Photo by Spyros Rennt. Album art by Zak Keene.
Night Helix has a new four track EP out—complex, moving and fundamentality escapist, Ben Ross took us through the inner workings of each track.
This is my outer space underwater ambient escape track. I wanted to make a track that I could escape into quite literally from the world today. My last record was pretty political in nature and I feel like I exercised a lot of aggression within it so I decided to go the other route for this record. Everyday seems a bit overwhelming politically and I think the discussion of what’s happening is important, but it’s also important to be able to have time to breathe and imagine alternatives for a better tomorrow.
I wanted to make this sort of meditative precipitation track if even only for myself and headspace. I guess it was a bit inspired by the way the Italian futurists approached their visual work too in imagining ideal alternative futures. So I thought of creating sound for a future place or environment I’d want to live in.
The inspiration for the sounds itself came from my sound art class at Pratt last spring taught by Byron Westbook and from a time when I was in Berlin and dating this guy who had a incredible sound system in his flat. In my sound class we would discuss different approaches to audio and how it could be used to imagine spaces and environments. Then tangentially this guy in Berlin would cook for me and then we would spend nights listening to his japanese ambient record collection. We would just lay on the ground or bed and breakdown the sounds and discuss each track.
As the nights would progress we would usually end up getting high on something or other and sort of taking these trips, therefore the name HiWU. The approach to the way the sound was arranged and recorded were really inspiring to me. They were really crisp and painted the picture of entire environments for me. The whole process was really incredible so I ended up making a track inspired by these things. I worked with Celestial Trax on Mix and Mastering as I figure his approach was perfect for a track like this. After I made it and still to this day I will listen to it at night to help me breathe easy or just relax.
This is my attempt at a pop track about relationships. I recorded this at Funkhaus in Berlin on 6 different microphones to get a layered vocal affect to serve as sort of metaphor for the cycles and stages of a relationship. I guess I began to write it when I was really frustrated with one of my particular relationships and this was my way of dealing with it.
I was going to write this really angry track about how terrible this person was and how I felt the choices they were making were so fraudulent and wrong, but instead this sort of respectful melancholy tune came out about actually caring for them.
In the sense that I can only control myself not others so I might as well just show the truth which is that I care even if I feel like I have been wronged. I wanted to flip any sort of sad or angry feelings I had into a sort of chill dance track and write it off as just a phase in our journey together. After that it made sense for a lot of relationships I have been in—I wanted to express this sort of journey you go through when you have been in love with someone, how that love changes over time. Instead of being angry you could actually try and understand them as humans and stick with them.
“Heavy” ft. Tenshi Fan
This is the house track I wrote with my friend Tenshi Fan in Berlin. I always wanted to make this sort of chill house pop track with a slight industrial influence. We were both living together and made about 4 tracks total. Most of them were either super dark or insanely happy. We were going out a lot and having all these crazy experiences then we’d always come back to our flat and catch up and talk about things.
The climate in Berlin was a jungle all summer and rainy most of the days so we’d literally have to bike thru tumultuous rain most days to the studio and then we’d have this deep meditative time where we could scream shout and express ourselves in this recording booth together. By the time we’d come out it would be sunny out. This time together was sort of an anchor in my experience and really necessary for keeping my sanity among the insane trip that Berlin can be.
I worked with Shareef Islam, a former teacher of mine on mix and mastering the track as I thought he would be perfect for this dance track. He is a legend in his own right having worked with Missy Elliot, De La Soul, Brandy and Big Daddy Kane. He used to even be a backup dancer way back in the day for Paula Abdul.
This is my dirty techno track about pluralism and defense. It features a bunch of field recordings I did in my sound art class at Pratt such as knives, disposable cameras, and various spaces. I reflected and reversed a lot of sounds and created this sort of Bowser in the snow techno build to compliment it. It was inspired a lot by this sort of flamboyant techno I would hear every once and awhile when going out that DJs never really talk about but just sort of slip into their sets although they never seem to make it into produced mixes. It’s highly personal and almost to a level of kink in a way.
I was also reading a bunch of Foucault on the idea of pluralism and thinking about how it could be used or applied within sound. It’s the sort of track that is played very contextually and always risky because it’s so aggressive, defensive but also playful in this sense. It also walks a weird genre line of tech house, techno and my own sort of style. I was afraid of it for this reason, it’s confrontational and confident but also the reason why I felt the need to put it out. If I don’t put out work like this who will? It’s feminine, masculine and equally angry, happy, light and dark which I also thought was important.