It's not easy to start over, especially if you've built an extremely loyal fan base over the course of a long and historic career.
However, Feed Me takes challenges straight away.
The latest full-length album by the renowned electronic music producer, which was released through his own Sotto Voce imprint, is his most coherent to date. From the funky, triumphant intro of “Big Kitten” to the electro-infused sound of “If It Bounces”, Feed Me is a complete change from what fans expect from the British beatsmith.
The record is daring and fluid and dispenses with digitized production in favor of analog instruments and synthesizers. The abundance of instruments used throughout the album speaks for the great attention to detail that Feed Me had in writing.
In fact, the album is a complete rewrite of Feed M's previous career, breaking the mold he created by reinventing himself musically. And with this new direction, Feed Me’s vision for the future is clearer than ever.
worldmusic.blog caught up with Feed Me to discuss his self-titled album, how the quarantine has affected his creative process and what the future holds.
worldmusic.blog: How was the writing process during the pandemic?
Feed me: I wrote it almost exclusively during the quarantine. As with any project, I had a supply of ideas that build and fade or stay. One or two of the tracks were sown from these ideas. I would say the vast majority of these were created during lockdown. I was trying to build a situation where I was only influenced by the things around me. It was beneficial to lean into isolation. I spent a good initial part of the lockdown getting new equipment that I've always wanted and trying to create a workflow that I knew would be 1 in 1. Basically, I just had a good time.
I benefit so much from spending time staying true to myself as creatively as possible. With so many of the world's distractions removed, I've had so much opportunity to find out what that means. I know when I look at the record I can feel all the time that in every way this is exactly what I am trying to say. It was massively cathartic to get this down and out. It gives me more energy for the future.
worldmusic.blog: Did you find it harder to write music during the lockdown?
Feed me: It would be unfair for me to say that it is just "okay". Just like everyone else, this was a test and I am aware that my situation is much happier than other people's – even in my industry. I am very happy to have this studio and to be able to afford to sit back and create. This often crossed my mind at work: I had to make everything count. That was a nice source of motivation and certainly a humiliating one.
This is the longest time I've been in any country since I can remember. I started DJing in my teenage years. I've never been able to afford such a long time in my home country that touched me very much. Something I didn't expect. I've always used creativity as an outlet for my feelings. I never really felt trapped. From a creative point of view, I found it beneficial because I had so much time. I could bury myself. As for the creative aspect, I really enjoyed it.
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worldmusic.blog: Did you like the longer stay at home?
Feed me: You come to define yourself as a traveler. I never wanted to travel. I never wanted to DJ or become a musician. These are places that I found myself. There are things that determine large areas of my life and large periods of time. You come to love her. I am very grateful for these things. It taught me so much about the planet and people.
Getting used to suddenly having so much time at home was strange. You have to redefine who you are when you define yourself as a nomadic musical figure and suddenly get stuck in one place. I had to rediscover my definition of myself. I realized that when I really dive into the creative process and leave everything else out, I feel the most about myself. I had a vivid reintroduction with that feeling.
worldmusic.blog: What did you initially see yourself as instead of a musician or a DJ?
Feed me: DJing in the way I do it now wasn't really on my radar when I started making music. I had only seen a DJ or two and it was just drum and bass, which I thought was a UK underground thing at the time. I found out about DJing when I was already releasing Feed Me music and I was told these are the shows you will be playing now. It was like walking down a waterslide in terms of the difference in exposure and the range of people you come in contact with. The stimulation was exponentially greater.
Before that, I always had a strong relationship with art. I never really separated video, audio, and motion art. I had drawn and played instruments from a young age, but I always imagined things in terms of animation and had a keen interest in it. I'm trained in special effects. I also have a number of friends who have influenced me a lot and who are not just musicians.
When I first started Feed Me and it grew into what has basically dictated the last 12 years of my life, I embraced it fully. I always wanted more. The project, the name Feed Me, that's the meaning of the title. It's a general, consumptive admission of wanting more and trying to reach for it. You have a point when you've been on the road for a long time and have a few days of downtime. You get this brief crash trying to process all of the people you have met and all of the memories you have created. It can feel exhausting. Now when I look back on my publications and people ask about a specific one, it takes me back to a specific place in time. That can be overwhelming. Overall i love it. I try to get as much done as I can before dropping out.
worldmusic.blog: Can you explain how your self-titled album adds to your project overall?
