The music of Anenon interweaves digital precision alongside analog warmth. So the project by Brian Simon seemed to be a perfect fit for our new video on the drone art in San Diego coming out this week. Mechanized, but with heart. Simon heads the Los Angeles record label Non Projects, and has been sponsored acts ranging from experimental ambient music, to the harp music of Ana Caravelle. His live act mixes live instrumentation -- I once saw him live-loop saxophone layers over ethereal beats -- with laptop manipulations. His latest album 'Inner Hues' is a beautiful affair, emboldened by lush grand pianos and subtle drum programming. It's dreamy and cerebral, but still moves your body with pulsing beats. It's left and right brain, working as one.
Artbound caught up with the multifaceted Simon to discuss the landscapes in his music, which artists inspire him, and what trippy filmmaker he would like to work with.
You music has a very cinematic feeling to it, do you ever visualize scenes or landscapes for the music that you make?
I visualize shapes, patterns and colors in motion as I make music, always different depending on the instrument I'm playing as well. Landscapes or scenes of that nature appear too, but they remain fairly abstract. I was actually thinking about this the other day as I went for a run. I tend to imagine my best music as aural versions of paintings, something I've always ventured for once I began to really take my work as a musician seriously. When I connect with visual art, I get a sense of motion, tension and conflict from the work. I always strive to make sure that all of these elements are at play in my own work. What I love about sound is the ability to play with timbre, or tone color. When I record a sound put it into a computer the options become endless with regards to coloring that sound and being able to form textures with it, another important element of both visual and audio work - texture. Being able to form sounds with an almost tangible quality to them is key - convincing myself that I can reach in between the speakers and actually grab the sound usually means that I'm doing something right.
What role does being in Los Angeles play in the music you make?
This is a tough question... I believe that the answer resides more in my subconscious than anywhere else. Los Angeles is the only city that I've ever lived in so it's been engrained in me since the beginning, though I continue to discover more and more about it every day.
Making electronic music is very solitary, you hole up in a room and push buttons. So what role does the community of L.A. electronic musician play in the way you make music?
I don't think that it's totally fair to artists and to the art form itself to reduce making electronic music to a definition of holing up in a room and pushing buttons. On a very basic level, sure, it usually happens in a room and maybe some buttons get pushed, but it is so much more than the mere act of actually doing it. As far as it being solitary (and this also doesn't necessarily be the only way it gets made), this is actually something that appeals to me and is exactly the same as a painter or an author spending time up in their studio or workspace. It's a challenge to stretch your imagination as far as it can go when you are by yourself and something that pushes me every day.
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At this point in my life, there is no difference between "electronic music" and "music" as much of the source material that I work with stems from acoustic and non-electronic sounds anyways. At its best, my work is about condensing life experiences into audio form with an awareness of the now and the future. The people I spend my time with, the articles and books that I read and choose to absorb, the films that I watch, the food that I eat, the city and its architecture that surrounds me, the visual art that I choose to be receptive to and so much more. This and every little moment of my life finds it's way into my art on some level, whether macro or micro, discernable or not.
To get to the community question here - once I stopped worrying about the scene as a whole and where I thought that I fit in or didn't fit in, my music began to take itself to another level. At this point, I really don't think about it. I thrive on instinct in both my music and in my work in running a label and try not to consciously worry about the way that myself or my label fits into the community. If I do my own thing and nothing else but my own thing, then there will always be a place for me. With that being said, I am definitely very inspired by the work ethics of many that surround me in Los Angeles and I use that inspiration as fuel for the fire.
Live you work live instrumentation into the mix, how do you balance organic elements with analog sounds?
I don't really think about whether or not I'm balancing anything really. Either it works or it doesn't and I tend to not worry about whether or not my ratio of organic to analog is correct. There's no such thing!
If your music were a visual art what painters/sculptors/ artists do you think would represent your work, and why?
I'll limit this answer to an all-time influence and a current one -- the seemingly random fluidity of Cy Twombly's work has always had a large impact on the way I improvise and sort out my own material and the black and white eeriness of Daido Moriyama's gelatin silver print photography has recently had a large influence on me and the way I've been visualizing my environment.
You have your own label too, Non Projects. What is your vision for how you choose the musicians on the label?
Non Projects is my labor of love and I wouldn't do it any other way. There is nothing more than a gut feeling with regards to how I choose the musicians and their music as releases.
If you could collaborate with any artist to make a music video for you, who would it be, and what would that video look like?,
I've been in a David Lynch mood lately so I'm going to go with him on this - hopefully he would use a lot of 90s style font Italics for the titles. But other than that, I like for the visual artists that I work with to just run with their initial ideas. It's sort of like passing on the baton when I work with someone visually -- that's their field and if I'm working with them, I respect their ideas in the first place and trust them to do what they see fit.
Top Photo: Andy J. Scott
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