Published on March 10th, 2014 | by Superstar DJ
An interview with Si Begg
Marc Royal AKA T Power catches up with legendary electronic music artist Si Begg to get the low down on his latest releases and what makes him tick in the studio.
1. Raison d’etre – why are you and what is your reason for being
I don’t believe there is any reason as such, other than statistical inevitability, so I think we have to make our own reasons. My thinking is lets enjoy the trip and try and help others to do the same both present and future. We only have one crack at this, so lets make the most of it and raise the game for future generations. And it would appear that way I intend to do this is by making odd music for people to possibly listen to. Hmmm…
2. Process – please express in as simple or as complex terms as is required or desired
There’s a danger of doing what Douglas Adams defined as “sitting down and staring at the paper till your forehead bleeds” , I try and avoid that by keeping a playfulness to my approach, rather than focussing too much on the grand design upfront. I find the more pressure I put on myself the less creative I can become .. I always put enough pressure on myself to better my last effort , so its often enough to put me off the whole business. So I try and fool myself into writing , like thinking I’m just going to check out this new plug-in , or just out a little beat together , or play around with this synth. Rather than say , I’m just going to sit down and write the most amazing piece of music ever.
Then once I get started, I try and follow my intuition above all else. For some people its about creating the best piece they can within a certain genre , in which case you need to know and be aware of what else is out there and how your peers are going to respond to it, but for me its just about, without wanting to sound trite, expressing myself. So I try and put all that out of my head and focus on what works , whats “good” , whats making me excited , whats moving me emotionally etc. And hopefully if i’m feeling it, then someone else is too.
Of course the process for scoring stuff is somewhat different. There you have clear brief, which is generally to enhance the narrative of a piece of work or bring out certain atmospheres and emotions in a certain scene.
3. Influences – they don’t have to be music related, physicists are also greatly accepted
Influence is a broad term ! What doesn’t influence me would be easier ? Maybe I’ll narrow it down to what influences how I compose what I compose and the within that narrow it down again to some different categories. So as far as a kind of direct musical approach, I would say my main longterm influences have been Kraftwerk , theres was the first electronic music that truly blew my mind. Computer World remains one of my all time favourite pieces of work, by any artist ever. When I first heard it on my uncles Senhiser headphones at around the age of ten or eleven it just took me to another time and place. For some people it was Star Wars or Lord of the Rings , for me it was Computer World. Then I would say Frank Zappa, for his willingness to throw everything into the pot and his brutally personal, single minded approach. He saw no reason why toilet humour , political commentary , post modernist atonal music , doo woo , rock n roll and electronic experimentation couldn’t happily co-exist. He was also more than happy to burst the balloon of current fads and trends throughout his career from slating hippies in the 60s to ripping apart punks in the late 70s. Lastly in my holy trinity I would put Negativland, they opened my eyes to what you could do with some pretty basic equipment and also how broad your source material could be. Like the idea of using radios, tape edits and field recordings as part of your arsenal. Also the way they incorporated our modern media age into their process, using the very same techniques that advertising and marketing use as a weapon against them.
Then we move onto , what you might call indirect influences on my music. I’m quite a comedy geek , so thats always been a huge influence. From the surrealness of Milligan through to Python then to Vic and Bob and bang up to people like the brilliant Tony Law. Then also the scalpel sharp satire of Chris Morris, Bill Maher and South Park etc. I also love the hardcore stand-up maestros like Stewart Lee , Bill Hicks etc. the way they can command a room with just a mic and introduce that weird feeling of danger , treading the line between stand-up and performance art.
Visual and film art has also influenced me a lot. I’ve just finished my second film score so thats very much on my mind right now. The way visuals and audio can combine. I also studied art before moving into music and sound so still have quite an “art school” approach to music I suppose , rather than a musicians approach.
Then in broader society , i’m influenced by all those who stand up for the truth and reasoned approach to life. We are drowning in a sea of mis-information and bullshit. It seems to me that a scientific approach to things is needed. Less dogma, less religion, less blind faith in ideals, more doubt and more rigorous thinking. I’m quite bored of empty, vague, spiritual, political, conspiracy theorising, half baked moral crap. Where is your evidence ? Persuade me, show me what you got and I’ll listen, but don’t just expect me to go along with it because it sounds “kinda cool”.
4. Desires – if you had the black budget at your disposal, what would you do with it
Right now it would have to be a few weeks in Air Studios or Abbey Road with the Crouch End Festival Chorus (one of the finest choirs around) a half decent orchestra , someone like ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) and to top it off a really good percussion section .. possibly some of Hans Zimmers lot. And a new computer. Mines a bit shit. Its a bit disconcerting to go to meeting and see that the secretary is using the same iMac as me.
5. Current Projects – this is your soapbox, use it wisely
What can I say. Go and check out my new LP on Addictech called “Permission To Explode” out in all good stores and most dodgy torrents and blogs.