Words & Photography by Laura Turnbull
When I visited Martin he’d recently moved from a much bigger space to a small bedroom in a house share. The room had hardly any of the clutter and chaos that hangs around after a house move, though. A string of red lights looped under a bookshelf stacked with sci-fi, and computer, speakers and synth (Minibrute with two slightly wonky keys) sat on a desk facing the window. Maybe it had something to do with Martin’s lush ambient tracks bubbling in the background as we spoke, but the space had a really tranquil feel. The best kind of escape from a damp November afternoon.
“One thing I do always like to have is a view out the window when I’m working”, Martin added as we talked about the claustrophobia of custom-made studios and bad spaces for being creative. Only just getting used to being in this tiny space and having spent the summer working overtime, he was, he explained, “going through a bad patch of not really knowing what to do…”. Cue salute from every musician ever. Writer’s block: scarier than any blue screen. Opening up a project he’d been working on recently in Ableton, Martin talked about how after two years making either ambient or noise, he found himself coming back to making stuff with beats. The beat on this track clicked and rippled like someone rolling dice over the soft, humming soundscape. “Do you know Basinski? I love his stuff”, Martin told me. “On first listen it sort of sounds like it doesn’t really change, but if you listen to the whole record – it’s subtle, you notice all these little things that you didn’t before.”
Listen to Martin’s work as seamouse here:
There was one leftover token of the recent house move in the room – a box of gear pushed under the desk that hadn’t been sorted yet. A total treasure trove. Tangled cables, old video games, “oh, there’s a hairdryer in there, not sure why”, pedals – one homemade, the Frankenstein product of two fuzz pedals his friend put together. “It’s kind of broken so when you tap it it makes these weird screeching sounds”, which turned out to be perfect material for live noise performances. Balanced on top of it all, one of those baking trays with holes in it to make pizza extra crispy, bent a bit on one side – attach a contact mic and spin a coin across it and suddenly it’s a deliciously bad instrument, “sounds horrible, but I mean that’s what you want!”
Martin talked about listening to his parents’ old tapes growing up, but the real beginnings of his interest in electronic music? “Fucking around on Cubase in college music lessons.” Disinterested teachers and hours stuck in a classroom maybe weren’t so bad after all. He opened up a Max patch on the computer screen to show me. A spiderweb of parts and connectors, it had taken him a year to build. “I’m really messy with patching, I should tidy it up”, he laughed – it did look like the musical brainchild of a schizophrenic octopus. Exactly the kind of noise machine I want to hear every sound through.
Check out Martin’s solo music projects, Howlite and seamouse, here: