Interview with Mick Chillage
Please, tell us about your radio activity. What for you the most important in the program, how do you choose the tracks for broadcast\air, whether you are writing a text in advance? And \write\ how to listen to your program of Russian-speaking audience, what they should do.
My Radio activity started back in the mid 90's, but before I started DJing on the Irish airwaves, I use to create ambient mix tapes for friends, due to the rather diverse selection of electronic music on these mixes I would write on the cassette "mixed by «The Chillage Idiot» Not sure if the term «Village Idiot» is used in Russia ? But it was a play of words with that term. In 1995 I assisted my radio co host «Paul Chillage» and long time friend with a college radio show called future music, which was aired on a local college radio station. But it was in 1996 after a brief music making session in a friends local recording studio that a chance meeting with a DJ from XFM Dublin lead to a test slot on the station. At first the station boss was concerned that we would just play dance music back to back but our music was so eclectic he gave us a Sunday night slot and we chose «The Chillage Idiots» as our program name. I guess the most important thing about the program is the music, both the quality and the diversity but our conversations and opinions do give it another dynamic. The choice of music can be a difficult thing, I like to focus on albums mainly, particularly anything that has been released physically which I have purchased myself, maybe its because when we first started out the digital market was unheard of and I still value music more on CD, I just feel there's way too much released digitally these days and because there's no real investment/risk from labels the quality tends to be less or more of the same sounding but that of course is not always the case, there have been some truly incredible music sent to us over the years which truly deserved a proper CD/Vinyl release. Format aside we like to choose a mixture of genre's, because two hours of the same style can become quite boring, so we try our best to the pick what we consider to be the best music for that month but we still like to drop some classics from the past too. We don't actually write any text in advance so our links are totally off the cuff and not scripted in any way. For Russian listeners the best place to catch our shows would be on our souncloud page, www.The Chillage Idiots due to our hectic lives we now pre record our shows at my home recording studio rather than going out live but we also feel that streaming and downloading whenever the listener wants is better than having to tune in at a particular time.
Given that you're doing a radio program\shows and listen to a lot of musical material, it helps you or prevent to compose your own music?
In recent years the music show has been reduced in frequency, we use to do the Chillage Idiots weekly as it was getting in the way of my music production plus other things like regular life commitments, work etc, we now do shows maybe once every two months but I think listening to lots of music can inspire you. It was listening to music in the first place that made me want to create my own so I still draw much inspiration in a sub conscience way I think? rather than Ok, I just listened to some Black Dog or whatever and now I'm gonna try and re-create their sound.
Do You play live? How often it happens and how it is technically? Does the material differ from the record?
I do play live, but not very often,, mainly because here in Ireland there's not really any scene for the kind of electronic music I make, there is quite a big scene here for some electronic music but its mainly Techno. I've played a few Irish gigs but usually to a very small crowd. Due to the nature of my music and the fact that I'm on my own my live set has to comprise of pre recorded sections/loops of each element of each track which I perform with Ableton live on my Macbook and a controller Keyboard. I see it more as a live digital arrangement but I can perform occasional live keyboard work using the controller and a soft synth... Its way too much hassle to bring my hardware along and pointless to be honest as I have to focus on the arrangement and mix so much during a live set. The material will differ somewhat from the record as i usually introduce other beats and restructure the pieces and perhaps if I feel brave I’ll play some new improvised lead work also.
If I understood everything correctly, the difference between your first recordings and the first release was 10 years. I want to know, all this time you wrote “in table” or sent demos to record labels, but didn't get an answer? And useful if such a long delay, in your opinion?
Yes I took me quite a while to get my music out there, I started producing in 1996 but the tracks were kinda like experiments to a certain degree as I was learning how to program beats and play melodies and also learning about mixing and arranging, in 1998 I had expanded my home studio a little more and was beginning to feel quite confident with the results but still not enough to send out demos to labels.
I've read information about you, it said that you were inspired by the classic sci-fi movies. This is the «Alien,» «Blade Runner.» Do you like anything of modern sci-fi film ?
Yes this true, I love those movies and earlier ones like 2001 THX1138, Silent Running etc in recent years though there has been some great works in the Sci-Fi movie world I loved the first Matrix movie, Minority Report, Moon, Inception, District 9, Looper and Tron Legacy to name a few, I guess its safe to say I'm inspired by some modern ones also.
Have you considered the option of writing the music to the Sci-Fi movie or a computer game? May have already been suggestions?
Writing music for film is a big dream for me and people have suggested to me that some of my work would perhaps suit a science fiction movie in the past, I suppose the science fiction genre would suit my style more so but something that's not too action packed, scoring for action could be a major challenge for me but if its an atmospheric slow moving science fiction I would certainly be in my element. Computer games are something I am not really into myself but I think it would be great as millions of people play the same game every day over and over again so they will get to hear your music much more than they would in a movie...
