Mortal CodeKlaus

Mortal Code

Having debuted on R&S Records, it may seem curious that Nick Sigsworth aka Klaus has decided to self release his second record. Devoid of any artwork or extensive press coverage, the 12” showcases Sigsworth’s tendency towards extreme minimalism, and crafting of atmospheric soundscapes. The record also makes up the first release for the London based producer’s newly established ‘Tanum Records’, an imprint that’s future intentions are as yet unknown.

We were given the opportunity to talk about the relationship between imagery and music, working with R&S and running 1-800 Dinosaur with Sigsworth, following our review of his fantastic Neph/Phi split release.

Having released your debut EP with R&S, what was it that prompted you to self-release your own work?

I think curiosity, mainly. I wanted to understand the whole process of making a record, and getting it out there, from the inside. Working with R&S was wicked, Andy and Dan are great people, really supportive, they did all the work to get that record out… but with this one I felt I should try the hassle out for myself, see a bit more of the belly of the machine. Get to know a bit more about the people still pushing records, people working hard, with invaluable skill, and support them directly along the way.

Can you tell us a little bit about the imprint? Do you see it as a vessel to release your own work, or do you have plans to release music from other artists as well?

There’s no plan really. I just hope I can get some more stuff finished and released; it’s hard to see beyond that at the moment. I don’t feel there’s any rush, if I could get another out within a year I would be happy. But I guess the basic idea is to put out 12”, 45rpm records, you know, no bullshit, no art, just one tune per side, cut as wide as possible. It’s certainly not just a vessel for my own music… I have no idea where it might go from here.

You don’t seem overly keen on branding or imagery. How do you see the relationship between artwork and music? 

I don’t have anything against art in music on the most basic level - it’s necessary, and nice, to have some form of visual association when you’re digging through records. But I think there is a more widespread issue of visual distraction in music. I’m fortunate enough not to come into contact the most heinous examples of image branding, I’m happiest just ignoring that whole world, but you still see it seeping in, trickling down to the underground from the mainstream. For me, it only contaminates the experience, detracts from it.. just baggage. slick press shots of the guy who made this tune, when frankly, I couldn’t give a fuck. it’s nothing to do with the music, only ego. Leave that shit to the posers in magazines, in their little videos.

It extends to going out too. I’m talking about lights and projectors and all this extra flashy shit. More often than not, it’s just a device to distract you from the piss poor soundsystem. But when I go out to listen to music, I want to shut my eyes down. It’s part of music’s escape value I think; you spend all day getting bombarded with mad amounts of visual stimuli, you go home or you go down Plastic People, listen to a record and enter a different sensory dimension. It’s relief, not to have to look at anything.

You made the decision to release exclusively on vinyl, is this something you feel especially crucial to your musical upbringing and how you value music?

I think all I have to say on this has been expressed more eloquently and articulately by others. But when you pick up a record somewhere, carry it home, set it down, watch it spin, navigate your way through it, learn its parts, batter it, hear that battering take its toll, remember what made you chase that record in the first place, think about all the times you’ve listened to it, about how your experience of it has changed as you’ve grown… a record is a solid reference point in space and time. Not endlessly duplicable floating data, but finite, mortal code. I dunno, there’s something comforting in that for me… and that’s what I want to offer people. I like knowing that I’ve actually handled each record I send out, imagining its fate… whether that’s being listened to and passed on, or moulding in a pile of Barbara Streisand albums somewhere…

Does your enthusiasm for vinyl derive from DJing or can you see yourself as a record consumer without this pastime? 

I think my enthusiasm for vinyl is rooted in the listening process. Being in a dark room with some good speakers and paying full attention to a piece of music, no blinking screen, no progress bar, just a needle tracking across a record. Maybe it’s different for kids these days, but for me, that’s as good as it gets. For me, DJing is just about doing that with other people; it feels like a natural extension of what I do at home.

Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Neph and Phi? The tracks have been floating around for a while now, they were included in a mini-mix you posted on dubstepforum a few years ago.

Yeah I started both those tunes in 2008… it takes me a long time to trust a tune. When I used to work on tunes years ago, I’d get excited about something, go away, come back and realise I wasn’t as into it as I’d thought … now I’m warier … hence the 4-year quarantine! Though that trust could just be familiarisation through endless repetition… I often wonder whether these tunes make sense to anyone else. Particularly rhythmically; I think I work in quite a subtractive way when it comes to rhythm, throwing a lot of elements together, then gradually removing them to see how little I can get away with… stripping it all back to a skeleton. I worry maybe they only make sense for me because I went through that process, heard them back when they had flesh.

Your music utilises a diverse range of samples; are these sounds you’ve recorded yourself or do you source them from elsewhere?

When I was at university, going to the library, I kept getting distracted by all the records they had in there, all sorts, I don’t think I ever saw anyone else touch them. I’d grab a pile and listen through and if there were bits I liked I’d hit record, come away with a wav file a couple hours long, chop it up and have no idea which record anything came from anymore. These days it’s a similar process, but at home… Other than that, films, sometimes just playing films without the picture, so that I’m properly listening. And also sounds I’ve recorded over the years on dictaphones… there’s a fair few of those in Phi actually. In a way, I think it often helps when I’ve forgotten exactly where a sound came from, it can take on a new life away from the context I first heard it in.

You help run the 1-800 Dinosaur events along ****with James Blake, Rob McAndrews (aka Airhead), Ben Assiter and Dan Foat at Plastic People. Can you tell us a little bit about how the events came to be, and if you have any future plans for the night?

Dan was the driving force behind it really; we were all feeling that we wanted a focus, somewhere we could go with some regularity to play music together in the right environment, and Dan sorted it out, made it happen. I still can’t believe it, that I get to step into that booth, I’ve heard and learnt so much from the other side of the decks, from Mala, Kode9, Theo Parrish, Floating Points … I feel truly blessed. We all come at it from quite different angles musically, so it’s always interesting to see what course the evening takes. There’s no line-up or set times, we just get in there and see what happens.

Next 1-800 Dinosaurs: 31st October, and 14th & 28th November.

  • Published
  • Oct 21, 2012
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