No more than a few days ago, I met Herd. I was given a link to preview the newest installment of ‘Tangents,’ and my world changed. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but I really have to say, the music was brilliant. I must have played “Tangents 41 – 47” a dozen times before I posted a review. Each time, I found something new within it that I hadn’t noticed before. So, here’s the driving force behind Herd, who was very kind to answer a few questions I had. Thanks for sharing your music and
for the interview!
Me: What is the overall goal of the project?
Herd: I think I started out making this sort of music as I felt that there was not enough of this style of music around – Especially when FSOL had their 14 year gap between releases. Obviously this all changed when they came back with the Environments and the Archives series. Someone on Soundcloud described what I do as “Post FSOL” – I thought that was interesting and maybe sums up what I do better than I could say it.
Me: What gave rise to “Tangents”?
Herd: My first few releases which I put up for free on torrent sites all had titles and track names that were mostly just plucked from the sky. Apart from a couple of titles which were places I had travelled to, they had no relevance to the tracks at all. The idea of “Tangents” came from wanting to create a large body of work that I could continually add to and that all began in a similar place but was free to develop in lots of different directions. Obviously it’s all electronic music but I feel that the concept of Tangents enables each track and each release to develop in an organic sort of freeform way, whilst all sounding like it comes from the same artist (hopefully). Plus I saw it on the Tangerine Dream boxset and thought it looked good in the FSOL font!
Me: What are your future plans?
Herd: At the moment I’m currently working on some new tracks which will develop into the new set of Tangents. At the moment they all have working titles but they all will become Tangents when I start linking them together. I’m also working on an hour long mix for the Headphone Commute blog which will be a mixture of Herd stuff and other artists’ tracks. I have also been approached by an emerging label based in the UK which is interested in what I’ve been doing and wants me to become a member of the label. It’s an offshoot of the Darkfloor site and the Mantis adio show. Their plan is for an EP from me and then full length releases later on – following the sort of model that labels like Warp like to use. This release should be out in 2012. I will be contractually tied to this label with the exception of any future releases which I may release through FSOLdigital. It’s amazing to have been approached by this label and hopefully it will help promote my tracks – but I had to keep my options open regarding FSOLdigital. So long term I’d like to have a full length release with FSOL as well as the Darkfloor releases. I’m also working on some video stuff -which will be synchronised to my music. I’m working on the basic ideas for this at the moment but as I’m travelling I’ll have to wait till I get home to a proper computer – the laptop I have with me just isn’t powerful enough! At some stage I would like to create a release with both sound and visual. I’m interested in creating posters and maybe even T – shirts once I’ve developed my music further. It would be nice to do some sort of performances, maybe transmitting to festivals after the bands have finished or something, I don’t think my stuff would work with just me on stage. I’d also like to continue with the cover art side of things – both for myself and other people’s releases – if anyone’s interested give me a shout!
Me: How long have you been involved in music?
Herd: I have been making music for about 5 years now although it’s currently a part time thing as I try to fit it around jobs and travelling. It would be nice to spend more time on my music but I have to pay the rent.
Me: How did you come to be on the FSOLDigital label?
Herd: Tangents 41 -47 was originally planned for release on a German label which I won’t name. I had some earlier tracks released on netlabels around this time and decided to try my luck with sending it to labels were I might actually get some payment for my tracks. I sent an early demo track (Tangent 43) to this label and they were very happy to release it. When I had finished the rest of the release and sent it to them their attitude changed – apparently it didn’t meet their expectations? Too dark and abstract apparently. Back to square one – I looked around for labels to release it on but found that it wasn’t the sort of stuff they wanted- not dubstep or wonky? enough, so no-one was interested. I always keep up to date with what FSOL are up to and saw an info/demo link on their shop page (I think the link may have been taken down now) So I sent them a link via Soundcloud and went to sleep and forgot about it. The next day I checked my messages as normal and found a very short but positive reply from Brian Dougans basically saying that he wanted to release it. He’s definitely a man of few words. As it was FSOL that made me want to make music in the first place this was massive news. It was difficult keeping it to myself though. It took about 9 months from that email to it actually happening. Because of the issues with the German label I deliberately kept it to myself until I knew for certain it was happening. It’s amazing to think that I had FSOL posters on my wall back then and now I’m releasing tracks on their label.
