Space Music: The Alien Sounds of Richard Devine
Discovery has recently published a great interview with Richard Devine, the electronic musician with many labels:
I recently had the chance to interview electronic musician Richard Devine for the Discovery News article “Is Electronic Music ‘Real Music?’” The man had loads to share about his own creative process and advice for aspiring artists, so I figured a Space Music post was the perfect place to share more.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, Richard Devine creates the sort of electronic soundscapes that generally attract the label “intelligent dance music” or IDM. But as with most artists of talent, his work defies such labels. His music is at times melodic and ethereal, other times jarring and chaotic.
Let’s hit an example of his work before descending straight into the interview.
What experience are you looking for the listener of your music to have when they listen to your work?
RICHARD DEVINE: I like to put the listener in an unusual space and in an emotional space, as well. A lot of music that’s out typically touches on normal subject matter and emotions that people — common emotions like love and happiness and sadness. A lot of my compositions are a bit more abstract where I like to take the listener on a strange cerebral sonic adventure. It almost be like if you were trapped inside a H.R. Giger visceral world of corridors and spaces.
I’ve always been drawn more to the kind of music that takes me to places I’ve never been to before. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just a collage of strange sounds and textures that make you feel a certain way. You can’t really put your finger on the emotion that you’re experiencing. Some of it can be unsettling; some of it can be just bizarre at times. Sometimes the outcome is pleasant or very unpleasant; I guess it goes to far extremes at either end of the spectrum.
How do you view the impact of electronic music production on human creativity?
When I first started making music, there were hardly any music programs available for the personal computer. Now applications like GarageBand and Reason offer full production environments for creating any type of music. Many of these applications come free with some of these operating systems. How that affects us, I think, is positive and negative. I think that, on one side of the coin, you have a lot of new music coming out. And the flip side of that is you get a lot of bad music, too, at the same time. It doesn’t necessarily mean the quantity equates to quality, but it does put everything kind of in a perspective where you see that thousands and thousands of people now can get opportunity to make music and it takes something that was very difficult to get into in the past and now make it more accessible for the masses.
But there’s almost too much electronic music coming out right now. I feel like it’s harder to stand out these days. There are so many people trying to emulate specific styles, so now you have hundreds and hundreds of people trying to sound a particular way. I find that there is less and less innovation in music, but more and more people creating it. So I think it’s harder for people to get discovered than it was ten years ago, when I was starting out and we were actually recording onto DAT tapes and releasing vinyl records. Now with digital distribution, anyone can just upload a track to Sound Cloud or any other site and promote it through social media networks. Now it’s a whole different animal all in itself. And I think it’s much harder to stand out and to get recognized now in the sea of millions.