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Interview: Rival Consoles

Rival Consoles has released one of the most alluring and immersive electronic records this year. ‘Persona’ is a full body, widescreen movement in creating physicality within analogue, electronic music. The album is the producer’s opus piece, and he’s bringing it to Australia later this month. Before his debut trip here, we chatted to Rival Consoles about tieing one’s persona to music and the art of improvisation.

I found it really difficult to pick a favourite track from ‘Persona’ just because each song has a really different theme and style and expression. But I think the one that kind of stood out to me was Sun’s Abandon but I can’t physically say why I like that song so much. Have you seen people have had the same reaction to the album or particular song?

I think a lot of people tend to drift toward different pieces on the album. I think the thing that I gravitate towards most on the album is Untravel. Just on an emotional level rather than a physical level.

What are some other reasons people have latched onto different songs and have you been surprised by what they’ve taken from each song?

Yeah. Basically, I think so many people responded to pieces I didn’t expect like Memory Arc, which is like a small ambient piece. But lots of people get an emotional response from that. Lots of people have had an unexpected response from pieces like Hidden. I think because the music has a lot of emotional content even within one piece. So, I always get quite deep responses from people that are kind of suffering in life or that have lost somebody about certain tracks, which surprises me.

That’s interesting because do you find instrumental music, or music without lyrics, to be more emotional. Would you agree or disagree?

For me, yeah. I tend to gravitate more towards instrumental music on an emotional level because it can be more personal because it’s not so explicit.

Are you making it for yourself when you’re in the studio and then, once it’s out there, do you consider it still part of yourself?

Well, definitely when I’m making, I’m only considering myself on a selfish ego level. So I think once people start hearing it then I start thinking about how it behaves in other people’s minds and I try to learn from that. It’s just like a learning process.

The album title ‘Persona’ it was taken from a movie with the same name. I was interested in whether you’ve ever wanted to ever soundtrack a movie on your own.

Yeah, I would absolutely love to do a score for a feature film because electronic synth sounds, there aren’t too many great scores around in the last few years for future films. So I think it would be really bold to do a huge synth score to a film. And I don’t mean like Hans Zimmer.

Yeah. One name that does come to mind, in terms of film scores is Oneohtrix Point Never. He’s very digital and you are very analogue. Thinking about sound tracking again, would you approach a soundtrack in this analogue setting?

Yeah, I would definitely retain that emotional, analogue, noisy world. There’s so much you can get out of that.

Quickly back to the name of the album, ‘Persona’. How much of your own persona comes into the music or is Rival Consoles a character to you?

No, it’s very me. Most of the feelings or expressions within the music is very personal, it’s not like a secondary character.

Do you think music is innately tied to someone’s persona?

Yeah, I think so. Or maybe it’s something that they lack in their persona and then they’re trying to fill the gap with that. So, that’s what’s interesting as well. Even if you seeking that might not be a part of you to gain something new or you might just be reinforcing something that’s already there.

Yeah, interesting. So, have you filled something in your life that you found wasn’t there with music? Or, on another level, have you created music and thought to fill that void?

Yeah, all the time. I mean, for example, you mentioned Oneohtrix Point Never. He is somebody that, for a long time, I didn’t understand. And I was constantly listening to it because it wasn’t really a part of me, it wasn’t something that is natural to me. So that I kind of forced myself to keep trying to learn that so that I could absorb that into me.

You mentioned you created parameters for yourself with this analogue instrumentation. Do you work better within these limits? Rather than working in digital where it’s essentially limitless.

Yeah, definitely. I think most artists do need limits because I think the main thing is you have to be very careful about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. And if there’s too many ways to say something you can easily communicate something badly or confuse yourself. So, I think to make good art, you need to be confident of the tools and not be too distracted because you’re listening to music, you can tell if the composer was distracted. Or they can tell if the composer was very focused and inspired. So I think it’s about removing distraction or confusion for me.

RELATED: See the full lineup for next year’s anniversary edition of Strawberry Fields HERE.

You’re coming to Australia for the very first time this month. Are you excited and what took you so long to get out here?

Obviously, I’m super excited. Yeah, it’s crazy because I’ve been playing music for ten years under this name and this is the first time visiting that part of the world. I think it’s just, with electronic music, it takes so long to establish touring and playing different countries. Which is why it’s taken so long. But I’m super excited to visit the country, I’ve got quite a lot of friends who live in Australia. So it’s going to be a crazy trip for me.

I’m really fascinated by how you would bring an album like ‘Persona’ to the stage?

It’s just like a much more intense version, which people are surprised by. But live, it’s always way more intense, much more physical and certain themes that are across the album are improvised in a way that makes them much more dynamic live. So that it’s not as in control, basically. There’s a little bit more chaos to it, which I like. I improvise around all the main melodic and chord based ideas throughout.

Rival Consoles kicks off his Australian tour this month. See the full list of dates below.

Rival Consoles Live Dates

Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Strawberry Fields, Tocumwal
MOD, Adelaide
Melbourne Music Week, Melbourne

Written by Jake Wilton