Limnetic Villains joins us in breaking down the year of self-reflection that inspired the creation of Brain Junk, as well as the journey of using the proceeds from his music releases to donate to the Irish Cancer Society in aid of Cancer research. Find his latest releases here!
Welcome to Music Trails! How has 2020 been for you?
Hi, thank you for having me. This year has been strange for everyone, I’ve been relatively lucky as I just graduated from college and the pandemic meant a lot of college stress vanished, no commuting, no having to wear stupid robes for a graduation ceremony. Personally, the insanity of the situation has been good for me, although I’m very lucky. I know people for whom this year has been horrific.
At first, the situation was surreal, as the year has gone on you find yourself relaxing more into the new normality. I think the misinformation and anti-scientific stuff that’s going around is disgraceful though. How did teenage stoner conspiracy theories go mainstream? This pandemic has exposed a huge world of idiocy. There have been people asking me what I think of David Icke as a source on Covid information, talk of 5G radiation, (I saw a house covered in tin foil!) even rubbish about Bill Gates trying to poison and microchip the world. People who spread this stuff around are dangerous, it undermines reality, they have no ability to comprehend basic science or filter through the news. They can’t search things up and find credible sources of information, social media has a lot to answer for.
2020 has been a long journey for many artists coming up in the music industry. How has this year changed the game for you?
Since I don’t really perform my stuff live, the music side of my life has been unhindered by all that’s going on. The situation is no doubt going to influence a lot of music though. There will be tons of new music coming out of this year’s events from artists worldwide, some a response to the pandemic and isolation in lockdowns, some a reflection of the gap in time, a lot of people can’t perform but it gives them space to work on other things, to make new material. Music and art flourish in weird situations.
Walk us through your journey of creating music. What goes through your mind when you’re creating new music?
Can I bop my head to this? Would I be able to dance about this on a night out? Those things sometimes jump to mind. I don’t have a set way of doing things, I can start a track with a bassline and build up around it, or perhaps I’ll make a drum loop and add things to that, eventually, I’ll replace the loop, then I might replace everything around it. The songs mutate and evolve as I work on them. Everything generally happens quickly though. I can start making a track at 11 at night and have it finished by 5 in the morning.
I enter a hyper-focus state where there’s nothing but the music, everything else in the world vanishes. At the moment I use Logic X and I have a disgraceful amount of plugins and virtual synths. There are some favourites that see a lot of use. JJP vocals from Waves is great, Ohmforce makes the wildest plugins, there’s nothing else that looks or sounds quite like them. Looperator from Sugar Bytes and Portal from Output are my two latest favourites. I’ve also got to give Freakshow Industries and their unique plugin designs a mention, they’re doing things the right way. I could go on about plugins for hours. I don’t have any particular favourite virtual synths, I’ll use anything I can get a dirty bassline from. Then I tune my guitar by ear and play over the top. If it’s slightly out of tune, perhaps I’ll bend the entire track around it.
I think I make things instinctively, it’s rare that I start making music and know what I’m going to end up with. I might be in the mood for one thing and halfway through that mood will change, I’ll go from something that sounds like an Aphex Twin demo into something that sounds like Queens Of The Stoneage, then I’ll end up somewhere in the middle with something that sounds like Tom Vek got drunk with a load of Nine Inch Nails samples.
In what ways did your upbringing inspire your musical journey?
As a kid I played piano, my grandmother brought me to piano lessons when I was about 8 for a few months, I fell in love with the teacher. I was very annoyed to find out she had a husband upstairs. I quit lessons. How dare she. We always had an upright in the house, I was tapping the low notes from a very young age. I remember after watching Beverly Hills Cop going straight to the piano and just knowing how to play Axel F. Apart from basic piano lessons and a horrible stint on the tin whistle I’ve stayed away from teachers and music theory. I play the guitar by tuning it into chords by ear. Guitarists hate me. I ruin standard tunings.
