Spinning yarns with Grouch ahead of his visit to London
Reported by Tara
Submitted 14-05-16 15:46
There are very few producers who can make music for almost every time and place, but as a long-time fan I reckon Kiwi composer Grouch is one of those extraordinary few. From the lush chilled sounds of the likes of Soul Provider and his Kaya Project remix of One Hundred Lights to his breaksy, dubbier, and downright wonky glitchy sounds, to his more full-on techier, proggier, bassier and psychedelic tracks, Grouch’s back catalogue covers a uniquely vast spectrum of electronic music.
This Thursday night he’s being flown in from Melbourne for a special one-off two-hour set at Ott. & The All-Seeing I & Friends at Koko, where he’ll be showcasing the full spectrum of his sounds, including his new album Corpus Callosum, out next month on Zenon Records. We managed to lure him out of the studio to spin a few yarns before he jumped on the plane…
When we spoke last year you’d just moved to Melbourne and converted your double garage into a music studio. How’s 2016 treating you so far and how’s that all going? Have you managed to get all the kit you wanted or is it turning into a black hole where you find you just want to keep buying more studio equipment?
2016 has been fantastic thanks! It started out with a 2 month holiday in Mauritius with friends and family, there is also a great party scene there believe it or not. Since then I made a quick trip to Costa Rica for Envision Festival which was great. Since then I have mainly been at home working on my new album and playing shows domestically in Australia.
My studio is amazing! It really sounds great especially after all the acoustic treatment I have done and the new Focal SM9 monitors I just bought! High end audio gear is an expensive taste but I mainly use software to make my noises so after having a great sounding room and an amazing pair of monitors there is nothing I need in the immediate future!
You discovered electronic music production when you were just 15 years old; can you remember that moment when you first fell in love with it?
Actually I was 12 years old when I first played around with music production on software called Impulse Tracker, but didn't get very far with it because I only had the stock kick, high hat, snare and toms. It wasn't until my sister introduced me to Fruity Loops at 15 that I really started getting into it.
And yes I will never forget the moment I fell in love with it. It was like a massive epiphany where I realised that I would be writing music for the rest of my life. That feeling is still with me as strong as ever!
You’ve tried your hand at producing almost every type of electronic music, from chilled to full-on, dub to minimal, glitch to breaks and prog to full on. Do you have a favourite style or is it all about mixing up the genres?
I feel like a bit of slave to music. When I sit down to write a track I try to clear my mind and just create sounds. Sometimes they end up being more dancefloor related tracks, sometimes more for chilling.
I find that trying to write from my heart rather than my head is the best way to connect to my inner self. I wish I could be like ‘right today I’m going to write a kick ass reggae track’ and hope it comes out like that, but it never ends up sounding any good to me, so I just surrender and let what comes out come out.
You’re about to release your fourth full album on Zenon Records – does this mean we can expect something harder and darker than your usual offerings? Does the album have any kind of theme or concept, or is it more a collection of your latest Zenonesque tracks?
The album is called Corpus Callosum which is in reference to the broad band of nerve fibres that connect the two hemispheres of the brain. Basically the concept of the album is the union between the left and the right hemispheres, this could be the same as the balance of yin and yang or zen. The album spans the last 5 or so years of my life, so there is a good mix of the heavier darker side of my prog to the more groovy psy techno, all with a healthy dose of experimentation.
Having played at all the big international festivals such as Boom, Ozora, Burning Man and Earthcore amongst many others, you must have some epic stories from life on the road. I know what goes on tour is supposed to stay on tour, but what’s the funniest story from your travels?
Hahaha there are so many, but one that springs to mind is when we were leaving a very windy party in New Zealand down a 4x4 track a tent rolled down the bank into the mud, the cover blew away and there was an x-rated scene going on. The amount of time it took them to get out of the tent and on their feet while trying to cover up as the tent was blowing in the wind so they were both upside down and inside out. And don't worry about the couple they didn't seem bothered at all!
Some artists are blatantly better at DJing or producing, yet you appear to be just as talented at both. Which do you enjoy the most and if you had to give up one of them, which would it be?
To be fair, I only do DJ sets occasionally as I play live from Ableton. But if I had to give up producing or playing live shows then I would definitely keep the producing without question, I would happily live in a cave in Antarctica as long as I could still keep producing music!
As someone who’s already achieved so much so young, where would you like to see things go in the future? Do you ever see yourself ‘settling down’ back in NZ?
From 2011 till 2015 I was on tour non-stop around the world. Since then living in Melbourne has been a really nice change of pace, which has allowed me to focus more on music making. New Zealand is great and I often miss its beauty, my family and friends but I can’t see myself heading back there to live any time soon.
If you could only take 5 CDs and 5 DVDs to a desert island, what would they be??
Whatever has the most nutritional content, probably all season of Master Chef!
What do you like to get up to in those rare moments when you’re not travelling to a gig or in the studio? Surely you need some down time in order to sustain your creativity??
I love the outdoors and I have spent a lot of time exploring the mountains of New Zealand. I also have my paragliding licence and wing which is a pretty awesome way to spend a day, definitely the best way to see the world from above!
Your set at Ott. & The All-Seeing Eye is going to be a special extended 2-hour set, covering your music from dub to more progressive bass sounds. Do you reckon you’ll plan your set in advance, or wait and see what goes down well with the crowd on the day?
Knowing me I will probably leave it to the last minute to make my set but I have a fair idea of what I want to play – I plan to showcase my new album as well as a bunch of my older favourites!
Are you going to be able to stick around London for some sight-seeing and partying, or is it all work and no play on this trip?
This time is a really quick visit, I’m heading to Switzerland after London then to Prague before heading straight back to Australia. But I will be heading back to England in July!
Your set at Noisily 2015 was one of the highlights of the festival for me, so I was stoked to see that you’ll be back in the UK for Noisily 2016 in July. How on earth will you top your set from last year?!?
Thanks, I’m glad you liked it! I had a blast last year – one of my favourite festivals to attend! I am pretty damn happy with my new tracks and the rework I have done of my old ones, so hopefully that will be the icing on your cake.
What else do you have planned for the rest of 2016?
Firstly doing the finishing touches to my album and doing the release party here in Melbourne then it’s back to Europe for 15 shows in 6 weeks. Then I plan to take it easy at home and finish a few EPs I have planned, then it’s off to Goa and Mauritius again and maybe a visit back home to New Zealand.
Finally, if a fan sees you at the bar at Koko, what should they buy you to drink??
Haha probably a shot of Agwa!
Many thanks for your time Oscar and looking forward to seeing you at Koko!
Cheers, looking forward to it!
Catch Grouch playing a special 2-hour set at Ott. & The All-Seeing I & Friends at Koko on Thursday 19 May.
Download Grouch music at Bandcamp
Images and artwork courtesy of Jurassic Melbourne Photography, Tobius Millar, Grouch and Mehndi Ram. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.