Dan Fisher AKA Aerospherix has played Emotion Wave twice for us now, never failing to impress myself and the electronic veterans in the audience. I always ask him stupid questions about his live setup, which he patiently explains — then I instantly forget everything he’s told me. I asked him to write his answers down this time, which he he obligingly did — right in the middle of his end-of-year music degree assessments. Thanks Dan.
Do you have a particular sound in mind or is it more spontaneous than that?
I would say it’s more of an aesthetic of the music than the sound as a whole. When writing I attempt to create a sort of sonical journey rather than attempt to create one particular genre or sound. Overall though the sound I’d say I’ve created so far leans in the direction of cinematic electronica, having the drive of techno with the atmospherics of ambient and groove of House, well that’s my verdict and hope anyway.
What sort of live setup are you using at the minute?
I’m currently using Ableton as the centre of my live setup controlling both audio and lighting.
On the audio side of things, I’m using Ableton’s Clip Loop capabilities to trigger the audio and set the foundation of the sound which I then manipulate through a whole bundle of live effects. On stage I typically have my Bass Station II and Kaoss Pad (KP3+) to interact with these effects. My Bass Station becomes a Midi Controller with every parameter mapped to various effects/racks inside of Ableton. Post-Ableton we have the Kaoss Pad which I primarily use for looping and other interesting effects due to the interactive XY pad. These effects range from the simplest of filtering and Reverbs to more weird effects such as vocoding, reverse delays, granular processing and my favourite, FX combined looping.
This picture will help give you and insight into what my hands are doing during a show (excuse the messy handwriting).
For the lighting side of my live setup I have a Max for Live patch that I have created to control my lighting rig inside of Ableton. The reason I created this in the first place was for synced light shows that become clip-based inside of Ableton to allow for the non-linear performance capabilities of working with loops/sections of my tracks.
Take us through your creative process, in excruciating detail please.
The creative process nine times out of 10 begins at practical/hands-on level being at a synth, piano, drum machine or even with the search for found sound. Once I’ve got a certain phrase or initial idea that I can picture the development of, I’ll then head to my computer to begin the full composition of it.
Once this initial idea is in place I will begin building the atmosphere of the piece that I want to portray, which typically is how I’m feeling at that point. At this stage I will be going deep into the sound design world rather than composition point of view. Here I’ll attempt to build an interesting texture that fits with the initial phrase and expresses a specific feeling and direction I want the listener to experience.
A big part of my creative process is limiting certain areas, whether this being limiting myself to a select few music notes (e.g. 3) or a certain synth or software. This not only helps with my creativity but it also seems to help with my focus. Rather than having so many things to choose from and so many decisions to make. This being one of the many things I’ve picked up from following a lot of Brian Eno interviews/works.
What are you working on now?
Without giving too much away the main direction currently is towards an album/live show experience for early 2018, with a pretty unique live production setup, taking full use surround sound and visuals/lights to put on a pretty bonkers sensory experience to add a whole new dimension to the music.
I’m also currently working on a piece of music for an upcoming indie horror film taking inspiration from the likes of John Carpenter and Stranger Things, very very synthy!
On the Max/coding front I’m currently working on a few things, first off is the further development of my Ableton/Max4Live Light Controller which I demoed for the first time at Threshold Festival on the Emotion Wave stage, pretty reassuring to find it didn’t die on me during my set haha!
I’m also working on something called ‘Algode’. This is an experimental music generative patch that uses an algorithm I’ve designed to turn Morse code messages into a musical composition. These compositions can then be reversed inside the engine to retrieve the hidden message, yes, illuminati confirmed. So, in the future if you hear any crazy short musical phrases chances are it has a hidden meaning.
Any production tips?
Avoid distractions, be open to new things, use Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies if you’re stuck in any creative situations, and probably the biggest of all is listen to every form of music, don’t just listen to the style you want to make.
However, I think my main tip is something I picked up from one of my uni lecturers, simply put: ‘embrace your weirdness’. It’s something I think a lot of people fear, especially in the music industry with a lot just wanting to please ears/fans, embracing your weirdness and putting it into your music not only makes it unique but to me also makes it more personal.
Any gigs or releases in the pipeline?
I recently worked on the music for a small indie game that will be releasing some time in summer, no dates on the game release at the moment though. If you want to hear what a native American-inspired 8-bit cinematic soundtrack sounds like then you should definitely keep your eyes and ears out!
The indie horror track previously mentioned shall be releasing May/June time so that shall be a very interesting synthy release.
Other than that, there aren’t any dates set in stone for future music/max releases or gigs, but there’s a great selection of Aerospherix releases on the way — which if you join me on my social media or website you won’t miss out on.