For the fourth instillment of our ongoing feature, The Maker, we chat to New Jersey-based electronic musician, Lofield, ahead of his album release next week on RTR. Finding inspiration in everyday sounds, Lofield produces ambient music with recognisable influences of down-tempo and electronica, filled with organic imperfections and an undeniable sense of flow.
The artist discusses engaging with the subtleties of sound, his philosophical approach to creating new music, and the significance of the physical medium.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
I’ve always been drawn to the subtleties in music; a specific sound, an underlying texture; essential abstractions that were never intended to be a focal point. In time, I would come across music that emphasized these abstractions and formed the basis of the artist’s expression. I was, and continue to be, deeply inspired by such works.
What inspires you to create a new body of work?
Ultimately, I have an underlying creative urge that drives me. I find endless inspiration in the ubiquitous sounds that permeate everyday life; the coalescence of sound in the natural world; the sounds of the mundane, such as the hum from an amplifier, the noise of a furnace, the ticking of a clock, etc. While most find these seemingly monotone, non-musical imperfections to be simply noise, I find them to be some of the most interesting of sound sources and use them extensively in my music.
Perhaps more than anything, though, I draw endless inspiration from the music of other artists. It’s a wonderful feeling to hear music that you appreciate; but to hear music that not only resonates with you on an emotion level, but compels you creatively to explore and realize your own interpretation of it is exceptionally inspiring.
How do you approach working on a new release?
I like to start with a concept in mind, a general theme, and let it develop organically. Occasionally the theme is retained throughout, but most times it takes a new and unexpected direction; and I really appreciate this as, it’s humbling to feel as if I am simply a conduit creating something that already exists, but has yet to have been manifested.
Over time, I’ve managed to develop a workflow that I am quite happy with as it allows me to work efficiently without getting too distracted by the technical aspects of production. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time optimizing my studio to be conducive to my ideal workflow. Everything from general ergonomics, templates, presets and programming, to having all of my synths and outboard easily configurable through my patchbay. My studio is always in a perpetual state of refinement, and while I’m sure I’ll never be completely satisfied, I do my best to be comfortable and productive.
I really enjoy the engineering aspects of making music as much as production, and so I focus my engineering in tandem with producing; ensuring proper gain staging, paying close attention to balance and levels; where elements sit within the frequency spectrum, their placement in the stereo field, and so on.
I also spend a considerable amount of time on subtle details; background elements which would only be noticeable if they were removed. Often times I begin new tracks based on these subtleties and bring in the main elements afterwards. As an aside: for any producers reading this that struggle with completing projects, I highly recommend this approach. It may seem counterintuitive, but for me it has worked rather well.
Can you tell us about your favourite new release from the last 12 months?
That’s a challenging question for me to answer as, there are just so many artists right now that inspire me daily. Some well-known, most relatively unknown. To be perfectly honest, there are simply too many to mention.
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: What attracts you to the cassette medium?
As an artist, releasing on a physical medium is paramount. Having something tangible that you can hold in your hands and have on display 20 years from now reinforces the timelessness of your work.
I have released on Vinyl, CD, and now with ‘Slow Cycles’, I am happy to have my work on cassette as well. Physical releases take things back to where it all started for me, as back then, Vinyl, CD, and cassette were the norm. And so, it really is an accomplishment for me to release on cassette, and for that, I sincerely thank James for all that he does, and for this opportunity.
Lofield – ‘Slow Cycles’ (RTR014) comes out on Monday, February 25th, on tape and digital. Limited to 40 copies.