"I believe that the liminal spaces are worlds of their own, with unique attributes and never-ending metaphysical resources"
Electrons in Slow Motion reates music that works in all settings and transcends genres. His openness to a wide range of sound is what has both made him a widely loved favourite, but also someone who operates in his own parallel musical world. "Meta Incognita", EISM's new work, delves into a singular cinematic sound, which goes beyond all limits, which is published on the D.M.T. Records label. We had a chance to talk to him, so enjoy your reading and check out his latest releases.
Hey Where can we find you right now? How did you start off your day?
Hi, there! In this very moment in my studio, in my hometown, in Bucharest. In order to gain traction and start the day in a productive way, I always need to listen, read or watch the creations of others. At least a bit. It puts me in a position of wanting to express myself also. Maybe it's a guilt trap but I try to see this in a positive way.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from / how did you get into music?
I am born and raised in the capital of Romania and I was one of the kids that benefited at a young age from the fall of the communism. The transition period was tough for many but it also brought a good degree of openness. So, later, I had the opportunity to be involved in the cultural scene for more than 15 years, creating projects or organizing and producing events. My formal education consist also of the Fine Arts Academy - video art and film. A place that mostly - and luckily - taught me to ignore the rules and go my own way. There is where I approached more seriously the sound design and its production workflow. In 2013 I've co-founded a creative label, Zazen/Kraftmark and one year later the progressive/post-rock band Zammorian, that involved me deeply in the music creation territory. Shortly after, Electrons in Slow Motion emerged and now I am dedicating most of my time to this adventure.
With new release ‘Meta Incognita’ about to drop on the label. Give us a little background on the album and what’s the story behind that title?
The title of the album has been wandering my mind for a few years. it means Unknown Limits in Latin. It is also a Canadian peninsula, unrelated to the fact that the album will be published with a Canadian label. Just a beautiful coincidence. I have always been fascinated by the concept of borders, but not in a restrictive way, not at all. I believe that the liminal spaces are worlds of their own, with unique attributes and never-ending metaphysical resources. It doesn't matter if we talk about exterior places like the surroundings of the former Berlin Wall, an island in the middle of the sea, the Earth's thermosphere or about the inner depths of our souls. For me they are all mysterious places that can generate an upgrade the way we experience our existence. Right there, at the threshold, something different is born. Something true. Searching for these unknown limits should be a continuous quest. Regarding the more concrete aspects of the album, the track list is proposing a journey with different levels of approach in time, creating tension in a forward motion. It has a beginning and an end, traveling from border to border, in distinctive landscapes. They are all constructed by sound and texture. The melodies and rhythms reveal the characters that take action to the trip. Some emotional labor should be emerging there, at some point. In the end, the protagonist is the listener and his own particular way to connect with this exploration.
What roles do you each take in the production process?
It is funny that many believe this is a band project. I guess the culprit is the name, a plural noun. Or maybe because is rather eclectic in sound. Actually it is a solo project. That does not mean it will always be this way. I don't know, maybe in the future the "electrons" will be a bunch of creators.
Is it completely shared, or do each of you take the lead in certain aspects?
In this moment I take care of the entire job, from concept and production to mixing and mastering. I guess it works best for me now. I love to take care of the process end-to-end. In order to do this in functional way, I have developed a custom workflow. I have a rotation pattern. For example, while working at the album, each day of the week is dedicated to a particular track. Like every Tuesday I will work at the "X" piece for an interval of two months, let's say. Every Wednesday at "Y" and so on. This offers me the possibility to breathe and forget. And as we all know, each of us is a slightly different person form week to week. This helps. It may enrich the whole creative path. And keep me mentally sane.
What does your studio look like right now? What type of hardware / software do you like to work with?
For me the fundamental frame, the main canvas, is Ableton Live. I love this work station, as it keeps you focused and structured and in the same time lets you run wild. Regarding expression and composition, I have developed my palette of sound and flow based on VST instruments and hardware MIDI controllers, through countless sessions of experimentation. Speaking of real, old-school hardware, the instruments of choice in my studio now are the electric guitars. I find them very visceral and immediate. I plan in the future to bring some brass instruments and woodwinds also.
