With Bloc drawing ever closer, we continue our preview with an interview with the legendary SND. The Sheffield duo have been releasing some of the most experimental and interesting electronic music around as both SND and Blip. Playing as part of the Raster Notion showcase on Saturday night at Bloc alongside the equally legendary and experimental Alva Noto and Byetone, it’s most definitely going to be one of the highlights of the weekend. We caught up with them ahead of their appearance to pick their brains and find out what they have in store.
Really excited that you guys are playing at Bloc this year. What can people expect from the show?
Mark – The audience will hear percussion and chordal sounds. The percussion is sampled and the chordal sounds are synthesised then sampled to make the setup easier. The music is rhythmic, the structure of which changes throughout.
Mat – Err something quite different to our recorded material.
What inspired ye to set up the Blir project separately. How would you think that the each differs from one another?
Mark – The Blir project was set up to explore some sounds we felt were beyond the remit of SND. A prime example would be the use of monophonic notes using sine, saw or triangular waveforms.
Mat – Blir was a chance to work in a different way, collaborate with other people, and do a project without any restraints that might come with recording as SND.
As with a lot of the Raster Notion stuff, SND’s sound and live experience can, at times ,be very unsettling. Is this something that ye want to evoke from the audience when they experience your music and shows?
Mark – Not at all. Our aim is to present our music in a way that should be enjoyed. Although we understand that people have different tastes, and not all people will like our music, we do not try to predict what the audience will like or dislike. We do not make music to please the audience. Primarily we make music to please ourselves. We would rather the audience enjoy the music than find it unsettling, but we do not compromise our direction in order to achieve this.
Mat– No we definitely don’t attempt to make it an unsettling experience – we would hope the audience enjoys it but ultimately we don’t know how the audience will react and can’t second guess that.
Would you consider there to be any themes that consistently run through your audio and video output?
Mark- In the music there are sampled electronic drum sounds and synthetic chords. We never make videos for our work. We have used visuals in a live context, and there have been two different systems. Both use horizontal or vertical lines of colour which are a direct display of our input to the system we use to present our music in a live context.
Matt – Ourselves
What characteristics do you deem to be the most important in a tune?
Mark- For me it is the combination of sounds i.e. their position in relation to one another and the approach to audio production.
Matt – Reaching the point where you don’t feel you need to do anything else to it.
Ye recently finished up a Japanese tour. How did ye enjoy it? I’m sure the Japanese go mental for the SNDsound.
Mark – It was quite hard work but very enjoyable. It was nice to spend time with NHK. and nice to tour with someone performing music we actually like.
Mat – Touring is quite tiring as you are basically waiting to play the whole time, and traveling a lot. So you don’t really get any space or time off but it’s a great experience and a chance to perform many times over a short period which helps develop a set. Every country is a little different in terms of audience reaction. The Japanese tend to be very quiet and respectful. One evening we finished our set, closed our laptops, ducked down behind the table and nobody clapped for about 3 minutes. Eventually someone asked us if we had finished and then they clapped. It was a little awkward.
How does a typical tune come together? Is it hours spent a time coming up with ideas or do ye just let it flow?
Mark – We work in different ways. Often we don’t have much time so that has a large impact on how our work is produced, so it tends to be a rather fast process.
Mat – It can happen really fast or take ages. Once we get in the zone we are quite productive though.
Nice one to Mark and Mat for taking the time to chat! Catch SND the Saturday night of Bloc as part of the Raster Notion showcase 🙂