WORDS: Alex Caslano
Sometimes it’s possible to become truly lost in the music you’re listening to; moments when you drift off, lured into a sense of subconscious security. It’s a hypnotic sensation, and it’s how we feel when we listen to Arm Watches Fingers. An experimental producer who uploads music periodically, his sound is abstract, obscure and absorbing. There is an air of mystery which surrounds him and it makes his most recent release, ‘Sensi Cut’, all the more intriguing. “I don’t know what my style is or how I ended up with it” he tells is. “I find musical taste an especially difficult thing to be objective about, but I would say that it all still feels like an experiment. The term ‘electronic’ is a very open ended thing now and it's become easy to get lost in semantics.”
From the free-jazz stylings of EP opener, ‘Variations On’, to the haunting beauty of ‘Paradiso’, 'Sensi Cut' (which you can pick up as a free download), lives on the peripherals of electronic music. “Trying hard to make stuff that ‘fits’ is a kind of denial of distinctness” he suggests. “Sometimes I’ll begin working on a progression or an idea and feel as though something has been internally offloaded in the process, so I think ‘beautiful madness’ is a nice description; making music is a kind of self-therapy.”
Check out 'Sensi Cut' below, as well an interview in which we talk more about experimenting, 'fitting in' and how writing electronic music can be thoroughly therapeutic:
SynthGlasgow: You’ve been making music for a few years now and we just had a listen to some of your old collaborations with Sega Bodega; how did you find your way into electronic music and particularly the style that you’ve adopted?
Arm Watches Fingers: I was always writing stuff before I knew how to use computers properly, so I managed to blow two sets of speakers at home trying to record a distorted guitar sound on Cubase by basically cranking the insert gain to full - knowing next to nothing about production at that time made everything feel very fun and experimental. When I first heard people my age making their own music purely electronically, like Pete (Wuh Oh) and Salv (Sega Bodega) who were both making really intense melodic stuff, I became fascinated at the idea of writing music without using instruments. Although more recently my writing has gone back to including lots of external recording, working electronically has always felt very liberating in terms of composition and production. There’s just a lot of weird and silly stuff you can do, and so you can end up writing quite different music, or at least creating something that may not have been traditionally possible. I don’t know what my style is especially or how I ended up with it - I find musical taste an especially difficult thing to be objective about, but I would say that it all still feels like an experiment. The term ‘electronic’ is a very open ended thing now and it's become easy to get lost in semantics.
SG: Although there are plenty of experimental artists in electronic music there is also a lot of uniformity, especially in the more obvious genres; how important is it to you to make music which doesn’t necessarily fit? Is it a conscious effort to be as original as possible?
AWF: There is a lot of uniformity but that’s consistent with all genres, and also within life in general. I do find it important for everyone to be true to themselves, as much as that’s possible; inevitably though, you'll be picking up from where someone else left off. Without getting too heavy, there’s a quote from the Liber Al Vel Legis that says “Every man and woman is a star” - in this sense, we all have our own individual path and trajectory (of course within the pull and gravitation of others), but still with a responsibility to exert our inherent uniqueness. Viewed in this way, trying hard just to make stuff that ‘fits’ is a kind of denial of this distinctness. There are elements within all kinds of music that I find personally enjoyable in different ways, and so it’s become a fun process trying to advance and experiment with those ideas that interest me most. More than anything though, it's an internal feeling that I’m trying my best to translate and communicate using this process.
SG: We’re just having a listen to your new EP ‘Sensi Cut’ which we absolutely love and recently described as "beautiful madness". Is there method to the madness? How do you even begin writing something like ‘Paradiso’ for example?
AWF: Thank you! I have a bunch of songs that were written after ‘Essential Tremor’, but at the time I was struggling to progress with them; I didn’t feel as though I was in the right mood really. I think the songs on ‘Sensi Cut’ closely resemble how I was feeling during that time (‘Paradiso’ being a good example of that), so it was much more instinctive working on them. It’s definitely been helpful for me to observe and reflect on what sort of mind state I’m in at any particular time; sometimes I’ll begin working on a progression or an idea and feel as though something has been internally offloaded in the process, so I think ‘beautiful madness’ is a nice description; making music is a kind of self-therapy.
SG: You’ve had tracks played on Radio 1 this year and plenty of support from blogs; where do you see yourself moving next? Would you like to work on a live element?
AWF: At the moment I’m mainly just working on the slightly weirder stuff that didn’t end up on ‘Sensi Cut’ and aiming to have another, longer release out in the next few months. There’s a music video coming shortly for ‘ROMO META’ which has ended up evolving into more of a short film - I got really into the soundtrack mentality when working on it, so that’s something I’d love to do more of if possible. I’m also working on a few side projects - one called Titus Flavius, and the other yet unnamed project is a live band set-up; the songs already sound really different to Arm Watches Fingers stuff so I’m super excited to start playing them!
Arm Watches Fingers ‘Sensi Cut’ is available now for free download.