Interview With: Tunnidge
For those not in the know Tunnidge is without doubt and original don. Not only a stalwart producer for legendary labels such as Distance’s Chestplate and Mala’s Deep Medi he also contributed the main design elements to both of those labels, and also released on our own label. Having been fairly quiet throughout late 2014 and the mjaority of 2015 he is now back with his new (and first) LP Moebius Strip. Self released on his new imprint Shining Tyger, and with all the packaging design and videos created by the man himself this is without doubt a true labour of love.
Bayfield sat down with him to talk about the past, the present and where things might be headed.
B: Aite let’s start at the beginning: how come you decided to boot off a brand new label for this one?
Well I spoke to a few labels and they weren’t too keen on the idea of a continuous play record. I don’t think at the time it was a viable way of releasing but I felt that was how I wanted the album presented so I thought I’d better put my money where my mouth is.
Ah that’s a great approach, respect that. Personally I think it’s a perfectly viable way of releasing; obviously having heard the release in full it seems strange labels wouldn’t get with that. Any reason you chose not to put it on Origin Audio?
Well I kind of felt it was a different direction for me and so wanted it to be like a whole new fresh beginning
Ah I see fair one. I’ve always thought long-form listening suits a lot of underground music, particularly things like dubstep, that work more around build and atmosphere than just sheer head nodding.
I totally agree. I never got the whole eleven tracks at five minutes each for an album; when you write for the dance you are writing for your track to be a voice in a sequence. It’s also composed to be compliant with the necessities of the DJ to an extent. So when looking at an album I didn’t want to approach it in that same way as a dancefloor track; it doesn’t make sense to me. I wanted to make sure the tracks worked together as a whole rather than just a compilation of my music.
What was the system like for creating the album? It passes through multiple styles and moods: did you have that stuff laid out in advance or was it more just mixing and matching periods of experimentation?
I started off with a few tracks that I felt had a certain emotive tone; bits which I found interesting and wanted to build on the tone of. The concepts and ideas in the album evolved alongside that process, I tried to be fluid and pulled things from what was happening, influencing me and inspiring me whilst I created. In terms of composition I pulled all the stems of the tracks together that I felt had substance, laid them all together and tried to change the pace and structure enough in the tunes to create a momentum and wasn’t too fatiguing.
Its interesting you say about the structure being more cohesive. It seems a lot of electronic music, particularly dubstep, seems far too keen to just trot on without switching up its approach or formula. It’s amazing how stagnant the sounds seem to have become in general (to my ears). Just endless reams of three or four track releases and people sticking to the sounds they know. I know everyone has their style and whatnot but it does strike me how much people seem reluctant to experiment.
Well every tune can’t re-invent the genre, but I certainly agree on the point of stagnation. In the last few years the whole dungeon thing has become very unappealing for me. But like all things stagnation is the starting point for a new artistic cycle. For me it was a good time to start exploring another side to my production and themes.
Touching on the themes a bit what was the album title Moebius Strip about? I assume it was in reference to the late Mr Jean Giraud?
Haha no it wasn’t as it happens.
Ah really? No way. I’m more interested now
It obviously has metaphorical implications which I don’t want to go too far into as I want people to explore the album. But in a very linear fashion the album has no official start and finish point; you can listen to it nonstop, and from that realisation I hoped the other layers would start to emerge from the ether.
Ah right so like the visual loops? Never knew that was called a Moebius strip until I just harnessed the mad research power of the internet just now.
It’s interesting as that sort of brings it back around to the cyclical nature or music scenes.
I think it’s really important to see a few of the original scene’s artists pushing out in different directions. Stick usually gets thrown when people branch out beyond the style they’re popular for (which is a rant I’ll get into another time) but I think it’s the only way things can truly progress.
There’s a fair few artists that seem content to just keep putting out variations on a theme (maybe for fear of alienating fans) which I think is a bit self-destructive in the long term.