What a musical work, you most proud of?
This is a difficult one to answer, I guess like music in general your favorite pieces can change by the day, it can depend on your mood etc, but I suppose the tracks I'm most proud of are those that seem to surprise me, the ones that have me scratching my head wondering how did I play that? Where did these sounds come from? To be honest though I’m most proud of anything that feels completed and conveys an emotion to me of some sort...
Tell us, please, if you know, about the label txt recordings? How's work is organized and how the material is taken?
Txt recordings was set up by Lee Anthony Norris AKA Norken/Metamatics etc and his friend Spanish Eddie and was based in the UK . The label mainly focuses on ambient music on very limited CD runs. How the work is organised is something that I honestly don't know much about as I'm not involved with any part of the labels output or decisions. I do know that Lee will listen to demo's either by download or CD but the label is currently on a break until further notice. I was fortunate to release two versions of my «Night Works» CD on Txt Recordings.
Tell us about working with Lee Norris. How did it happen, what was your inspiration, who is doing what. And, if possible, a few words about the new joint album that will be released in the summer of 2013, that it is waiting for the audience?
Working with Lee is great, I have been a fan of his music since his Metamatics material was released on clear records in the 90's, so it was an honor to work on a project with him. Lee is very open minded and we never really have a predefined idea of what our music should sound like. How it came about that I worked with Lee was due to connecting on a certain social network, Lee started checking out The Chillage Idiots shows and then discovered I was making music so through various online conversations we discovered a common ground with music and film etc and loosely discussed a possible collaboration, eventually we started working together in summer 2012 and that project quickly turned into Autumn Of Communion... Our inspiration was to kind of work on an album that captured the spirit of the classic 90's ambient music but with our own vibes and maybe a 21st century twist. As far as who is doing what I guess Lee would start off with the foundations of each track, with some drones/pads/field recordings/beats and then I would work on more synth layers/melodies or beats etc, we would bounce ideas back and forth until the track felt right, in most cases I would work on the mix and arrangement but with feedback from Lee if something wasn't to his liking, but we rarely had any disagreements. The new joint «Autumn Of Communion 2» was produced in a similar method as the first but has a more spacey ambient with beats vibe, there's still some purely ambient moments and plenty of emotional pieces like «Goodbye PK» which is dedicated to Pete Namlook. I feel that fans of the first should like this too but it brings some new sonic terrain to the world of Autumn Of Communion.
Do you follow the global music scene? Autechre recently released an album in the style of the 90's, was an interesting marketing campaign from Boards of Canada and announced a new album, Arovane back after a long break, μ-Ziq released unreleased tracks, what do you think about it? Which musicians are a guide for you today?
As I briefly mentioned earlier, I still purchase lots of music so I still follow the global scene and certainly follow anyone who influenced me greatly in the early days like Autechre etc, even though I find much of AE’s recent music quite a challenge at times, although their latest double CD is pretty accessible album. The new Boards Of Canada is certainly one I'll purchase but I don't care about listening to streams online or being the first to hear it or anything, personally I don't really understand the incredible following they have ? There's plenty of other electronic acts making music equally as good and better but don't generate that kind of hype. It's great that acts like Arovane μ-Ziq etc still have a fan base after all these years, it shows that the music has a certain longevity and is still relevant in a rather fickle and fast moving modern music world.
When published «Autumn Of Communion» you interact with Pete Namlook. Tell us a few words about it. How to work together with him, which he had quality?
Pete was one of the easiest label bosses I've dealt with and was an absolute gent. When I sent my first demo to him which turned out to be «FAXology» he pretty much went with every track on the demo, much to my shock, particularly as he was one of my biggest electronic music inspirations. Usually labels tend to drag out the process by wanting you to send more tracks so they can hand pick the material and the release schedule can be like nine months or a year in advance. Pete was like If you send me the wavs I can have the album released within two months and that's actually how quickly it happened and it was the same process for «Autumn Of Communion». Maybe it was luck that both albums just worked for Pete so well ? Pete really had the label streamlined from the mastering to graphics to manufacturing and distribution as he had 100% control.
What do you think will happen to the label FAX?
For me Fax was Pete, apart from his own music, the music that he released by other artists on the sub label was all down to his incredible taste and judgement. The label really cannot continue with the same level of brilliance without him. Knowing that I will never again hear a new piece of music from Peter is still hard to accept and brings a huge sense of loss.
What do you dream of?
Mmmmmm, being able to make a living from music is something I dream of everyday, I don't dream of extreme wealth or anything like that, just to make the same income as my nine to five would be fine but by doing something that I love rather than the often soul destroying grind of the regular day job. Oh! I also dream of world peace of course...