London’s Hanetration is back with another EP. Tomatrax met up with the mysterious producer in an undisclosed location to discuss his music.
What inspired you to make experimental ambient music?
I really only started making music as an experiment, just to see if I could. I soon found I could put together things that I enjoyed listening to, so before I started chopping things into releases I just made nice long repetitive noises that I would listen to as I walked around London. As time went on, I liked the idea of sharing them, so I began giving them a little more structure and depth, and making things that were a bit more complex. The process of making stuff is something I really enjoy – the process of packaging it up and putting it out as a release is just like a related hobby, that I also happen to enjoy as well.
Where did the name Hanetration come from?
I wanted something abstract and unique to me, and Hanetration fitted the bill. There is a strong reason for it. I don’t think it’s that difficult to crack.
Why did you decide to go under an alias rather than your actual name?
When I first started putting out my stuff I had an idea it might be amusing to craft some kind of ridiculous alter-ego, but it seemed kind of pretentious – so I just figured it was easiest to keep everything to myself.
I’m not really interested in having my name attached to my work – the idea seems almost conceited. LOOK AT ME! I MADE SOME MUSIC! Only a few of my friends know I do this stuff. There’s a huge amount of ego in music – especially in London – and it’s just not really my thing. The idea of using my own name to approach people with my stuff makes me very uneasy. Sending out emails, bothering people, trying to convince people you’re worth a listen. Yuck. Being able to hide behind the Hanetration name makes the process of getting my stuff out there much more bearable. I just want to put together stuff I’m happy with and make it available to people who want to hear it.
There is a high level of secrecy around your identity, why is this?
I’m not all that interesting. I’m just a guy who lives in London. I was born elsewhere and have lived elsewhere. I have a day job. I’m not a big fan of musicians letting the world into their lives. We all know artists are only people, but music is so powerful it seems a shame to let reality get in the way. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy chewing through music biogs, but I also listen to a lot of music with no knowledge of the artist and I find that quite refreshing.
Also, I tend to have certain sounds or images or feelings in my head when I’m putting my stuff together, but I’d rather people were able to form their own interpretations. That’s the beauty of instrumental music – it can mean whatever you want it to. It’s more personal that way. It’s been fascinating reading what people make of my stuff. Some of it seems to have formed strong images and associations in people’s minds, and I think the lack of backstory has helped that. It helps people form their own attachments.
Your latest EP provides an instrumental soundscape for a standard day, what was the inspiration behind this concept?
Weirdly, it just kind of happened like that. I had a completely different concept for this EP, but as tracks began to come together and fit into a logical sequence, they seemed to fit a narrative. I always give track titles for a reason, and the ones from Murmurist EP just weirdly seemed to link together. Once I had realised, it only took a bit of tweaking to piece it all together. I found it bleakly amusing that after such a slow build-up there is only 30 seconds of flying before the day begins to wither away again…
Where did the title Murmurist come from?
All my titles mean something to me, and often revolve around some form of wordplay (such as the first three EPs being anagrammatic). ‘Murmurist’ came from playing with words relating to the source of the artwork – I like how it reflects the obvious softening of sounds since the previous EP.
Where did the album’s cover come from?
I’d rather keep this to myself – I love the idea that someone someday will stumble upon where the artwork came from. It’s out there somewhere, in the real world. In London, in fact. I think it works great as an EP cover. The next one is going to be very different.
Have you ever considered adding vocals to your music?
I had considered it, but they would have to be buried very low to be in any way listenable… I was listening recently to a guy called Russian Tsarlag, who often writes songs with fairly simple structures and straight melodies, but hides them under waves of noise and fuzz so you can’t make out a single word. It works really well. How Aphex has used vocals on a couple of tracks on Syro is cool too. We’ll see. It’s probably unlikely.
You’ve released 5 EPs, are there any plans to release an album?
I have no real plans to make a full album – I like the freedom of releasing EPs. They’re more easily digestible, and give more scope to stick to a common theme or sound or mood without getting boring. I like releasing stuff regularly too. Making EPs means I can put down ideas then move on fairly quickly. I had considered pulling out some tracks for an album, but they feel wrong out of their original context. Never say never, but I’m quite happy with shorter standalone releases for now.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Of course. It’s the old cliche, but I make music primarily for my own amusement; so it’s natural that I enjoy listening to it. To me releases are also a snapshot of a time of my life too, so it’s interesting to bring back those memories.
What other music do you listen to?
I listen to a lot of stuff that plays with similar sounds to my own, but ambient/drone certainly isn’t my only passion.
Most relevant to my Hanetration stuff is the fact that I enjoy repetition; I’ve always enjoyed listening to music that stretches out without varying too much or too quickly. The original version of Gavin Bryars’ ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet’ is one of my favourite records of all time: the sample alone is lovely, but the effect of looping it and building around it is captivating. Funnily though, it shows the importance of editing too, as I find the longer 1993 version too much. I went through a period of listening to Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ recently too; another piece that takes one basic idea and runs with it. Some of my favourite singer-songwriters are those who stretch out too. Bob Dylan is the obvious example, and Neil Young too. Richard Youngs has written some of my favourite songs of recent years – ‘The Graze Of Days’ is mindblowing. I just really enjoy the fact you can bury yourself in the songs; dive right in and swim in them without hitting the bottom after three minutes.
Now that your latest EP is out what do you plan on doing next?
I have a few things on the go. I have one EP of fairly abstract beatless ambient stuff nearly ready to go. I’m sort of halfway through putting together a release of longform remixes of the tracks from Tenth Oar EP. I’m also supposed to be doing a collaborative release with someone, though we’re both a little slow-moving. I doubt he even remembers about it… I also have a few ideas of sounds and things to play with on future releases, loads of files knocking around looking for a home. My main problem is finding time to work on music, so things tend to take a while. Be patient please…
Check out Hanetration’s bandcamp page to find out more!