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Compilation Artist

Drawing from the natural environment, the inner mind and perceptions of human experience, Serpent Dream creates surreal, electro-acoustic music and introspective soundscapes.

Serpent Dream

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How did you get into electronic music? Where did it all begin?

One of the first interactions I had with music was when I was a child. We had this electronic keyboard, I was astonished at all the different sounds you could come up with on the same set of keys. I think I internalized these sounds and it kept going from there.

When I was older I went through a pretty big metal/prog rock phase, only consuming that genre. After some time I started getting bored of metal and rock. My favorite artists were starting to incorporate electronic elements, which lead me to seek out more of that type of music.

Learning about the audio production process and working with electronic artists inspired me to start working with those sounds. It was pivotal in expanding my musical pallet.

Is there one piece of gear that was a real turning point for you?

For me, it was formally learning DAW software during my advanced diploma years, and learning about the deep manipulation you can achieve with VST plugins and automation. I found digital audio manipulation really informed the sounds I have been making.

Is there a particular instrument or sound source you find yourself drawn to?

I am drawn to my acoustic guitar, I love using fluttering arpeggios and finding different tones through the instrument. I think it compliments the atmosphere I create.

I am also very drawn to organic sounds, not only samples and ambiance of natural sources, but synthesis and modulations that don't sound typically electronic. I am also fond of creating new and twisted versions of sampled sounds taken from natural and human environments.

What does your creative process look like? Are there particular techniques that help your process?

I am always writing. Whenever I am in the studio I make a point of creating anything. It doesn't have to be finished or even recorded. I find this usually leads to an idea, and when that forms I kinda let it guide me. After that that I have very separate sessions where I experiment with arrangements, recording techniques, and different forms of manipulation, before mixing. I send my work to a separate mastering engineer ( even though I master for clients! ). This allows me to step back from the work and have a fresh pair of ears to help complete the project.

Where do you usually start when creating a new piece?

It usually buds from a riff I have been playing with, or a particular ambiance or sound. I often hear music and sounds in my head and that has lead me on journeys to articulate them in real life, usually producing interesting results.

Do you find that other creative pursuits influence your music?

I have found the opposite! Music has lead me into video and digital art. I have found that these new mediums are feeding back into the ideas of my next musical and sound projects, which is exciting.

Do you perform live? How do you translate your music into a live performance?

I started off only wanting to make records, but over the past few years as my guitar playing has developed I have been doing some live stuff. I am still figuring out how to perform my full compositions and more experimental music live, although a solid process is forming involving loop pedals and hired musicians.

What is the source of inspiration for your latest work?

Nova, my latest work came about from travelling with friends. It started as an idea to articulate this mantra we have; to follow our passions. We had been talking about how all-consuming work, social norms and cultural ideas all kinda set us up with self-doubt and neurosis, and for many, deep feelings of depression and anxiety.

The music came after I sat down with these people I had been travelling around Australia with. We talked about life, death and culture, and our own antagonistic and rebellious actions used to take control of our lives. I then took samples of these conversations that I composed music and atmosphere around.

It was originally composed for a visual exhibit in Canberra Australia, which was a success but saw the piece shelved for a couple of years. It was not until I moved to New Zealand that I completed my own narrative within this piece; connecting with the work in a final sense and producing a reworked composition and video art piece.

Nova is ultimately a narrative about overcoming fear and self-doubt, to pursue and create meaning in our lives through the opportunities we see and are yet to see. It is a very personal work, but also one I hope people can empathise with.

Do you think the town you live in (Wellington) has an influence on your sound or process?

I didn't use to think so, I find my influence originally came from mimicking my idols, then from nature and the people I engage with. I found that moving city gave me a new perspective. When I moved to Wellington and into Nautilus Creative Space I found being around dedicated artists and a music and art scene inspiring. This place where professionals and hobbyists alike intermingle allowed me to dive into my work in a whole new way.

This new perspective has led me to think that the culture, geography and people with whom we surround ourselves inevitably influences us, including the city we live in.

What is the strangest or most surprising instrument you have used?

The strangest sounds I remember making were for a science fiction sound library. This ended up with me screaming through a teapot and scratching a coin on a clay disk to create alien vocal effects.

Who do you see as your biggest influence?

Steven Wilson. He is one of the most underrated and diverse musicians and composers out there, I have been greatly inspired by his ambient, experimental, progressive rock and electronica projects.

What records caught your attention early on and influenced your direction?

Early on, the dark and meandering guitars and spooky deranged atmospheres of Storm Corrosion caught my imagination. To me, it is one of the most unique sounding records out there, and I have been on a quest ever since to incorporate that sound in my music in an original way. I feel I have only reached this point very recently.

Bass Communion - Ghosts on Magnetic Tape and the vinyl mix of Cenotaph are very textural ambient, records that sparked my imagination around textural atmospheric forms of music.

Coil - Music to Play in the Dark; I found this artist and this record in particular when I was searching for a new kind of music, different from the standard electronic sounds in the mainstream. I found this record showed me how weird and strange you can go while remaining legible.

Dead Can Dance - Anastasis. This record was pivotal in expanding my pallet around world instrumentation and a different kind of less textural, more rhythmic ambiance.

Opeth - Heritage. This album came at a time when I was waning on heavy music, apparently Opeth, my favorite death metal band felt the same, coming up with this strange 70s style progressive rock record. It showed me the weirder side of guitar-based music.

Recommend one artist for people to check out (other than yourself of course)

Lunatic Soul.