Ekoplekz is a cardinal force on Bristol‘s electronic music scene. Intense, freestyle live performances, dark and jagged beats; Ekoplekz makes music entirely manually. The result is wildly experimental, rambunctious and fractured. It’s a passionate ode to early electronic music and proof that Bristol is still one of Britain’s most exciting music cities.
Bristol has always been an important city in terms of music – do you think you’d be doing something different today, had you come from somewhere else?
Who can say for sure? I don’t think my geographical location is that essential to my development. I think my age group is probably more relevant. I am 42 years old – much older than most of my contemporaries on the Bristol scene – and I think my music draws on much earlier forms of electronic music, mainly from the 1970s, such as the bleak, experimental sounds of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the early industrial groups like Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle. In many ways, it’s those harsher post-punk sounds from Northern cities like Sheffield and Manchester that attract me, as well as early experimental music from Germany and beyond. However, that is combined with a love of deep bass-heavy music, such as reggae and dubstep, which is where my Bristol roots probably make themselves known.
You’ve played a key role in Bristol’s electronic music scene over the past few years – first as a blogger and now as a musician – how has the scene in Bristol developed?
I’m quite proud of the way Bristol adopted to the sound of dubstep so quickly, at a time when it was a more open-ended, experimental form of dance music. I quickly got to know the key players in the developing scene, such as Pinch, Peverelist, Appleblim etc, and their efforts to promote the music in clubland dovetailed perfectly with my blogging activities at the time. I think we made a great team. But I’m not really interested in adhering to strict rules (other than the ones I impose on myself), and when dubstep began to solidify into a more stable, established style, my interest began to wane. For me, making music is about freedom of expression. I’m not interested in making music for DJs, or imposing certain structures or sounds just to ‘fit-in’ with what’s happening. My music is ultimately very selfish, which is why I’m constantly surprised when other people tell me how much they like it.
Ones to watch on the dubstep scene?
The ones in the cracks and margins that can’t be easily classed as dubstep.
What made you stop blogging and start making music?
I was making music long before I started blogging. I took some time out during recent years because I was busy raising a family, but I was still very interested in listening to new music, and blogging seemed an exciting new frontier to explore, as a way of expressing my unqualified opinions. But I always intended to return to creating my own music eventually, and last year the time finally felt right. However, I was making proto-Ekoplekz music as far back as the late-eighties. I think the big difference between then and now is, quite simply, the internet. Even though it’s practically killed the record industry, the net enables independent niche artists like myself to connect with a potential global fanbase in a way that would’ve been unimaginable when I was first starting out.
What are your mainstays in terms of kit for a performance? Your performances tend to be a lot more freestyle than other artists – do you find that others tend to play it safe?
I don’t really want to say anything unpleasant about other electronic artist’s approaches, but I personally do not find the idea of playing around with pre-arranged sequenced parts on a laptop very exciting. It doesn’t feel like a truly ‘live’ experience to me. I want to create new improvised sounds from the raw materials at my disposal. This approach can be very challenging and liable to failure, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I have certain pieces of equipment that I rely on for certain effects, most of which are standard guitar fx pedals made by Electro Harmonix or Danelectro. I don’t consider most of my kit to be particularly strange or exotic devices, its what you do with them that counts!
How did you team up with experimental label Mordant Music?
Quite simply, Baron Mordant bought one of my homemade CD-R releases last year. I was a fan of his music and label, so took the opportunity to send him some extra unreleased music and established a dialogue with him. He has been incredibly enthusiastic and supportive towards my music, as has Peverelist from Punch Drunk Records. I consider myself very lucky to have those two people releasing my music, and couldn’t ask for a better working relationship.
What’s in the future for you? Do you have any collaborations planned?
Well, I have just released a new collaborative album entitled “Tapeswap” under the name Ekoclef with my friend Bass Clef, and I have tried a couple of audio/video collaborations with visual artist Jade Boyd, with quite some success, I hope. There may be other collaborations in future, but I tend to leave these things in the hands of chance. I have several solo records ready for release, and others in the planning stages, so I hope to keep up a steady flow of output well into 2012.