I first heard the work of Dementio13 (a.k.a. Paul Foster) on the excellent album VTOL last year and have been following it ever since. With three releases of his ‘suburban synthesis’ so far in 2015, and another project in the works, he takes time out to talk about kit, Cardiff and Francis Ford Coppola.
How would you describe your music?
It’s a right old mix-up really. Gentle and contemplative at times; full-on dirty and fast at others. It’s a mix of all my influences, not just music, but movies, books, stuff that’s happened in the world, suburban noises, stuff that’s made me think. It’s like a soundtrack to all that. Lots of ironic nods to past music and films, etc, but hopefully not pastiche.
Who are your influences? Any artists you’re a big fan of?
How much time and space have you got?! There really are so many, but I’ll try to stick to a few rather than give you a list of virtually every bit of music that’s ever existed. I have always loved Joy Division and early (up to about 1989) New Order and lots of other, less well-known Factory bands. I’m quite geeky about Factory and have been a bit of a fan-boy since I was about 15. Kraftwerk, obviously….you can’t make electronic music without having been influenced by them in some way. 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald, particularly their earlier stuff.
Squarepusher is awesome and scarily proficient, not just with the bass, but with everything he does. Aphex Twin….these are the obvious influences I suppose. Steve Reich, Can, Neu!, various experimental early electronic artists like Delia Derbyshire, Tristram Carey, Daphne Orum, etc. Portishead and Radiohead for consistently turning out interesting music which still manages to be accessible and fairly mainstream. Ennio Morricone for his poetic, idiosyncratic brilliance. There are loads of others: Sand, Luke Vibert, A Certain Ratio, John Barry, LFO, Phillip Glass, to name a few.
Where’s the best place for people to find your music? Do you play live at all?
No, I don’t really ‘do’ live. I’m a bit self-conscious of just being a head-nodding, button-pushing statue. I helped out Jo Whitby (Laurence Made Me Cry) a few years ago with a couple of gigs, which was kinda fun, but I’d much rather be hidden away at the back in the shadows.
The other thing is that my music has always been quite hard to reproduce live without other musicians…if it is going to be properly ‘live’……or else I would literally just be pressing ‘start’ on the laptop. Having said all that; my current recording setup is 100% hardware and quite portable, so I should maybe look into it.
As for online – I’m guessing dementio13.com?
Yeah, I think the style has changed a fair bit. I try to force myself to approach each new release differently; either in style or in the way it’s recorded. In the end though, some bits sound like other releases….there’s a finite number of times you can re-invent stuff. I had really early recordings on the website (from 1999 onwards) which I put there for anyone who was interested but deleted them later…..I should maybe put them back there.
Where does the name Dementio13 come from?
The name, Dementio13 comes from a misspelling of Francis Coppola’s film Dementia 13. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
You’ve also collaborated with others in the past, either on albums or in different projects such as Cwtch. How do those projects compare with Dementio13 solo?
I really enjoyed working with Laurence Made Me Cry, there’s quite a bit of depth to that music and it was a privilege to work alongside some fantastic musicians. My album ‘VTOL’ was mainly a collaborative effort. I enjoy the way other people bring ideas to a project and how those ideas develop. Sometimes you go into a collaboration not knowing what to expect, sometimes you have a firm idea of what you want….it varies. I know I do prefer to start with other people’s ideas, rather than my own, if I’m collaborating…..I find it hard to make music from scratch which leaves space for other musicians.
I will admit to being a control-freak though, I like the complete autonomy of Dementio13.
Anything else you’re working on at the moment? When’s it coming out?
Well, I’m always recording and releasing D13 stuff….I used to plan releases and go for a bit of a build-up; having a firm release date, posting pre-release review copies of the album, contacting bloggers, doing a Facebook event, etc. Now I just smuggle them into the world. I’ve got a new track which will appear on a new compilation (the identity of which I won’t reveal…..not because it’s a big secret or anything, but because I don’t know if the people involved want it public yet). That’s all for the moment…..
What is the first album you ever owned?
I originally thought it was ‘Parallel Lines’ by Blondie, but it turns out it was ‘Platinum’ by Mike Oldfield……wasn’t my choice, my folks bought it as a birthday present when I was about 9 or something. Still got it, mind.
What kind of kit do you use? Which item could you not do without?
I’m a bit of a fetishist when it comes to my gear…I keep posting photos of it everywhere…..Christ, I’m so pleased with myself, aren’t I?!
I’ve got Elektron Monomachine / Machinedrum / Octatrack…and they’re the hub of my current setup…awesome machines and quite idiosyncratic which forces you to work very differently to how you would with a computer, say. I’ve got a Bassbot TT303 which is about as close as you can get to a TB303 nowadays without spending daft money. Korg MS20mini, Teenage Engineering OP-1 (mental little toy-like workstation), Yamaha RS7000 (I had one years ago and loved it; stupidly got rid of it to pay for a keyboard, then saw this one a few months ago ultra-cheap.), I recorded ‘Vkhutemas vol.1’ entirely on that machine. An Alesis Fusion 6HD which is a nice workstation keyboard; I used that on loads of releases, but nothing recent. I’ve also got some outboard stuff, a digital recorder, an Akai MPC which I never use and a couple of bass guitars.
Not sure what I couldn’t do without…I mean, if you want to make music, you’ll always find a way, regardless of the kit. I used to make music on a battered old PC with an AWE64 sound card. But I guess the one piece of kit I’d really miss is the Alesis Fusion because you can actually play it, but you can also arrange and record on it too.
Can you give me a local flavour of Cardiff?
I love Cardiff…been here for 25 years and I don’t think I’d move. The Taff Trail is a favourite haunt for cycling. Favourite eatery? Lots (stares at expanding belly)…..The Madeira (incredible unpretentious Portuguese food) is a nice non-chain restaurant. I occasionally go to a few gigs, but not as many as I’d like…Clwb Ifor Bach’s good, but there are loads of small venues around the city which cater for different tastes. Not many experimental/electronic nights though, apart from the occasional one-off.
And last question – if you could pick a title for a review?
‘Noises from suburbia’ or ’13 Cymru Beats’ (nicking the title from Aphex Twin’s ’54 Cymru Beats’).