Interview by Chris Timm
’Telepathy’ is supported by an immersive video experience which was developed using VR technology. The video makes use of drawings Mathroom presented during the ‘Invisible Exhibition’ which was an augmented exhibition hosted by the ‘Centre For The Less Good Idea’ (William Kentridge). Later this year Mathroom will be releasing an 8 track album which features two more video experiments.
Your music draws from hiphop, breakcore and lofi while often incorporating ambient and electronic elements. South African electronic music listeners tend to have a palette for ‘4 on the 4’ techno or house. That being said, what has the response been like to your latest release ‘Telepathy’?
I’m not sure as I haven’t had much feedback yet, but can chance a guess that it probably disturbed some people, or didn’t fit comfortably. It makes me uncomfortable too, which is what I was going for – not as a primary driver to disrupt, but rather to open a window into a space that is unfamiliar and challenging, akin to a psychedelic experience. The world is stranger by the day, and 4/4 can go only so far in reflecting the abstractions, tensions, mutations and distillations of matter and consciousness that we are collectively and individually experiencing. That said I think there’s a place for everything. I’m increasingly disinterested in the hierarchy of worth that has been created to judge and forecast how good, bad or successful a creation is, that’s up to the individual to decide.
What does the music-making process mean to you two? What’s the point, why do it?
First and foremost I make music because it is the most exciting and enjoyable activity I know. I started when I was 15, and haven’t stopped since. I almost never create with premeditation. There is a thrill to walking into the jungle of sound, as an explorer, and discovering new sonic forms. Each composition that emerges feels a bit like a new species, with it’s own unique DNA and essence. It’s a truly free space, where there are no rules, besides the ones you may choose to make and break. Increasingly I make music with the intention to share these sound-species with others, and perhaps inspire more discovery in turn, which ultimately creates a healthy and complex “biosphere” of sound. I’ve always appreciated and loved free range musicians that really break the mould and open up new possibilities.
Explain the message behind ‘Telepathy.’ What does it mean to you? What are you hoping other people will get out of it?
Like most of my work, I only really understand what it is after it’s made. The process is for intuitive flow, where there is often no rational explanation for what is taking form, like cells making a new life, and only when it’s born does it become a contained and identifiable concept. So the idea of Telepathy emerged back to front. I feel and think that there is more to humans than meets the eye, more to everything, to the fabric of matter and consciousness itself. Science is discovering this more each day. Telepathy is an expression of a deep dive of sorts, into an abstract inner, and perhaps collective space, where archetypes, DNA, vision, senses, and communication – are blurred into a wordless space, where thought and sensation is allowed to travel in a more intuitive way. I often think of humans like computers – as we have made them in our image – in the sense that we have a hard drive and memory, our brains, and different organs that are like the fan, body, and wires that make up the system. Perhaps the heart is like a modem. Designed to be online, so that information can be streamed to and from our beings, depending on bandwidth and connectivity.
It seems that ‘Telepathy’ isn’t just a song but rather should be listened to in conjunction with the video you made for it. Why do you use visuals and sound in conjunction with one another? What aspects of them are complementary?
This project is definitely intended to be experienced as a combination of the two mediums. Sometimes sound is fully complete in itself, where visuals would only detract or over embellish, other times they work in harmony. A really great video can also carry an otherwise unremarkable song, so there are variations to how sound and visuals either do or don’t compliment each other. When the combination is good, it can be a potent experience. Most of us have had moments of being deeply moved in film, where music, narrative and visuals combine to trigger a powerful emotional response. I’m interested in exploring this space, experimenting with pace, texture, and imagery with sonic counterparts.
What inspires you to make not just the sounds you make but the visual elements released in conjunction with them?
Similarly to the previous question, sometimes sounds and songs evoke a very particular visual counterpoint, a form of synaesthesia, where both sonic and visual frequencies align. Inversely, a silent image can contain a melody, or composition inside it. I think the most important thing, regardless of how an artist got there, is to love the creation, love the process, and leave whatever is made with an essence of that energy, even if it’s pure rage, that can also be a form of love and truth.
What is one of your creative highlights while creating or performing?
The highlight is the creative act itself. To be completely present, and disappear into it. It doesn’t feel lonely and isolated, it feels connected, like being online. This is always a highlight, to stream good energy and share it.
What does the future look like for Mathroom?
My interest lies in discovering new forms. If someone is expecting the same sound or form to repeat they will likely be disappointed or confused by my trajectory. I enjoy many types of music, and am excited to delve into as many of them as I can, and perhaps even make something new. I enjoy wondering what the next big genre will be, it’s amazing how it seeds within individuals, and before long a whole culture emerges around a particular sound, only to be answered by the next. One thing is for sure, the creative force is relentless, and humans are made for channeling this, into a spectrum of evolving expressions. To be a part of that is enough. And maybe when we die it will continue in ways we can’t even imagine in this paradigm. It’s a mystery.