In a recent interview with German-based Groove Magazine, Aphex Twin announced that he’s working with a developer to create music software.
Richard D. James, the man behind Aphex Twin, has had a lot to celebrate these last few months; first, he release his first new album in 13 years, called “Syro“, and it is his 25th anniversary in the music business, according to YourEDM, a popular electronic music site. He has also announced plans for his next release.
In a twist of fate, it is also the 25th year of Groove Magazine’s existence; so, the magazine and the musician teamed up to do a unique interview. Instead of the standard interview format, in which the magazine generates all of the content, Groove reached out to an international ensemble of influential DJs and others in electronic music. Then, they narrowed the list to the top 25 questions, for Aphex Twin to answer. (Note: we are just focusing on a portion of the conversation, but you can read the entire interview in English, here.)
While the interview is chock-full of insights into Aphex Twin’s life, we believe one of the most interesting portions begins with his response to a question posed by Native Instruments co-founder Mate Galic.
Galic’s question was – “How did you switch from using hardware to using software for making music – and maybe back again? Has that changed the way you write music?” – and Aphex Twin answered:
“For me Traktor is like the beginning, but you could do so much more with it. You could make it more complex but also simpler. For example, they have got these two screens with the wave-forms. But basically all you need is one screen with the wave-form of the tracks you’re playing in different colours so you can put them on top of each other. Then you can mix without even listening.
On the new album it’s all hardware actually. It’s no computer on any tracks basically. There’s maybe a few plug-ins and half of it is sequenced on the computer with the other half being sequenced with hardware. The reason I prefer to work with analogue synths is – for me it’s like a mathematical thing when you come down to it. Basically a computer can’t do distortion, everything on the computer just sounds perfect, which is nice if you want to make perfect tracks, but if you don’t, then you’re kind of stuck. Of course you can sample, you can record things and you can create sounds, but I really prefer to make sounds on synthesizers.
I used to like to make music on a laptop. When I started to do it, it was almost impossible and I really liked that, because it was so difficult to make music on a laptop. There were almost no programs. So you had to put programs toegther, the first one I used was Max/MSP. There weren’t really any plug-ins or anything like that. But I really liked it. Now, it’s really easy.”
But, one of the most fascinating parts of the interview was the next part of his answer, in which Aphex Twin talked about working with a Chinese software developer to meet his unique musical needs with customized programming.
He elaborated on this in the interview with Groove, stating:
“It’s taking the concept of mutation into music software. You give the program some sounds you made and then it gives you six variations of it and then you choose the one you like most and then it makes another six and it kind of keeps trying to choosing the variations by itself. It’s a bit like that, but more advanced, but basically it starts with a sound, analyzes it, then does different versions of variations. It randomizes, it compares all of them to the original and then it picks the best one. It sounds totally awesome, but it needs to be tweeked a little bit. I will continue with this. I have a whole book full of ideas for software and instruments.”
Again, the entire English language interview is available at Groove.de.