Clinic met Ecce Silicon and Dane Law to talk about digital algorithms, the emotional life of machines and chance as a method in their work.
How would you describe… Ecce Silicon?
Dane Law: I know Ecce’s work as Elvin Brandhi and in Yeah You, which has always left me awestruck. She is able to pull sublime pop gold from thin air or craft something symphonic and visceral from whatever materials seem to be at hand. I predict Ecce Silicon will be the defining music force of the next century.
Ecce Silicon: A man of many words – well spoken through his sounds, a colliding cut up of jittering elastic protagonists. A constant harvesting of crops with pitchfork precision. You recognise the language but the grammar is fucked in speech. It would be like verb, verb, verb, verb, adjective, adjective, subject, semi colon Cut____
Dane Law: Cocteau Twins, King Tubby, Red House Painters, the Surf Noir of Don Winslow, the Heather on Saddleworth Moor.
Ecce Silicon: Ryan Trecartin, the Madlib Mind Fusion Volumes, Google Maps.
DJ Set – Live Set – DJ Set – Improvisation – Live Set…you?
Dane Law: For now, everything is pretty much improvised, using a sprawling strange patch I’ve programmed in Pure Data. I’ve got ideas about samples and processes that I try and stick to, but I don’t plan too much and normally neglect plans anyway, and the patch makes it hard to ever get back to sounds, or implement an idea seamlessly anyway.
I’ve tried a couple of times to DJ my own material, and make special tracks for the occasion, and mix things in very layered ways, and I might return to that.
Ecce Silicon: I never think about genre in production but people will always ask you to define your music in some kind of category, so I started saying ‘improvised pop’ as a kind of joke, but it also sounds more experimental than actually saying ‘experimental’.
Machine, emotion, chance as methods/operators in your work?
Dane Law: Music should be sadder. I think I’ve accidentally made some sad ‘algorithms’. I put samples into my patch and it comes out with really weepy stuff. I also once read something described as ‘the sound of computers falling in love’ and that’s often in the back of my mind. I want to get to the almost saccharine but perfect happy/sad of Prefab Sprout at their finest. I hope one day machines will be sad enough to achieve this.
Chance is always there, the patch I play is often unpredictable or just broken and gives me something to react to.
Ecce Silicon: I try to catch technical glitches in my samples, but it is difficult to plan. It’s nice when i’m sampling from keyboards, tapes, or computer when the battery is about to die. The sound becomes more and more distorted and unrecognisable.
In the UK I used to use these small battery op speakers from Tesco to play outside and when they were dying they would really scream! It was like they were sick of being just a vessel for my sounds and just before death wanted to at least once cry out in their own voice. Thats my best insight into the emotional life of machines.
Gesture versus digital algorithms in a performative context?
Dane Law: The two aren’t incompatible, and both can just be a diversion and overly fetishised as an idea. Neither makes a performance necessarily interesting.
Ecce Silicon: Is it ok to answer with a drawing?