1. When did you begin learning music and on what instrument. What inspired you to begin learning music? What were your early influences?
When I was 11 (1990), I wanted to form a Phil Collins cover band. I asked my mum to buy me a guitar, but she said no...which is one of the many reasons I feel indebted to my parents. When I was 15, I had managed to kick the Phil Collins and was into the whole grunge thing. My friend and I went and bought really cheap guitars, which then sat unplayed for a year. I was about to sell mine, then I saw an add for a guitar teacher. I took 6 or 7 lessons from this excellent rock session player, which was enough to get me started. Unfortunately, we never stayed in touch, and I only ever knew him as Steve...Steve, thank you!
2. Which University did you go to to study music? How did studying music in an academic environment help or hinder your musical interests and the development of your style?
I went to Dartington College of Arts in Devon, England. The kind of place where people would spend many days deciding if there should be a hyphen in the expression 'post modernism'. The best thing I can say about that experience is that it gave me something to kick against!
Actually, because the place was full of slackers I got free range on the studio equipment there, and it was around this time that I started getting into sequencing bigstyle, so that was cool.
3. You have named Frank Zappa as a major musical influence. Do you remember the first time you heard his music? Did someone introduce you to Zappa`s music or do you discover him by yourself? Why is he such a big influence for you? What have you learned and taken away from listening to and studying his music?
OK, basically, Frank Zappa = Genius. That word is thrown around very lightly these days, but in this case it is merited. I actually very rarely listen to Zappa these days, but I remember the first I heard of him was when I saw an excellent Obituary show on the BBC in 1993. I thought it was very interesting music, and unlike anything I had heard up to that point. An old punk friend at the time made me a copy of "Shut up 'n' Play yer Guitar". I really didn't get it for the longest time, but I knew there was something amazing about it, so I kept listening. Zappa's guitar style is where my love for syncopation and polyrhythm really began, and his compositon as a whole inspired me to explore C20th music history seriously, getting into guys like Varese, Stravinsky, Jazz bodies, fusion artists, etc. A journey that is still ongoing...
4. Don Cabellero has influenced your current guitar technique and was the back bone of the sound of your former band 41fps and your current band dirty girl. You bring a unique interpretation and approach to the guitar in which you create walls of sound through the layering of loops. What are your thoughts on Don Cabellero`s music? How have they influenced you?
I really like Ian Williams (guitar player for the band Don Caballero) playing style, but I don't think that my loop based music is on the same lines. Actually, I really love what Don Caballero did as a band; I see it as a continuation of the style that starts with bands like King Crimson, or the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The thing I really love about Don Caballero is that they were so rock and roll with it...although the music is pretty cranial at times, it never loses the raw, rock element. When I saw them live, they were playing this pretty complex music, but bouncing all over the stage and projecting so much energy. I hope that I capture that kind of energy when I'm playing in bands. I think that one of the bands I am playing with and really focused on right now (dirty girl) has this potential.
5. Virtuoso guitar solo`s were a major part of 80`s music but is dying a slow death. Bands like Radio Head are gearing music more toward sound and groove than the climax of a guitar solo. How do you think the role of the electric guitar has changed over the past 2 decades within main stream music and where do you think the future of the electric guitar lays within main stream music?
In the late 60's, everyone predicted that guitar was on the way out, then Hendrix exploded onto the scene. In the late 70's, the same thing happened again, with Van Halen picking up the baton. I think that the guitar is still a vastly untapped resource...there are so many ways to produce sounds from wire over frets. There are so many artists opening up the vocabulary of the instrument and it's place in contemporary music, but most people won't have heard of them because what
these artists are doing is not (at the moment) "fashionable".
6. Who are your influences regarding electronica music? Why do you list Squarepusher as a major influence? Major jazz artists such as Herbie Hancock are experimenting with the fusing of electronica and jazz. What are you thoughts on the melding of the two? How has your jazz background influenced your electronica music? What is the future of jazz music? Is it continuing to evolve as jazz musicians embrace computer technology and DJ`s or is it dying?
Yes, I think Tom Jenkinson (a.k.a Squarepusher) is the closest thing we have to an electronic virtuoso at the moment. Go and buy the album "Go Plastic" if you don't believe me. As for the fusing of electronics and Jazz, that started happening with Miles Davis and his Bitches' Brew sessions way back when. Even then, Hancock was utilising whatever electronic musical instruments that were available at the time.
The future of Jazz? Every musical style has it's own lines in discipline and credibility...those lines are blurring quickly though, and I think that's a good thing. I don't think that "fusion" is such an important concept anymore...it should be taken for granted. All aspects of music are fusing. I meet a lot of musicians who talk about "live" music and "live" playing...I can see the point being made, but so much music is recorded with a click track and in a digital environment, and most people also listen to their favourite music in a digital format...as soon as a microphone is involved, how can we talk about something being "live" anyway? On the other hand, electronic music relies so heavily on samples of real musicians...as I said, I think the lines are naturally blurring over time.
7. What are you thoughts on the freedoms and limitless possibilities of the internet for the independent artist and musician? How has the internet helped or hindered your musical career? What will the role of the internet be in the future for musicians signed and unsigned? What will the role of the internet be for major record labels and independent record labels? Tell us a little bit about kikaizuki recordings.
I know that a lot of pro studio sessions are bounced across the net for mixing and mastering now. I'm excited about the idea of live link ups over the net. It would be cool to jam with old friends from London or have them make a guest appearance during one of my Tokyo DJ sets! We are a fair few years away from that at the moment, but it will happen. The technology will be publically available in the next few years hopefully.
I think that in many respects, the internet has already become the hub of musical exchange. It is a fierce debate, but the inevitability of file sharing is changing the way we value music. My record label is just a startup to distribute and air my electronic output. Actually it is only a beginning, because like most people, I can see that the internet is an essential part of promoting independent artists, and I'm keeping it open for that future.
8. What are your current projects?
Right now, I am trying to combine everything. Put my guitar work and my ambient looping work together with my electronic output. I am re arranging a lot of music at the moment, and it is affecting the way I view music as a whole.