Inspiration and thoughts behind the making of 'Distance As Power' by 36 & duenn
duenn first contacted me in early 2019, asking if we'd like to work together. He is a very prolific collaborator, whereas at the time, I had only worked with two other producers before. I was busy with my solo material, so initially had to decline his offer. But I liked his music, and we agreed to do something together once our schedules were free. In March 2020, he sent me a batch of 1 minute waveforms, showcasing the sound design he had been working on. The sounds were fascinating but mostly atonal and very experimental. Beautiful chaos. Immaculately sculpted. His approach to music is very different to mine, but I felt I could use his material as the foundation for something unique, outside the zones we both usually operate in.
This was around the time the COVID pandemic was really starting to get serious here in Europe and around the world. Countries were locking down their borders, and many of us suddenly found ourselves with a lot of free time on our hands. I tried to channel this unusual energy right back into the music.
Despite all the obvious anxiety in the air during this time, I didn't want it to be a completely hopeless record. I found that working on the music with duenn was actually a very positive experience and even with the world falling apart around us, there was great comfort in knowing that two people who have never met, on opposite sides of the planet, could still find a deep, shared connection through sound. Don't get me wrong, it's still a very moody, massively melancholic record (and let's face it, those track titles are hardly motivational are they!) but as I have said in the past, I find the best music skirts the boundaries between hope and despair; Sadness and exhilaration. When these contrasting emotions meet, beautiful things happen.
When making music, I'm almost in a trance-like state and things happen with very little conscious input on my part. It's pure lost in the moment vibes. I can't even remember what other music I was listening to at the time, or what influenced this record. It was simply a raw, instinctive reaction to the sound loops that duenn gave me, in the backdrop of an unusual environment we all faced ourselves in. I know that I used a lot more distortion that I usually do, making generous use of Guitar Rig on many instruments. Ironically, no actual guitars were used on the record, even though it does sound like it in places. Another major part were the choral elements, used on most of the tunes. I think they play an important role in the overall melancholy of this record, while giving it that crucial human touch. A lament for times gone and people lost. Beyond that, the mix itself is very dense. Like walking through smoke. Raf did an excellent job bringing out all the small details and I think it really shines on both headphones and speakers. I imagine this record could do some serious damage on a huge system.
The artwork was made by duenn's friend, Jun Koshino. duenn and I love minimalism. The original artwork was simply a piece of card, folded down the middle. I then edited it so that the folds also occurred horizontally and diagonally, meaning all parts intersected in the centre. It was edited this way to better represent the concept of the album. No matter the distance between us, we find strength through unity.
Obviously things have progressed a lot since the record was made, with much of the world beginning to revert to how things were before the pandemic started. We're all understandably fatigued at this point. But I still regularly return to this record and have played it many times in the 18 months since first creating it with duenn. It represents an accurate flash point of what we were feeling during this unique period in our history and I think it sounds like nothing else in our respective discographies. It's a real honour to finally share our creation with you all.
In early spring of 2020, I sent 36 a handful of one minute waveforms that were equally minimal and experimental. We both understood our sound design output were very different and appreciated the challenge of intertwining our approach of music creation.
It was during this time when COVID began spiraling out of control throughout most parts of the world and it became a major influence regarding the sounds you hear on this record. Working on these arrangements was a balancing act of melancholic tones and deep euphoric channeling. As 36 so accurately stated,"When these contrasting emotions meet, beautiful things happen."
Several key influences during the Distance As Power sessions were Eric Satie, Sol Lewitt and Katsue Kitazono.