Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
Since the release of his debut 'Head/Body' EP on Astral Black only 12 months ago, Dressin Red aka Lachlan Bolt has followed up with the shiny six-track, 'Kibble Palace' EP on the obscure, bass-focused Donky Pitch label, been remixed by Soulection stalwart Sivey and contributed the minimal, midi-saxophone layered, Steve Reich-inspired Melted to Astral Black's 'Frass FM 2' compilation.
Ahead of the release of his first full-length later this year on Astral Black, Dressin Red shows another side of himself with Eyes Closed, Reflecting: a combined music and video project that follows on somewhat from Melted by showcasing ambient, classical-inspired productions that could almost work as a contemporary soundtrack for Koyaanisqatsi.
We caught up with Dressin Red to find out more about his life as an art student, his approach to music, and what to expect from him in the coming months.
Tell us more about the video you created for Eyes Closed, Reflecting?
Dressin Red: "I made the video prior to putting the music together. I was interested in if I kept saying a phrase like "I'm sorry" what would that result in? I kept saying it and it started to have an emotional impact on me, which I didn't expect to be honest.
I made the video and then when I was organising the music I thought that the two would work together because they both have quite an emotive quality. So I slowed it down and put the music over it."
Was it real emotion, or were you playing a bit?
Dressin Red: "At first I was just kind of putting it on, but then as it progressed I genuinely started to cry and felt really weird. I don't know how to word it because it was so bizarre. It was a mixture of both putting it on and then actually feeling it, which is why I liked the video."
How does your music fit into your lifestyle on a wider scale? Does your music reflect your art, or does art reflect in your music?
Dressin Red: "I would say that at the moment I'm finding that my art and my music seem to be exploring similar things. I feel like the art I'm making now is becoming more personal and my music is also becoming more personal – so that seems to be where the link is becoming stronger than it used to be."
Tell us a little more about the other videos you make. Self Portrait As A Young Man is a personal fave, it has the feel of something that'll end up in an internet time capsule – kids will end up watching it in 2095 on the future equivalent of BBC 2's learning hour or something. I think your track Melted would be the soundtrack. Am I right?
Dressin Red: "I don't know, that's a pretty interesting take on it. I didn't consider it in that way, but if that's what you got from it and that's your interpretation, then that's cool.
Self Portrait As A Young Man was me thinking about how I come across to people in everyday life, compared to what it might be like when I'm alone and in my own head. It's just about perception and thinking about why you are how you are and what's made you that way."
I believe you study environmental art – is that what it is? Catching the beauty in the everyday? As boring as brushing your teeth and taking selfies may seem, I guess everybody does it in their own special way?
Dressin Red: "I was interested in very everyday routines and how when you put them on show to people does that say anything interesting about you? Does it differ from how other people do things? By showing the mundane boring things you do alone, can people relate to that and see parts of themselves?
I think that's how I interpret environmental art but it can also be more about public art too. I'm more interested in the individual, say just a person. In this case, myself and how you can say things to other people about themselves, through showing them elements of yourself (me)."
"I was interested in very everyday routines and how when you put them on show to people does that say anything interesting about you? Does it differ from how other people do things? By showing the mundane boring things you do alone, can people relate to that and see parts of themselves?" – Dressin Red
What does the environment around you contribute to your music and the way you present it?
Dressin Red: "I think being at art school and studying art alongside making music is making me consider the different elements and platforms music can be presented on and how the audience responds to them.
It makes me think about how I can make people feel things through music. I think my music is moving away from being more of a club sound (for want of a better word) – which is part of the reason why I got into electronic music – but at the moment I'm more interested in making music that can create emotion because that's what I seem to be exploring more in my art as well. It makes me consider how I can put it all together under one thing, rather than just making music as Dressin Red and my art separately."
Is there anybody else doing things in a similar way to you, or are there any musicians/artists/everyday people you look up to?
Dressin Red: "I like Micachu because she seems to work across a lot of different formats and takes creative control over lots of different elements. Have you seen that guy Baba Stilts? I saw his stuff recently and thought that was quite cool. He was kind of happy to put a face to his productions. There's this thing with producers not being recognised as artists in the same way that a singer or front man of a band would be considered an artist able to work across video and art and performance."
Well you have artists like Arca now…
Dressin Red: "Arca is a good example. I just like the idea of someone taking control of all the things that surround their music – like videos and visuals and how they present themselves – so like a lot of the photos that he posts of himself, it seems he is putting across a side of himself that he wants to."
So I understand you've got a full length on the way too this year. What can we expect from that and how does it compare to last year's 'Head/Body' and 'Kibble Palace' projects?
Dressin Red: "There is another full length coming on Astral Black later this year. I've been working on it since 'Kibble Palace' came out. I think that there are elements of both my previous projects in my newer stuff but It probably has more similarities in sound to the Head side of my 'Head/Body' tape, in that it has more space…and for example there was a bit of singing in 1three and there is more of that in some of my new tracks too. It's different in that there's more elements of live instrumentation; there's live guitar, singing, elements of live drums and maybe more structure, so some of the tracks take on a more traditional song structure. I've just been working with Jon and we're just trying to figure out how best to present it and make sure that it sounds how I want, as there's more elements to consider now, rather than just "is the kick drum loud enough?'"
Eyes Closed, Reflecting' is available for free download (info).