That feeling of dissolution is resounding

By Alex Mazey

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Listening to ‘Auricle’, the collaboration EP with bleach.bath, released on the dreamstation label earlier this year immediately put me in mind of the Future Prophecies’ Concrete Combat EP from 2005. I mean this in the best possible way considering that’s probably one of my favourite drum and bass EPs of all time. It’s actually the late-2000s/Y2K vibes on ‘Auricle’, blended with the chilly breezes of contemporary sound throughout, that made me want to reach out and ask what inspired this collaborative project.

hxly xo: Thank you! That project you’ve mentioned is legendary, it’s really cool to be compared to it. That same contemporary sound is precisely the reason why this project was created. My own roots and inspirations with music stem from the ethereal, melancholic atmosphere driven sounds from artists such as Clams Casino, Lapalux, Shlohmo, and more. I met Bryce (bleach) last year through mutual friends and I dove down his discography. I discovered his tune “cicada3301” and it reminded me so heavily of those mentioned above, as well as my own sound. I expressed my adoration for it and we immediately hit it off sonically. Auricle came together in the span of a month or so, the collaboration was fluid to say the least.

What’s particularly noteworthy on ‘Auricleis the sepulchral distance you might get on future garage track paired with something that sounds much warmer, intimate – even optimistic, in many ways. ‘Chrome Rain’ is such a solid example of that pairing between the two, where you have the inhumanism collapse into something way softer, almost naturalistic. I suppose this suited the title of track. Did you see the EP as an attempt to challenge genre convention or didn’t you think about that too much in the production? I’m really interested in this hybridity in sound because I think a lot of producers seem to think that kind of undertaking has to result in something quite heady and challenging when actually what’s achieved on ‘Auricle’ in terms of the experimentation is seemingly effortless, even commercially positioned.

hxly xo: The pairing of both forlorn and uplifting tones in this project were something that bleach and I had discussed loosely during production, but toward the latter half of the work on the album when we developed a solid “theme” and headspace for it, we leaned into that contrast harder. Something that we speak on often is being able to jump between genres solely for the sake of practice. Applying effort toward versatility will help give insight into the nuances of your main genre that you might’ve missed otherwise. Ultimately the goal for the album was a feeling of going on a “journey” so to speak, without it being too on the nose.

I looked up the definition of ‘Anathema’, which means ‘something or someone that one vehemently dislikes.’ What’s the story behind that track? I think the vocals are a vibe on that too – in fact – the whole track works as a bit of a microcosm for what to expect across the entire EP, doesn’t it? Kind of twisty and unpredictable in ways that make it a joy to listen to – you’re never sure where the sound is going to take you. I think that’s necessarily refreshing. The same can be said of ‘Hear No Curse’, which is similarly joyful – with the Veela vocals absolutely on point. I’d love to know what headspace you were in when making those two tracks in particular.

hxly xo: Anathema at the core was produced to be an ode to straightforward jungle grooves, but the namesake for it was an “on the spot” sorta choice, we were experiencing some shifts in our circle of artists and friends and the name for it felt fitting. The second track you’ve mentioned started with a focus toward textures and drones. Veela introduced such an immaculate breath of life into it, and even after hearing it countless times while working on it, I still get goosebumps when she does her swells.

Looking beyond the ‘Auricle’ EP, I wanted to ask you about the official video for ‘Apathy’ which premiered last year on YouTube. The video for that track is paired with the words, ‘the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.’ I always like to read ideas around the dissolution of dualities like that, especially when the duality isn’t removed entirely but rather reconstituted into new ways of seeing. Do ideas around dissolution play into your project as a producer? I say this because you also begin ‘Auricle’ with the track titled ‘New Duality’, and I find the music video for ‘Apathy’ to be dealing with a kind of fragmentary deconstruction of the AMV aesthetic, perhaps? What’s particularly striking about that music video is how much it resonates at a cultural level.

hxly xo: The fact that you’ve picked up on this nuance within my artistry is incredible. Personally, that feeling of dissolution is resounding with me, and it just comes out in my music. My mental diagnosis charts read like a grocery list, and having this outlet of creativity has truly saved me to a big degree. When I feel like I’m “splitting” mentally, I can channel and focus those thoughts (or lack thereof) into my DAW. ‘Apathy’ and the description was a jab at a very in and out long term relationship that had come to a close.

I first heard your music on a breakcore playlist I listened to late at night whilst farming cards on ‘Genius Invokation TCG’ a couple years back. The track was your stellar remix, ‘Starry’, which I only realised was produced by you when I’d finished listening to ‘Auricle’ and went back over your past releases. I feel like everyone and their mum has remixed those vocals into a dnb track. I only mention this because you achieve something on ‘Starry’ that, whilst obviously playing off some 2010 nostalgia, actually sounded really innovative. Creating something new out of something that’s already been done to death is tremendously difficult to do, I think, and exhibits great skill as a producer. I suppose this question kind of links with the music video for ‘Apathy’ since I’m interested in your broader cultural influences outside of drum and bass/liquid dnb/ambient/jungle/breakcore, and so on? Are these influences also captured in the ‘Apathy’ video?  

hxly xo: Great question! Starry was so much fun, the drums on that tune were one shots that I recorded from a friend’s kit and programmed out, I love how it came together in the end. Culturally, ‘Apathy’ is a big swimming pool of everything I enjoy. The source material for that video I helped hand pick with timesgone, and he did such a fantastic job with the edit. Outside of music, I’ve been a gamer for years, a collector of old analog video gear, and a bit of a movie junkie. I love David Lynch’s work.

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