June 27th, 2011 | Published in Articles
Over the years we’ve seen multi-instumentalist Bristolian Matt Loveridge – who used to be known as Team Brick and, confusingly, Matt Williams – discover that he can throat sing by accident; pulverise speakers with gabba freak-outs; engage in personal exorcisms on stage; maintain knife-edge tension with solos on accordion, clarinet or guitar; terrify audiences with squalling noise; or test his endurance with sustained lighting speed piano minimalism. He’ll collaborate with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow as Beak> one minute and wallow in weirdness with The A Band the next. At the time of writing Bang the Bore played host to Loveridge’s last ever performance under the name Team Brick, so it seemed only right to ask him a few questions about the raft of projects he’s focusing on in 2011…
What was it that led you to retire the Team Brick moniker?
Team Brick died and splintered off into other things, which makes more sense to me nowadays ’cause the splinters are all more sporadic and I can focus more cleanly on them all. It feels like Team Brick was the notebook and these are the first drafts.
Tell us about the splinters.
Klad Hest / Gnar Hest: Adventures in a fucking midi grid; Klad Hest: World of dancing, large beats and ultramelodic lines FOREVER: Gnar Hest = Zonal compositions of woozy detuned synths, collapsing and reforming like cornstarch
Fairhorns: fuzzy faraway pop songs forever and ever amen
Knife Library: Solo piano and tortured voice
In terms of what’s actually coming out this year, there’s the first Gnar Hest EP, there’s another Gnar Hest release coming out on Bumtapes, the first Matt Loveridge “INDEXES” recording in what will become a series (available only at shows because I can’t figure out Paypal), and Atworth, an old Team Brick album that took forever to come out on Stitch Stitch records… although I think that one’s coming out as Matt Loveridge too, now.
I’m still shopping things around, seeing if anyone wants to do anything with my auld stuff.
I attach fake mythology to everything I guess, helps me process the world…
I love using midi and meticulous programming, it probably comes from not being able to afford a MIDI keyboard. So anything I write for Klad/Gnar Hest gets written by hand, there’s not a single note played live, it’s all sequenced and programmed in the grid. I love getting sucked into the intricacies and complexities of the snaps and mechanics of the music.
That surprises me, because I’m so used to seeing the physicality of your live performances as Team Brick. I recently described you as a ‘methodological scavenger’…
Ha, I guess I could still be described as that, just in a different way…
Nerdiness and obsessiveness would probably draw me to wanting more variety… I guess it makes sense to me in the same way as a varied diet. I’m not comfortable just sticking to one thing and I like to stay feeling fresh. I love a lot of music in a lot of different ways so I feel like I should make music like that too.
Klad Hest reminds me of Ben Daglish and Martin Galway’s old C64 game themes. Which influences are you channelling into that project?
That’s an obvious on-the-sleeve influence, but that whole project all seems to be about being a kid for me. Not in a pretty, rose-tinted way, I just remember being a kid as being kinda dark – not in any traumatic way – but pure fucking gnarly the whole time, I guess that’s what I want to come out of it. Chewed up tapes, 80s metal solos, baroque counterpoint, definitely videogame theme tunes. I know that sound is or was de rigueur for a while, and it could be really easy to accuse me of johnny-come-lately bandwagoneering, but the tones have always affected a lovely kinda melancholy for me, so I’m always attracted to using them.
It’s pretty danceable. Was that an objective, or a side effect?
It was a guy from France called Danger that spurred me on to start Klad Hest. Last summer I started getting really psyched about Justice and Daft Punk and that side of electro/house stuff, and wanted to make my own. The dance factor is implied probably.
I’m wondering about the links between Gnar Hest and Klad Hest.
The projects are tied together through a same time, same method kinda thing. Both are ultra-composed, nothing left to chance, no physical playing, everything drawn in by hand, and everything on the same software. Gnar Hest mutated out of something that I thought was fucking wicked, but couldn’t see it as Klad Hest ‘cause there was no groove.
Team Brick from Mintonfilm on Vimeo.
Being so meticulous in your programming runs counter to a lot of other musicians who might put out records or play shows in your immediate vicinity, who’s work might be characterised – in part – by improvisation and allowing mistakes. Is there an element of wilful perversity involved?
I don’t get that really… I don’t see any perversity, wilful or otherwise. In a way, the compositional techniques are just as close to the improvisational techniques I used in Team Brick, i.e. EVENT 1 will lead into EVENT 2, via BRIDGE 1. BRIDGE 1A will START HERE LIKE THIS, WHICH MUST LEAD TO BRIDGE 1A INTO EVENT 2 etc etc etc ‘til I get a headache and feel ill from too much diet Coke.
So is it more the case that both ways of working come from the same root and are just filtered differently by the instrumentation and technology?
Yeah, that seems to make more sense. I’ll generally start from one thread and examine different ways of looking at it, meticulously or haphazardly.
Do you think in terms of structure when it comes to improvisation?
I think there’s always a structure in improvisation, free or polished. Either it’d be “How do I Get to Point B”, or “What IS Point B?”
I spent a while the other day looking for stuff that you’d released or made streamable under the Fairhorns moniker. Do you have anything forthcoming?
There’s a Fairhorns recording, but I’m shopping it around at the moment, trying to find a label for it. At the moment, all that exists is a 13 second video clip on my blog.
