Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I am currently based in Melbourne, Australia, and the music scene is bloody fantastic here at the moment. So much incredible new music and people breaking down boundaries between music genres and working across disciplines. I like it
when musicians act like artists and there’s so much of that happening now. It’s great.
How did you first get involved with playing music?
I first got involved with music from listening to the wind whistling around the eaves of the haunted house I grew up in, and howling along with it. Shortly afterwards I discovered the beautiful sounds of the theremin and have been waving my hands around in front of that instrument to try to create similar sounds ever since.
What’s been happening recently?
I’ve been recording theremin, making videos, planning costumes and generally preparing for the release of my new album The Gateway which is coming out on cult UK soundtrack label Death Waltz in the new year. I’ve also been playing with my new theremin and harp project The Narcoleptor which is a collaboration between myself and classical harpist Mary Doumany.
You’re new single ‘Shudder Speed’ is out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting for this track?
The theremin is a relatively young instrument and as such it doesn’t really have any clear genre that it belongs to, which is fantastic. With each body of work that I wrote I like to try to place the theremin in a new musical context. In the past it’s
been prog rock, industrial, noise rock, neoclassical, dark wave and synth pop. For this record I thought it would be fun to try it out in a high NRG nu-Italo electronic space. I suppose it’s some kind of theremin party music. Usually the theremin is
associated with spooky of melancholic music, so I thought it would be fun to step outside of that and see how it works in a new musical space.
How did you go about writing ‘Shudder Speed’?
This one just sort of popped out of nowhere when I was jamming along with my SH-101 synthesiser and a classic goth 3/4 beat on the drum machine.
Where and when did you record and who with?
I moved around a lot when making this record – this track was made in a room above Sameheads – my favourite Italo club in Berlin. I also recorded at Die Hit Fabrik in Berlin, and the Castle of Terror in Melbourne. This is album is a totally solo effort – no guests this time around – and it was mixed by the wonderful Tony Espie at Tufftones in Melbourne.
What programs/instruments did you use to record?
My music is made 100% analogue hardware instruments. On this album I used a Moog Etherwave Pro theremin, Moog Slim Phatty, Roland SH-101, Roland RS202, Roland JX-3P & Oberheim Matrix 1000 synthesisers, and a bunch of drum machines recorded into ProTools.
Please tell us about how you came to learn and play the Theremin:
I was introduced to the theremin by my dad who is an electrical engineer and had the plans to build one from a 1970s science magazine. I was just discovering analogue synth music and really getting into Moog synths. My dad explained that
Moog synths were actually based on a theremin circuit design – Bob Moog actually built theremins before he invented the synthesiser. I was totally fascinated by the the fact that the theremin is played without being touched (you wave your hands
around near the instrument to play it) and I thought the sound was one of the most human and haunting things I’d ever heard. Then I began the long slow process of trying to learn how to play it.
How did the concept for the ‘Shudder Speed’ music video come about?
I’ve always wanted to work with Geoffrey O’Connor as he is one of my favourite Australian artists. He also has a great sense of humour which is always one of the strengths of his video work. I sent Geoff the album and he came back with the
idea of reanimated mannequins / undead goth hipsters in an art gallery. I love 80s videos that exist in a weird dream space where strange things happen and Geoff and I looked at a bunch of super fun weird videos where this vibe was really strong. Then we invited a bunch of our most fabulous mates into the studio and went for it.
Where and when did you film?
We shot the video at IDEA studios in Brunswick a few months ago. The shoot involved a colossal amount of smoke machine, blue champagne and dancing.
How do you prepare for your live shows?
Playing the theremin requires a lot of concentration and physical control because the instrument is actually your body – every little movement you make effects the sound of the theremin including breathing. So I do spend a lot of time practicing before a show and trying to be extra healthy. When I first met my theremin teacher Lydia Kavina she listened to me playing and told me that she could hear that I didn’t sleep enough and drank too much! So it’s important to try to keep a clear mind so you can drop into the meditative space that good theremin playing requires.
What programs and equipment do you use whilst performing live?
My music is all hardware based so I use the Moog Etherwave Pro theremin, Roland SH-101, Moog Slim Phatty, Moog Sirin and Roland SP404 for live shows.
What do you most enjoy about playing live?
The music on this record was composed for a live party environment and I love working with a crowd and playing with expectations to take the music into a super fun place. It’s also great seeing people react to the theremin especially if they
haven’t seen one before. I also really enjoy dressing up for shows – my live performance character is some kind of sci-fi Nosferatu – so it’s fun to take things into a heightened over-the-top space for live performances.
What do you like to do away from music?
Music is what I like to do most! I also work as a music curator and I love helping other artists to create new work – especially if they are unusual and push the boundaries of what is expected in their field.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Right now I have been really enjoying the music of Greg Hawkes (synth player from The Cars), the great new collab EP by Francsico & Malkuth on Giallo Disco records, Essaie Pas, Chela, A/N, Mariah (the Japanese band) and Cale Sexton.
Where and when are you playing next?
I am launching my new single Shudder Speed this Thursday 31 October at The Curtin for a huge Halloween party with support from Australian electronic legend Black Lung, gloom rock heartthrobs Venetian Blinds, my new classical harp and theremin duo The Narcoleptor and DJ Kate Fox playing Halloween bangers all night.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I have two new solo records coming out next year – one is a sort of adult contemporary theremin record full of super melancholic lament-style music, the other is a super dark heavy electronic record. We also have another Narcoleptor record ready to go and I’m also working on a new record with my band The Night Terrors. So lots of new music in the works right now!
What’s planned for the remainder of 2019 going into 2020?
I’ll be planning my 2020 tours for The Gateway, doing some more Narcoleptor shows and putting the finishing touches on the new records in preparation for next year. 2020 is the 100th birthday of the theremin so there will be a lot of fun stuff happening and I know the international theremin community is planning a lot of special stuff.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
My favourite food and place to hang out are both the same – I love Laser Pig in Collingwood. Excellent food, fabulous music and the most delightful bar staff in Melbourne. Where else can you hear cutting edge electronic music DJ’d live over delicious pizza? It’s the best.
Miles Brown – Shudder Speed, from the upcoming album The Gateway on Death Waltz Recording Company. Directed by Geoffrey O'Connor. Single Launch: HALLOWEEN Thurs 31.10 at The Curtin, Melbourne w/ Black Lung, Venetian Blinds, The Narcoleptor and DJ Kate Fox. Tickets $13: http://bit.ly/milesbrownhttps://www.facebook.com/events/1675638895903509/http://www.milesbrown.com.auStarring: Kloudy Ku, Tanzer, Ricky Maymi, Julian Wu, Luke Fraser, Jenna Eriksen, Sarah Lim, Chela, Nicole Freeman, Isabel McCrann, Simon McGlinn, Simon Zoric.Costume: ALEXI FREEMANClaw support: The Super Rad Nail Sisters
Posted by Miles Brown on Tuesday, 8 October 2019