Thursday, August 23, 2012
Seven questions... with Neil S. Milton
Following on from my post on "Seas" and "Skies"... two EPs by Scottish musician and composer Neil Milton... I thought it apt to ask him my wee blog interview... this is what he had to say in response:
1) Who are you and what do you do?
So, I'm Neil Milton and I'm a Scottish musican and composer living in Warsaw, Poland. In the early 2000s I played guitar in a band from Glasgow called Troika, started a record label called Too Many Fireworks and DJed at a club called Fire: works. For a couple of years now, though, I've been writing and recording both modern-classical music and - what I like to think of as - organic ambient, soundscape music.
2) What are you working on at the moment?
I've recently finished my latest record, a double e.p. set called Skies / Seas. It's the first I've written that consciously separates the classical music with the organic soundscapes. Skies is predominantly piano and string quartet with a few surprises thrown in. Seas is far more experimental, with acoustic sounds heavily processed using delay and reverb. While I've begun writing a follow-up more specifically to Seas and would like to see that come out before the end of the year, I've also started to rehearse a live set that would see me play shows for the first time in 2 and a half years.
3) Who inspires you?
My family is an inspiration, certainly. My dad for introducing me to music in the first place with very early exposure to bands like the Byrds and the Beach Boys; my mum for telling me I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it - I think I took her a little too literally. My girlfriend inspires me also. She is adventurous, funny, eternally optimistic and the first person I want to impress when I finish a new piece.
My foremost musical inspirations are worn on my music like a badge of pride. Modern-classical composers like Ólafur Arnalds and Jóhann Jóhannsson influence my chamber and classical works whereas Sigur rós, Mogwai and Jónsi & Alex are, I suppose, pretty clear influences on the more post-rock, soundscape pieces.
With the exception of Mogwai, then, I think that also helps to sum up a place that inspires me. Iceland. The music from the small North Atlantic island has been a massive part of my life for a long time and it drips into my music through the influences of the bands mentioned, the landscapes photographed and the friends made.
A thing that inspires me? I think the most obvious one at the moment would be my Yamaha VSS-30 sampler keyboard. It's my favourite thing. It's essentially a voice-sampler from the 80's but it has some wonderful effects such as u-turn and fuzz. The AM filter is really nice and the sampler has a fully editable ADSR envelope. It's one of the most creative things I've ever used. So much fun.
4) What drives you to do what you do?
I'm not sure what drives what I do really but I love music and I love creating music. With piano, I love learning new classical pieces - especially Chopin and Schumann. That helps to improve technique. With the ambient stuff, I just enjoy messing with sound and seeing what comes from it. I suppose the end result of either is what drives me.
5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
By its very nature, my music is emotional. The first time my music made someone cry, I realised that I wanted that. If the music touches something within the listener then it has done its job. My values aren't as important to the listener as theirs are so if my music reinforces positive values within them or if it allows them to experience a moment of joy, comfort, solace, happiness, nostalgia, whatever then I've done my job.
6) What role does community play in what you do?
When I was in Scotland, community played a massive part in my musical life. I was managing a record label that had a great group of people around it. Outside of that, the music scene in Glasgow is one that is great for meeting others and collaborating. In Warsaw, not so much. I work mainly on my own now but occasionally, I'll get an idea to involve a group of people in my music. There's another of those coming up very soon.
7) What is next for what you do?
Off the back of Skies / Seas there's talk of short film scores, vinyl releases and CD albums but it's all in the very early discussion stage. For now, I'd like to explore the more soundscape nature of my music in the next record while I'm also preparing for some solo classical piano shows in Warsaw towards the end of the year so I'm going to continue to work hard on that. A big focus for me for the rest of the year will be to get some new modern classical, ambient and post-rock artists for release on too many fireworks - and dear goodness, my website needs a redesign - soon!
To find out more about Neil, please visit neilmilton.co.uk/ or facebook.com/neilmiltonmusic.