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White Noise: ON: Signal Shot

Saturday, 14 September 2013

ON: Signal Shot

In our last comment section, we focused on the rising star of Damiano von Erckert's ava imprint. From label to artist, this week ON features an interview and exclusive download of a very special artist - one who has yet to officially release a track. We're committed to promoting and sharing fresh talent, so I'm very proud here to introduce Signal Shot. Born in Romania, the 24-year old has combined a lifelong interest in music with a career in sound design, resulting in the birth of his Signal Shot side project. While his available tunes are scant, the quality is top notch, and it only seems a matter of time before he's signed up to something.

Here you can read the first interview with the artist and stream tracks throughout. We can also offer you an exclusive download of his beautiful Dependent, a tear-streaked stepper hewn from plucked strings and mesmeric vocals towards the close. Without further ado, here's Signal Shot.


Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your music?
Sure, I think I can. My name is Jozsef Iszlai and a sizeable part of my life consists of making music on a laptop. Texture and context intrigue me in unimaginable ways.

What were your early experiences with music? Have you always had a sense that making music was something you wanted to do?
Well, let’s see...at first I got this right-handed guitar from my mother when I was 13 and being left handed I didn’t exactly know how to play it, so I started learning everything upside down. Lots of things have changed since then, but one thing stayed with me for quite a while: the ability to find myself intrigued by approaching musical ideas differently.

"I started thinking a lot about music as architectural design"

How long has electronic music in particular been a focus for you, what music sparked off that revelation?
It hasn’t really been a focus of mine up until two or three years now. I wouldn’t want to sound snobbish but I think that ideologically speaking late modernism sparked off my interest. The idea was to make music which aimed to deny musical canon and conventional forms of musical language. Many great romantic composers tried to isolate themselves from convention as well but I think the difference lies in the fact that during modernism (from the start of the 20th century) there was this general denial of music and sound. This made musical texture and small, simple structures all the more important. This then spawned the ideology of musique concrète, which I consider it to be a magnificent historical turning point.

Most of the intelligent electronic music out there is highly textural, let’s just take an obvious example: the use of white noise in electronic dance music. Texture is what shapes the sound. Lo-fi is all about this as well. And when I realised the enormous importance of texture I suddenly started loving the craft of sampling, editing - basically everything that could be interpreted as a collage or montage of sounds. Something fantastic and alienating happens with the aid of texture (for example a hum or noise) and that’s what I find fascinating in contemporary electronic music. Besides this I work in audio post-production, which opened my ears as well.


So how exactly does your line of work affect the music that you make?
There is a relationship which I think is self-reflexive. First off I was only doing sound effects and design for a couple of videos and then I started thinking a lot about music as architectural design. Because that's what you basically do in audio post-production as well. Sound is music, there's no way to argue with the fact that all sounds on the planet could be arranged as music. So I started feeding off that thought and then it all evolved into this weird flow of thought where music should be part design and part melody/chords. Juggling between those two distinctive processes is a method which I find particularly interesting. 

"I started learning everything upside down"

While perhaps not overtly dancey, there are clear traits of dance music in your productions – I see a lot of resemblances in particular to the early stages of dubstep when it was more aligned with spacious, atmospheric garage. What are the musical touchstones for your sound? 
You’re probably more familiar with genres than me. I don’t know what my music resembles but I can feel some familiar moments in many producer’s music out there. We’re somehow related to the decay of dance music, it’s a somewhat apocalyptic approach to me. It’s like we’re all driven by the same flame inside of us. We’re sonically connected through the flame in our souls. I find that a beautiful thing to experience. I’m connected to all sorts of musical touchstones, it would be a shame to not name everyone and unfortunately I can’t do that, but here’s a few: Bach, Debussy, Miles Davis, Stockhausen, Dauwd, Autechre, etc.

Neon Glow

Can you give a few examples of those modernist artists, particularly for those (like myself) fed on electronic music, sans classical education?
There are too many, really. And again, who would be comfortable arranging all these great composers hierarchically? Let's see, some particularly interesting people to dig up would be Debussy for his intricate arrangements on piano, John Cage or Karlheinz Stockhausen for their interesting uses of texture and sound after the fifties or sixties. Three names I absolutely had to mention, the latter two are partly non-musical, there's this denial of music within their works which makes them really interesting. Quite influential on the krautrock movement as well, go look up Neu! or Can, their music comes even closer to the electronic sounds of today. I'll just stop here, but not before I mention some of my favorite musique concrete artists: Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Henry, etc. It's better for you if you start listening, check out related stuff, find the music you like! 


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