Date: 2021 Februrary
interview by email
Interviewer: Joe Onishi
――For Japanese readers, tell us about your musical history and the concept of your label.
I started making music in 1995. It was the era of samplers and Atari games computers. I was working with Paul Conboy who I met whilst at University in Manchester and also with Jono Podmore who went on to work with Irmin Schmidt from Can.We got into film music straight away when an English director Antonia Bird heard some of our first music and asked us to write the score to a film called Face. We then continued making music for film and doing our own occasional music projects. Really for me a lot of it was learning on the job. Our last music together was as Corker Conboy some of I which I quite liked. I took a break from music when we stopped working together around 15 years ago and I was lecturing at a university on film composition. I slowly started making my own music around 8 or 9 years ago.I feel like I am just starting but I am 51.
The label came about because I did one album for a label called Village Green and when he heard the next music I wanted to make the owner thought it was too experimental. The music was finished and there were two remixes already done one by Richard Skelton so the owner kindly let me release it myself. That was the start of SN Variations. The first concept was to release new recordings of post-war classical music repertoire by the players I was meeting in London.
Also I was curating a series of gallery shows based on sound as a material and wanted to release some of this as well. The idea was to present interesting juxtapositions of music as well so next we released a piece by Giacinto Scelsi with Chris Watson‘s response it with a piece of music using field recordings of insects and finally there was a piece of honkyoku shakuhachi music called Honshirabe (I was studying it at the time) that was played by my teacher Joe Browning and recorded by Chris. It all made sense together to me since there was a meditative quality to all the music and it was all about paying attention to the sound.
Constructive is a new sister label set up last year and the basic idea is it will be slightly broader stylistically in its releases than SN Variations and both projects so far also have film or image attached to the music.
――Please introduce some artists from your label, for example, Chris Watson, and also other artists you have in mind.
Well it started just a small group of friends. I met Lucy Railton first and then Aisha Orazbayeva through her. I met other players and composers through them like the pianist Mark Knoop and the composer Laurence Crane. Oliver Leith I met before lockdown when Aisha asked if she could use my living room to play a piece for Oliver he had written for her. I kept meeting up with him over last summer and then i asked if he wanted to release anything on the label which led to the Balloon record.
Chris I first met in 2014 whilst curating a show we did at a private gallery. He and his wife are from the same town as me Sheffield and there was something very familiar to me about them. We then did the Scelsi record piece Invertebrate Harmonics piece and a show at the ICA where he did an hour long installation which then was re-worked and released as Notes From A Forest Floor last year. We also worked together on Tin Star : Liverpool rerecording ensemble pieces originally made in London in various buildings in Liverpool. Georgia Rodgers I heard her music first at the Royal Academy of Music and started emailing her about releasing a piece. We finally met during lockdown in a park in London for the first time after the piece had been released. We are just about to release a piece she made over lockdown of recordings of the sound of Ash trees through the seasons outside her window with her playing cello and violin which she recently. taught herself. Takuma Watanabe contacted me via email and we started discussing releasing his album. It was serendipitous timing since I was looking for a new project for this year and loved what he sent me. We now have skyped and emailed endlessly putting together his release which will be out the beginning of May and we have started working on something else together.