Database: James Holden On Process As A Living System

“I usually sneak it up on myself, like I start designing an instrument and then the songs come out by accident as a result. It’s weird–sometimes I’ll go in the studio and something will come out by itself, but the process and the method of it is really important to me. I have to have some idea of like… what am I trying to do with the sounds today? That really gets me over the hump of starting.”

“If you do things the way everyone else does, you’re gonna get the same results everyone else does. It’s really, really good to mess with your process.”

“The way I make music is to try and set it up as a living system where everything’s moving by itself a little bit, and interacting with each other, but I can steer it.”

“Electronic music exists in this flat, digital, virtual space behind the speakers. It’s not like when you listen to an amazing recording of a jazz band on a great hi-fi, and you can hear that goes there, the bass is at the back, the drums are over in that corner…you can hear the room around you. But in electronic music, the only room you hear in it is very often your own. It’s all just pushed to the front of the speakers. It’s nice to flip that idea around.”

“I guess most of the important stuff is my sequencers. I try to program sequencers that are separate from the scale…so the sequence has a shape and a rhythm in a scale, and then you manipulate those things separately. So you can transpose it, but in the scale, or change the shape or add ornaments and stuff to it.”

James Holden


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