Foxy Digitalis: Interview.
April 21, 2011
As i asked for it to be published.
It’s in danger of becoming some sort of weird Seasons (pre-din) love-in, my article history, but if truth be told there are few other artists in recent memory who’ve captured my imagination quite like he has.
It all started maybe 12 months ago when I ordered his Stars and Lights: Together We Fall CD from Boomkat. As soon as it arrived I knew I was going to love it. The home-made packaging with its stark design, lines of poetry and complete lack of any artist information whatsoever appealed completely to my sense of wonder and the music contained within was majestic. There and then I decided to try and get hold of everything he’d ever released.
The discovery of free downloads on his blog piqued my interest further and my first email enquiry as to the availability of CDs resulted in a package of five albums arriving on my doorstep just days later. Each and every one of them was hand-made and dedicated: “For Steve.” Touched by his generosity and intrigued by his music, I decided it was time to dive in and ask for an interview. Over the course of a few weeks I spoke to him via email about the importance of anonymity, the creative process and what the future holds for Seasons (pre-din). What you are about to read will be the one and only interview Seasons (pre-din) will ever give.
The first thing I’m interested in is the importance of anonymity to you. You’ve released quite a lot of music now and still no one really knows who you are. What role does anonymity play in your work?
I guess it depends how you define anonymity. I don’t think people need to know anything about me; the more people know about me the more chance there is that they’ll judge my music in respect to how they perceive me. They’ll approach it in a different way. I don’t want that; I really don’t matter.
Some people may wonder who the person behind my albums is and, more often than not, I think the same thing. It isn’t a conscious decision to make the kind of music I do, it comes out that way and I’m quite shocked by the results at times. I guess it’s a way of expressing a side of my personality I repress – it’s a much healthier form of expression than others but I find the process of making music self-destructive anyway.
Some people seem to place too much emphasis on things that distract from what I do. I consider my presence as nothing more than a distraction – I’d rather they removed me from the equation altogether.
What about self-releasing records? And hand-making/dedicating each one? In an age where downloads have taken over more and more artists seem to be releasing cassettes & CDs in limited numbers and giving them personal touches – why do you think this is?
I can’t speak for others and why people release albums the way they do, I just do things in a way I feel comfortable with and always have. It’s a misconception that my releases are limited though.
Distributors say an album of mine is limited to a certain number of copies as they only have a limited number of copies to sell, that’s all. People aren’t used to contacting artists personally to purchase records, therefore if a distributor says an album of mine is limited to however many copies and is now sold out, people assume it’s no longer available. This isn’t the case. One of the reasons I release my albums myself is so I can keep them available on a permanent basis. Limiting albums doesn’t appeal to me – it makes your music exclusive and I don’t want that.
It frustrates me that a growing number of labels don’t seem to be willing to challenge themselves or take a chance on artists. They’ll limit a release to a hundred copies as they know, regardless of who the artist is, they will sell out and break even. They don’t promote the album or anything else due to this, this doesn’t benefit the musician and is detrimental to them getting their music heard. These labels don’t pay musicians either; the money from these releases funds the labels next release, not the musicians. I’m not making commercial music, far from it – it has a limited appeal but that doesn’t mean peoples access to it should be limited. I don’t want to deny anyone the opportunity to judge it for themselves.
Due to the way I release my albums I have complete control over every aspect of a release. I’m the musician, the label and the main distributor. I have more control over how my music is released and how it is presented than most musicians. It’s a good position to be in and I think more people should do it.
Do you enjoy making music? I sort of get the impression you find it to be a difficult and exhausting process.
Part of me does and part of me doesn’t. There’s a sense of achievement when you finish something and can say that it’s an accurate reflection of yourself at that time. The problem is that an album is months and months of work condensed into twenty minutes or so and due to this the process of recording an album consumes you completely. I never know how an album will sound when I start it, it’s only when I’m part way in that it begins to take shape. At that point it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling – happy or sad, whether I’ve had a good day or a bad day. When I sit down to record I have to be in whatever frame of mind the music dictates to work on it. This has had more of an effect on the last three albums than on any of the others.
With Stars And Lights…, when my music took a darker turn, it wasn’t a good frame of mind to be in, especially for such lengths of time, and I was pretty shocked listening to what I was making. It didn’t sound like my music, it didn’t sound like me. The fallout from this was Occasionally I Forget…, the recording of which was disorientating. I ended up being in that frame of mind constantly, whether I was recording or not. It wasn’t a case of the music being a reflection of the artist, but the artist being a reflection of the music. It had a negative impact on all aspects of my life – I was confused by the music I was making, who I was and became self-destructive because of it.
The recording of the last album, Lesser And Still, was the worst thing I’ve been through. I was tearing myself limb from limb to get it out. It may as well be a recording of me screaming for twenty minutes. I gave up on it more times than I can remember. By this point I hated my music and myself because of it. When I listen back to it I hear everything: the claustrophobia, the desolation, the self-harm, the decay, the destruction, it’s all there. I think it’s the best album I’ve made – it’s perfect to me, it’s uncompromised, brutal, honest and beautiful.
I don’t particularly find making music easy. As I said before though, it’s a form of self-expression [and] I wouldn’t do it if I found it easy – there wouldn’t be any point.
The CDs you release usually feature lines of poetry. Where do you get these and do you choose them to suit the particular mood of the record?
The words are my own though the only thing I normally write with an album in mind is the title. The title and the music are inseparable to me. The words and the cover photo for a release may have been written or taken a year before I’ve even started recording an album. This doesn’t mean I put any less thought into picking what I use than I do everything else though.
I think every aspect of a release is important; the title, cover photo and words all have to work in relation to each other and compliment each other, as they have to in relation to the music and the music them. I like the way all these different aspects, when taken out of context and stood alone, evoke their own imagery, but when put together and presented as a whole they all feed off each other.
These things influence how people approach the music but the music also influences how people approach them. Once someone has listened to the album these things are seen in relation to the music; they’re given a context and seen in a different light. Due to this the meanings or the imagery may change. All these things are suggestive and it’s down to the individual as to how they’re interpreted.
Will Thy-012 be the final S (p-d) release, as you’ve suggested that it might be? If so, what’s up next? Presumably you’ll still make music. Is a change of direction on the cards?
I think it has to be. I’ve tried to work on various things lately but there’s nothing there. Everything has sounded empty and without substance to me and I’m not going to continue making this kind of music if that’s the case. I’ve never thought about a change of direction, I’ve always let things take their natural course. I need to change a lot of things though and if I change I’m sure my music will too. I’ve always made music and that’s not going to change, whether I’ll release anything I record, or even let anyone hear it, is a different matter. I’m proud of the music I’ve made as Seasons (pre-din) though and i’ll keep the albums available. It would have been a waste of time if I didn’t.
Before I do anything I’m going to take a break and disappear for a while. Given that most people don’t seem to be able to mention Seasons (pre-din) without using the word “mysterious,” this shouldn’t be difficult. Most people don’t seem to think I exist anyway…