Last week we proudly released the Satellite-featured ‘Tinderbox‘ EP by Big Mister Doom. Marinate Media labelled ‘Tinderbox’ as “some supreme beat based music” and Inaudible Answer talked about “warm sound and tidy beats”. And we think it’s time to know a little bit more about Big Mister Doom, so read the interview by Elleke Lijffijt with this dynamic duo from Leeds!
Can you introduce yourself?
We are Ian Scott and Joe Wretham – we make music as Big Mister Doom. We are currently living and working from Leeds in the UK.
You work as a duo. How, when and where did you meet?
We do indeed, we met whilst studying ‘music technology’ at university in Leeds in 2004. Throughout university we were active in a few bands together but did not work as a ‘duo’ as such until we graduated in 2007. Just before we graduated we both began to become much more interested in electronic music which inspired us to start Big Mister Doom.
How do the two of you work together? Can you give an example? And do you also make music by yourself?
We work together very closely – we have two setups in our studio, each one has a slightly different role and we will very often bounce ideas and sounds between the two. One machine is running Logic and the other Ableton Live – we find that using two DAWs really helps keep sounds feeling original and fresh as each workflow imparts a character on the sound. Moving sounds between the two setups and the two of us leads to some very original ideas.
Overall Ian tends to handle more of the production and sound design elements whilst Joe physically writes and arranges – but these roles are not concrete!
On ‘Wilderness’ from our recent release on FREMDTUNES you can hear the results in practice. The intro soundscape is something Ian created in Ableton Live. The sounds started life as elements of the guitar track Joe recorded and created in Logic. Ian took those sounds and re-engineered them into something totally different – but the character of the original parts remain. The interplay between those early elements is great example of how the workflow comes together for us.
We also make music commercially for film and television as a pair but we don’t make music individually as all of our time is taken up with Big Mister Doom!
Can you tell us something about your live performance?
When we perform live we have two laptops both running Ableton live. We divide our tracks up into elements and both take control of different aspects. Our shows feature live ‘versions’ of our tracks which we can alter and change during the performance depending on how we feel.
In the near future we will be performing with a live drummer and bassist as a whole band show. We are really excited about getting the opportunity to perform in that way – sometimes people are not so interested in just seeing two guys with laptops and having live instruments really helps for the energy in the show.
One day we would really like to involve visuals and projection to make the whole experience more immersive.
Who inspires you to make music? Or what?
The discovery of the many types of electronic music in 2006/2007 was a big moment for both of us. Around that time we both found artists which we still feel inspired by every day. Telefon Tel Aviv and Bonobo were particular ‘eureka’ moments for Ian. ‘Flutter’ by Bonobo is incredibly important for us as it directly inspired some of our first work together.
Musically we are inspired by the environment around us, not so much nature but more the mechanical and physical world. We both enjoy small, almost clockwork like noises and sounds. We like to balance these against each other and add sections of melody and sounds which make you feel a particular way. It can be quite challenging to find the right balance – especially important with instrumental music! We think Telefon Tel Aviv achieved this almost perfectly.
How important is artwork for you and why?
Artwork is incredibly important! We were very lucky to know a brilliant artist called Cameron Steward (twoducksdisco) who handles all of our artwork.
Being a duo who work primarily with computers we wanted something for our audience to be able to see and instantly recognise. Characterising our name seemed like a good idea and Cameron came back with a jaw dropping design. We aim to keep the theme we established on first EP throughout our future releases.
We think good artwork is also important for making music feel complete – even if it is only digital it still needs to match the feel and theme of the sounds. It all needs to exist in the same universe for us.
Where do you listen to music mostly? At home? On the road?
Ian and Joe both listen to music as much as possible during the day (and night!). Ian works as an Apple service technician during the day and has to travel a lot so gets lots of time in the car to listen to music. Joe listens on his daily commute primarily.
We both like to listen to and comment on music together a lot, we think it helps the creative process for us. We both like to bring new things to listen to.
What was the first record you bought?
Ian – The first single I remember buying was WWF single ‘Slam Jam‘ in 1993. It was a brilliant single at the time and I still have it on tape right here. It has all the great wrestlers of the day in!
Joe – I think the first thing I bought was a Fatboy Slim single but I can’t be too sure these days.
Do you often go to shows of other acts? What acts?
Yes we do – its brilliant experiencing live music of all kinds so its something we do very often.
We have recently seen a few gigs that stand out – Aphex Twin in Manchester was mind blowing, ATP festival curated by Caribou and Battles in December was total madness and watching Dweezil Zappa play his dads music in Manchester last year was very special (we are both big Zappa fans). We are immensely looking forward to watching the new Amon Tobin ‘ISAM’ show. That looks unbelievably good!
Is there an artist you want to work with in the (near) future?
We have lots of different goals with our music – one of them is to collaborate with different people both live and on record. On our last release with FREMDTUNES ‘TinderBox‘ we had an amazing remix contributed by OptiMace featuring iET and Budy Mokoginta. We were blown away with the vocals from iET and would love to work with her again sometime soon!
Are you working on new material currently? Can you tell us something about it?
We are currently working very hard indeed on our follow up EP to ‘TinderBox’. We have around 6 – 8 tracks which we feel are getting close to making the grade. On the new material we are setting the bar higher in every way and really trying to push ourselves.
We are currently in the writing stage, but will be recording large ensembles of brass and woodwind to mix with our usual electronic elements. Before that we have a small ‘give away’ release planned for our mailing list and are currently working on a remix for a UK artist ‘Umber’. We really couldn’t be more excited or happy for the future!