Ian Boddy talks about Pearls
S&S: Hi Ian Boddy! Pearl is a 30 years retrospective of your career displayed over 2 CD. How did you approach the conception and the selection of 28 Pearl's tracks?
IAN BODDY: Well 30 years seemed like a really significant point in time to look back and try to present my huge catalogue of work in a nice condensed format. It was obvious that'd I'd struggle to fit everything onto one disc so I decided very early on that it would be a double album. It was then clear that one disc should cover my DiN catalogue work which has dominated my output for the past 10 years or so. The other album was thus dedicated to my earlier pre-DiN work although I also wanted to include some of my library album work for DeWolfe as well as some of my sound design. With the Inner DiN album I was able to include a track from each of my solo albums as well as my collaborative projects. With Outer DiN I only had room for my solo work. In choosing the tracks I tried to choose some of my favorites but also pieces that would sit well together on the continuous mix I intended and that were representative of the time from which they were released.
S&S: Your discography is immense (26 albums studios and 11 Library Music), there are certainly tracks that your fans would have liked to hear on Pearl. During the selection, did you consult friends, fans or did you simply trust your instinct? IAN BODDY: Well I did run a competition for a bit of fun asking people to guess a track that would be included on Pearl and I got a lot of nice replies. The details and winners are listed here: http://www.din.org.uk/din/node/291 However fundamentally working within the parameters I talked about above in question 1 I used my instinct to create the two long continuous mixes.
S&S: How can we make an overview of 30 a musical tale over 30 years of making music? When you make a retrospective of your musical career, what you retain the most? IAN BODDY: For me personally it's the memories of all the good times I've had, the great people I've met, the enjoyment I've got from playing concerts. It's a very personal thing as obviously music has dominated my life for 30 years. For the listener I hope at the most basic level that Pearl is just a very enjoyable double album of electronic music.
S&S: What is "Library Music" and what are those tracks we find on Pearl?
IAN BODDY: Library music is music that is commissioned by a specialist publisher - or library music company such as DeWolfe - that is intended for use on TV / radio / film / adverts. I tend to work to a theme such as space, nature, the sea, that sort of thing and then
these discs are sent all over the world to film companies, tv studios & production houses. Companies then choose to use this music in their productions and if they do so I get paid a royalty. These CDs are normally not available to the public although DeWolfe have kindly allowed me to sell them on a limited basis. I have 11 albums and over 300 tracks published by them so I thought it only appropriate to include some tracks on Pearl as they represent a great deal of my musical output over the years. The 3 tracks included on Outer DiN are Who Controls Who, Metropolis & Living Planet. There is a direct link on the DeWolfe site to all my music that I have done for them @ http://tinyurl.com/47j7obo
S&S: Every track on Pearl is entangling with a surprising sound complicity for the difference of periods. Do they follow a chronological order and were they remasterised? IAN BODDY: No they don't follow a chronological order as I placed them to provide a good balance over the lenght of each album. But there are pieces going all the way back to 1980 on my first ever cassette release - Floating from Images. I did a little bit of remastering - nothing drastic just some EQ on the older tracks and balancing levels.
S&S: From 1980 till 2010, Ian Boddy crossed three decades. How do you see the evolution of EM compared to your? Do you think you had evolved outside EM or you simply followed the current?
IAN BODDY: Well from 1980 EM has evolved in a huge way. In many ways it has gone from an obscure type of music to the mainstream as evidenced by all the dance culture & it's many sub-genres a lot of which is basically electronic music. Then there's the ubiquitous music we here on the TV and in films much of which is again very much based on what we would call electronic music. However there is still a niche for what we might call classic electronic music form the 70's in the style of Tangerine Dream & Schulze etc - however this is now a very, very small niche and isn't really going anywhere. I think with DiN since 1999 I have tried to push the boundaries of my classic EM heritage - I have thus both released music very much in the style of those early German artist with some of my own releases and also certainly with the ARC releases. However I have also worked with many musicians who are outside of this small niche such as Markus Reuter, Chris Carter, Robert Rich, Nigel Mullaney etc where I have deliberately tried to meld together my classic EM roots with more modern contemporary styles of EM. For me this is a fascinating journey and I love trying these experiments - it's what helps keep me fresh after all these years. I couldn't just churn out the same style of music ad infinitum.
S&S: Are they key elements which transformed your creative approach in each of these decades? IAN BODDY: Well obviously EM is very technology led so certainly that has had some influence although I still use many of the old analogue synths that I first started out with. But really it's hard to pin-point specific key elements - although maybe my conscious decision in the mid 90's and more so with DiN to work with other musicians has been a big influence. Once you start working with other musicians it opens up a whole new world of influences & ideas.
S&S: Outer DiN presents a very melodious Ian Boddy with poignant synths and rhythms closer to synth pop, even techno, than the Inner DiN period. Before the creation of DiN, did you feel smothered in a melodious style and a pop synth? IAN BODDY: Although it's an over simplification to say that pre DiN I was more melodic than post DiN I can see how some may view it that way. I've always loved melody and in general of course that's what is more "commercial" than purely abstract music. Looking back I think once I started doing library music work for DeWolfe I was able to be as melodic as I liked for them which freed me up somewhat to explore a more experimental path with my DiN release although there's plenty of melodic material in there as well.
