ün-establishment & The Sonic Wizardry of Illum Sphere – Interview Feature

Illum Sphere is gaining much respect for the brand of experimental sonic wizardry that he brings to his own music and his productions for others. He also has a bespoke club night called Hoya:Hoya that is on the lips of those in the know in his native Manchester.

His singular style, with influences from hip hop, techno, leftfield pop and jazz has garnered lots of respect from music lovers including Mary Ann Hobbs, Thom Yorke, Edni B and Daedelus. This month, he is about to play his part in Kopparberg ün-establishment, a series of events, explorations and workshops taking place in Manchester and London celebrating independent culture and including fashion, music, art, design and even creative cuisine. We liked it so much we chose to take part and what’s more it’s all free – you can find out more at www.facebook.com/kopparberguk.

Illum Sphere will be hosting his own very special workshop on the 15th October where he’ll be picking apart one of his remixes as well as discussing technique, style and programmes. We wanted to interview Illum Sphere but knew he wasn’t so keen on the standard music biz type questions so tried to throw him at least a few curve balls.

uk culture

FLUX: Where were you brought up as a child and how has that influenced the music you create?

I was born in West London and moved to Manchester aged 11. I didn’t start getting influenced by where I was until I moved north. But, before that, my mum’s musical taste was a big influence. She was into a lot of disco and soul as well as stuff like Miami Sound Machine and Fleetwood Mac. I didn’t realise the influence she had on my musical taste until much later when I started DJing.

FLUX: How do you write your music? Does it come into your head fully formed or is it something you have to work at?

Both. I quite like that I don’t have a checklist when I write. Everything usually comes from an idea, then I explore it. Usually, the first bounce to final version will massively differ.

FLUX: Do you see yourself as an artist or a craftsman?

It’s not really for me to decide. I make music, I make music that sounds how I want it to at that time and reflects my mood at the time it was made. The problem with that is that I look back on some stuff I’ve done and I hate it, especially before doing the Radiohead remix. There were moments, but it was too erratic as a whole. I feel I’ve matured now. I’m confident enough in my own mind to know when to refrain and when to push it sonically.

FLUX: When you are travelling how do you pass the time?

Reading during actual journeys. I listen to a lot of music also.

FLUX: What is the last book that you read and what was it about?

The last book I read was actually Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I got sick of people telling me I needed to read it.

FLUX: Do you prefer being in the city or the countryside?

I prefer being in the city, but I think having space, preferably by the sea, is important. The city keeps your brain going but it gets to the point when you gotta come up for air. When that happens, I get out, go to the sea or something. I live by water, even though I’m in middle of the city and I love it that way.

FLUX: Do you prefer watching TV or playing computer games to unwind?

Games mainly. I watch TV, but I don’t channel surf.

FLUX: What is your favourite current programme or game?

I still need to finish Arkham City on PS3. I beat the game but there’s so much shit to do on there outside of the main story line, I have to finish it. The last Silent Hill too, I still need to finish that. The new Borderlands looks pretty insane. Oh, FIFA too.

FLUX: Or do you have a completely different way to relax?

I play a lot of football, maybe three or four times a week. It’s probably my favourite thing to do. I watch a lot of films, too. My best friend is the biggest film geek I know, so I have to keep on top of my game.

FLUX: How religious are you and does that play any part in your creative process?

I don’t follow a religion, which I think allows you to look at all religion in a different way. Whether you believe or not, the stories from all religions are some of the best that have ever been written, fact or fiction. I like to try and tell stories with the music I make, I like my music to roll into different places within one song, and I’d like to think that people attach their own meanings to it. So, in that sense, there’s a lot of crossover, even if I don’t follow a specific one.

FLUX: If you could press a delete button – what genre of music could you assign to the dustbin?

I wouldn’t. Even the things I hate, or consider shit etc. You need the shit stuff as much as you need the good stuff, and it highlights just how good the good stuff is.

FLUX: Is music your main passion or are there other areas you want to explore?

I’d like to do make a film, or a few. I might start with a short to go with an album, to support visually what I’m trying to say musically. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. But, I’d only do it if it was as special as it looked in my head. I ain’t gonna half step.

To find out more about Kopparberg ün-establishment and book your place at any of the myriad of events and workshops go to www.facebook.com/kopparberguk

For more on Illum Sphere and to hear some music go to www.soundcloud.com/illum-sphere


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