Cyberpunk and music. Interview with Access To Arasaka
Hello, AtA! I am very glad that you agreed to a small interview. I really like your music so I would like to know more about you. Tell me who you are, what your occupation, where are you from?
Thanks, Dmitry. I'm a bit weary of talking about myself. Sometimes I feel like the more you know about the artist, the less magical the music can be. Or maybe I'm just shy. :) But I'm from the city of Rochester, New York. It's a rather small place, but it has a very eclectic music scene. Aside from music and a horrible part time job to pay the bills, I dabble in anything artistic I can. Design, photography, painting. Anything creative, as I feel that these are the things that would truly matter if society should suddenly crumble.
What is Access To Arasaka? Why are you pick this moniker?
Access To Arasaka is actually a reference to the old role-playing game called Cyberpunk 2020. Arasaka was a large (and very antagonistic) corporation within the world of Cyberpunk. Bringing them down would have been the ultimate revolution. So, I guess I chose this name as a sort of message to all cyberpunks. Almost like saying, «Here's the way into their system. Do what you will.»
How long you doing the music, how it all has begun?
I've been making electronic music for about 9 or 10 years now. I started off making rather conventional stuff, mostly. Progressive house, drum and bass, then moving on to minimal. I was a DJ for quite a while, but the scene here changed. Nobody danced anymore. All the parties in the city moved to bars, where all the old ravers and club kids just sat around and drank. It seemed like not many people cared about the music anymore. I had always loved IDM and ambient, so I decided to change my style and my name. Basically start fresh. Looking back, it was the best thing that ever happened. This style of music is where my heart has always been.
I'm just wild about masterpiece of your tracks, it so awesome! Tell me how much time you spent on the creation of a song, and what tools do you use?
Thank you very much! I'm glad you like it. It all really depends on my level of inspiration, and the free time I have to work on it. I've made songs in as little as a day. However, I've also spent as much as a month on one, trying to get everything just right. As far as the sounds go, I use an Alesis Ion, a Korg X50, a Microkorg, a Korg Electribe EA-1, a Roland SH-101, and a Sirkut SNB. Plus whatever random keyboards and circuit bent machines I can get my hands on.
Has influenced your creativity by such projects as Autechre, Hecq or Gridlock?
I was originally very much influenced by Autechre. Their album «Amber» especially. I loved Brothomstates, Venetian Snares, Boards of Canada. But I really felt attracted to the celestial sounds of Orbital and Future Sound of London. Their music was so ethereal. I kind of wanted to mix the two styles. When I first started, I hadn't really heard Gridlock or Hecq yet. When I did, of course, I was blown away. Now, I find influence in almost all the music I'm hearing. It's good to know that there are still people that are passionate about music.
As far as I understand you are inspired cyberpunk aesthetics, is all your music dedicated to it or is your music inspired by something else?
Cyberpunk has always been such a big part of my life. Ever since I was a kid, that world just fascinated me. Yet, I do find myself inspired a lot by what's going on in my life. For instance, Cassiopeia was written from a perspective of happiness and admiration. METAX was basically a way of saying goodbye to very bad memories. And :Port was written in a strange haze of feeling somewhat lost. However, even if a certain emotion or experience inspires me to create music, I still tie it into the cyberpunk aesthetic. I write stories based on my feelings, as if everything had happened in that futuristic world I love. From there, I basically create the music as a soundtrack to that story.
Do you like William Gibson's books, the founder of cyberpunk literature. And what books are you reading?
I love William Gibson's books. I suppose you can't really be a cyberpunk without liking them. :) But I picked up Neuromancer almost on a whim when I was fairly young. I didn't know what cyberpunk was then. I just knew that I wanted it. Gibson opened up the fact that an entire movement was made out of the stories I had always wanted to read. After that, i couldn't escape. I am currently reading the Transmetropolitan graphic novels by Warren Ellis, and re-reading the Takeshi Kovacs novels from Richard K. Morgan.
I'm waiting with impatience for a release of your new album on Tympanik Audio and Spectraliquid. Tell me when it finally will be released, what it will be and what mean Oppidan?
Oppidan will be released in September. I actually have a copy sitting next to me right now. The artwork that Kostas (Subheim) did is absolutely amazing. Oppidan is based on a short story I wrote that follows one girl's journey from being a normal student to a murderous gang member. It takes place in a futuristic Detroit, where part of the city (known as Parisville) was destroyed. The specific gang she was in took over one building, calling it their Oppidan. The word itself technically refers to something urban, or representing a living area. The album itself is basically born from different moments within the story.
Your track has appeared at the compilation Miwak Twelve of Hymen Records, did they offer to you to publish at Hymen?
They have, actually. I've been talking to Salt about the possibility of releasing an album with them in the future. I am currently working on two other albums at the moment, so hopefully one of them shall be added to the Hymen Records catalog.
In Metax there were two very beautiful vocal tracks what your experience on creation of these compositions was, will you create more such things?
The vocal tracks were quite fun. I actually built the songs around the vocals, instead of the opposite. Once Beau and 9VD had sent me what they did, I felt completely inspired to make something new. I definitely will continue working with vocals, so long as I don't sing them myself. No one needs to hear how bad my voice is. I feel bad enough singing in my car next to someone at a red light. In Oppidan, Beau Jestice contributed more vocals for a song, as well as Tympanik artist ESA. In each case, the singers wrong their own lyrics. I never tell them what to sing. I just let them do what feels natural, and they have always surpassed my expectations
How you consider it is possible to compose something new and original in contemporary music?
That's a hard question. I think originality is all in the details. There are so many styles out there that it's almost impossible to create something unclassifiable. So taking elements of everything you enjoy, mixing them in a way that it sounds good, and using sounds that are very intriguing can be considered new and original. Writing from the heart also helps. Music is more universal than math. I've heard songs that (by a standard definition) aren't «original» at all, yet they have touched me in ways other music can't. I certainly don't believe my music is original. But the fact that others do leads me to think that originality is a perception that differs between each and every listener.
How you consider what is the main thing in music and what int your opinion it should be?
I think the main ingredient to any music is the reason behind making it. People should create music because they have a strong personal desire to. Songs that were created out of emotion or desire seem to hit ten times harder, and always linger in the listener's mind. Music is a dialogue. You speak to those who hear it. As long as you have something to say, it will inspire others to respond.
Thank you very much for the interview, I wish you success in your creativity and all the best.
Thank you! And likewise. Keep up the great work on the blog!