Emotions expressed through sonic musical soundscapes

We caught up with the London-based producer Visionist to talk about his work, the music scene, London, and cooking.

Visionist’s music goes around and beyond genres. At least that’s what he says. One thing is for sure, and that is that he is able to capture deep, intimate emotions through layered beats. His debut album “Safe” is, in his own words, “a sound representation of a panic attack”, a chilling and unbelievably honest portrayal of anxiety.

We virtually met up with Visionist via Skype, and chatted and joked about anything and everything. Here’s what he had to say:

 

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On his upcoming plans…
The plan is next year there will be a new album out. There’s not much to say now, I’m still finishing it up. With the last record, I was very much into more slightly lo-fi, grainy, London sounds, and I think the next record I’m working on still has this grainy effect, but it’s definitely built for a bigger sound, it’s not that humble, it’s more aggressive, more euphoric in some way… Ideally, it will be released around April/June. Also new live shows, new visuals.

 

On his artistic process…
So, I kind of constantly work on it, I kind of set myself a task of learning some new skills within my each project, in order to bring new elements to my music. I obviously have some concepts, but I just work on what’s going on with me and the way I feel and I just work around that. And then, I guess, I have that overall aesthetics I wanna pursue, but I’m just trying to build new skills in terms of composition and sound design I didn’t have before. So, yeah, I don’t really work in genre anymore, most of the time I just compose a melody and just work from there… Or if I wanna start with a track that involves more of a rhythmic section, I just kinda see what happens, there’s no real start and finish, and the rhythm forms itself from the sounds. I think that the kind of making music, like “Oh I need to make this track today”, is not really for me – if I wasn’t able to do it in the first couple of hours, I’d just be very frustrated, which is why I let it and just see what happens rather than being like “ok this is the track I HAD to do today.”
and on creating something more personal through that…
I follow music and am aware of trends. And I get a lot of people telling me “you should make a track like this thing you’ve made a couple of years ago” and I’d just be like no, that was a while ago, I’m not there right now, so… My music is quite selfish but that’s way I like to work.

 

On switching to music…
I’ve always liked music and singing, and at secondary school I got the chance to record a song at a studio, and I got really addicted to it, I was like this is amazing. And then I started finding out about how to make music on a computer. With drawing, which I did before, I was always a perfectionist, so it took me forever to finish. With music, the process is a lot quicker, and I like that, I’m still a perfectionist, but I can finish tracks quite quickly and I don’t have to sit on them for too long. I can get them quickly finished, which is something a lot of people struggle with, I just work fast and I’m able to be like yeah, this is finished. That’s I think why I got into music so much.

On his label Codes…
Codes was built on the foundation of Lost Codes finding new exciting artists and giving them a platform to be heard. Codes was built to further help these artists that I would find putting it on a bigger platform. When looking for artists I’m very much about finding out about the person making the music rather then just singing a track I’m interested in why the track exists, I also like to find artists who show a clear transition throughout all their music. The last release was SKY H1 ‘Air E.P’.

 

 

On opening up about anxiety…
Well, I guess for me it was interesting to see that there was definitely a different perception between the approach of the journalists and the general public. After the record came out, and I did my interview with Fader, a lot of people hit me up with talking about their dealings with anxiety and how the record helped them, and how speaking out about it was a good thing. And I think I’ve seen a current trend of mental health in music actually acknowledging it. On the other hand, in terms of the journalists’ side, not all of them, but there was a few, who would kind of question whether I had anxiety or not, which… Um yeah, that was interesting! That annoyed me. It’s like people need to see me breaking down to believe, but that’s not really who I am. It was interesting to see how journalists would come to their own conclusions, which, I think, was kinda bad, but each to their own.
I guess it is quite a vulnerable move [to open up like that], but at the same time, it is my inspiration. So, as much as I hate it, I’m also thankful I can express it through music and I’m thankful I have this ability, to engage with this emotion and recreate it through a sonic musical soundscape.
and on more and more artists speaking up about mental health…
Obviously it’s a good thing that more people are speaking up about such situations, it is creating some kind of reality to the fact that even though we work in this amazing industry and have all this amazing events going on, [it is not all fun]. There’s always gonna be people who’ll be like “don’t complain, you’re in the position that thousands of people dream of”, but at the end of the day, we’re all human, we all have a brain, and our brains react in different ways, and we’re not robots. So yeah, as long as people keep speaking about it, over the time, more and more people will start understanding it. In a way, I feel like it’s a good thing, because your audience always wants to be kind of interacting with you, getting to really know you, and that gives them the opportunity.

 

On coping with the vibrant and rushed vibe of London…
Well, first of all, I live next to a park, I go to the gym, I exercise, play football… Where I live is more of a family area, just downside of Brixton, so all the good stuff from Brixton is still close, but I like to dip in and out, that’s how you keep the healthy lifestyle in London!
and on never moving out…
It’s addictive. You know, it’s changing a lot, including the areas where I grew up, and obviously it’s ridiculously expensive, etc etc. It’s addictive if you’re from there, it’s hard to leave. And for me, the only cities I can ever see myself living in are just as expensive as London. Like New York. It makes no difference.

 

On cooking and eating out…
I don’t usually eat out, I like to cook. Nothing really special, I just like to prepare food a lot, it feels more comfortable. I prefer to prepare my own food. I’m not a good chef, but I can cook. I make a good English roast dinner, I’m gonna say that, a roasted lamb! I like comfort food, so even when I’m abroad, I’m like, take me to the place where I can get a steak, or like Vietnamese food.

 

On artists playing it safe…
What I meant about artists playing it safe was that it is a bit easy now that we live in a society where we’re very aware of everything thanks to the Internet and it’s really easy to realize what’s being the most talked about on the Internet and if you then start talking about those topics and you suddenly become within all of it. And musically, it’s the same way, people just see what’s happening and then make the music based on what’s being made now, I think, that is playing safe, it’s like people saying to me “you should make a club track”–but i don’t want to make a club track. If people are just realizing what’s going on and just being like “oh ok, I need to make that now”, that’s not interesting to me. There needs to be a natural progression between like the music you’ve made in the past. That’s what I’m trying to keep as I was kind of working out my overall sound since around I’m Fine, even though i’m constantly adapting that, there’s still a sense of where it comes from, so when you hear a track online, people are still aware that yeah, that’s Visionist, even though musically it’s quite there are a lot of different aspects, and that’s really important to me.
and those who are not playing it safe…
I think, one of the biggest inspirations I heard really trying to push contemporary music, for me, it has to be SD Laika, his music will always be pivotal to me. for me at the time there was nothing like it, it stood out from so much else I was hearing. This is something I try to achieve within my own work.

 

 


And last but not least, on the next big thing in music…

The next big thing, hmmm. Punk! Punk’s gonna come back! [laughs] I don’t know, I feel like with music we’ve explored so much already, I don’t think there’s any big thing now, cause everything’s continuing. I think what’s more important is that those artists who show that continual development will slowly and slowly be getting bigger – that’s more important to me than the next big thing, because things come and go and it’s a lot of repeating. And I think, with music in general, there’s always new artists and there are ways of creating an individual sound, but the techniques, there’s only so far you can go with them. And a lot of has been explored already.

Visionist: Facebook, Soundcloud
Text + interview: Anna Wim

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