Interview: Vessel

When Vessel’s Nylon Sunset EP dropped in May 2011, it quickly revealed itself as one of the standout releases of the year. It came endorsed by bass patriarch Peverelist, who’s been a vocal supporter of Young Echo, the Bristol collective to which Vessel – Seb Gainsborough to his folks – belongs. This year has seen his sound continue to evolve, moving from flinty, percussive club textures through altogether more vascular terrains. In short, it was no surprise to us when NY/Lon label Tri Angle snapped him up for his debut album. With Order of Noise due to hit in September, we thought the time was ripe to find out more.

What led to the development of your specific style of beatmaking?

I guess it started very innocently by playing around with sound. I became interested in electronic music when I discovered that I didn’t actually hate it all, that there was some good stuff out there! A friend of mine gave me a computer program and from there it was really just a case of being consistently amazed and excited about what you could do with technology…  how you could communicate through electronic music. It became a bit of an obsession.

Did you go clubbing in your teenage years?

From my mid-to-late teens I was out clubbing all the time and that definitely had an influence on what stuff I was making, initially. However, I began to move away from the club scene and club music, not because I disliked it but because I’d done it a lot. Not being involved in the club scene led me to explore other avenues, and then I wanted to try and communicate those new musical experiences through my own compositions.

Electronic music is quite wide ranging, especially artists like James Ferraro, Oneohtrix Point Never, and the whole Tri Angle roster – all getting so much attention, and all making really strange sounds that aren’t made for the dancefloor.

It’s a really exciting time; all of these different approaches, different styles and different personalities are coming to the fore. These really alien personal sound worlds that people are feeling confident to explore, especially those coming from the American noise scene. It feels like as electronic music is opening up to more aggressive sound worlds and more personal sound worlds, people are more excited to discover them.

A lot of these sounds, including your own, explore darker territories. Does this have something to do on your view of life or society?

I’m not naturally pessimistic, it’s just the present sounds that I enjoy exploring. When you’re creating music you’re dealing with your subconscious so I’m sure not sure it’s always possible to completely understand where it comes from. Not even I, as the composer, knows.

Is this a reaction against the idea that electronic music is increasingly mainstream, particularly in the US? Maybe, if you’re sitting in your bedroom producing music, there’s this desire to come up with something totally different to surprise people, to prove the spectrum is broader.

That’s a huge part of it. When I think about electronic music and where it came from it’s actually this very reactionary place. There was a punk element to electronic music, an anti-establishment air to the whole thing – it wasn’t always safe and clean. Dance music has really been appropriated by systems of commodification, commercialism and capitalism; it’s a part of that system now. I think a lot of people are keen to say that it doesn’t have to be part of that system, that it came from a really authentic place and it can say something other than what it says as part of the pop charts.

You grew up in Bristol, which has quite a magical relationship to music. Did the local music scene inspire you? Is it still a reference for you?

It’s a tricky one. It’s not a direct reference, I don’t necessarily think I make music that is linked to Bristol but it’s obvious that the city and the music have had some influence on me. I wouldn’t be making the same music had I not come from Bristol.

How did the hook up with Tri Angle happen?

Robin, the guy who runs Tri Angle, sent me an email saying he had been following what I’d been doing for a while and thought he could potentially make an album for him, which is something I hadn’t really thought about before. It scared me to be honest; I found the thought of trying to do that much work daunting!

Will you be playing live when you hit the road?

It will be as live as possible for the time being and of course there’s a big debate about what live means in electronic music. I’m going to do some live programming, strip back my tracks to their elements and rearrange them live. It will be a bit scary for me, but I think playing live should be a bit scary, or else you just end up staying in your comfort zone. You should be shitting yourself a bit. That’s a sign that you’re doing something right.

Vessel – Order Of Noise LP , released October 15th on Tri Angle Records