Mates — how we made it

This week sees the release of Emotion Wave’s third compilation album in as many years — Mates. This time around we wanted to mix things up a bit, by asking artists and producers to collaborate on music.

The thinking behind this was to see what happens when we work outside of our usual creative comfort zones and workflows, learn new methods and above all, forge working relationships that could potentially lead us down new artistic avenues.

Below is a brief overview from each artist on how they pieced their track together.

Twin Galaxies + Runningonair = How We Sold Out Our Children

Jordan: After some correspondence with Running on Air, we decide it would be interesting to remix an unfinished track of each other’s as opposed to something we already had released. For us we found the idea interesting in the sense that the music we produce is limited in part to our own creative boundaries, and the thought of someone picking up the track at the midpoint and taking it down a different road felt like the resulting music would truly have its own character without the potential restrictions imposed by a completed body of work.

We may never finish the idea we passed over, as the prospect of the Running on Air’s work effectively been the finished version of BBA takes it beyond the concept of a conventional remix, and the ambiguity of the original composition in relation to the ‘remix’ further compounds this idea. A song can just be a song, and that’s always totally fine, but venturing into something a bit more conceptual can open up new ways of working creatively.

Steve Amadeo + Lo Five = Not Quite an Island

Steve: ‘Not Quite an Island’ grew out of a short piece of audio from Lo Five, a repetitive rhythmic pattern in which the harmony seemed to change at random points. I wanted to make the changes more defined so I marked these as time signatures and wrote the mallet pattern and unison bass within the confines of those. It contrasts with the constant 6/4 time of the main section. Many of the background sounds are Neil’s audio effected and resampled and the main bassline is played on my Minibrute. The Lo Five pattern reappears at various points in the track in different ways. Overall, this was a good test of idea development and arrangement.

Dark Fidelity Hifi + Baron Farg — Coming Up for Air

Robert: ‘Coming Up for Air’ started life as some track ideas I had kicking around on my hard drive — a few of these got merged together into a loop-based piece with several layers, but no drums or percussion. I sent these stems to Rick to use/interpret how he saw fit and I think he took the cinematic vibe I was shooting for with the loops and augmented that nicely.

Rick centred in on some quite plaintive synth chords I’d used, the patch for which I recall was from a tweaked preset in u-he’s Zebra soft synth (I work entirely ‘in the box’, using software only). There’s also some gurgling synth noises courtesy of an EMS VCS3 emulation, modulated through the track.

Richard: Baron [Farg] sent over some loops, I picked out a piano loop and worked round that, recorded it on Ableton, worked out the groove on a old software DAW my mate made years ago called Making Waves (really good for glitch sounds because it’s cheap and nasty), then I worked the rest out on Analog Lab. My mate Hannah dropped a vocal in adlib. I did the mix down in a hour. Everything fell into place perfectly.

Dublock + Guy Nolan = Dusseldorf

Gordon: Guy Nolan sent one long WAV file of him jamming. I found a couple of sections I liked and the whole thing grew out of that very quickly. Probably took 2 hours to arrange and mix it.

The Long Rays + Foxen Cyn = Cellophane

John: We’ve got a pile of unfinished tracks because we’re lazy gets. We sent a few to Sean and said ‘pick one and do what you like’. He did.

Sean: As the track was titled ‘cellophane’ I decided to make my contribution about victims of sexual abuse who couldn’t talk about it — the idea of something invisible but restricting. The lyrics point to two parties, the Catholic church and stupid fucking hippie types that hide the fact their sexual predators behind their joss stick smoke. In terms of instrumentation there’s baritone guitar, synth, chains, Jimmy Saville groans and cornet.

Lovely stuff, thanks everyone.

All proceeds from the sale of Mates will be donated to Tom Harrison House, a specialist facility based in Anfield which provides a 12-week addiction recovery programme exclusively to military veterans, reservists, emergency personnel, and their families.