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In conversation with Luke Abbott

March 11, 2013

Originally posted on The 405

Luke Abbott 2013

Creative tour-de force of experimental techno Luke Abbott released two of the finest EPs of 2012 in the form of Object Is A Navigator at the end of the year, and the absorbing, highly affective Modern Driveway prior to this.

Both appeared on Gold Panda’s Notown Records imprint – his debut album having got a release on James Holden’s Border Community label. They’re not bad credentials to have right? The man from Norfolk is to co-headline a Notown Records label showcase with a raft of other electronic and visual artists, including sets from Glaswegian producer Dam Mantle, Wesley Matsell and Dan Tombs who will provide visuals for Abbott’s set (Tombs having collaborated with Factory Floor, Jon Hopkins and Walls in the past).

We caught up with Luke Abbott who discusses album two, his modular set-up and what we can expect from the night itself. Inverted Audio and Electronic Explorations are the people behind the event that will be held at Elektrowerkz in Angel, London on 6th April; grab your tickets for the impressive line-up via RSN for a night of rich, progressive sounds and illuminating techno-inspired slices.

How is album two progressing, and what can we expect from it?

It’s going well I think, I’ve been working on it for a while now and I feel like it’s almost ready. With any luck it will be out later this year.

How will it (or will it) differ from your two 2012 EP’s?

The EPs that I put out on Notown last year were like little side-avenues away from what I’ve been working on for my new album. The tracks on those Notown EPs are quite rough as well, they’re like sketches or something, most of the Object Is A Navigator tracks were recorded as live takes.

What interests you in the notion of modular/hardware to create ‘happy accidents’, and injecting unpredictability to your work?

First, I think that people should try and stop seeing hardware and software as separate things and start getting comfortable with the idea that electronic music is made with hybrid-systems that utilise many different levels of technology. Also, unpredictability is not exclusive to hardware instruments. And, unpredictability is not the only musical idea i’m interested in, although it seems to be the only thing I ever get asked about in interviews. So really the question should be directed at you.

In regards to working in a studio where you also live – how does that affect you? Do you find it an issue to achieve a separation from work/art and life?

It can be a bit stressful trying to keep the studio both physically and psychologically contained, but right now it’s just more practical for me to work that way. I do have aspirations to set up a new studio in Norwich, but I’m waiting for the right space to come along.

Can you tell us about your six week residency at Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridgeshire last year, and what you learned from the experience?

It was a really intensive time, the place is quite remote, there’s no phone reception there and you have to walk about half an hour to the nearest pub. And it was winter time, so it got dark very early and it was super cold too. There wasn’t really much to do there except work and drink wine, so I got a lot done. I spent a lot of time working on new strategies for performance, and I made a lot of recordings while I was there too, a lot of indulgent experimental stuff.

Tell us about how you and Dan Tombs developed a relationship at art school, and what we can expect at the live show in regards to this collaboration between yourselves.

Dan and I have been friends for years and we have always had quite closely linked ideas about art and music. We’ve spent a lot of time working on collaborative projects and I think we understand each others working methods quite well. It’s nice now because we hardly even need to think about what we’re going to do in advance of performances because we’ve both worked around improvised sets and can read each other quite well, we kind of know what we want to do without even having to talk about it.

Have you taken to using hardware in a live setting – as in modulars and the like? And how has your live show developed over the years?

I’ve been performing live electronic music for about 7 years now. When I started it was in art galleries and performance spaces around Norwich and I was playing mostly with equipment that I’d either built or modified myself. At that point I was just making really abstract noise, and I was using homemade kit because I didn’t have any money to buy real synths. Then after a while I bought a laptop and made music with that. Fast forward a few years and now I’ve got quite a lot of toys (synths and drum machines and stuff). Currently I haven’t got a specific setup that I’ve settled on of live shows, so I’m taking different things out and playing around with things. I’ve never settled on any one idea for very long, I don’t know why.

Are you producing any other acts currently?


What made you take the transition from playing in bands to becoming an electronic producer?

I just got really into the idea of doing music all by myself without having to rely on anyone else; the more self-sufficient and independent you are the more you can explore your ideas.

I understand you had a background of listening to psychedelic acts – does this feed into your work in the present day in any way?

Everything I experience feeds into my work, not only other music I listen to, but I have always listened to lots of different kinds music. I was quite into 60’s psychedelia for a while, mostly because I was interested in what was going on just before electronic synthesis entered the mainstream of music. But also because psychedelic music has a great emphasis on the sensation of sound, which can lead to exploring unusual or unexpected sonic spaces. I’m interested in Electroacoustic music for similar reasons.

What music, old or new, have you been enjoying recently?

I’ve been listening to a few things on Ubuweb. And some Derek Bailey, I’ve been getting back into listening too free improvisation. And the new Scald Roughish record.

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