Palmistry on how his father’s death inspired ‘Afterlife’ and working with SOPHIE on Rihanna material
Careful now – Memotone’s made one of the year’s prettiest albums, ‘I Sleep.At Waking’. Constructed from samples played by William Yates , the Brighton-based illustrator behind the project, it was recorded in the woods around his parents house on Dorset-Wiltshire border. It’s a still, incredibly skilfully constructed album, that manages to approach modern classical, ambient and that stewy sound of now with a verve and ear for melody quite apart. No wonder, then, the Black Acre – home to such quiet outliers as Hyetal, Alby Daniels and Fantastic Mr Fox –snapped him up. The album is out next month, and we are ever so proud to share with you this wonderful mix of influences. Read his answers below, and make sure you get a copy of his album when it’s out.
Hi Will, how’s it going?
Hello Dummy, very well thanks. Just working on new music and a few book illustrations. All good.
Please tell us more about this mix?
This mix has been designed to give you a little window into my listening habits over the last 8 months or so. Music that has inspired me. Obviously it is a limited selection but I think it spans a fairly good cross section of the sort of things I’ve been immersed in.
Can you highlight a few tracks you’ve included and why?
I could write at length about each piece, they all have there own merits and unique qualities. However if pushed to choose only three from the selection they would have to be as follows:
Last Waltz by Puma from their album ‘Half Nelson Courtship’. This track is undeniably excellent. No matter what your opinion on the style of music, the craftsmanship can surely be appreciated. The sonics tear and glide through your very soul. I have not come across a band who are so capable of producing such high emotion whilst having such an interesting sound pallet. If I could have included the whole album in the mix I would have, but I fear that would be against some copyright law. It is truly one of my favourite albums of all time. It’s rare to find music that is so alive.
Stem/Long Stem by DJ Shadow. Since I was about 12, every time I have been asked to call up tracks that have been inspirational this has been in the list. I can’t even put my finger directly on why I love it so much but the older I get the more I love it. There is nostalgic value to it now of course which has made my ears and heart slightly bias, but none the less this track always stops my breath. The blend of harp, strings, vocal samples and breakcore-esque drumming is enough to floor me. There is an urgency about the music which is very hard to create. There is magic, beauty and disaster. A classic combination pulled off magnificently well.
And finally: Thunder by Vex’d. Not only does this track recall one my favourite games (‘Zelda, A Link To The Past’ on S.N.E.S) but it also tares the memory right out of my hippo-campus and smashes it to pieces with a steel hammer. This is raw. ROAR!
There is a lot of music I would liked to have included in my mix but didn’t due to a change in listening habits over the past couple of years. But I would like to thank Four Tet for his ‘Rounds’ album, even if it didn’t make the mix.
I know you play multiple instruments, when and how did you get into music production and performance?
When I was 15 I went to art college and the band I was in at school split up due to our parting of ways (even though the bassist and I took the same course). I still had a need to make music so I got myself a little digital 8 track recorded. It was in-fact a guitar effects and loop pedal with an 8 track built in. The GNX3. I loved it. I made my first two albums (self released on iTunes but have now been taken down) on it. After finding it hard (if not ultimately rewarding) to record everything all the way through seamlessly over 8 tracks I decided to get a bit of software on my computer which would mean I could record separate parts and then arrange them as I see fit in a DAW. My love for computer aided music was born. Before I had used computers to make music I thought it was cheating. But now I just see it as enabling (even though I still don’t use a laptop in my live shows). The love grew from there to what it is today. My live show is just a natural progression of my musicality. Working in the studio with a computer is blissful. The freedom in production these days is so liberating, but I will always be a musician first and producer second.
You’ve got a new release forthcoming on Black Acre, tell us more about the making of it?