Is Knife Library a similar kind of minimalist endurance test to your performance as Team Brick at the Mach Nausea Festival in 2009? Not endurance for the listener, endurance for you on piano. It looked pretty exhausting and fairly painful…
Knife Library is still larval, but the seed’s there… the idea is for it to be gruelling at times, but also with big chunks of white space. I reckon you’ll notice bits of the old in whatever new thing I’m doing.
Your performances often seem to incorporate an endurance element, in that they frequently seem to be quite physically and emotionally draining for you, or seem quite publically cathartic. What draws you to that way of working?
Maybe it’s just ’cause I’m a miserable fuck and music is the only thing that’s ever worked out for me! Music has always been the most powerful and rewarding thing in my life, regardless of its status, just wicked sounds all day, I guess I’m not the most emotive chap around and music is a useful way of processing the emotional part of my life…
As for endurance-test on my part, whenever I play I completely zone out (if I don’t it doesn’t work right), I kinda pass out and just come to at the end, sweating and shaking and knackered with a sore throat and heart.
How did you get into that kind of unconscious, ecstatic performing?
Purely by accident, probably…
I always just assumed that’s what happens when improvising happens like it should, so also just expected that to be the case with most folk who did similar… I never sought out any similar people because it seemed as basic as trying to find a friend who also wore socks.
Did it come as a surprise to realise that not everyone experiences that state, or at least not with any kind of consistency?
I’m only just considering it now, and yeah maybe it’s a bit of a surprise. But then some people drink Tetley, and some drink PG, so it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.
Do you require any kind of preparation to enter your performance state? Is there anything you do to acclimatise after a performance?
Generally it would occur during the start of a show, I tried to make sure I got there by starting most of the sets with something slowburning and repetitive. Mostly I just get nervous, pace around and chain smoke.
After I play I’m not worth talking to, I’m exhausted and even more nervous than before I started playing. All I can do is go outside, find a corner to crouch in and smoke ‘til I stop shaking
How aware are you of what you’re doing, or of what’s going on around you?
Nowadays I’m a lot more aware of what’s going on, because I generally have more things to pay attention to. I don’t get the chance to enter LE ZONE / trance state as much as I used to.
Generally I’ll pretty much lose track of the idea of my body (which is something I’d love in real life most of the time, I can’t get to grips with having a physical presence), and my mind kinda dissolves into this cloud of sound, and I know that I’m controlling these buttons and levers and impulses, and what the outcome of each event would be, but “I” am not there at all. Autopilot maybe? There’s definitely enough of me there to know what goes next and what’s going on… not quite there enough to know what works and what doesn’t though.
Is it easier to get into that state when playing some instruments than it is with others?
Anything that’s comfortable to play really… usually something with the ability to have long onset and offset tones. Woodwind and voice are good starting points.
Do you see any unifying themes or substrata that run throughout all your projects?
If I’m gonna be waffley and pompous, then I’d say transcendence and escapism. There’s themes I like to come back to, but it’s generally stuff that there’s no words for. Lyrically I enjoy blabbing on about trans-physicality and discorporation.
When it comes to noise, I try to remain detached from the typical uber-grim kvlt side of things, cuz I think it’s totally un-necessary and arbitrary, completely not what I feel noise is all about. It’s always been a marvel and beauteous thing to me, and I don’t want to sully it with the tired old notions of what “should be” in noise. Punk = Mohawk + Piercings, Rock n Roll = Cocaine + Groupies, Classical = Elitism + Snobbery, Noise = Dark + Offensive… they’re all stupid old traditions that need to be boiled.
There’s two ways of seeing escapism; what you’re escaping from and what you’re escaping to.
I’m all for both points! I appreciate both sides of escapism, some music I make is to get the fuck away, and some is to get to a place, or at least to try and recreate some of my “hallucinations.” I experience these often, though I’m not sure where the lines between daydream/idea/hallucination end cuz it’s all so vivid.
I’ve always experienced stuff like that really vividly, and always put all these experiences under the hallucinatory category, although it’s probably just something that there isn’t really a word for and I’ve attached that word “hallucination” to it. That being said, I do get olfactory and auditory hallucinations regularly, it’s more the “emotional hallucination” that perplexes me. Completely enveloping and brief, like a sneeze, but so real it’s hard to pick up on where reality starts and ends sometimes. I’ve never had a proper term for these “emotional hallucinations.” Sometimes it is just a phantom emotion that’ll come out of nowhere, really faint. Other times it’s an all-enveloping entirely universal hallucination: sight, sound, smell, everything, for a split second, then just that strange attached feeling to it too. It’s hard to explain things for which there are no words, or for which I have no words…
What tends to trigger it? Or is it unpredictable?
There’s no specific trigger for it, though it feels like it triggers a whole heap of other stuff afterwards.
What does it trigger?
Usually it’ll elicit a melancholy in me, this thing that I can’t explain that seems to be such a big part of my life that it must inform a certain amount of what I do.
There’s something transcendent about a lot of your music, a sense of something being expressed that’s too large to be contained by the medium. While the melancholy you describe is rarely audible or even implicit, is there a sense that it drives or fuels that yearning for transcendence?
The yearning for transcendence fuels my music, which fuels my yearning for transcendence. Even if there’s no melancholy present in the music, it’s usually something bluuuuuue that would trigger me to start making it.
Matt Loveridge on the internet:
Interview by Seth Cooke