That is something that interests me a lot; the producer’s mind set. What is the motivation? Who do you write for? Where do you write for? I think it’s maybe a little easy to condemn certain producers for sticking to a specific signature sound they have established but if they feel they are contributors rather than pioneers then I can maybe understand the stance.I think there is also something to be said for just focusing on the cycle of creating; maybe if you were to view yourself as more of a conduit you would be less inclined to be self-aware of the output. If you are an artist you produce. It’s up to the critics and the public to chop it up, judge it, condemn it or exalt it.
I see where you are coming from. It’s always difficult not to be self-aware, particularly in these days of social media where everyone (who wants to) can be heard 24/7. I like that this record feels like a bit of a reaction against everything you just mentioned. Like it’s been done solely on the terms you set out. It’s cohesive both sonically and design wise. It feels like it was made both out of indulgence (and that’s not meant as a negative) and necessity.
You designed the visuals & videos yourself too didn’t you?
I’m so pleased you said that about indulgence and necessity, that’s pretty spot on. It’s good when I hear things like that transmit.
This is was quite an idiosyncratic venture for me & obviously that has the inherent risk that it might seem impenetrable to anyone listening to it. It also feels paradoxical to make something quite distinct and personal but always with the intention of presenting it on a wider platform. So when people pick up on the nuances it’s rewarding.
Yeah the artwork was done by myself with help and suggestions from my girlfriend. The videos were also done by me with help and consultation from Leon Switch. I really enjoyed doing the videos and felt they were another pointer to the content of the album, they’re also a visual representation of this atmosphere I wanted to explore and establish. I think I may build on the video and perhaps do one for the whole album. I had an idea of people alone in whatever zone they need to be in and listening to and watching the album and being immersed.
Immersive is a nice word for it. I’ve had it on the cans whilst doing some pretty long hand-illustrated work and it ebbs and flows really smoothly between points of definite impact and more subdued background pieces.
As you mentioned earlier it successfully avoids just being twelve dancefloor singles in a row which can be draining but also avoids being sixty minutes of wafting, ambient background bilge, which usually just feels like sci-fi lift music. I think indulgence in pretty much all creative arts is something that current society seems to want to convince everyone is a vulgar and / or negative thing
I wanted it to be a listening experience that transcended the dancefloor… I know that’s may sound a bit cringy but fuck it; perhaps that where the self-indulgence kicks in, or is that confidence?
No its indulgence mate you should be ashamed of yourself.
It was one of my great fears that I was going to end up with, as you say, an extend piece of atmosphere with no real impact. It’s also incredibly difficult to have a distanced perspective on something you are working closely on. I think I probably spent the majority of the time during the creation of the album not working on it… I know that sounds odd but it gave me perspective. I’d be interested to know the hours I actually spent writing it against the hours listening to it and noting points to change / alter. I did some extreme editing in the last few months; removed a couple of tunes, put some old ones in. I accidentally listened to a tune I had long since discarded and with fresh ears thought this has to go back in.
I get that completely. It’s the 19 hours of pottering about thinking, distracting and “getting inspiration” aka watching clips of Tim Westwood on YouTube that tend to be vital in generating the hour of actual nuts and bolts creative work on the project. You then go back to sitting about for a further 19 hours and agonising over what you’ve just made. I think some people mistake building sounds / clipping samples for the creative bit.
So technically what time span did the creation of the record take place over?
About two years all in all. I’ve learnt a lot in the process; it’s a relief to have it released and out there for people to listen to. I think I’d like to use this template in the future around different motifs. I am sure based on what I’ve learnt for this release future projects would not be so time intensive… I have never been prolific in my musical output anyway but that doesn’t bother me too much anymore.
I think that would be an interesting ongoing project, it’s great to hear what is so evidently your production style but in different forms to the usual… You also need to start making greyscale techno or RA will never feature you. Ever.
But nah I actually don’t have a problem with artists fucking off to make any particular genre; strikes me as odd that so many seem determined to stay in any one lane, but what I do find striking is quite how quickly dubstep (and grime before it) were both picked up and abandoned by the artists / press / public. Do you think there’s any truth in that?