I had been listening to a lot of dance music and was feeling generally unsatisfied with it bar some incredible highlights (Lapalux’s Many Face’s Out Of Focus EP, the Ark EP by Loops Haunt, ‘ISAM’ – Amon Tobin and all the Downliners Sekt stuff to name just a few.) So I had retreated to my dark cave of Hiroshima inspired Polish contemporary classical music and hour long dissonant soundscape/noise albums. I felt rejuvenated. I decided I was ready to start working on my album. I wanted to make something different but that also recalled some of the music I had been listening to. A tribute to my interests in music shall we say. Throughout the album I tip my cap to some of the most influential characters in my musical life, hopefully whilst also making my own path. The only samples that are used on the album are some old electric drum hits, other than that it’s all my own recorded sounds and instrumentation (and vocals). Quite a lot of it being recorded with Binaural microphones which you wear in yours ears so when you listen back is stereo maps it exactly as you would be hearing it, which was a great way to bring space and depth into the album. People who
have heard my album and walked in the valleys around my house where it was all recorded, have said how they can hear the place in my music. Mostly they are speaking metaphorically but if you listen really carefully you actually can hear the place!
What’s your take on live performance?
I love watching music live. I love watching instrumentalists playing there instrument and separating themselves from the audience in their focused concentration. I love playing music live. I don’t know if you have heard or seen any of my live music, but I do a live set with no laptop. I use instruments loop pedals, and MPC and hardware effects. It makes my performance a lot harder and ultimately quite stressful in preparation, but it also makes it very rewarding. When people come up after a gig to say how amazing it was to be able to watch me make every sound and trigger all the samples and fiddle with all the effects knobs, it makes it all worth the effort. I do not mind watching laptop set’s from electronic musicians, especially if it’s something really interesting (Leafcutter John for example) but I will always prefer watching ‘live’ music with instruments. If your interested in what I do you can check out a load of live videos on my website: http://www.memotone.co.uk/memotone-live-videos/
What/who inspires you, musically and out of music?
Late Junction on BBC Radio 3 is always a great inspiration. There is a lot that inspires me. Anything and anyone that makes me question.
Best thing you’ve heard and seen this year?
I just got back from End of the Road festival where I saw Patrik Watson. It was beautiful. A brilliant set. But this year I haven’t made it to many live events. Last year I saw so much amazing stuff that I wasn’t so get up and go this year. I went to Simple Things in Bristol and saw a few good things. The highlight being a band called Three Trapped Tigers that played in (on?) Thekla. I saw a great Kutmah DJ set in Brighton. Tom Mullet of Last Dance London dropping ‘System’ by Loefah and then ‘Killing Floor’ by Vex’d on a huge rig at a free party was pretty damn good. And listening without seeing, ‘Ask The Dust’ by Lorn on Ninja Tune is a great album, along with Moon Ate The Dark’s self titled album on Sonic Pieces. The Notwist ‘Lichter’ is also a great release. Nico Muhly’s ‘Gait’ composed for the BBC Proms, performed by the National Youth Orchestra was brilliant If there’s anything you haven’t heard, check it out!
What’s your favourite colour?
It changes in accordance to mood, situation, season, event. No solid favourite.
1. Death Of Memes – Meme I – Alexander Berne And The Abandoned Orchestra [Innova Recordings]
2. Last Waltz – Puma [Rune Grammofon]
3. Neuf Cents Lunes – Sylvain Chauveau [FatCat Records]
4. Quartet N. 2 – Dustin O’Halloran [FatCat Records]
5. Polymorphia – Krzysztof Penderecki: Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra (Antoni Wit) [Naxos]
6. avril 14th – Aphex Twin [Warp]
7. Weave – Susumu Yokota [Leaf]
8. Stem/Long Stem – DJ Shadow [Mo’Wax Records]
9. Kitty Kat – Amon Tobin [Ninja Tune]
10. Chalk Knots – Loops Haunt [Black Acre]
12. Thunder – Vex’d [Planet Mu]
13. Kanon Pokajanen – Ode 1 – Arvo Pårt: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir [ECM]