Interview Series: Spire.
Western Australia native Max Baines a.k.a. spire has, along with the rest of the Soda Island crew, helped to inspire a genuine cultural movement. He finds himself among those leading the next generation of uber-talented, SoundCloud-based artists and beatmakers looking to cut through the clutter in the modern Internet age of endless creation – but also of repetition and staleness – with boundary-pushing and forward-looking material.
In a time where an abundance of sample packs and informational tutorials have led to a glut of copycat future bass and trap beats, it can sometimes be tough to stand out from the crowd with genuine artistry. But time and time again, spire has demonstrated his ability to do just that – stirring emotions within his listeners and connecting on a visceral level, spire’s music is resonant and wonderfully unique.
Spire’s musical background is evident in his work – his lovely chord progressions are clearly those of a trained ear, and in fact much of his music involves his own instrumentation. It’s his unique ability to combine more traditional musical elements with avant garde synth work that makes this guy so intriguing.
From the very much future-sounding “Petal Falls” and “Reverie” to the downtempo “Webs” and “Some Day; Mornings,” the one constant throughout all of spire’s work is a certain playful atmosphere and sultry, soulful vibe. Today we have the pleasure of premiering his latest effort, “artesian” – linked below – a synthpop-meets-ambient-electronica single that combines fluttering synths, punchy drums and bubbly effects.
Enjoy “artesian” and read on for the full interview below!
Lots of classical instrumentation (e.g., piano, strings) is prevalent in your work – do you have any formalized musical training or experience playing instruments?
Both of my parents were musical, and my dad taught me music theory when I was younger, I think that has helped a lot. I’ve played guitar for as long as I can remember, and played saxophone in the school band for a bit, I’ve never studied it seriously though, it’s always just been [about] messing around.
I play a bit of everything in my recordings but mostly I’m a guitarist, there’s a couple of not at all serious bands I’m in with mates which are fun too.
Many of your songs are super emotional. What’s your composition workflow like? What inspires you to create?
Honestly I don’t really feel inspired by particular things that often, usually I just start writing and see what comes out. It’s hard to write without inspiration and motivation, but motivation is bullshit, you just have to work.
There’s a quote I like from William Butler Yeats, “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking”.
My workflow changes from song to song, often things start at the guitar or keyboard, playing some chords and singing a melody, but songs start from all sorts of places. Lately I’ve been having fun starting with a click track and then loop recording with a microphone, so I’ll start by recording in some percussion using foley, shakers or sometimes my drum kit then I’ll start recording different instruments in, you can develop an idea really quickly this way and it feels like a really natural workflow to me.
How did Soda Island come about? What’s your relationship with the rest of the guys like? What are your plans for the collective now, following the release of your first full-length project?
It spawned out of a group chat between Izzard, Grynpyret, RefraQ and myself, we thought it would be cool to start a collective so we added a few other friends of ours and within a day we had the name and things went from there. We’ve got a really good relationship, those dudes are all super good friends of mine, and I think that’s the only reason a project like that can work. We’ve got a lot planned for 2017, don’t want to reveal too much, but there’s more music coming and we’re all looking forward to meeting each other relatively soon!
There is a certain staleness which pervades much of modern music – and electronic in particular – in terms of waves of au courant genres that absolutely take over. How does one stand out from the crowd? How do you feel about this trend following?
Hmmmm that’s a tough one, to be honest I’m not the best one to ask about how to stand out from the crowd, this sounds obvious but I guess you just gotta do your own thing instead of trying to copy and compare yourself to others.
People want to sound like the music that inspires them so trends evolve naturally, but you don’t have to copy the artists you like, you can be inspired by them while still developing your own sound.
I guess it’s pretty frustrating when you go down your soundcloud stream and 90% of the songs you hear are using the same trap drum samples.
Who is Spire?
I’m whoever you want me to be baby.
(Not in any way music-related, but dear to your heart as a curator/creator of memes par excellence aha…) Fun as they are, what sorts of insights do you believe that memes offer into the human condition and the crazy, crazy age we now live in, ever since the advent of the globalization of information sharing?
Dude I get this really weird feeling when I look at memes, since my whole fb page is just obscure meme pages now, and it’s like just a constant reinforcement that life is meaningless but embraced, and it scares me, like the end of humanity is very near.
From the sounds of it, Perth’s got a pretty cool music scene, albeit somewhat far removed (literally) from the rest of Australia – do you think its isolation in any way helps or hinders artists coming out of the city?
I’ve got mixed feelings about the Perth music scene, there’s a strong dubstep scene here with a lot of really dedicated fans. I’ve met a lot of really good people through the perth music scene, although I feel that because Perth is so isolated it’s become across the board quite a closed circle, there’s a definitely a whole who-you-know thing going on. I don’t really see much support for music outside of what’s popular at the moment, and personally I feel like it isn’t the place for my music really.
There are so many tensions along ethnic, religious, and racial lines in today’s complicated world – do you believe there’s a sense in which music, as a universal language, can help us to combat this divisive rhetoric?
Yeah totally, music allows for people to communicate across language barriers, along with how it spreads it can really bring people together.
When you’re at a show there’s people of all different backgrounds dancing together.
[Secret Shores: And that’s what it’s all about – we could all use more of that mutual respect and understanding.]
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Show spire some love: