interview from ElectroAmbient
I try to write a pithy little intro about my interview subject.
Apologies to Steve, but other than heís 32, hails from the UK,
and loves curry, I havenít learned enough to give him a proper
intro Ė so letís just move it along and learn together,
shall we? And many thanks, Steve, for taking the time to chat
via email the past few weeks.
seem to recall that you got a very late start making music, that
it all happened very fast - is that true?
Very true indeed. Iíve enjoyed electronic music
for a long time. Iíve been to many gigs in the UK seeing the
likes of Airsculpture, RMI, and Andy Pickford, and had always
wanted to try to record something myself. The reason why I never
tried was because I had no musical background, and I felt way
out of my depth buying synths, mixers and effects units when
Iíd never laid a finger on a keyboard before.
around September 2002 I bought a music magazine with a demo of
Reason which is a software music studio Ė it contains
everything from synths to drum machines to sequencers. I thought
that this is a really great piece of software and maybe I would
be able to record something. I recorded lots of music between
then and December 2003 when I started work on Reflections
From The Inner Light and as time passed by I felt the tracks
were improving to the point that around Christmas time 2003 I
recorded ďNarissaĒ Ė my tribute to Airsculpture Ė which
a few people said was great. The rest of the album followed and
was recorded over a period of 3 months between December 2003 and
After sending out demos to various labels, I was contacted by
Ron Boots at Groove who said that he loved the music and would I
be interested in signing for the label and the rest they say is
What were your musical influences growing up? Have you
always tended toward electronic music?
I think my first taste of electronic music wouldíve been the
synth-pop based stuff like Howard Jones and Depeche Mode were
playing in the early eighties. I also thought how cool they
looked on TV with their analogue synths. Discovered Tangerine
Dream and Jean Michel Jarre around 1986 and have loved
electronic music ever since.
Before I started making music I was a big collector of
electronic music and I must say itís nice sometimes to be away
from the studio and listen to other types of EM. I enjoy
listening to Airsculpture, RMI, Redshift, Ian Boddy, Ron Boots,
and Keller and SchŲnwšlder, just to name a few. I also really
like Ulrich Schnauss who is a German musician. I remember
hearing one of his tracks on the radio whilst on the way to work
thinking thatís great I must buy the CD!
Other musicians I like are Marillion, R.E.M., David Gray, and
if you do most of your music using software, and have no formal
music background, how does that work for performing live?
Didnít I hear that you have a show coming up?
My first ambition when I started out 3 years ago
was to record an album and have it released and after that was a
second ambition to play live. I knew at the time of recording Reflections
From The Inner Light and only have a minimal setup that it
would be not only very difficult to recreate the music live but
also quite boring for the audience. What I mean here is I
couldnít see myself taking to the stage and sitting behind a
keyboard with a computer screen in front of my face. I really
wanted to embrace the idea of having a mixture of hardware and
software synths on stage, and the audience then being able to
see everything I did.
So over quite a short space of time I bought quite a lot of
hardware and practiced playing the synths alongside Reason,
which handled the sequencing and recorded material for what was
to be my debut gig in November 2004 in Nottingham where I
supported Jez Creek a.k.a. Modulator ESP. I was still using the
Reason program as the heart of the setup and added to this a
selection of hardware keyboards which I could play whilst Reason
handled the sequencing, drums, effects, and so on.
My studio is setup in a U shape configuration with me at the
heart of the equipment and this is how I played a couple of
weeks ago in Leeds as part of the Awakenings series of gigs. It
will also be setup this way when I visit Eindhoven in October to
play E-Live, thus giving the audience their a great view of
everything I do!
Create is an unusual name - itís not often that
someone chooses a verb as their moniker. How did that come
The Create name was taken from one of the menu titles in the
Reason program, which I was using at the time to record Reflections.
I like the word, as it is a creative process when recording
music. Itís nice also as itís easy to remember and not
difficult to pronounce!
said you bought a lot of hardware and software in a relatively
short period of time. So are you independently wealthy?
Independently wealthy.... I wish! No, the majority of the
hardware synths were bought secondhand at a fraction of their
original retail value. When I did buy something I tried to buy
it from someone locally so I could see the condition of the
keyboard etc before parting with the cash. Iíve heard quite a
few stories of people buying things via auction sites only to
find faults etc.
As an audience member long before I started making electronic
music I always remember seeing the likes of Airsculpture, RMI,
and Redshift at Jodrell Bank and been amazed at all the
equipment they had on stage. This always stuck with me and I
thought one day Iíd love to be on stage surrounded by lots of
keyboards and electronics!
Youíve made no secret of your love for the band
Airsculpture. Why them specifically, and how do they
influence your music?
Iíd never seen Tangerine Dream play any improvised concerts in
the 70ís as I was only 5 or 6 years old, so seeing
Airsculpture play improvised music was my first encounter and an
amazing experience. Airsculpture blew me away when I saw them
for the first time on stage at EMMA 3 in Sheffield, here were
three guys playing improvised based sequencer music. Not only
did the music sound great, the band seemed really tuned to each
other and it was amazing to see them play music without any real
idea of what to expect themselves.
My music has certainly taken a more improvised and organic
approach in the studio now that Iím using hardware as well as
software synths. I like the way Airsculpture start a track with
dreamy pad sounds and atmosphere before fading in sequencer
lines, which is a similar style I adopted when I recorded Reflections.
mentioned you didnít get a chance to see TD improvise in the
70s? Have you seen them more recently, and what did you
I saw Tangerine Dream play in London in June of this year. The
gig was ok but to my ears anyway it sounded as though a lot of
the music was coming from backing tracks. I felt as though the
sound was too polished and sounded more like listening to a CD
rather than the excitement of a live gig. Still glad I went
though as it was great to see Edgar on stage who certainly is a
great influence on me as a musician and listener of electronic
music. As a band they must of been amazing to see in the 70ís
with those big Moog systems and analogue synths!
