This interview is with Oklahoma, USA-born musician, Almark.
1. What is your music for?
My music has always been an out for me, a way to express myself in deep ways. When I was young I would play the guitar and take my teenage angst out on it through song writing. Now I am a adult and I write music to still express emotion, but not really for the sake of emotion, but romance, the love of music writing and the willingness to create something strange and unique, music is my life.
2. How do you judge what of your music is better or worse?
I’m a very picky musician, some would call this being a perfectionist, but not perfect to your ears but to my own. I’m like the quality control dept for myself and nothing leaves the factory without my approval, it’s just the way I approach music and audio engineering, it has to be right. If music does not move me, give me chills or even create emotional feelings inside of me I feel it’s lacking, which is why I write my own to accomplish this, in turn others feel what I feel through the music, and that is special to me. When I listen to a piece of music I have written and it touches me a 2nd time I know I have done well.
3. How does how you make your music affect what is produced?
I began a while back with all hardware, in 2000, during those days I used synths and drum machines. Back then I would hook all the audio output into my Packard Bell 75mhz computer, very old and slow, but at that time made in 1995 and just play and record via waveform to Samplitude pro DAW. In 2009 I did the digital transition, where I used only one keyboard and not so much for it’s sounds but it’s keys, utilizing it only for a controller. When I am composing Electronic it’s very studio-driven, precise, there is no one-shot recording, it’s all a thought process. It’s actually hindering to be honest, because I can’t put something on the table immediately and go with it. But when I do live-streaming shows from my bedroom to the web that is when my creative process is at it’s best. Having to setup 2 hours or even 3 weeks gives me the sounds I need, then that night I go with it and loop with Ableton Live, playing each part on keyboard, then looping track after track until the entire show is complete. An improv setup via avant-garde composition, this is when I feel my most accomplished, something I may do more often. I used to have this power in the beginning in 2000 when it was all hardware (most I lost) and a computer, in those days you had MIDI but most of the time I didn’t compose to MIDI, just recorded keys to the screen, using Yamaha DJX, Yamaha SY2, Mirage Ensoniq and Roland TR-505 Drum machine or of course my synths were connected to one anther through MIDI, plus I did record midi for certain songs. I finally was able to get this again when Ableton came along, it’s just a matter of doing the shows and the best of what I do comes out live I think, also it’s more rewarding. Give or take structured music over live, I say both are fun, but live is more interesting to me. Structured feels like songwriting and that’s good but it’s a stop and go process, like my -ATD- album that seems like it’s forever going to remain on my HD.
4. Have you got any music-making insights or tips to pass on?
I believe if a person feels they have talent, then do what you do, experiment. I tell people who are just starting Electronic to simply go with it and do whatever you can, have fun, and you will learn. But don’t do it just because you feel you have to, learning is part of the fun, use software like Renoise, Reaper and download some free VST’s if you don’t have a real keyboard that is fine, the world is full of amazing software these days that blow me away. If you are mixing your own audio, good, we need more mixing and mastering engineers. You could watch videos all day but until you apply what you read or watch you will never learn from it. I watch videos and apply the ideas or techniques, but when I began I didn’t have videos to watch, it was all reading and experimenting. First and foremost experiment, read later, it’s more fun that way. Just make music. As far as tips are concerned, I write a blog on Tumblr just look for http://almarksynthoelectro.tumblr.com/
I write all kinds of things there, even in the future I might do tutorials once I have free time.
5. What is your best work and why?
I would have to say my 1984 show. There is something mysterious and otherworldly about that album, it was my breakthrough in 2013 of the first taste of Avant-Garde, it’s an album that pulls you in and you just want to keep listening, though a few have told me this I felt the same way after I recorded it completely live. The album is unique in that I used only the film ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ and took the entire audio track of the film placed it in each track in Sampler inside of Ableton Live. Giving me a endless supply of instruments, strange sounds, dialog and even ambient textures. The idea came to me one day that I should try it and see what comes of it, so my friend who was listening online was treated to a show that night via listen2myradio.com. The album has been called prolific. I moved the play head around in sampler finding interesting places, playing music swells from the backing music track in the film all over the keyboard, this allowed me to re score an entire movie, the album is bizarre and yet beautiful, I consider it my masterpiece. There are parts that loop of people speaking and crowd roars. Sounds of when John Hurt in the film is sending propaganda through the tubes and you hear a clunk, which I didn’t see while writing, because I hadn’t watched the film until afterword. There is a lot going on in that album, one that requires 1hr and 30 min of listening. Every part of that is something from only the film.
6. If someone who is not you listens to your music, what are they getting?
Originality and something new, weirdness at times, also eccentric moods and melodic, hypnotic elements that can only be created electronically. I think it opens new doorways into the subconscious, it’s music that makes you think, it takes them back to a time where music was art and opened for discussion and I think music should be discussed but not taken apart.
Thanks to Almark for answering these questions. You can hear his music at synthoelectro.bandcamp.com.