I was lucky in many ways, my uncle introduced me to making music on a computer in the late 90s when I was 10. I remember the early days of Fruity Loops, Sony Acid, and Cubase, I was playing with these things and buying Computer Music magazines and Future Music to get hold of samples all through my teens. This progressed to a stage where I grew tired of cutting up samples and decided to do everything myself. It’s rare that I ever use sounds I haven’t made myself now, the one exception to this is drums, I have no problem editing and cutting up samples for percussion, I recently bought the heavily discounted Samples From Mars complete collection and the 808 sounds from that are worth the price alone.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in life? What artists/ kind of music did you grow up listening to?
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller. I grew up listening to Adam Ant and The Smiths, my mum liked them, she also liked a ton of awful stuff but I try to block that out. The drums on Adam Ant’s stuff are brilliant. When I was a teenager I became obsessed with The Super Furry Animals and Soulwax. I also really love psychedelic 60’s music and weird 70’s Indian guitar music. Asha Bhosle’s Dum Maro Dum from 1971 is something else. I probably have Thora Birch’s character in Ghost World to thank for my love of 70’s Indian rock.
You have a passion for helping raise funds for charity organizations, which were affected by the pandemic. What inspired you to start doing this?
Since I finished college I was wondering if there was something productive and good I could do that didn’t require me to put myself at direct risk of catching Covid. It took a few months but I just woke up one day and thought maybe I could use my music for some good and donate some of my profits to charity. I saw in the news that donations had gone down across the board for all charities since the pandemic started. I decided to choose one that would help with cancer research. My grandmother died from breast cancer which slowly spread to her bones. I stayed in the same room as her in the year leading up to her death when I was 12. I saw how awful it is, and the pain she was in. I’ve always wanted to do something to help raise money for cancer research.
Thank you for sharing your story about donating to cancer research. Why did you decide to donate to the Irish Cancer Society? Are there any other charities that are important to you?
I live in Ireland and we have a great scientific community here, cancer research is global though, a progression in medical science in cancer is progress for all humanity. I picked The Irish Cancer Society because as far as I know, they seem to be quite open with regards to how they use their funds and I was able to choose where I wanted the money to go, which is all into scientific research. I’m using Bandcamp to sell my music, and the Bandcamp Fridays have been great, they don’t take any cuts, so those days I’m donating 100% of everything to The Irish Cancer Society, I’m focusing on cancer research through all of 2021. I will continue to give away half of all my music proceeds to other causes in the future though, I feel very strongly about wanting to help the homeless, it’s a disgrace that there are empty buildings in every city yet homeless people freeze to death in the winter, there’s no logic or sense to it. It’s disgusting and all it would take is a few good politicians to introduce acts that force empty premises to provide cheap accommodation or provide shelter or be of some use to the community or otherwise face fines. They could do that the world over tomorrow and you’d see a difference.
Let’s discuss your latest release Brain Junk. Is there one song from the album that’s the most meaningful to you? Why?
Brain Junk is a loose concept, it’s literally a whole pile of throw away thoughts and conflicting elements. I was trying to see what I could make while also under pressure writing a thesis on photography and media bias. I’d be up writing all night and researching and the album was made in strange pockets of sleep-deprived stress, and then the pandemic started, so that made it a little darker too. Auto Coma Dream Whispers is probably the most hopeful track on there, although it doesn’t sound very hopeful! My music is often a little dark. Danceable but dark.
Are there any specific elements you like to throw into your songs?
As long as I can move my head to it, there’s nothing set in my music.
What do you hope your listeners take away from listening to your music?
I hope they enjoy it, music is a powerful thing, you can get all kinds of emotions and feelings from it. I hope it makes someone bop their head. Head bopping is important.
What does music mean to you?
There’s that quote that is attributed to a few people. ‘Talking about music is like dancing about architecture’. I’ll be making music until I die. The ultimate reward would be someday in the distant future, traveling through space, a teenager on a spaceship will check my music out and bop their head to it. I’d be happy with that, I make my music for that person.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just to buy or share my Bandcamp page if you can, any help raising money for cancer research is great. I’m selling my entire discography, 4 full albums, 3eps, and a single for the price of 2 coffees.
And here’s 10 free Bandcamp codes for your readers. Thank you.