHZ format now which is much better than CD quality. The old excuses for physical formats are wearing thinner by the year. I’ve never been a vinyl fetishist, I think it’s a poor format for recreating sound exactly how it’s meant to be, the sound quality gets worse each time you play it and like CDs it takes whole epochs of time to bio-degrade. Each to their own though, it’s not my business what people do with their money and I’m not concerned either. My only concern is my own actions and their implications, as when it all boils down to it, it’s me I have to answer to each night when I go to sleep. Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
If you can’t afford to buy my music, you can listen for free at https://solipsism.bandcamp.com
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