I am pretty good. Very busy recording some more new music for another project to be released next year. Also been writing some music for games.
You've had quite the career! What do you think about the state of the music industry these days - (better/ worse/ same/ Different?)
The music industry in many ways has changed and in my opinion currently has lost direction but it is the result of many factors. One of the most significant is the role in which a record company plays.
Recording was almost entirely controlled by record companies who required artists to sign their lives away. Available technology has significantly changed this and you can now do more on your laptop/ipad than you could at a recording studio.
Apart from the two mega corporations Sony and Universal dominating the market, so many record companies have disappeared, which is a terrible shame and the independent non corporate companies no longer exist. They use to be run by enthusiastic music lovers but now are in the hands of accountants and lawyers with the sole task of pleasing shareholders.
At the start of my career when I was first signed to Warner Brothers Records, the person who signed me was Derek Taylor. He use to run Apple Records for the Beatles, was their publicist and then became the managing director of Warners UK. They later replaced him with a lawyer, someone who knew nothing about music.
In reference to your career in 80's pop band ReFlex - How do you feel about 80's bands and artists touring together and performing at 80's nostalgia-type festivals? Would you consider this?
Lots of friends who I knew in the 80's tour and perform in revival concerts. If that is what makes them happy then great but nearly none make new music. Content to celebrate their 15 minutes worth of fame, which is probably much longer than that of the Tik Tok generation.
I am not a fan of revival and don't believe people can attempt to be who they were in the past. Re-Flex continue to regularly receive offers to tour, particularly in America but I am not interested. I don't have enough time to relive my past because I am too busy dealing with now.
Who are you a fan of musically these days?
I have an insatiable appetite for music and keep on discovering things, new and old. I rely on friends, sons and students for recommendations and introducing me to something new because you have to listen to a lot to find the real pearls.
A recent example is Sophie. Sadly now deceased, she was part of a new wave of music that started in the UK called PC Music and pioneered by the wonderful Daniel Harle.
Absolutely love Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino. In 2019 when "This is America" was released, I was seriously impressed. I like artists who are not afraid and able to make music that is different.
Check out Eeves Wilder. She got signed soon after leaving school and had started to make herself known.
Even if you listen all day every day, similar to attempting to breather every molecule of air, you will never be able to listen to all of the music that is available.
I have very broad tastes but not a fan of Opera or Country music., thankfully nobody has attempted to fuse them together.
The new single 'Dysfunktional ' is inspired by both Bowie and your relationship with autism - can you explain more?
I wrote the song before discovering the quote from Bowie, "to be an artist is to be dysfunctional". This seems to make absolute sense to me, as in addition to talent, essential ingredients require being compulsive and obsessive. The song was inspired by my relationship with autism. It is an important ingredient within my family and for quite a lot of my friends. It's a statement about who we are.
Autism is often regarded as a disability but can be the key to thinking outside the box and a very creative gift, as it lets you do things that other people can't. It effects my perception of sound and the way I hear music.
I have learned to be proud about it, can't really understand what existence would be like without and feel sorry for those who don't have it.
What else inspires your sound?
Everything! As a composer, I construct sound in my head, "there's a party going on in my head". Sometimes you don't want it like when trying to go to sleep but can be an endless source of entertainment.
I love sound and regard music as a universal language that reaches parts other languages don't. I can get on a train and use the rhythm for inspiration. A few years ago I got into writing on the tube and would regularly spend hours on the circle line.
I regularly attempt to discover new ways to create music. Developments in music technology have made so many things possible that previously did not exist or would seem like total fantasy.
Before the advent of digital recording it was not possible to see music. All recording tape pretty much looks the same. You can't tell what is recorded on it, it's just brown!
Listening to music is always a source of inspiration and all sound is potential music. As a composer or producer, your job is to organise and paint with sound.
How do you go about creating music - is it the lyrics first / melody? How do you get your ideas down and how long does it usually take for the finished track?
It changes all the time and really depends on what it's for, as there are different processes for writing songs, film music etc.
I often start write a tune in my head, then record the idea on my phone. I use to carry a portable recorder wherever I went, in case of inspiration. Sometimes the title or subject is the starting point.
I write songs from experience and inspired by subjects that are relevant to me. "Abnormal" includes topics such as Poverty, autism, global warming, politics etc. "Putin on the Ritz" - my grandparents were refugees from the Ukraine. The song is inspired by two Russian children who when young became members of my family and often I refer to them as "comrades".
All of the tracks on the album were written using an entirely different process based around improvisation.
"How long does it take to write a song" is a lyric from a new song called "Killing Time". The answer really is that after completing some initial recording I like to put it away and work on something else for a while. It is now possible to later continue with total recall which is a luxury that provides the ability to review. Often with time your perspective changes and sometimes what was a great idea is not so hot or can be impressed by what's been created. It helps with writing lyrics as sometimes you get stuck or are not totally satisfied with what you have, then when you return, it can be obvious.
What can fans expect to hear on the forthcoming album out later this year?
Something different! During lockdown, I began building a modular synthesiser (Lilly) and which was used to create this album. I wanted to record improvisations and live performances and these became the starting place for most of the songs. If you start in a different place you end up somewhere else that is unexpected and can often can be amazing.
Musically, the album combines elements of techno with funk/dance, jazz and soul. It's a weird combination and a reflection of who and where I am.
Most of the vocals and instrumentation I recorded myself but the album also features a few friends.
Leo Richardson plays sax on Dysfunktional" and "Give Me the Medicine (The Rise & Fall of Boris Jonson") and is regarded among the best jazz Be-bop players in the country.
My son Todd Oliver appears on guitar and as ever is amazing.
"Dyfunktional" features Huxley Matchett on vocals. I use to teach him and although he is still very young, it was instantly recognisable that he was musically very gifted. This is the first time Huxley has ever made a record but I very much doubt if it will be the last. All I am saying is that I told you first.
What else do you have planned for the rest of the year?
At the start of this year I began recording some music for another album to be released next year. It is an extension of the work that began on Abnormal but goes a lot further. It has required a lot of learning and patience. I have also begun writing some music for games which having composed music for films, seems like an obvious choice.
Check out 'Dystunktional' on Spotify, or view the video below.