Based out of Leeds, UK, Globular (Morison Bennett) is a producer of squelchy, psychedelic soundscapes, perfect for an otherworldy journey. He has been described by Ektoplazm as “a visionary producer… drawing inspiration from the mind-bending sonic alchemy of Ott and Shpongle, [who] has emerged as one of the rising stars of psychedelic dub, an inimitably British fusion of brawny bass lines, dazzling melodies, intricate rhythmic programming, emotionally-charged vocals, and immersive, otherworldly atmospheres.”
With two full-length albums, Magnitudes of Order and A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, and a number of remixes, collaborations, and EPs already under his belt, the psydub producer recently put out a new EP Digging & Building. I had the chance to e-chat with Globular and pick his brain on topics ranging from the state of the music industry to the differences between the UK and US psydub scene. Listen to the new EP and read the full interview below…
[LiS] You just released a new EP “Digging & Building,” which you’re offering on Bandcamp as “pay what you can.” Why did you choose to share it in this way? What is your view on the state of music industry and its relation to free music and piracy?
[Globular] I think there are a few different answers to this. Firstly, it’s an experiment, and I just really want to know what happens when you offer up something, which you clearly have put a lot of time and effort into, using a donation-based model. The potential benefits (for the relationships and interactions between artist and audience) completely outweigh the potential losses for me as an individual artist. I think it’s just a much more open, honest, and fair way of sharing music… hopefully. We’ll see.
Also, being a massive idealist, and with my first true musical love being punk, I’ve never really wanted to get involved with the music industry as it stands.
“It’s always seemed to me to be abundantly clear that something’s not right in the mainstream model.”
Everyone’s heard all the stories of people getting f**ked over, and ending up washed out or sold out; it’s a cliché now, and I think there’s a huge appetite for a new paradigm. What that paradigm is remains to be seen, but it’s fun to explore.
Piracy I think is a misnomer. How can you steal something that’s infinitely reproducible at (as good as) zero cost? The costs of trying to police digital media will impact hugely not only on the music and arts, but on wider freedoms of speech issues and general privacy concerns in the digital rights age. Check out Cory Doctorow’s talks on the issues, I think he articulates some major societal concerns in this area.
How do you feel social media contributed to your success musically?
Well, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without it, or even anywhere close. I didn’t come to music from raves or parties, or even really know anyone else that was particularly into psy music. The only access I had to the scene or any kind of psy community was online. So things like Facebook and SoundCloud, etc. have allowed me to find a geographically disparate community who share the same musical interests. Actually the first place I started posting music was on the Twisted Records artists forum, there was (still is?) a brilliantly nurturing group of musicians there, sharing work freely and encouraging others to do so. I owe that place everything really.
Right now you produce your music independently. Do you have any plans or interest in joining a label?
I really don’t know. My dream is definitely to try and stay independent, but I’m not going to stick to that dream if it turns out to be completely unworkable.
“I think small labels are a great thing, and a lot of them effectively act as workers cooperatives for musicians, which I’m all for.”
I just want to see if I can stick it out on my own first I guess.
Where does the name of your project come from?
Doh, I wish I had a story for this! I’ve been tempted to make one up, but I think it would be disingenuous. I just had a bunch of music I wanted to share, and no name, and as far as I remember I was just trying to come up with something purely aesthetic in nature, with almost no meaning, but which conjured up some fun imagery. People seem to like it (I think…), so I’m happy…
What equipment do you use in the studio? Live?
With the exception of the odd guitar part, pretty much everything I make is “in the box,” i.e. made digitally on the computer. I’ve got some mid-priced monitors, a standard M-Audio sound card, a midi keyboard, and a Korg nanoKONTROL, but all that stuff does is help me control the software. I’m using Ableton for production at the moment, writing mainly on their synths, but with all the usual plug ins and what not for those extra sparks. For live sets I’ve got Ableton set up with 4 stems from each track, a Kaoss Pad, Kaossilator, and a midi controller which I can do all sorts with…
“It’s always been a bit of a conundrum – how to perform something live which I’ve spent so long perfecting in minute detail?”
But I think I’ve found a good balance at the moment.
Describe your production process. How many hours go into production of a single track? Do you have any production rituals?
How long I spend on a track varies hugely. Sometimes 99% of a song just assembles itself in a day or two (of pretty solid writing), and sometimes I have to tease it out painstakingly over a couple of months. As for ritual it’s pretty much frustration > elation > frustration > elation > etc, etc… No specific rituals, but a lot of songs start out just fiddling on the guitar. Some tracks start as bass lines, some a beats, some as melodies, and some as atmospheres. I tend to write sequentially though, so rather than creating loads of cool bits and then arranging them, I’ll write everything in order, and don’t tend to mess with the arrangement too much after the fact.
