Following his performance at Moogfest in North Carolina and sandwiched between his upcoming shows for Barcelona’s premier electronica festival, Sonar, Brooklyn-based producer Daniel Lopatin will be gracing our shores with his presence. Promising his stylised, signature erraticism for modularised musings, in both solo and collaborative form, he’s sure to wow audiences. Cyclic caught up with the oft-thought elusive Oneohtrix Point Never, seizing the opportunity to unlock where the inspiration for his composition, 2015’s Garden of Delete (G O D) springs from, and explore his overall approach to making music. We also hear about what it was like to work with his many friends and collaborates, such as Scotland’s Ross Birchwood, (Hudson Mohawke) on the coproduction of one Anohni, yes another pseudonific peformer.
Cyclic Defrost: Do you feel like over time you have built up expectation for what Oneohtrix Point Never is, or should sound like, or the sound world it should inhabit? Is it important to you to subvert or play on this?
Daniel Lopatin: My goal has always been toward something I think of as a hallucination of music. So that can take many forms but that basic idea that’s been with me since the very beginning of OPN is important to me. It’s hard for me to not write music that way when I’m writing for myself.
Cyclic Defrost: With the new album, there are lots of modern styles/genres of electronic music injected into each track — often with abrupt and unexpected stylistic changes within the track itself—everything from death metal to mutant R&B), what were your motivations, thoughts and fears behind making the album?
Daniel Lopatin: My motivation was to make a kind of memoir of puberty. But in realizing that I couldn’t remember that much about that time in my life, it kind of morphed into a science fiction version of my early adolescence.
Cyclic Defrost: When you make music is it a conceptual exercise, or more about experimentation and feel? Do you know where you are going with a piece/album or does improvisation play a major role? And do you feel you can quantify certain influences you have at the time musically or otherwise and hear the links in your music?
Daniel Lopatin: A lot of the music starts as a simple motif I’m working out on keys and expands from there in terms of interesting things I try to do with arrangement or sound or whatever else I find interesting at the moment.
Cyclic Defrost: How do you find it coming together in a live show? Is there a tension between live and pre-recorded material? How do you make it performative? Are you still bringing Nate along for visuals? If so what does his presence bring to your show?
Daniel Lopatin: What’s been great about performing G O D live is that it’s very close in structure to the recordings, and a lot of the work is in searching for that level beyond what’s already there—like, the spirit of the thing—and then addressing that in the way we perform the material, and depending on where and how we are relating to the audience. It’s like OPN the rock band.
Cyclic Defrost: You are co-producer with Hudson Mohawke on Anohni’s new album, Hopelessness, how did this collaboration eventuate?
Daniel Lopatin: Anohni and I are friends going back six years and have been working on this record for three years, so of course it’s very dear to us. It was great to have Hudmo (Ross Birchwood, of Hudson Mohawke) join in and provide some great pieces of music. The collab was very fluid and it was cool to see everyone’s contrasting styles in play with each other.
Cyclic Defrost: Last year in an interview you likened ‘collaborative working’ to beginning to sound like ‘multiple personality disorder’, do you still feel that way following this latest collaboration?
Daniel Lopatin: I don’t recall that statement, but if I am doing my job as a producer it means pulling together disparate ideas into complementary ones. These sources all come together from different places, times, platforms, etc. So it was quite the challenge to link everything.
Cyclic Defrost: Anohni described Hopelessness as ‘an electronic album with some sharp teeth’ do you agree with this statement?
Daniel Lopatin: Partially, yeah.
Cyclic Defrost: What makes it this way from your point of view? Can you expand on what was driving your choice in composition was it the lyrics, or the themes, or did Anohni give you free reign to create along with Hudson?
Daniel Lopatin: Probably she’s referring to her lyrics I’d imagine. It’s free reign, and then we discuss and tweak stuff—intuitively refining over many versions.
Cyclic Defrost: What lies ahead, do you have any new projects or anything you’re aching to do?
Daniel Lopatin: I’ve got the studio itch. I’d like to get back in there and start writing again.
Oneohtrix Point Never is playing:
Wednesday 1st June @ Max Watt’s, Melbourne. More info here.
Sunday 29th of May as part of the Vivid festival, Sydney. More info here.
Sonar Barcelona 16-18/6. More info here.