93 - Aaron Graham
Artist Interviews 🎶 Studio Tours 🎛
Hello music people 👋
Today in the spotlight, Aaron Graham
Coming from England, he is a sound designer who creates create sonic worlds. This is an insightful interview for an interesting approach to music making 🎶
Read Time: 6 minutes 📰
(I’ve owned tons of stuff and am always on the search for new and exciting ways of making sound!…fighting the modular itch as well!)
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Who are you and what is your relationship with music?
My name is Aaron Graham and I’m based in a little town just outside of East London called Faversham.
I worked as a session musician and producer for along time alongside my own personal projects before gradually moving into a more sound design based role.
I work directly with visual artists, advertising agencies and media agencies in order to create sonic worlds for their more often than not, beautiful imagery.
It’s something I always did as a hobby, to create pieces of music and sounds to accompany visuals but over the last 5 years I have really honed in on what I like most about it and how to significantly improve my process to increase productivity and output.
Which piece of equipment in your studio is essential to your production process?
I use various different things with every new piece of music but the heart and soul of my compositions is Norns (more specifically a piece of software developed for it called cheat codes 2 by the wonderful Dan Derks). And possibly my Zoom H5 microphone.
What is the least expensive piece of gear that gave you the most results?
The least expensive was free and probably one of the plug-ins I use like the OTT but I’d rather say a physical thing.
So maybe my Wingie 2… A digital resonator and synth by Meng Qi, a wonderful inventor and musician.
Walk us through your process for creating and producing music.
I usually start with some experimenting, usually in cheat codes with a sample or I’ll use the inbuilt synths and then chuck some stuff in to the delay engine that works a bit like a looper if you want it to.
I’ll play with the pitch and timings until I just get feeling I like. That’s the most essential but I guess - if I start to feel good about something and it makes me move in a way then I’ll try and go with it.
I am really a secret lover of dance music (my brother played it every day when we were kids and it really stuck with me) and music that makes you feel like loving, Michael Jackson, or Jackie Wilson, or Timbaland for example.
After that I’ll just try and record a bunch of stuff freely into my DAW so it’s on record and I don’t lose it! Then I’ll figure some chords maybe.
The rest is so composition specific that it changes every time. I guess I do go through things meticulously when I think they’re ready and automate the hell out of stuff so that it doesn’t feel too stale.
What is a production technique that you always come back to?
Working with the delay engine in Norns and using granular synthesis.
How would you describe your style?
I’m probably just an experimental artist who isn’t experimental enough to be liked by people who like experimental music and a melodic artist who isn’t melodic enough to be liked by people who like melodic music… :-)
What is a big challenge you have as an artist?
I really struggle to commit to saying something is good enough.
I have so many recordings that are essentially finished pieces of music that I just don’t think are “cool” enough or don’t fit what I think I am. That’s a big thing I guess - who you are as an artist, or who you think you are.
I constantly struggle with that and, to be honest, I have yet to fully figure out how to manage it.
Has building a hardware setup changed your perspective on music or life in general?
Everything is much more intuitive and I have had countless moments when I’ve thought “Wow! I’ve always really wanted to make “that sound” and now actually know how and can utilise it!”
Laptops are great and all but they certainly confine you or persuade you to create in a particular way.
One tip on how to spark creativity?
Record random sounds.
For me, never starting with chords, just sounds. They might have chordal content in them but I don’t think that’s important to spark my creativity.
I enjoy listening to water or my kids running around. Sitting in the garden, seeing smiling faces, talking to proper about their own work.
Tons of things!
A book, movie, article, or album that has inspired you?
Rounds by Four Tet. When I was 15 this changed my world.
Anything else you'd like to say?
Thanks for asking me to do this! It’s a pleasure :)
Where can people find more of your music and connect with you online?
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