Rival Consoles: In Conversation

This Friday 17 March sees electronic producer Rival Consoles play Belgrave Music Hall, as part of Leeds College of Music’s inaugural Sounds Like THIS festival.

Ryan Lee West, aka Rival Consoles, is an electronic producer renowned for making synthesisers sound human and atmospheric.With the release of his 'Odyssey' and 'Sonne' EPs and 'Night Melody' album, West has gained a reputation for making thoughtful electronica that spans a wide spectrum of musical ideas.

We got the lowdown from the artist himself to see what we can expect from his live performance…

Q. As someone who grew up listening to rock music and playing guitar – what inspired you to start producing electronic music?

A. I think I was just so excited initially by how you could make music and listen back to it immediately! You could sketch something and then press play, which really excited me because I feel like I think out loud with music. As far as artists go, I was deeply influenced by Warp artists such as Aphex Twin, Clark, Autechre and Squarepusher when I was growing up. They had very thoughtful approaches to music - not just sounds, but structure too.
 
Q. You describe your music as being “electronic with human sentiment”; do you feel that electronic music often lets you express this better than other genres can?

A. Well, I think it’s harder to express emotion with electronic sounds, so when you do it, it feels more powerful to me, and also there is a “newness” to it, as opposed to say expression via the piano or violin. I think I’m interested in a new form of expression, using tools that reflect now to some extent.
 
Q. There is a strong audio-visual approach to your live show, what’s the creative process here? How do the two elements complement each other to create impact?

A. When I was at university I did a lot of programming in MAX/MSP which is a music/visual programming language. My visuals are built in this and performed by someone, usually by Robert Raths. It is basically an instrument, with no edits and no sync to music. The point for me is how it looks, but more importantly that it is an improvised reaction to my music. I like chance and chaos, rather than super rigid visual shows which basically just play video, because it feels like there is no freedom or chance to change the mood.

Throughout the show, the visuals really heighten the movement of the music and the colour within the sounds. The whole performance has a very visually hypnotic/trance like repetition.
 
Q. Your last album, ‘Night Melody’ was “born out of and shaped by long hours working into the night” – how does the nocturnal world permeate those tracks?

A. I think the colours and tone of all of the sounds reflect this. ‘Slow Song’ is completely dusk/night time tones to me, and the opening ripple synth is dark blues. When I was making the record I would walk or travel a lot at night, listening to sketches on headphones, which subconsciously influenced my choices.

Q. Sounds Like THIS is a festival which champions bold approaches to new music – who are your pioneering musical heroes?

A. Beethoven, Clark, Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Colin Stetson, Lou Reed, and many, many more…
 
Q. What makes a great music festival for you?

A. I think a great festival is one that offers great new music, rather than pre-existing huge names. I tend to learn a lot more from new music, perhaps because professionalism in more established acts tends to erode that special, naive, accidental magic you get from people who don’t know what they are doing as much.
 
Q. What kind of atmosphere do you aim to create at a live show, and what can people expect from your Belgrave Music Hall gig?

A. My live show covers a lot of peaks and troughs, so I think people can expect a very physical journey through many moods…
 
Catch the live show this Friday 17 March at Belgrave Music Hall,  Leeds 

More on Sounds Like THIS Festival
 

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