Saturday, March 3, 2012

Composer Spotlight on Clockwerk

I had the chance to speak with Clockwerk, who has been involved in music production for roughly a decade and made his mark in various creative competition communities. He is best known for his ambient and electronic music once described by a listener as “braindance”. His online output is largely channeled into his SoundCloud page. More recently he has elected to further his education and delve into a variety of areas, possibly including audio production. Clockwerk shared with me his influences, his compo experience and the problem with putting a laptop on a stage.

A common question asked of Clockwerk is the origin of his name. He explained that, “It’s basically not influenced at all by Kraftwerk… Not in the least, really. It was simply about making good moments and times last and all about drawing a comparison between that of losing time and gaining it. Whether that be chilling out to some of the music, or being productive and preferably doing something with your time, and having it there as a soundtrack to your productivity. It’s a rather simple idea: chill out and have fun.” Aside from his electronic work, he is also a self-taught guitarist. He elaborated on this point, and summarized how his current style came about: “I put that down to my nature of kind of isolating myself. I have this quirk where I like to work things out for myself most of the time. However a lot of parts can be put down to monkey-see-monkey-do. Mostly, it’s improvisational stuff.”

Clockwerk discovered tracker software in the early 2000s and became interested in electronic music. “I love it myself, more so the mixing between IDM genres and ambient styles, which is eventually where I’m finding a lot of my music fits now. Somewhere between chillout and ambient; artists like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, U-Ziq, and some underground artists like Nifflas Nygren, Lackluster interested me. This is before the days of the Internet where social networking sites like SoundCloud were around, and underground MP3 labels were around throwing together compilations of IDM styles. I listened to music from those and I was inspired by it. Ever since then I’ve been composing and I find all these artists quite inspiring because they all seem to have such diverse styles within music. I like music that has a lot of layers and textures going on and, needless to say, drew upon a lot of inspiration from those areas.”

He later discovered composition competitions and enjoyed what they had to offer. “I find they are a really good place to express ideas and show them with other artists. Listening to their compositions, it’s nice to hear others work and get praise and feedback from other artists. These sorts of things also help to better the artistic community as a whole I’ve found, and I welcome any opportunity to join online in a friendly workshop of creative minds. It’s far too easy to lose yourself in isolated places artistically and socially when it comes to a free flow of ideas from other artists. It’s great to have some place to go that is like a welcomed cup of coffee and conversation with these people. Also I certainly wish these competitions were available more frequently as well. It seems to be something I want to do more and more these days.” 

Outside of compos, SoundCloud remains the center of Clockwerk’s web presence. He shared his thoughts about connecting with online circles: “Sure I have a social network and stuff, but if I could release an album in the future with a label without having to worry about that pesky live performance stuff I would be more than happy. I was talking to a friend James Shain about releasing on his label Cold Fiction Music in the future. From most places I’m getting a lot of positive feedback. I really like the idea of people just chilling out in their homes and listening to this music or any music. Musicians have their place in society regardless of the pressure they might have from their families and friends or even loved ones. Where I’m living at the moment, job opportunities simply aren’t there, but in all honesty the way things are with the music industry I think everyone’s finding it tough. Many people end up getting screwed by people who want to make a cheap buck from people’s artistic works.” 

Clockwerk also elaborated about conventional stage performance versus the use of a laptop. “It might be time society takes a good look at itself and reevaluates, you know, the laptop musician thing: people are all like “this isn’t a live performance!” It is one thing I simply do not get. People might not like the live performance artists with their laptops on stage, but people sure as hell aren’t stopping themselves from downloading MP3s or jumping on SoundCloud to consume all this music.” He noted the unlikely prospect of his own live show by saying, “I wouldn’t, simply because I like writing music in my own time in my own space. I exist almost totally as a completely online artist aside from the occasional jam session with a friend when I play some guitar.”

Regarding his experiences with both Internet people and real-life peers, he concluded: “The people online are far more interesting. It’s just a shame the locality is all wrong when you step away from the laptop and you realize you’ve been talking to people from all over the world and you’re like oh yeah… and then life comes back and you’ve got friends in your home town. Certain things in life can’t be avoided, and it’s a bit of a problem when you meet someone you totally dig and they are over the other side of the world or something.” Sometime after this interview occurred, Clockwerk enrolled at a university to further his studies. As a result, he might have to put his online adventures aside and devote his laptop to homework.

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