Currently your style of music can be categorized as “psychedelic dub.” Do you have plans to expand or interest in expanding to other genres? If not, what aspect(s) of the “psydub” genre have kept your interest over the years?
Psydub really struck a chord in me when I first discovered it as a genre, I love twisted cerebrally stimulating sounds, and I’m addicted to reggae/dub style off-beats, so it feels pretty much like home to me. With that in mind though and whilst I don’t have specific plans on genre expansion, I think it would be pretty sad if I was still doing exactly the same thing stylistically in 10 or 20 years…
What is your musical background, pre-Globular? Where or how did you gain knowledge of electronic music production?
Well I dropped out of school at 16 out of frustration, and was lucky enough to have a friend who was about to start a course at this music technology college. I had no idea what else I was going to do, so seeing as it was a free course I signed up to see what was what. The qualifications were pretty meaningless, and I wasn’t really that interested to be honest, and it was only once I’d finished the two years that I first heard The Mystery of the Yeti albums [from TIP Records] and started to realize the awesome potential in the technology I’d just learned all about. So it was all a big accident really. I’d had some small interest before that; I’d had a 4-track tape machine which I used to write shitty punk songs (I’ve played guitar since I was about 14), but it wasn’t going anywhere until I found psychedelic electronic music.
Currently, who are your favorite artists in the electronic music scene? What have been your main musical influences, electronic or otherwise, overall?
I think the latest thing to blow me away was discovering Tipper a couple of years back. I came across his latest full album A Broken Soul Jamboree first and that really just blew my mind. The detail and precision, combined with a raw emotionality are just something else. Deep dub acts like Akasha/Quanta and Landswitcher are doing awesome things at the moment, and the whole tribal bass thing with Kalya Scintilla, Birds of Paradise, Kaminanda, etc. is an awesome movement. The glitchy goodness of Mr. Bill, Opiuo, etc. is so damn fun to listen to. I guess that’s the kind of stuff that pushing my buttons at the moment. Though personally Ott’s Mir still trumps most of that in my ears. Obviously Ott and Shpongle have had a huge impact on me musically, and it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say I regard them both as musical gods. I listen to a lot of old blues and dub, as well as lot of punk and ska too, and I think bands like NOFX and The Skints have also left big, if not quite so obvious, impressions.
Are you touring or do you have any plans to tour?
This is definitely one of the downsides of being an independent artist. I’d love to come and do a US tour for a month or two, the logistics of travel, fees, finding contacts and all that is proving pretty overwhelming though, and I’m having a pretty hard time getting my head around how to approach it at the moment.
Any collabs in the works?
Not as such, remixes for Supersillyus and Radioactive Sandwich are due out soon, and hopefully I’ll be remixing something from Phatasm Records, maybe a Symbolico track, maybe something from Juju Planet Dub…
Tell us about the UK music scene, specifically the psychedelic dub scene. How is it different from the US?
I really wouldn’t know. It sounds sad but I’ve just never really been involved in the scene much. From what I can tell it’s not exactly massive (I get way more requests from outside the UK than in). I’m not aware of there being a psydub scene at all, most downtempo seems to be played as an appendage or as a getaway room at psytrance nights, but not really showcased as a separate entity. I could well be wrong in that, but that’s how it looks to me at the moment. Canada is the closest I’ve come to the US, and I can safely say that they’ve been some of the best gigs I’ve played, and the downtempo scene seems pretty thriving. From what I can see of the US through the lense of t’interwebs, it seems to be doing pretty well too on the downtempo front?
What has been your favorite musical experience so far, either that you’ve played or witnessed?
Tricky! There have been a lot. I think my favorite moment out and about was Ott’s closing set at Ozora 2010. He played a 4 hour set mixing his own stuff and a load of old dub and other bits, and then finished off the festival with “Baggy Trousers” by Madness, which was just genius and nearly stretched everyone’s grins to breaking point. Playing an 8am set at Future Nature festival in Croatia, with the sun rising up to meet me from the Mediterranean was just bliss… but my set in Montreal last year with my hosts Jeremy’s Aura and Zoungla was just amazing. Just the sheer energy and enthusiasm of the crowd really took my breath away; I won’t forget that evening in a hurry. I guess that set a benchmark for me. If I could witness that level of energy at every show I’d be a happy man.