Rhode Island producer The Range really won us over with last year's album Nonfiction, a dense tapestry of breakbeat, ethereal tones and rogue youtube samples which launched the globetrotter's fruitful career. He's tackled this high impact modcast head first, meshing a variety of bass orientated music, r&b and slacker indie, bookended by lucid dream passages. Ahead of playing PS1 and Hopscotch Music Festival (full dates below), we spoke to James Hinton about his artistic practice, observing Jon Hopkins in action and which youtube clips he wouldn't dare sample.
Where are you now and what are you doing?
I am currently in the airport in Warsaw catching a flight back to New York from a festival I played last night in Katowice.
You dropped your debut album Nonfiction and this year's EP Panasonic in quick succession. Do you think you'll be able to keep up this pace of output?
I think working quickly is more and more becoming the part of my process I value most, especially having started touring much more frequently over the past few months. I think there are certainly some difficulties with attempting to work on songs while traveling, notably sparse internet. But I've learned that there are actually some major pluses, not least of which is being able to make a song on the plane to a show and have a chance to play it that day to a big group of people. It lets you live with the music you are working on in a way that is impossible while in the studio. I think 2 months ago I might have answered your question differently but I think now the answer is yes, and that perhaps over time the positives of being able to work this way may outweigh the negatives of being away from the studio.
If you could hypothetically craft the perfect place to listen to Panasonic, what would it look like?
Maybe because I did this a lot while I was finishing Panasonic, but the best location is probably the neighborhood where I used to live on the east side of Providence. I think its good to be walking while listening to that EP, it was really important for me to start in one space in a song and try to finish in a related but different one by the end. A good example of that one is Slow Build - I think the song definitely does physically change space at the middle point.
Tell me about Providence. What are its characteristics?
I think the most defining characteristic is that for a capital city, its incredibly small. The downtown area is only a relatively small number of square blocks and then then quickly turns into neighborhoods on all sides. As a result there just aren't that many proper venues for smaller shows, so almost all of the newer music happens at house parties or at more arts-oriented spaces like AS220 or Machines with Magnets. Its definitely a tightly knit music community and I think more so than in other cities there is a culture of support for what's happening directly Providence. I think from my angle some of the most exciting music is the analog electronic stuff thats always been around but is taking off at the moment. Container is a great example of that and there is a whole set of people doing interesting stuff in that space right now.
I read a previous observation you made about Lighting Bolt having a massive impact on the culture there. Did the band influence you directly?
I would say they certainly did, but in an opaque way. I think the biggest way was the the Brian Chippendale's unpretentious technicality in the drums. Its kind of the same way I feel about Zach Hill in Hella, where I read this zeal in executing a role thats crucial to the success of the overall project. That has had huge ramifications for how I think about drums in my own work since I've always wanted to push the technical aspect as much as possible. Seeing them made me realize you could kind of use the technicality to create a single surface layer with the drums, almost a wall of sound type of thing. I think Lightning Bolt helped me realize there was a vast middle ground between drums just being a pulse and Buddy Rich.
You recently shared a bill with Jon Hopkins who I think takes the physical nature of electronic performance to new levels. While it's stylistically different, did it have you walking away with any new ideas?
I have been toying around with the idea of pushing myself towards a live set for some time but always seemed to get hung up on the fact that more than anything I wanted to present what I was doing in the studio as plainly as I could almost as part of the project itself and not disrupt the results of my process (want to stay as faithful to the result of the studio process as possible). But seeing Jon play he somehow does both additively - I think the word you used "physical" is an perfect descriptor of how he operates on his own material live. I came away rethinking how I might plan to perform my songs live more in the aggregate and less picking one or two pieces of material to perform live while the other songs play from a recording. Its going to be something I have to wrestle with but I think seeing Jon play was really helpful to my thought process.
A lot of the samples used in your productions are sourced from Youtube. Meanwhile the service's digital fingerprinting is advancing substantially. Do you feel pressure to change your method?
I think to stop sampling in any way would be a disservice to the way I've made music so far. I know technology will continue to catch up but I have more or less decided to reconcile with that as it comes. I don't know if the songs I would make without sampling would qualify as my own work to me, which is a strange feeling but certainly real to me at this point in time.
What are some of the best Youtube clips you've seen recently that you're not game enough to sample?
Ariana Grande's little vocal things she does on her Youtube channel. I've had them cued up to sample many times but can't make myself do it, but I would love to!
photay - illusion of seclusion
groundislava - october acid
anamanaguchi - pop it
chris brown - loyal instrumental
carpainter - give me five
trey songz - yes, no maybe
alex g - hollow
terror danjah - piano madness
mobbing - open legs
tielsie - palette
tim dolla - swing dat shit
the jacka - girls say
aphex twin - jynweythek ylow
Aug 11 - Club Nokia - Los Angeles, CA *
Aug 23 - MoMA PS1 Warm Up - Long Island City, NY #
Sep 6 - Hopscotch Music Festival - Raleigh, NC !
* with Flume, SOPHIE
# with Kevin Saunderson, Gifted and Blessed
! with Jamie xx, How To Dress Well
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