RECORDS
“It’s Also About Your Shadow”: Discussing Soosh’s Colour Is Breathe Album
Posted by Oli Marlow on February 7, 2013

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Write about what you know.

It’s probably the one rule I’ve tried to live by and encourage in the other contributors to Sonic Router over the four or so years we’ve been doing this. It’s not like we’re taking the super informed standing on something and pretending (or convincing ourselves) that we’re the ungodly knowledge fountain and one true expert on everything; I always just liked reading about people’s responses to music – and essentially that’s the one and only subject where everyone’s an expert. But sitting on the internet and talking about how music makes you feel is pretty one dimensional and is either absolute genius or super fucking tedious to read, depending on who’s writing it. I feel for people who pour their heart out into writing that stumbles in the introduction because sometimes if you don’t catch the mood or let people properly invest in the context of what you’re writing about, your writing just reads like a blow by blow account of how mundane your life is or how deep you are into your daily quota of net journalism.

And that’s exactly how I got writer’s block. Everything’s either too preachy, too personal, too honest or too much like what I think people would expect me to write. I’m at a saturation point, mate. I don’t have anything to say about Disclosure, post-dubstep or trap and juke that I find interesting enough to talk about right now. I can’t count the amount of times I started an article with a phrase like ‘dubstep’s splintered’; and shit like that is precisely the reason I’m finding it hard to connect with (and write about) a lot of music at the minute. It’s all too polished, too considered, too current and too plentiful to get a grip on and I’m always trying to relate it to something I fell in love with ages ago. Because of that I find myself internet rabbit holing down into these little aural offshoots to satisfy myself. And that’s where I found something to love about Soosh’s debut album for Error Broadcast, Colour Is Breathe.

The whole twelve tracks of the thing is all awash with lush crystalline chords, slow tub thumping broken hip hop drum patterns, roughly captured vocal lines and this general down trodden emotion – that same kind of hungover sense that a lot of people loved in the Torus record we launched our label with. You’ll pretty much always find that the people who make this kind of slow, oh-so meaningful music are some of the most chipper people you’ll ever engage with, so with his album looming large in his timeline we caught up with the now Brighton based, Glasgow raised, Iranian producer Soosh (aka Soorosh Khavari) to discuss his forthcoming record…

Sonic Router: The first thing I wanted to talk about was just the overall feeling of the new album, like there’s a very specific mood to it. Is that reflective of anything in your personal life do you think? I’m not trying to say, are you a glum, hermit type of dude, it’s just that there’s a lot of layers to it, all at a similar pace and it’s quite the introspective listen…

Soosh: I think overall the feel is quite dreamy and fragile, and overwhelmingly chilled. One of my best mates Jack calls it ‘happy/sad music’. I guess it is in a way. It’s not too down and ominous but it has a slightly melancholic feel at times, and also a euphoric side to it as well.

Sure…

I made the majority of the album while living in Italy early last year. I spent 5 months there with my girlfriend, taking time away from work to make music and explore the goodness. It was a great time, some really happy moments and also dealing with harder stuff; stuff you’re not always ready for, stuff that can overwhelm you in a way. I guess it all comes through in all the music, like it’s never easy peasy this life ‘ting, but I think my music has a hope to it even in the darkness.

Building on that geography, you’re a pretty travelled guy; do you think there’s an element of that exposure to a multitude of different ways of life that comes across in it? Maybe not in terms of instrumentation but just like similarities between people in different cultures…

I think my travels and the way I was brought up definitely have an influence in what I end up making. I’ve seen some amazing things in my life, and I guess everything can have a lasting imprint on you, good and bad. I like to paint worlds with my music, or at least illustrate moods and feelings. I often get lost when making it and have no set plans. I know when something is happening; I can really feel in touch with something deeper inside me and the world. It is a strange yet amazing feeling. I used to get it when listening to my favourite tracks in the past, and now I get it when I’m onto something special myself. It’s exciting and exhilarating and long may it continue.

What is it that draws you to this kind of tempo? Do you listen to a lot of hip hop? I mean, in the sense that like I loved anticon, Def Jux and all that for years and then moved on from it, but when I try and make tunes, the only pace that really makes sense is a slower, hip hop thing… it just seems to be embedded somewhere in me.

I used to listen to loads of hip hop: Gangstarr, Madlib, Pharcyde, Tribe and all that good stuff but as for tempo, I guess I like the slower bpms as they give me more room and time to put little details in. I get bored of relentless rhythms and heavy 44 stuff. At the slower tempos you can go double/half time and mix it up. Lately I’ve been experimenting with much faster tempos though and I’m quite excited by it. I think if you get imaginative you can make most tempos work and it can really change your sound in fresh ways.

How long did it take you to make?

The bulk of the tracks where made in a 3 month period from Feb-April last year. The last 3-4 tracks came just before September. The way I make music completely changed as a result. I moved away from using a sampler completely; I got bored looking for samples and relentlessly tweaking them so everything you hear in the album is recorded off my synths, and then put through effect pedals and layers of effects. All of it except the drums, field recordings and vocal bits.

Were there any major obstacles you had to overcome to get it done?

Not having my full studio with me and mixing down without my sub in Italy were big ones. I hate mixing down on headphones, but I had my little Genelec monitors with me that did the trick. Also, I went back over the tunes again once back in Glasgow and tweaked them intermittently. I’ve never done that in the past – gone back on old stuff – but I kept finding ways to improve them and I probably could even now. But you have to stop eventually and move on! I discovered new ways to make sounds, and I think now I will always go back over stuff – especially the stuff I’m heavily digging. You just kinda know when you’re onto a special track.

The excitement in the past was just to finish something you were enjoying and accepting it, and whacking it on Soundcloud but I’m looking for much more now, and think any extra time is worth it. I’ve made lots of music in that time that isn’t on the album, some very different stuff. It was really a time of finding what I can do and where I can take my music. I think it was time well spent, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

What do you think you are trying to say with a collection of work like this? Like, its way deeper than it seems on a surface listen, are there narratives and themes you put within it? It’s quite hazy, dreamy, third eye open music…

Yeah I would agree with that, it’s definitely all those things. I see the album as being a cohesive bunch of tunes that are relevant to a period of my life. There are themes of love and souls and all that kind of stuff but it’s also about your shadow, like the bits that hold you back and stop you growing. We all have them in various forms and can affect our lives and relationships. I think there is a certain tenderness in the music and there’s a struggle but ultimately there’s a lot of hope and that is my main vibe I think. It can obviously just be some nice headphone music if people let it all glaze over them; some warm synths and textures and dope beats to get lost in. But I hope some people will really listen and hear a bit more than just that surface haze.

Where do you think you can go next?

I think I’m at quite an exciting stage. I have lots of unreleased music and I feel like I’m onto something fresh and what is really the next level for me. In a way I am realising myself that I can do something more with my music. Making the album was the start of the process, but I feel like I’ve just got going. There’s so much sound and creativity yet to be unleashed. I think I will be making very different stuff to what’s on the album as well but as I sit and spend time making stuff lately, I have the feeling that these tunes are me finding my own sound, truly. Where that goes I don’t know, but I’m excited to see what happens. I’ve also been taking piano lessons which is really helping…

Soosh’s Colour Is Breathe LP is out via Error Broadcast on 25th February.