Occasionally Iíll see a quote by the EM pioneers like
TD or Klaus complain that musicians today donít have to work
very hard, or words to that effect, to make synthesizer music
today, like they had to. How would you reply to that?
I think Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Jean-Michel Jarre who
were recording music with analogue equipment in the 70ís must
of had a real hard time due to how unstable analogue synths can
be. They were the first electronic musicians using these
keyboards and modular systems, so maybe there was a lot more
trial and error that went into the music. Also, recording
techniques were a lot more primitive.
Technology has advanced somewhat so it makes it easier in that
respect to make music today, but to come up with something good
musically you have to have respect for the machines around you
and yourself as a musician. Both Reflections and the soon
to be released follow-up From Earth To Mars were recorded
over a 3-month period where I was just using Reason, which is a
software music studio as opposed to hardware synths. After
finishing From Earth To Mars I started buying some
hardware synths as well and during that time I recorded an as
yet unreleased third CD called Biospherical Imagery but
because all the hardware technology was new to me as a musician
it took roughly six months to complete. For me itís a case of
quality over quantity.
EM seems to have more than its share of fans with
bootleg recordings. As a fan, obviously itís great to have
these recordings. Now that you are a musician selling your own
CDs, what do you think about it?
To be honest Iím fine with it as long as the fan has say
bought CDs of the artist in question. Iím really against
people who just have bootleg copies of everything but who have
never spent a penny on actually buying CDs. I think itís nice
to have a bootleg but also good to invest money into the
electronic music scene weather it be buying CDs of your favorite
artist/group or getting to see them perform live.
is your all time favorite EM CD and why?
one this as I like lots of EM CDs! For me I would have to say Faultline
by Redshift, which is a live recording of their performance at
Hampshire Jam 2. I was lucky enough to be at the gig and witness
the raw power and excitement of Mark Shreeveís Moog Modular
System. Not only is it my favorite live performance but also my
favorite CD as in my eyes the music is perfection. The
sequencing is the best Iíve heard and the atmospheres and
additional guitar playing by Rob Jenkins seem to fit so well.
do you do when youíre not making music?
When Iím not making music I like listening to it Ė bands
like I mentioned earlier, such as Marillion, Genesis, Porcupine
Tree, and Depeche Mode. I also love listening to David Gray,
James Blunt, Coldplay, Howard Jones and Neil Finn.
I enjoy going to the cinema to watch the latest film releases
and I also like to watch TV series on DVD such as CSI, 24,
Alias, and Lost. Itís nice to relax as well
with a good book, I like to read crime and horror stories by
authors such as Stephen King, Dean Koonts, Jeffery Deaver, and
Recently I joined a gym, which I go to 3 times a week in the
hope to become fitter. Iíve no excuse now as itís only over
the road from the house!
do you like better: performing your own music live, composing
your music in the studio, or just being a regular music fan
intently listening to your favorite music by other artists?
When I started making music for the very first time my main goal
was to maybe someday release a CD of my music. And at the time I
enjoyed the buzz of recording at home in the studio and
progressing as a musician to the point where Ron Boots enjoyed Reflections
From The Inner Light so much he wanted to sign me to Groove.
I couldn't believe that I had Ron Boots on the other end of the
phone asking if I wanted to sign to Groove. Before I made any
music I used to listen as a fan and collect EM by Ron Boots as
well as many other artists. Next thing I know I'm signed to
Groove and that was great to see me first CD officially
After completing Reflections I started thinking about
maybe playing live but with only one synth and a computer I
though t it would look quite dull from a fans perspective. This
was around June 2004 after completing From Earth To Mars
when I took the plunge and started buying hardware synths to run
alongside Reason with a view to playing live at some point in
During the summer of 2004 I put together a 70 minute set of
material which I would play live at my very first gig which was
in November of 2004 at a pub in Nottingham called Peggars which
incidentally has now shut down. It was great to play my first
gig but also nerve racking as well. I got a really positive
response from the audience who liked what I played.
Whilst all the music was still fresh in my mind I recorded
studio versions of the three tracks I played and these will
form, I hope, the third CD Biospherical Imagery. So yes
live certainly gives you a huge adrenaline rush compared to
playing in your studio. I now know what it's like to shift loads
of equipment from studio to car to venue to car to studio. Hard
work I can tell you! Maybe I shouldíve stuck to a PC and one
keyboard Ė it would of been a lot easier!
I'm still a big electronic music fan but I would say that since
I started making music I don't listen as much as I used to do. I
tend to listen to CD's in the car now rather than in the house
and I also carry an MP3 player with me when I'm out and about.
It's a 40GB one so I can put plenty of CD's on it to listen to.
is the biggest thrill for you so far, being a fledgling
musician? And what is your ultimate goal musically?
far I would say having my debut CD released and also playing as
part of the Awakenings series of gigs in Leeds. What made that
night so special for me was that a guy called Mark came all the
way from London to see me play because he had enjoyed Reflections
From The Inner Light so much.
The next big step is to play at E-Live next month in Holland! It
was only last year that I went for the first time as part of the
audience and here I am 12 months later gearing up to play!
ultimate goal I think is to just carry on enjoying making music
and continue to become a better musician.