Who have been your main inspirations (Both musical and in ‘life’)? And how have they effected your sound?
The first seeds I believe have been planted in my childhood, in the late 80s when my parents were playing at home VHS cassettes with awesome movies (very hard to find in the communist era, borderline illegal). In that period I have experienced the sounds of Tarkovsky's masterpiece 'Stalker' (music composed by the Russian electronic composer Eduard Artemyev) or the 'Blade Runner' score by Vangelis. The first "meeting" with Kraftwerk came in the same period and left a permanent scar. In my teen years I approached the rawness and attitude of hip-hop and later the abstract and powerful grooves of progressive house, techno or breakbeat. The era of 'The Prodigy' was also a massive moment in my journey as a listener. In time, developing as an artist - a continuous and slow process - the influences came and are still coming from a lot of different places: the films of Paolo Sorrentino or Dennis Villeneuve, the literature of Jorge Luis Borges, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky and the Japanese Haiku, the music of Wolfgang Voigt (G A S), Brian Eno, Trent Reznor, Loscil or Johann Johannson or from the urban ghosts of Bucharest, Berlin or Tokyo. But, in the end, the most powerful influences have always been people I have met and places I have traveled to. The unique experience of life itself, available to all of us.
How would you describe your own sound in 2020, and how do you see it developing in the future?
The sound of EISM in this phase is very eclectic. The main reason for this is the heterogeneous accumulation in my background. I have looked for a simple and straightforward product but I got caught in sound clusters, harmonic distortions on less expected instruments (like French horns or vocal samples), slow-burning synth build-ups, syncopated deep beats and big ambiances. For the moment, I am comfortable with that and I will be exploring this road for the near future. If I really have to frame it, I believe a fair classification could be: ambient electronica. And always cinematic. At least It's what I hope it brings. I might be a visual artist expressing through the medium of sound.
Can you clue us up on any acts you are loving right now, especially any that other people might not know?
Just checked my playlist. Seems I listened these days to a lot of: Nicolas Jaar, Nils Frahm, Tycho, Susuma Yokota, Biosphere, Irisarri, 36, Lyra Pramuk, Olan Mill, nonoise79. And many more. I try to discover things all the time. Some Romanian electronic acts that I really appreciate now are Environments, Temple Invisible, The Model/Radu Dracul or Thy Veils.
It’s difficult for everyone in our industry during the crisis - what have you been doing to keep things going, both on the music and personal fronts?
My hope is that all these strange period will make us a bit better. More connected, tolerant and altruistic. It will reset our wrong priorities and the chase of unmeaningful statistics. In the same time, I do not believe that the musical and cultural scene in general will go back to normal anytime soon. The hit is a major one and the only way to come out of it stronger is through innovation, not passive adaptation. Humanity experienced much more difficult situations, even in recent history. And It thrived. As artists and creators we must not live in fear, although is the most obvious feeling nowadays. Inspiration and creative energy might take things forward if we decide that creating is really our job. The internet and digital communication is cutting off distances, the accessibility is better than always. We are privileged with a worldwide audience, a global scene. I am sure a solution for everything will be found as long as we don't stop creating, innovating and sharing. In my particular case, the entire album was produced during the lockdown period and the partnership with the forward-thinking label from Montreal, D.M.T. Records, worked as smooth as possible considering the fact that we are based on different continents, at more than 7000 Km apart. In conclusion, everything can work out if we are ready to put in the effort and pay the price, even in this difficult times. The human touch, in any form, works a long way.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
The next stop will be a new single paired with an up-tempo remix. For the medium-term future I am planning one or two EPs and a new album in 2022. And I hope I will reissue my first album, 'Ecstatic Technologies', in South America with some bonus material included. I am also designing a special live act for when the time comes, when the Planet will be in safe-mode.
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Luckily I am not yet in the position to have true wisdom, I hope it will come many years later.
But, I have an opinion and a thought that is persistent in my mind these days:
Serve others as much as you can and never stop creating and expressing yourself. They are both big privileges.