Inspiring Interviews: Chris Clark

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm

The best way to understand any artist is, of course, “through the music.” That nonwithstanding, I’ve gotten a lot from interviews with musicians as well. Great for whenever you have a few idle minutes and need a little kick of inspiration. Without further ado, I’ll start off with Chris Clark:


You have these full-on sledgehammer thunks and all these kinds of wicked digital hand-clap sounds, and everyone in the world loves them. Are you willing to reveal something about how your discovered this splendid thunk?

“The drums were made from a combination of domestic sounds — scissors, doors, chairs — that created a backdrop for other 808 and 909 hits. Then these were put through the mash factory several hundreds of times. The bones were baked, the brittle ones were sorted from the juicy, tough ones. No, but seriously, I think most of the drums were put through all sorts of things that changed the dynamics and made them more fluid. Most “tidy” engineers like to separate each drum track out and have it perfectly EQed. Although this is admirable in a sort of old skool watch-your-grandma-knit-you-a-nice-beige-sweater sort of way, I find it doesn’t excite me. What I tend to do is just jam stuff through as many boxes as I can, until everything sort of bleeds into itself and all its surrounding parts.

You can combine the artifacts introduced through the mess of all these boxes, like the background noise and the crackling desk, etc, and then just remove it all until you end up with some weird goblin drowning in an acid sort of squawk. Then maybe you could feed this back into a microphone, put this through a compressor, then put this through another noise gate inside of the sequencer that is being triggered by the delay of some granular pad sound and then maybe when this delay has it feedback rate changed it might trigger something else like a hi hat or a toilet flushing or a sample of someone having an orgasm or something. So, you see, it really ends up being quite a grey area and it can be hard to remember how or why I made my sounds in the way that I did. The processes lose their novelty, and thus lose their importance as singular, autonomous techniques. They feed into each other and often are contradicted by other “themes” within a track. So they inevitably become tiny bit parts in the wider picture of the work that I am assembling.”


“It sort of does your head in if you take notice of it I guess because ultimately it doesn’t really affect your impulse to write stuff. That comes from somewhere that’s quite precious to you – I mean I really, really hold it very dear to me, and writing music has got me through some of the most dark times of my life, and I feel like if I didn’t have it I would have pretty serious mental health issues. So like when people kind of fuck with that it does make you defensive and I suppose that’s a shame really, because it’s just all misunderstanding on both sides I guess, which is ultimately – useless.”

Contact Music

What’s the best thing about what you do?
Clark: (laughs)…That’s a good question. Just being able to get up on a Monday morning and do what I love doing, without anyone telling me what I have to do.
…and the worst thing?
Clark: …The caffeine balance I think…having panic attacks when you hear certain drones…

Virgin Media

Chris Clark: “I’ve been more into recording recently. I bought a pretty sweet little violin the other day. I want to get a viola too. I’ve never played viola. Also got a new soundcard. I always thought the acquisiton of new soundcards was a boring task but this new one is f**king incredible, it’s like top end consumer level so still pretty cheap but the sound is just vicious. It’s making my kicks sound like they’re made out of solid, polished bronze eggs(one of the best colours). When I hear kicks I don’t approve of I tend to see purple. I hate the colour purple. Obvious heavily reverbed, glossily produced minor scales do it as well. First of all I see the notes and then I see long purple velvet tear drops. With maybe some paisley fractals thrown in for good measure. Eraaggh I’m making myself feel sick. Back to bronze. Or beige. Beige, bronze, brown, amber, beige, beige, brown. There we go. Feeling better already.”

The Milk Factory I
The Milk Factory II

What inspires you to compose?
“I guess part of it comes from feeling dissatisfied, like life would be completely cheap and grim and oppressive without music. If your life was fine and you were content then you wouldn’t bother writing. It comes from mainly wanting to build these internal struggles, almost like mazes, within yourself, just so you can find your way out of them. I guess on one level it is entirely an irrational impulse.”

Categories: inspiring interviews

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