quiddity: Infidel Interview #79

First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?

There’s two chaps in quiddity. Dan Doughty and Graham Thorpe (kosmischeboy and gribbles, respectively if anyone feels like looking them up elsewhere). We’re both originally from a market town in Lincolnshire, England called Gainsborough, but now are split between Lincoln and Halifax. Being born on the 29th of Feb on a Leap year, technically Dan has had 11 birthdays and Graham has just turned 50. But we don’t talk about that. We have been making music together and apart since the late 80s. Starting off in indie tinged guitar groups, through dalliances with other bands we started making electronic music as Aztechnology in the mid 90s. This period produced live improv gigs and a demo, but life conspired to get in the way and the project had to be put on hold. Somehow we have ended up two 40/50 somethings dreaming of being 20 somethings, but a steady trickle of music created hundreds of miles apart has started to flow stronger and, older and wiser, we’ve decided to ignore life and get on with what we enjoy.

Do you consider yourself to be part of a particular sound or scene? What is your thoughts on the nature of genres and styles, and do you have any particular ones which you find to your enjoyment more, listening and/or production-wise?

I guess you could slot us firmly into electronica. Whatever that means, as it’s a pretty broad church. But we’ve done a range of stuff. From early thumpers on the Broadening album, through pop influenced tunes, cinematic sweeping pieces - and the latest few EPS have a more chilled, possible even ambient feel to them. Chuck in a couple of covers with a political tinge to them, and I guess we’re covering a few bases.

[g] I don’t dislike the idea of genres or styles - they’re a handy shorthand to help guide the listener. I think I start to get itchy when they are used to segregate. For example, “I don’t like the genre xyz, so therefore I won’t like the band abc because they’ve been described as xyz’. But I think that’s an age thing. One thing I’ve learned in nothing is black and white. Personally, my taste is all over the place. It’s a cliche, but I like what I like. :) So I don’t think there’s one genre that I gravitate towards.

[kb] I think one of the primary motivations for quiddity at the beginning of the project was that “it is what is is”, we didn't want to limit the style of music we could make by choosing to position ourselves in a specific genre. So it's been an organic project right from the start, we play with sounds and see what happens basically, sometimes we are surprised by the results ourselves! From my personal point of view I've always hated the idea of genres, and pigeonholing, I consider myself to be open to all kinds of music and have a pretty eclectic music collection, which I guess informs the music I make in many ways. I like the idea of soaking up influences from many different areas (not just music incidentally) and synthesising that into something new, and again i think that is a primary driving force for the work we do together.

In terms of genre I'd probably say that discovering Krautrock had the biggest influence on me, this was as a result of one of my big influences in life and music, Julian Cope, waxing lyrical about bands like Faust and Neu! in interviews. This happened in conjunction with immersing myself in the growing electronica scene (Warp records, Rising High, Ninja Tune etc.) in the UK in the early 90s. While in theory both genres were poles apart, they both played with exploring sound and musical frontiers, and at that time there really were no boundaries of what you could do with sound, especially with the advent of cheap MIDI kit and computers. This is what inspired my first electronic experiments which led on to working with G on the aztechnology project a little later.

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?

[g] That’s an interesting question, because I can’t really remember a ‘life before music’. I can remember a life before creating music - but even then, going back to my early childhood I can still remember certain records that would come on the radio moving me in different ways. I understood quite early on that music can do things to people. Those records still grab me today - though I’ll accept they’re a level of nostalgia and Proustian rush overlaid on them as well now. So in the way that music can move you both intellectually and emotionally in a very real and perceivable way, I have no problem attaching the label spiritual to it. Both Dan and me have been quite involved in the church in the past, and there’s no way that that didn’t have some effect on us. For me, it did give me another filter to parse things through - and again define what helps place us in the world. And being creative is a large part of that - though that isn’t necessarily just about ‘traditional’ arts - creativity can flourish in many other ways.

[kb] Unsurprisingly, it's very similar for me, as G says we grew up together and our musical journey was shaped in unison, often swapping new tunes with each other and our close circle of equally music obsessed friends. As a child my exposure to music was quite minimal, although my mum is a classical music fan and an excellent pianist so that definitely rubbed off on me. I can always remember having a piano in the house and ‘playing’ on it from a very young age. As G mentioned we came together through a church background and I guess this has subconsciously shaped our appreciation of music as a spiritual thing. Certainly as I became a late teenager and drifted away from the church I discovered the spiritual power of music in paganism and shamanism, which shaped that part of my life and inspired some of the music I made later. Music is a powerful tool that can fire people's imaginations and I guess in turn their spirituality. It's also inherently connected to memory, which I find very fascinating.

[g] In terms of challenges. I think one thing is the usual stuff that generally gets in the way of any creative (or spiritual) endeavour - daily life. I’ve often found it hard to carve out time to do music. And then when I do, the muse doesn’t work to a timetable!