Below is part two of my interview with Graham Williams; you can read part one here. In this piece, Graham discusses each of his unique monikers, using infra-sound, and how composing helps him wrangle his PTSD.
Does each active field agent embody some shard of your being or harbor some distinct mental state?
Each moniker has its own framework regarding the sound sources, production styles, etc. that I employ.
The Fencepost projects use only field recordings as the sound source and do not have as much in the way of effects, relying more on the manipulation of the sound sources themselves.
R0[nought] used more traditional classical composition lines, such as Wagner’s, Shostakovich’s, Penderecki’s, etc. There is also an influence of Morricone in most of the pieces. The R0[nought] works also deal exclusively with different aspects of disease, such as the recent EHF releases which had a theme centered around the Ebola virus.
The dR0ne moniker has come about due to some of these EHF works becoming drone like in both sound and structure, which has led to the birth of a new guise in order to keep further R0[nought] work within the current, self-imposed lines.
The <1 works have more of a grounding in late 90’s ambient music structure, and tend to be more fluid in their subject matter.
All of these projects reflect my differing mental states and emotions, and I find that they also lend themselves to particular aspects of my personality. Dependent of my state of mind I’ll work within one of these frameworks and consequently have several projects on the go at any one time.
You’ve noted PTSD pervades your days. Does an album’s creation process keep this at bay? Is there catharsis when you complete a record?
I find the process to be essential to my relative well-being, a compulsive need to be busy is symptomatic of PTSD and I find channeling this compulsion into music production to be both helpful and a psychologically supportive way of coping. The process is definitely one of catharsis, which is essential to my relative well-being in that recording my emotions in this manner allows for a certain amount of externalisation.
Nightmares and resultant insomnia are also two other symptoms of PTSD that I have to live with, and I find it a great help to be active during these times, as it provides an activity which keeps my mind on a specific task.
Many of my works are essentially a soundtrack to my mental health and state of well-being, and being able to release these feelings in the form of music, as with the Unit 731 work, provides a cleansing process for my mind.
What drives your warm sentiment to donate proceeds from your album sales to charity?
A care of animals was instilled in me from early age by my mother, who was forever rescuing cats, rabbits and various other small animals that were in need of a home. In some respects my donations are a tribute to such a caring approach, and something that I hope would make her proud. Whilst being able to earn a living solely producing music is the ultimate aim of all artists, if I were ever lucky enough to do so I would still donate to animal charities, and as the production of music limits the time I have available to help various charities directly, the donations help address the balance.
I always find it is a very generous act when someone elects to pay for one of my projects when there is no expectancy for them to do so and I feel that this generosity should be put to good use. I’ve requested that anyone who is thinking of purchasing any of the volumes of The Fencepost Reclamation Project donate directly to Amnesty International as the choice of charities is a very personal one, but human rights is something that unites us all.
You’ve noted that you master your compositions with infra-sound. What is infra-sound? From where does your fascination with it stem?
Infra-sound is a term for ultra-low frequency sound, anything below 20 Hz per second. I first became interested whilst doing an assignment for my course at the Leeds College of Music. I came across a paper entitled “Ghosts in the Machine” which detailed the mechanics of ghost sightings at a university and the oscillation of a ceiling fan that was found to be the cause. This sparked my interest, and the assignment turned into a study of infra-sound and its various applications. There are many applications that infra-sound can be put to and the subject also overlaps with the field of bio-acoustics, which is another field of interest to me. I would encourage anyone interested in the topic to start with the articles that are available on Wikipedia, as well as the various studies that have been done.
Some of my work includes specific frequencies at certain levels in an attempt to have a physiological effect on listeners. My wife finds one of my early tracks to be especially unsettling and avoids listening to that particular piece whilst on her own.
FCU: Oh? What track is that?
The track in question is “On Triffids and Ambush Predation” which is on Malfeasanse. Sara finds it an uncomfortable listen, especially in the car, as it unsettles her. This is one of the first tracks I did that contains specific sections of infra-sound, and her reaction encouraged me to continue with my experiments. Sara was also instrumental in the titling of the track after commenting on a Triffid-like sound contained within the piece; the original title was simply “Ambush Predation”.
What records have left an impression on you this year?
The recent release of Dead Cross’s eponymous album has been one of the highlights for me. Once again a project that Mike Patton is involved in sets the bar high for all those around him.
I’ve also recently purchased the previously unreleased 1996 album by Pop Will Eat Itself, which provides as tantalising glimpse into what might have been if everything had worked out differently.
Many of the artists participating in the Reclamation project have also had interesting releases over the past year and I spend a lot of time scouring Bandcamp for further participants via the discover feature.
How about artists beyond the medium of music (this year)?
The two artists that leap to mind that I have discovered this year are Lucy Dillamore and Wyer, who provided a remix for the Reclamation project, but also produces some incredible art. I discovered Lucy Dillamore’s work accidentally whilst searching for art inspired by The Yellow Wallpaper, a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The Yellow Wallpaper was a subject of a series of works by this artist as part of their degree work. I’ve long held the desire to produce a soundtrack to a spoken word rendition of the tale, which is a personal favorite and if the project is ever realised I would hope that I could use one of the pieces as the cover.
Wyer’s works are a perfect visual interpretation of his music and I hope to share a split with him in the future with artwork provided by him (see his Instagram). I find that his pieces encapsulate the dark world we find ourselves in and would act as perfect illustrations for a lot of the literature that I enjoy.
What does the rest of 2017 hold for your projects?
As mentioned above, the search for narrator for The Yellow Wallpaper continues, hopefully one day I will discover a narrator from the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S., or one will make contact. I am also currently working on some remixes for Night Season and a reinterpretation of a couple of Slayer songs for a further split with Screenslaver. The final part of the remixes of Gorecrow’s Sin:002 will also see its release before the end of the year. Work continues on a couple of physical releases that I will be putting out via my, as yet nascent, label Ague Documentation, and I hope to have the label up and running before the new year.
There will also be a <1 release on Okvlt Templs, an Australian label, although I’m not sure as to the release date. Besides all of the above, I’ll be keeping the Reclamation project ticking over and hopefully beginning work on the Plan 9 project.
Among all of your array of projects, field agents, alter-egos, what have they taught you about life?
My current musical incarnations have been instrumental in my helping with my recovery from some of the worst effects of PTSD, as have the contacts I have made via my music. My music production has proved to be an efficient tool for getting things out of my mind and has enabled me to channel negativity into productivity. Without the support and encouragement of various people who I have come into contact with I am sure I would be suffering far more than I am now. This support and encouragement has been of great benefit to me and I try to reciprocate this whenever I can and would encourage others to do the same.
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This concludes my interview with Graham. Again, you can listen to Graham’s work over at his <1 Bandcamp page. If you are an artist interested in contributing to Graham’s Fencepost Reclamation project, click the “Contact <1” hyperlink on his <1 Bandcamp page to submit your inquiry; he’d be thrilled to speak with you.
Thank you so much, Graham, for all the time, energy, and focus you expended on my questions. And thank you readers for giving Graham your attention. Take care for now.