INTERVIEW: TAYLOR DEUPREE: MUSIQUE MACHINE (2008)
by Roger Batty
Taylor Deupree is a highly talented & original electronic artist who in recent years has been blurring electronic & organic innstrmentsion together in a very compelling manner, he’s also set up and runs the superb electronic/ acoustic label 12k and it’s more experimental sister label Line. Taylor kindly took time out from his busy schedule to answer some questions via email.
m[m] How did you first become interested in making electronic/ambient music and is there any particular album or track that triggered this interest?
when I was quite young I played drums in the school band and really started to get interested in music. I also come from a very musical family, especially on my mother's side. When the early/mid 80's hit I was introduced to new wave and electronic music, I was about 14 at the time, and I knew immediately that music was what I wanted to do, and, more specifically, electronic music because of the ability to be self-sufficient and not rely on band members.
M[m] your sound over the years has gone from been electronic and ambient based to more organic and electronic mix- why do think you’ve developed in this way?
Well, primarily, I’m not interested in doing the same thing over and over for decades, so progression is part of my plan. I’m influenced by what is around me and by the exploration of sound. I think after a while I tired of the *pure* electronic sound and became fascinated by imperfection and the beauty that lies within. I began incorporating more organic textures into my work, allowing for the inconsistent subtleties of acoustic instrumentation to creep into my work. At this point I no longer feel I need to create music with electronics. I do find it to be the most convenient, but I am equally open to doing an album with any sound sources as I find interest in all sounds now. 10 years ago I would have never dreamed of touching a guitar, now it’s the basis of my live performance. I don't feel constricted anymore and greatly enjoy exploring all sorts of sonic avenues.
m[m] What made you decided to form 12k record label & how did it all come about?
I’ve spoken about this at length in many interviews... but the short version is that around 12 years ago there were no labels around that I thought accurately captured what I wanted in a label, so I simply took my knowledge from working at a label for a few years and started my own. The whole thing has evolved very organically and will continue to do so. The 12k of today bears only a hazy resemblance to the 12k of 1997, and the same will be said about the 12k of 2020 to now.
m[m] In 2006 you moved from New York City to the countryside in New York sate- why did you decided to do this? & do you miss the city at all?
The move was largely for personal reasons. at first I missed the city, but only being an hour away it's not like it is unaccessible. And I find the more I am out here, the less I miss the city and the more I appreciate more pure and simple forms of living. life is very over-complicated and the city overcomplicates it even further. it's nice to get away and be able to appreciate things on a much more human level. my city days are not over, however. I am a person of extremes, I love the incredibly dense and the incredibly quiet, and so I’ll be back.
M[m]You’ve just reissued your album Northern from 06- clearly you very proud of this, what other album tracks are you particular proud of and is there any thought of reissuing some of your out of print works?
I basically leave re-issuing up to demand. it doesn't make financial sense to release something again that is not in demand. however, the original version of "northern" sold out rather quickly and still carried a demand significant enough for re-issuing. however, for some reason, I didn't just want to re-press what was already out... so I began the process of taking each song from its most basic structure and re-approaching it from a mix level. I found it made for a much more interesting release. Many people thought "northern" was the best thing I had done, so I wanted to challenge that with a new version and to see where it would stand. I have also re-issued my cd "stil." which has already sold out again, but have no immediate plans for other re-issues.
m[m] what made you decide to remix and repackage Northern?
Like I said above.. Something inside me made me want to re-approach the release at the mix-level. In the 2 years that had passed since the original release of "northern" I have been doing a lot of reading and learning about the recording studio from a most basic level. as a result I made some very significant upgrades to the quality of my equipment and wanted to see what would happen if I took something I had recorded "before" and transported it to what I know now. re-mixing the work also gave me a chance to actually edit the arrangements. some of the tracks were edited significantly... sometimes with longer endings, or various parts taken out, etc. it's important for an artist to step away from recently written work before it is finally mixed and released, usually in the scale of days or maybe a few weeks... this gave me the opportunity to step away from it for 2 years and then come back to it, so I think I had a much more neutral ear at that point.
Also, the photography of Northern
was very important to the project. with the original release I had printed a 6-card postcard set featuring the black and white photographs, but the new release gave me a chance to expand that aspect of the project as well, so included a booklet in the cd package with more photos.
m[m]You’ve recently put out your first book on 12k, tell us a bit how this came about & do you plan any more books in the future?
I’m definitely interested in doing more books... being able to combine my photography or design with music and go beyond the cd cover. because MP3 downloads are so popular now I think it's even more important to offer an expanded physical object... expanding on the idea of a simple cd package to combine the music with an art object.
The book I just released, Sea Last
, has been an incredible project for me, personally. The idea was to photograph a beach that I have been visiting every year of my life. it's a place that's intensely familiar to me but I’ve never done a serious project about it. taking ideas that I often work with.. stillness, timelessness... I walked the beach for a week with a low-quality plastic camera and captured 238 photographs that had a very hazy quality that, to me, spoke about memories and childhood. I then created a piece of music to go along with the photographs. my original idea was to sell each cd with one of the original photos... however, it quickly became apparent to me that the entire set of 238 images was more powerful than any single image, so the idea of a book was born. the end result is a book of all of the photographs in addition to the original photograph and cd. it put a huge amount of work on me as well as making it a very expensive project. but in the end I feel it's much more powerful for a viewer to see all of the photographs than just one.
To make the book a bit more unique I am printing each book individually so each book sold is missing the printed image of the accompanying original photograph. as a result, each book is different, and missing a different image. Each book is one-of-a-kind.
I’m very happy with the project, now that it's complete and I definitely want to pursue more ideas like this.
m[m] Do you have any plans to tour yourself in the near future or have you every thought of doing a 12K tour and on both have you every considered coming over to Europe to play?
I’ve played in europe more than I can account for over the past 12 years. It’s a regular part of my career. As well, I set up small 12k tours in europe or Japan as well as help to arrange tours for my artists. most recently, Moskitoo and Fourcolor are about to tour Europe and then are headed over here to New York and then to Canada before they go back to Japan. touring and playing live, in these times, is one of the better ways to get exposure because the internet is oversaturated with music.
m[m] what are your working on at present? And what’s next due out of 12K?
At the very present I am working on a collaboration with German artist Stephan Mathieu, I also have a studio session planned next week with 12k artist Shuttle358, which will be our first time working together and at the end of this month my often-partner-in-crime Savvas Ysatis from Greece is coming back here to do some more recordings. later in the year will see work beginning on collaborations with ambient/indie-rockers Hammock as well as one with Ryuichi Sakamoto. at some point in there I’ll try to begin on a new solo cd....
The remainder of the year is very exciting for 12k. We’ve got a great album by a post-rock band from Australia called Amplifier Machine. That will be out shortly followed by a very deep and emotional double cod from 12k artist Kenneth Kirschner. Also new work from Seaworthy is imminent and a release from a Japanese acoustic/pop duo called Small Color.
m[m] You mentioned starting work on your new solo album- any ideas for it yet? What type of sound are you going to go for?
No... No ideas yet. I’m going to try to make it quite different from my previous solo releases, but the same time I don't want to TRY to do anything, and rather just do what comes naturally. For me it's not important to sound "new" or to try to do something that hasn't been done before. I’d rather make music that comes out of me naturally and honestly.
Thanks to Taylor for all his time & effort with the interview.