Some artists have a knack for unlocking new channels in our heads in unexpected ways. Lighght has done that on more than one occasion for me, first with his fantastic Gore-Tex In The Club, Balenciaga Amongst The Shrubs, and the way it played with club music with a sense of humor while still going full throttle. And then, last year, Holy Endings flipped all my expectations upside down with one of the most emotionally satisfying releases of 2021. Now, Lighght gets Seodra ready to send out into the world. It carries a lot of the same weight as Holy Endings but lets it out with sweat instead of tears.
Seodra will be released tomorrow and it’s the last day to get in on the vinyl campaign Doom Trip has going for the album. Don’t miss out. Get it HERE.
Alright, I always like to go back to early days first and ask, what are some of your earliest and most formative memories of music and sound from when you were a kid?
I can have trouble putting words to my formative music experiences sometimes as I’m not sure a definitive formative experience exists for anyone and also I can be a bit awkward about the solidifying nature of putting something down in writing that I feel exists better a bit mercurial!
However, I will say recently I have been playing a lot of old games from my childhood on emulators and was surprised by how familiar the soundtracks were – I started googling and found for example that Motoi Sakuraba, the composer for Golden Sun, a game I have lots of fond memories of was also the composer for the game that brought me back to gaming as an adult: Dark Souls
At the same time, I didn’t necessarily engage with video game music at that level when I was a kid, I didn’t care to find out who actually wrote the pieces for these games or to listen to more by these composers, but these songs someway entered my musical DNA? I don’t know! Maybe –
And at what point did you start making your own stuff? Was there any particular impetus that pushed you in that direction?
It’s maybe a little hard to track the point of when I started making my own stuff, never mind just electronic stuff. I can tell you however my reasons for so engrossing myself in it.
Part of the reason why I took to creating and producing music on my own on the computer is because it put me into working actively within my own practice – I could create something, hear the results, and engage in my own work – a feedback loop of learning and improving where I can work at my own pace. I think this makes electronic music such an easy sell to me. I can learn as I go at my own pace.
I still remember the first time I heard your stuff, which was Gore-Tex In The Club, Balenciaga Amongst The Shrubs, and the spoken word chamber piece that opens the album was so confusing and amazing. Seriously, I heard that and was instantly a fan – you could have been making cybergrind or something, wouldn’t have cared. What made you want to do that piece and stick it at the front of the album?
So the thing with that record is it kind of came together very very quickly. A deadline had come up in my life that in my head meant I wouldn’t be able to do music for a while (I had to find full-time employment). I entered panic mode and the record is done 2 weeks later?
Of course, that is not entirely accurate – some of the pieces existed before that moment in more or less finished states, some existed in ways where they could be retooled to be made fit. “The Temple,” which opens Gore-Tex In The Club, Balenciaga Amongst The Shrubs, was something I created to hopefully give form to the full work and link together a lot of ideas I was having at the time. It’s weird, a bit “out there,” and gives the overall work a kaleidoscopic quality I feel. I’m of the mind that even if you as an artist have a very wide range of work, the lens by which you view the world is going to lend a color to your work that will help link it together. I’m not saying that if you put anything you have made next to another thing it’s going to automatically link and make sense but if you have enough pieces of work you will find matches that make sense.
The album also had some of, like, my first dance tracks where I was truly happy with how they came out – they wallowed in weirdness but also just worked.
This might come back in other questions but a ‘body feeling’ is very important to me when creating – not necessarily the whole body feeling you get listening to loud music on a crazy sound system (which is sick too of course) but like a sort of instinct you feel where you just go “this feels right” and it is there, present in your whole body.
Adding to my admiration, you release an album and some EPs full of bangers that start to garner some attention and all that, so you turn around and release the incredible Holy Endings, which is in a different vein (though to my ears still makes a lot of sense in connection with your previous work). What pushed you in that direction to do something more – I won’t use the ‘a’ word, don’t need to fuel that discourse – but something that sounds less like what I’d hear in a club and more like what I’d listen to the next morning when the sun rises?
I mean at the end of the day I make lots of different kinds of music but honestly looking back the pandemic definitely had something to do with me putting out a record like that. I think some people try to (rightfully) avoid the cliché of making music that was “””A Soothing Balm for These Troubled Times””” and in turn, they avoid the idea that the pandemic affected their musical output at all – I know I thought like that for a while anyway. It didn’t affect so much the music I was making itself but by 2021 and a year into the pandemic with no end in sight I just definitely did not want to put out a club record – I just was not feeling it. I was still working away at club songs (some of which form Seodra) when the feeling took but I kind of lost a lot of heart and knew if I rushed those tunes I just wouldn’t be excited about them anymore – it might show in the music’s DNA, it might not but I definitely would not have been excited about releasing them.