Feed me: I want it to wipe the slate. When you have a world and you keep expanding it, it can feel a little bit chopped up and thinned out. So I have many pictures to draw from, many sources of inspiration that I can show one after the other and say: “What happened to these pictures, paintings, logos, stage presentations?” They may have a general meaning, but given the enormous one time i had to really dig in myself and be creative seemed like a great idea to destroy and get rid of all of that. I'll start right at the beginning by trying to define why I want to do this, why I do this, how I feel about it, and what I see when I do it. Everything from the colors, to the way I drew the art, to the pieces of equipment I chose, was what came closest to the line I had drawn.
As for work, it feels like I'm proudest when I look at it. My career has been multimedia and travel for so long. When I look at the other albums and talk to people about them, they see them as the beginning, middle and end. In my eyes it is a cobweb of when I could get things done or when I could travel back to a certain city to finish a track. I see a much more spacious architecture between my other albums. When I look at this, I don't see any of it. It was methodical. I had to take my time and learned something from every track. The album was ready when I was satisfied. It's very cathartic to feel that on a Feed Me album.
worldmusic.blog: Tasha Baxter is a longtime employee. What can you tell me about your relationship and the process of writing Reckless?
Feed me: I'm a kid of the 80s and have seen a lot of Synthwave stuff come and go from the 80s over the past few years. Some of it scratched the itch and some of them are missing. I realized that I had something to say in this area. The longer I do this, the more I have come to realize that fidelity is not what I am looking for. Much of the equipment I bought to make this record was all about lowering the fidelity and finding ways to use it to find new textures. On “Reckless” I played the instruments on the track and played the synthesizers. I tried to get a feel for my situation. When I got to a certain point, my friend Oscar came over to play the top guitar line and solo over it. Then I put it on in the car and drove around at night, which sounds like a cliché, but anyway I wanted to write about how it made me feel.
I wrote the song for Tasha. I wrote the leading voice for her and her voice sits wonderfully above it. I'm actually in there too: in the chorus, in the chorus, in the harmony and in the bridge. I coached them through some of the formulations. She found it challenging because this is the first song she recorded that she didn't write. She has such a well-formed way of interpreting lyrics and timing. We really had to rehearse and do takes so she could understand my phrasing. We had to make sure that she put places between drums and toms to emphasize syllables and things. It had to be specific. It was great fun and she did a great job. When I look back on the tracks we worked on together, it reminds me how happy it is to work with her.
Much of it was played on a UDO Super 6. I also used a Korg MS700. Saw one in LA years ago and wish I had bought it and it has been on my mind ever since. When the lockdown hit, I went hunting. I managed to track down a guy who had one since the mid-80s. He bought it from a psychedelic band in London. It's a strange synthesizer. I played a lot of leads and background synths live across the track to get a little more organic stuff moving. It doesn't hold a tune perfectly. It doesn't hold anything perfect. I recorded some of the synths on a four-track cassette with a particularly bad cassette to transfer the sounds from magnetic to binary. It's kind of lo-fi tennis.
worldmusic.blog: Tell us a little more about the instruments you used to write the album.
Feed me: I made a few decisions before writing this album. I wanted to make sure I was away from the computer as much as possible. I tried to orient myself by objects that I felt I should be using. I've always wanted a Red Special so I spent a while trying to find the right version of it. It's a guitar I've been emulating as Feed Me for a long time, but never had a direct route. My LYRA-8 is also a good example. I've always benefited creatively from creating eccentric situations within the project and getting results that I didn't necessarily ask for. It's a machine after my heart. I've used a lot of modular synthesizers. Almost all of the percussion was recorded here to try to keep it organic. That's always something I wanted in my music.
The creative shortening of all distances brought me closer to the end result, even down to the pace of the tracks. I've done a lot of these without paying attention to the numbers and playing bass to a beat that I did without a drum machine trying to stay away from a pace that I'm comfortable with. Definitely not started as a dance album. I know by nature that I can do things that I want to dance to, but when you step into a system as a dance artist, you start producing tracks that mechanically fit into a set. I wanted to lift these regulations and just work on my own drum. Turning this into a live show, I do it retrospectively, which for me is a secondary creative endeavor and makes it interesting again.
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