Giulia is back at it, this time featuring an interview with Luke Younger of Helm. His music was new to me prior to her introduction to Younger’s sounds, nevertheless hypnotic. Here is what Giulia had to say about the London native, including her interview below. “Luke Younger (also known as Helm) is an experimental musician from London, whose swelling composition and industrial rhythmics cross liminal thresholds, inducing a mysterious and impending trance.
Younger’s new EP, The Hollow Organ, which was released mid-January, leaves with you a taken feeling. Like you morphed into an electrical tadpole, pulsating and whirling in a murky static pond for 30 minutes. Unparalleled to mainstream music, Younger is a subterranean dweller whose artistic vision strips away your perception of music and treads heavily in the damp underground noise scene.”
Giulia: How is the noise scene in Europe different from the US?
Luke: I’ve no idea really, I haven’t played what I would describe to be a typical ‘noise’ gig in the USA for about 7 years and in Europe my bookings are fairly varied affairs. I guess the closest was the L.A. gig I did in February with Damien Dubrovnik and JS Aurelius from Destruction Unit – it was in an old church and Chloë Sevigny and members of Maroon 5 were on the guest list, so I don’t know if that is typical? In Europe I play with all sorts of different groups in many different contexts such as festivals, club nights, galleries, etc. In the past year I’ve shared stages with people as diverse as JFK, Terror Danjah, Destruction Unit, and William Basinski… which is kind of crazy, but also something that I really enjoy and appreciate.
Giulia: Listening to your EP, The Hollow Organ, was a surreal experience. Do you have a systematic approach to your recordings or do they usually take form through improvisation?
Luke: It’s always different. Usually, the best results always happen accidentally from messing around without any solid preconceived ideas, and then they begin to take form into something more concrete and developed. It’s a form of improvisation I suppose, but not necessarily what would come to most people’s minds when they think of the word in a musical sense.
Luke: The video was made by my friend Simone Trabucchi from Milan who performs as Dracula Lewis and runs the label Hundebiss. I like his approach to making art and music so he seemed like a good person for me to ask when I came to making a video. It sounds bad, but I don’t really know a huge amount about the making of the video – I know he shot quite a few hours of footage on VHS with a friend of his and had a hard time doing it, so I really appreciated what he did in the end. I had to edit the original track down as well because the original is over ten minutes, and I thought it was too much to expect someone to make a film of equivalent length. I’d like to maybe try to make my own videos to accompany tracks of mine someday, though I have no idea how to accomplish this at the moment. I’m not normally comfortable with someone else handling a visual counterpart to my music unless I really know their work and trust that they understand mine too.
Luke: What do you mean by landscape? If you mean environment, then I would say it depends. Without intending to depict a fairly stereotypical image, normally the best gigs of mine are at night in dark venues, interesting lights and powerful PA’s…maybe a bit of dry ice too. I don’t like playing in the afternoon, it feels weirdly inappropriate. People seem to love booking me in Churches as well which I find odd because the sound in these places are normally pretty bad – too much natural reverb in a space can be really difficult to work with. Carpets are generally quite good for combating this – someday I would love to play in a fairly palatial environment with lots of rugs.
Guilia: Do you have any go-to acoustic instruments that resonate well when they’re distorted?
Luke: I used to use a lot of cymbals, cracked metal, guitar strings, snare drums, etc., but I’m trying to find other ways of achieving similar results as I feel I’ve probably got all I can out of those sources. I don’t use distortion on anything though.
Guilia: How many layers of sound would you say it takes for you to create a pseudo-field-recording?
Luke: I would ask you not to view my tracks as “pseudo field recordings” as that’s not the idea behind my music at all. I think I may have said something akin to this in a previous interview whilst drunk that I instantly regretted and now haunts me…anyway the technical answer to your question is that there’s never normally a set number of layers used to achieve what I want. The most important thing is to make sure that everything present in the final mix needs to be there and serves its purpose.
Guilia: Is it difficult managing your label Alter and also creating time for making music?
Luke: It can be difficult to split the focus at times – I am an “artist” first and foremost. The label is something that I operate on the side when I can, but I still regard it as being important too. Normally, if I’m not too busy with Helm then the label may step up a gear, although this year feels like the busiest that both the project and the label have been, so I guess they can co-exist fairly well.
Guilia: The Hollow Organ EP was released mid-January. Will you be going on tour soon?
Luke: I did a two-week tour in February with Damien Dubrovnik where we played 4 gigs in the USA, 5 in the UK and then I went and played in Greece straight after – it was great, probably the best touring experience I’ve ever had on a pure enjoyment level. I’m generally always playing sporadically all over the place.
ALT701: Damien Dubrovnik – Patterns of Penetration 7″ (May 2014)
ALT17: Cremation Lily – Fires Frame The Silhouette LP (May 2014)
ALT16: Bass Clef – Acid Tracts 2LP
ALT15: Opéra Mort – Dédales LP (April 2013)
ALT14: The Bomber Jackets – The Lister LP
ALT13: Age Coin – Perceptions LP
ALT12: Basic House – Oats LP / CD
ALT11: Helm – Silencer 12″ EP (Sold Out)
ALT10: Liberez – Sane Men Surround CD
ALT09: Hieroglyphic Being – The Electronic Belt 12″ EP
ALT08: Damien Dubrovnik – First Burning Attraction LP
ALT07: Richard Youngs – Rurtain LP (Sold Out)
ALT06: Elg – Mil Pluton LP
ALT05: Liberez – The Letter LP
ALT04: Hieroglyphic Being – A Romance Of 2 Planets 12″ EP (Sold Out)
ALT03: Design A Wave – Live On Your Yard 12″ EP
ALT02: Tomutonttu / Oneohtrix Point Never – Split 7″
ALT01: Helm – To An End LP (Sold Out)
Contributed by Giulia Marsico
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