Also do you think, in part, that its due to the manner in which the internet allows everything to travel faster ergo trends wear out their welcome faster?
To be honest I think the press and critics play a vital role for exposure, and that has to be embraced on a certain level. I think as producers & DJs we form a strange family where you are socially connected to people who you otherwise might not interact with. You are forced in to personality confrontations with others who you would usually have the choice of removing from your life. But in this dysfunctional family we are to an extent forced to interact and in some situations face the uglier side of our nature. It can wander in to the territory of ego, where it’s difficult to really be objective. People think they are being slighted, unrecognised, over looked, victims of nepotism or self-preservation, but really all that is only destructive to yourself. The important thing is honest creation… I suppose what I’m saying is can we have a discussion on the nature of the fleeting attention of the press, critics raining down accolades and significance that I may not agree with, but it’s just ego and a pointless road to venture down.
I think I feel I have done something I am proud of and I know has a depth of thought gone in to it that I felt was necessary, so what does it matter? Again it always good to have critical acclaim and I’m pleased the album has been well received thus far, but if it was about that for me I would be making popular music, popular dubstep, not the niche end of the niche end.
Again though it’s quite paradoxical because I really want people to enjoy it and it’s very important to me but I don’t give a fuck if they don’t. Not in an arrogant way or being obnoxious but just because that is surplus to my real motivation.
I like where you’re coming from on that one. I’ve consciously tried to resist writing “reviews” of releases over the past few years (not only because it slightly bores me) but it follows that same vein as you touched on there: there’s no point me just describing the music verbatim for a whole paragraph or kissing arse because it’s the only way to get on promo lists (and there are a good many who do) as you can just listen for yourself, and I don’t really see that I have a position to be saying whether its “good” or not as that’s completely a personal thing. I’d rather do something like an interview where an artist can explain directly about whatever it is they’ve been creating.
…I guess what I’m getting at in a roundabout way is that it’s great to see more artists indulging / pushing themselves instead of just trying to appease their critics / fans / detractors / taxman.
Yeah sometimes it’s just about taking risks…
I am very much enjoying the martial drum time of Hermetica and the way it segues so neatly into the bumpy rollage of Eyes Of Fear. There was also a really nice bit quoting Ah Pook The Destroyer (or some other William Burroughs passage) which I really liked too
Ah nice! That’s a quote of a quote from that The Destroyer Of World’s that one. Robert Oppenheimer
Yep there you go that’s the one. There’s a fantastic animated film of that was voiced by Burroughs which uses that really well. I really like that eastern inflected bit that comes after the Oppenheimer quote too, probably the most cinematic point on the record.
What’s the film? Burroughs keeps getting mentioned with this album, I think it the stream of consciousness style that people are paralleling it with… I actually nearly left that track out because I wasn’t sure about it but now I think that’s the track I’m happiest with
Funny how that always seems to happen.
It’s definitely a stand out. The whole thing does genuinely have an air of Burroughs about it. Particularly stuff like that recorded thing he did Breakthrough In The Grey Room. It sort of phases in and out of focus, breaking up proper spoken word parts with static and loops with the more focused tunes. There are certainly some similarities to be drawn.
Right let’s round this up with a little bit of a sell. Aside from spending all the profit you will make from people buying your album because I said it was well good what’s in store for the next few months? I spotted you’ve been out doing a bit of the old DJing and that again. Any plans for further stuff on the new label?
Yes yes got a few gigs coming up; Deep Medi is 10 years old this year so got a few Medi link ups which is always nice. I think I’ve decided to do a more releases on shinning tiger too; got loads of ideas swimming around my head and a load of strange music to finish off on the hard drive so I’m just going to run with that and see what I can pull out of the ether.
I have some other projects that I have side-lined that I’m going to re-focus on again also, so looking forward to pushing off in to some new territories.
Moebius Strip Out Now!
Fantastic stuff. Seems you are working as a completely free man which is lovely to see / hear. Big love for the time mate and congratulations on an excellently released album… about fucking time!