S&S: You sing on Living in a Ritual. How did you like this experience and why you have stopped there? IAN BODDY: Well that wasn't me singing - believe me you don't want to hear my singing ;-) It was a heavy rock singer called Brian Ross who I knew - he heads up a band called Blitzkreig and i had helped them on a few tracks from one of their albums. I was working on this track from Spirits and initially I was just using vocoder for the voice but it wasn't quite working so i invited Brian to add some real vocals. It's a bit of a one-off track although it seems to have garnered a cult following in some German dance clubs and was recently included on a compilation album.
S&S: With all its array of percussions, Shrouded is superb. We find the same approach, although less ambient, of varied percussions on Atomicity. Has Shrouded initiated Dub Atomica? IAN BODDY: No they're very different projects. Shrouded was recorded during my first USA concert playing in Philadelphia and uses a slowed down & filtered drum loop over which I layer various ambient pads & synth tones. Atomicity was the fourth DiN release and was
collaboration between myself and Nigel Mullaney who had done a lot of DJ work. He's awesome with drum programming so his approach gave a whole new dimension to the percussion on that album which I was able to combine with my analogue sequencing & ambient textures.
S&S: On Outer DiN we feel clear influences of Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre, in particular on the percussions level, while on Inner DiN we feel a more innovative Ian Boddy. From what album and where occurred the click which made of Ian Boddy a more adventurous artist? IAN BODDY: I think this was actually a pre-DiN album called Continuum. This is a double album from 1996 and is a record of a rather unique event where I was asked to play in an art gallery during a sci-fi artwork exhibition. I actually set up & played for the whole day - 7 hours so I knew that I couldn't be playing big concise melodic pieces. This enabled me to explore a more ambient and textural space which I really enjoyed and I see this as a pivotal album which pre-dated some of the things that I explored further with DiN. There's an edit of one of the tracks from Continuum on Pearl.
S&S: As Pearl progresses we feel this tendency to investigate a darker and more experimental sound world. Are Arc and Dub Atomica entities of your personality or extensions of your need to investigate these new musical avenues?
IAN BODDY: Probably a bit of both, Arc is collaboration with Mark Shreeve whereas Dub Atomica is with Nigel Mullaney as described above. They're both very different musicians with their own background and techniques so each project comes from a very different space. Of course the commonality between the two is me and I often see myself as a conduit through which I can filter these various artist collaborators to create an album that I want to release on DiN.
S&S: In 30 years, you worked with musicians with some strong contrasting musical antipodes; Mark Shreeve, Markus Reuter, Andy Pickford, Ron Boots, Robert Rich, Chris Carter, Bernhard Wostheinrich and Nigel Mullaney. How do you manage to fit all those personalities? Are you the chameleon of EM, like Bowie is for rock?
IAN BODDY: Well I'm not sure about that although it's an interesting description. One important factor is that I am personally friends with each of these guys - we all get on well and can work easily together. However they all have different influences and each brings to the table their own unique skills and tastes. This is what makes it fascinating though - you never really know how a project is going to turn out before you start it - it often grows and evolves as you progress and sometimes can take you to unique and fascinating places. And I'll say it again working with all of these guys has helped kept me fresh over such a long period of time. If I knew exactly what I was always going to do then it wouldn't be fun anymore.
S&S: Is there an artist with whom you would like to work?
IAN BODDY: Well I'm hoping to start 2 new projects with Erik Wollo & Steve Roach this year so that's going to be interesting. If I had to choose one musician it would be Klaus Schulze - but not now - it would have had to have been in the 70's and of course I was too young then.
S&S: On Outer DiN there are magnificent ambient and atmospheric moments (Never Forever, The Mechanics Of A Thought and Aurora). I noticed that they are tracks where you are solo. Is the ambient and atmospheric an intimate musical shape of art?
IAN BODDY: I think you're probably right there although there are plenty of ambient sections in some of my collaborative projects such as those with Robert Rich. But I think the examples you give are pieces where I was trying to convey a specific emotion or feeling and are thus more personal and intimate.
S&S: How was 2010 for Ian Boddy and DiN? And what can we expect in 2011?
IAN BODDY: 2010 was a very busy and productive year. My library music projects did very well which from a financial point of view is very good. Of course the release of Pearl dominated my thoughts and efforts for much of last year. Looking ahead to 2011 from a practical level I need to balance what I do that is commercially successful such as my library music and sound design work with my more artistic and experimental work on DiN. However I'am continuing with planning new projects as mentioned above with Steve & Erik and I'll announce new releases when they are closer to completion.
S&S: Thanks Ian and on behalf of Synth&Sequences readers, a great and successful 2011 year!
Interview made by Sylvain Lupari on January 2011