The first in our series of interviews from the artists of Compilation III is with Candle Nine. His great cyberpunk industrial/IDM debut on Tympanik Audio is not to be missed.
Firstly, can you give us a brief history of your project?
I started out writing music on my own with an acoustic guitar. That's how Candle Nine was born. Then, as I learned more, I evolved into the electronic artist you hear today. I've always tried to keep changing as I learn, and as my aesthetics shift. Even when I finally came to doing electronic music, those early works were still sharply different than what I do now.
What inspires you to write music? What draws you to the medium of ambient music?
I would say there are an infinite number of things that inspire me. A lot of song ideas come from my thoughts and emotions about different things, and that could really come from almost anywhere. However, there are certainly things that bring that out of me better than others, like art and its perception, especially among our society, technology and the ways we interact with it, and how it affects us for better or worse. My first album, the Muse in the Machine, was pretty much centralized around those themes: the strive to be an artist in a world that doesn't seem to want art, or wants it in different ways; an artist's internal struggle between self-expression and acceptance. A little droll, perhaps, but it was certainly what I felt like getting across at the time, even if the ideas on the album were vague to others.
That vagueness does bring me to the second part of your question though, as ambient and ambient-inspired music is by its nature very vague in the way it moves through moments so subtly. I think that's what draws me to it because that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. I feel emotions expressed that way are more base to me, easier to feel connected to, rather than when expressed more straight-forwardly.
Can you expand on your perception that the world doesn’t want are / wants art “in different ways”? I assume you are getting at something like the loss of the value of music due to oversaturation, lack of quality control, watering down, pirating, etc. What do you think is the best course of action for artists/musicians in this modern world?
Ah, sorry. No, I meant to imply that self-expression itself is a rare and valuable resource. Our poets write advertising slogans. Our painters design billboards. There doesn't really seem to be a place for artists doing art for art's sake in our world. Our society. And artists attempting to pursue art to that end are usually ostracized, or cast aside.
I think it takes a lot of bravery to be an artist. That's why we have "muses" after all. So that we can share the burden. Really I just want artists to believe in themselves, in what they're doing, and not to fear that ostracization. Some time ago, I always used to worry myself over whether or not what I was doing sounded "industrial" enough, but at the same time I never felt comfortable about my own work. It wasn't until I finally realized how little that mattered that I really started to grasp hold of what I could do with music, and in spite of how good it is, I feel comfortable knowing that my work is a real expression of myself, and I refuse to compromise that one bit.
Your track for the compilation is “Demeanor”, which, as an ambient piece, is fairly different from your typical style of industrial-tinged IDM. Can you give us a bit on insight on what inspired this track, how you composed it, etc.?
The inspiration for Demeanor came from thinking about all the different ways we, as people, train ourselves to act in certain situations, or around certain people. We kind of sabotage our genuineness, in some way. But the thing that really brought the idea around was wondering about our demeanors, specifically: are they apart from our selves, or a part of ourselves? So, that's where the idea came. As such, yeah, it's a bit different than what I usually do, as it was intended, but aside from that, lately I've been doing a lot of style jumping, looking for things that will get this certain sound in my head out.
Demeanor was composed very improvisationally, which is pretty rare for me, I must admit, as I'm usually so perfectionist about my own material. It started as a mixdown of an entirely different song that I was working on. Which I processed and twisted in its entirety, and I played the rest on top of it.
Tell us a bit about your studio. What gear are you using, what is your favorite gear, etc.?
My computer is, of course, the centerpiece of my studio. It's running Cakewalk SONAR X1 and Native Instruments Reaktor. They're both great bits of software. Reaktor is pretty much my "deserted island" software. I like it so much. If I could only have one piece of software, I would just build a workstation within Reaktor. I can't go without it.
On the hardware side, other than various stomp boxes and MIDI controllers, I use a Roland D-50 Linear Synthesizer. It's an absolutely incredible synth, and I use it in almost every song I do. It constantly regurgitates amazing sounds, and I'd sound a lot different without it. On the percussion side, I use a Roland R-8 and an Elektron Machinedrum SPS-1UW. They both completely blow me away with how good they are. The R-8 could punch holes in the earth with its kicks and snares, and designing and sequencing percussion on the Machinedrum is an absolute delight.
What can we expect in the future from Candle Nine?
New music, of course, heh. But really, I've recently been hit with a big wave of inspiration. So, working on new music has been taking up a lot of my time. My new piece will likely sound a lot different than what I've done so far, for better or worse. It's hard to describe what I'm trying to go for, but if I can pull it off, I'll be pretty pleased. The different tracks I've done for the various compilations lately (like yours, for instance) are a pretty good indication of this. As through these, I've been trying to stretch out among different sounds that I'll eventually try and bring all together. I just hope it works out.
Aesthetically, the idea behind all these new works so far come from the idea that in interviews like this, and when I'm out playing, people always ask "So, who are you?" You didn't, which I actually find pretty cool, but I never know how to answer. This new material isn't an answer either, but really just a meditation on the question. "Who am I? What makes me who I am?" So, that's basically where this new work is coming from. It's taking a long time to bring together, but I think it's coming along pretty well thus far.