As the idea for Holy Endings took place – I started seeing old experiments that could become part of it – old field recordings I could recontextualize. some of the songs ended up being finished incredibly quick – ‘care2kno’ for example was largely just one live take which put down most of the structure of the song and then just a bit of editing for parts and some new live takes to automate some effects.
Again, creating it came down to that body feeling and instinct – that this feels right and makes sense to me.
As for my interest in “that direction” itself I’ve been comfortable making that sort of music for quite a bit longer than I’ve felt comfortable making dance music – for what it’s worth I’m coming back around to the term ambient, but like always having it in inverted commas. genre: ‘inverted commas ambient.’
I feel the term ambient, in general, is very slippery – like I get for a lot of people it’s just shorthand for the vast breadth of electronic music that doesn’t necessarily fit into the dance music category but at the same time there is just so much variance within that term? And even across terms – music that draws from both ambient and dance… Anyway it’s definitely a total headache to think about
Okay, let’s get into the new record then. I think part of what struck me most about Seodra was how it takes some of that mood from Holy Endings but puts it into a completely different context (i.e. this record is obviously a lot more beat-driven etc). It’s dancier, but it’s also still got a lot of real weirdness to it. How were you trying to balance all those ideas and approaches as you were making this record?
Maybe it sounds unromantic or a little methodical but I try to make a lot of music with wherever my interest takes me. If Holy Endings and Seodra have similar feels but in different contexts that makes total sense to me, I think? They are both made by me! I’m very much of the thought that you will color everything you create with your own perspective even if it’s in subtle ways.
Balance for me at the end of the day is less a question of “Oh I really need to make this piece fit in such-and-such way.” I will make the piece and if it fits then perfect, if not maybe it’s good for another thing – no harm done! Instinct can kick in, just thinking “hey this is sick and it feels good, let’s go with it!”. To be honest I don’t know if this is an ideal method but it works for me and keeps things less stressful which is important.
Maybe the biggest difference I can note from a technical perspective is mixing. With Holy Endings – besides some parts where it was like “oh a certain frequency here becomes so loud it just clips the whole thing to shit so we better EQ it a little” – a lot of the mixing was just kind of vibes based. On Seodra, since all the tracks are dance things there is like a vague framework guiding decisions, especially with regards to mixing and I guess some elements of form too. I’m not saying this didn’t happen with Holy Endings but I feel it happened on a more subconscious level there while it was more clear to me on Seodra. I don’t see it as a limiting creativity thing either, just as allowances to make while you twist shapes around them. Things like “oh the Kick better be at least this loud and should enter this piece by at least the start of the 33rd bar”. But yeah, I think a lot of this vague framework to me is also just kind of connected to “it feels good so let’s go with it”.
I also like that one of the descriptors I saw for Seodra is ‘sexy’ because that undercurrent kind of runs through everything. Are those moods and stuff like that something you think about when you’re working on a record? I’m especially curious if you start on something thinking it’s going to be an album and you have these specific ideas, etc. or if it’s just, you are always working on tunes and sometimes it coalesces into a record?
I’m gonna be frank with you – I think that might be coming from Zac’s pitch email – but hey if he sees it like that good for him haha. I think on a base emotional level the record for me is ecstatic joy laced with hypercolor – all the songs on it come from that sort of energy at least partially.
For me, it’s almost always that I am just constantly working on music and it can coalesce into a record. I’m very much of the mind that no matter what you do, your own spin will be on it – (your own lens, etc) you can eventually put this together and things will make sense.
That said, lately this year I’ve been finishing some albums or collections of tunes over a few days sometimes under aliases, sometimes not, that just exist as their own little group of tunes – but maybe that’s because the headspace over those days is just something I can clearly segment as something of its own place and that I know anything I create in those days will be of that place – who knows!
What was the biggest challenge in making it?
Honestly some of the fine-tuning and getting that balance between something that exists both unquestionably as a dance track but also as an exciting little thing of its own.
Shifting gears, as mentioned I love the collaborative project with Claire Guerin. How’d that come about and what’s up next for the project?
So me and Claire met when we were both working at the same job back in like 2019. The job was one of those kinds of nameless faceless things but eh whatever. It turned out we were both into weirder music kind of stuff. An excellent sound artist from the Irish scene, Natalia Beylis, put a call out for pieces made underneath a Black Moon which is when two new moons occur in one month. We went out to Claire’s in the countryside, took lots of field recordings, gathered sound making materials, set up all our stuff in an open-faced shed, and had a few jams. We decided to keep the project going because it was fun and we ended up with a full album.
As for future stuff we recorded a lot of tracks recently that I still have to go through properly and we will probably have a session to record some more soon – some half plans are being made for releases but I can’t say anything for certain yet.
Also, it should be noted we have a DnD campaign together.
Lastly, back to Seodra, when do the Autechre and Burial remixes drop? 😀