How did you create the soundscape for the JMW Turner exhibition and can you name some standout elements?
The pieces were already done. In fact, one of the three pieces, ‘Life and Death by Water’, was actually commissioned by the Liverpool Biennial as a large-scale, multisensory sound installation, and it was composed in 2019 for the 2020 Biennial which was postponed because of the global pandemic and was presented in 2021. Turner’s seascapes are mournful, filled with grief, and are considered “visual reflections on loss”. What kind of loss? Loss of what exactly? Turner understood that he was living in a catastrophe and was compelled to experiment, come up with new ways of seeing and imagining his island and its surroundings. Turner was aware of the social and ecological disaster of his times and was sounding the alarm. We are also living in seismic times. It’s really heavy and fucked up to think about this moment and as an artist if you stay in that space long enough, it will bury you. Anyway, regarding the pieces, it was also a matter of going through my collection and listening to them alongside the paintings inside the museum and hearing and seeing what corresponds to what.
How come you decided to make a trilogy of albums and what is the defining difference between each three for you?
I don’t know. It’s just the way things come together. I don’t set out to make a trilogy of albums, but the concepts and ideas I’m working with are heavy so the work overflows. I just end up organising them in a trilogic form. It’s beyond me. It’s a lot of work for me. I don’t necessarily start with that in mind or even think about that when I’m working. I’ll be reaching what I think are the wrapping up stages, and as soon as I begin to pull things together, more things happen. When I let go and step back and look at the entire thing, I feel alright letting it go.
There is a piece of literature paired with each release for instance Kamau Brathwaite, Rights of Passage, Volume I is posted alongside The Open Boat – why is this?
The history of migration, the constant movement of people all over the landscape and seascapes and all the overlapping of experiences, in Africa, in the Caribbean, in Europe, in Asia, the Americas, and beyond. Kamau Brathwaite was a poet and historian from Barbados and he was one of the deepest and most thinkers and scholars alongside Sylvia Wynter, Césaire, Du Bois, Baraka, Glissant and so many others whose work I find deeply insightful and inspiring thinking about a scattered project linking continents and dealing with the conundrum of contemporary black life, displacement, the environment, and looking at the past and future to gain some understanding of the now.
What do you want people to take away with them from listening to the trilogy?
I don’t know. I’m curious to know what people walk away with too.
What is the ethos behind BLACK STUDIES and why did you decide to create your own label?
I would really love to bring more voices in and work with people on projects. All the releases have been by me and my disposition or focus have been on intermedia translation or transmutation, but the imprint is not restricted to just that area. It is open and there’s so much to do but I’m overstretched.
Can you tell us more about your In Session mix?
It’s a mix of some great tracks I haven’t played in a while with some more recent stuff. Some seasoned and flambéed and some left raw. I have been exiled from “the club” for years, and I get homesick. The longing I experience occasionally shows up. Not much else to say, except extra shout out to Theo Parrish, Terre Thaemlitz, Omar-S, Levon Vincent, and big up Madteo too for the work they put in over the years.
Photek ‘T’Raenon (Version)’
Convextion ‘A1 / AA’
Dedekind Cut ‘Integra’
Architectural ‘Unknown Fluid’
Generation Next ‘Lamborghini Dreams’
Levon Vincent ‘Double Jointed Sex Freak (Part 1)’
Omar-S ‘Cjaipur (Unreleased Mix)’
Madteo ‘Since Man Crawled Out of the Slime’
Terre’s Neu Wuss Fusion ‘A Crippled Left Wing Soars With The Right (Steal This Record remix by DJ Sprinkles)’
Written by: Tim Hopkins