Me: You mentioned you created the cover art for this release yourself; it really caught my eye. Is this a hobby of yours? Have you made any other visual pieces?
Herd: I actually have a Degree and Masters in Fine Art so I’ve made quite a lot of visual art -which I suppose you could broadly call sculpture. I haven’t really made any of this sort of stuff for a while as I’ve been concentrating on my music. The cover art is stuff I have made whilst teaching myself how to use the program Cinema 4D. It’s basically a CGI program which has been used in quite a few films and can be used for animation etc. I have made a few other covers – one for the Terminal Window compilation which was an album made by members of the FSOL board, and some for my earlier Tangents. I’ve always been interested in cover art – I think it’s important to have strong visuals. I try and make my covers so the music matches the images, so you sort of know what you are getting before you buy it. I think this is why I’ve continued to use the FSOL fonts to keep a sort of continuity. I enjoy making art like this as there is no pretentiousness involved which unfortunately comes when you exhibit visual Art. I prefer to make this stuff and stay behind the scenes. Ultimately, I would like to try and combine my Art and my music – this is taking the form of covers and videos at the moment but I can see other possibilities – maybe installations or some sort of performance. I saw the Amon Tobin Isam installation at The Crypt Gallery, in London a few months back which was cool. I think maybe something like this could be interesting or maybe something which is more spontaneous.
Me: What have been your inspirations as an artist?
Herd: I bought Lifeforms by FSOL after first noticing its cover art. This was before the internet had made its way to me so I had no way of knowing what it was. Eventually after a few weeks of thinking about it I bought it. It sounded like nothing I had ever heard and I listened to it at least once a week for years after that – all through my time at Art college. I kept on trying to incorporate this sort of sound into my Art but failed miserably. I remember putting it on at a mates house around 15 years ago after a party. Half the room loved it and the other half were shit scared by it. It was only after University when I started messing around and building computers that I thought maybe I could have a go at something like this. So I suppose listening to FSOL for so long made me able to deconstruct it to a certain degree. There is some visual stuff that has inspired me but I don’t think I would be making music if I had never heard that album. Even the name Herd came from Herd Killing by FSOL on Dead Cities. I did think of using that as my artist name but it sounds a bit dark. Visually I’m inspired by lots of different stuff and this continually changes but the Lifeforms influence is always there for me. I’m also massively inspired each time I go travelling. It always gives you time out to think and by the time I get home my heads usually full of ideas that I try to get out of my brain and into reality. I’m lucky at the minute to have my laptop with me so I can jot down any basic ideas which I can develop at a later stage.
Me: Aside from Herd, are you involved in any other musical projects?
Herd: No. Not at the moment. Although I have used some samples recorded from sessions with my mate on his guitar. There is talk with an artist mate of mine about collaborating but we never get round to it. One day…
Anyway, I’m usually not too good at working with other people as I tend to be a bit of a control freak. I do get requests for remixes but my pace of working doesn’t usually fit with other peoples deadlines. This could explain the lack of collaborations but I think it’s important to keep an element of quality control.
Me: What is your opinion on independent music?
Herd: I think that the internet has enabled people to get their music out there and heard more, now, than would be possible before. I think that there are both positive and negative sides to this. It’s now easier to get signed to a label although there’s probably not as much quality control as there maybe once was. I can’t be too down on this approach as my progress has all been achieved through the internet really. (Tangents 1 – 4 were played on Mary Anne Hobbs show on Radio back in 2007 after I sent her a link through Myspace). Before the internet, getting my stuff heard wouldn’t have happened. It’s the same situation with the FSOLdigital release. I suppose the amount of promotion an independent label can do might be limited, but it’s good to have complete freedom over your output. I think FSOL are doing ok now on their own, although they have got a fair back catalogue already. I’ll tell you my opinion on it when I get my first paycheck from them!
I would like to thank Herd for allowing me to conduct this interview. It was a real pleasure!
If anyone out there is interested in purchasing herd’s latest Tangents, check out FSOLdigital:
Also, Herd’s earlier works, as aforementioned, are available via torrents. Check out the “Tangents EP” on Bumpfoot:
And Tangents 32 – 39 via Entity:
I just downloaded both of these yesterday and I can’t say I have heard anything like this. They sound fantastic!
Lastly, here’s a link to Herd’s Soundcloud page: