"I left London at the beginning of March to spend lockdown in Portaferry, Northern Ireland with my family. I ended up staying there for 5 months. I feel incredibly fortunate to have such a place to return to and even more so to have such supportive parents. Many nights were spent talking shite with my dad and further developing our affinity for a certain single pot still whiskey.
I spoke to Olan Monk about my contribution to this series—he suggested that I submit a recording of my dad’s advice.
My original plan was to distil material I had generated over lockdown, using processing and synthesis techniques I had been working with, alongside recordings of a local barn that I had some open microphones in, which live streamed throughout April.
Upon returning to London, I called my dad asked him how he thought I should approach generating a new piece. I recorded the call, combined elements of his instructions (loosely followed and executed) with some of the processing techniques I had been working with during my time in NI—applied to his voice and the material generated over lockdown."
- Michael Speers
“Now it’s time for a Green Spot!!!!!
After a few Green Spots it may sound completely different.”
2. Voice [03:15]
3. Voice + Synth [02:08]
4. Drum + Synth [02:25]
5. Barn [01:21]
6. Synth + Voice [03:14]
7. Voice [01:42]
8. Barn + Drum [01:39]
9. Synth [03:57]
Transcript of tracks 1 & 2:
“Right, just actuallymakethe sounds yourself. Like, use instruments to make the music, rather than what you normally do. Be more conventional; use conventional things to make a—I don’t know what you would call it—a piece, I’d call it a song, but you don’t have to sing. Right, so a tune, what’s a tune?
Right, so make something, which is more melodic (without singing) where you actually create the music yourself. Yes, rather than what you do, which is you record something and then take it apart and then put it back together again, isn’t that what you do? Right, so why not actuallymakethe sound yourself—as in, playing an instrument.
So, you could (I dunno) play the keyboards and then, don’t necessarily take it apart and put it back together again, that’s what I mean. More like what you did at Queen’s where the stuff was different but you actually made it. Do you know what I mean? You played the drums but played with a violin bow—and I don’t mean play the drums, what I mean is that you actually create the music, rather than...so it’s original, it’s all yours, you haven’t taken anything from anywhere else and taken it apart and put it back together; everything that you’ve got is yours. Does that make sense? Cause that’s way out of your comfort zone. But it’s...possibly, yeah or play one you do know how to play and then play the ones you don’t know how to play over the top of it.
Right, use something you know how to play—I mean it could even be the piano, I mean you know how to play keyboards—and use that as the base and then do stuff that you don’t know what you’re doing (necessarily) around it. So that’s like the (I dunno) like, the headline or the core—yeah, the core—and then the other stuff can make it completely different around the outside. Yes, so you start off with something that’s conventional and then you destroy it.
Y’know so basically it’s um...right, the easy way to say it is, ‘the history of how Michael Speers makes music.’ So this is where you start, so you start playing the drums and then you just totally destroy it. But you create everything yourself, you don’t use anybody else’s material. I reckon that would be quite difficult for you to do, but challenging.
Right well that’s fair enough, yeah. Yes, retain the original, don’t completely get rid of...no, like the guy that you know Paul that plays the drums—you still know he’s playing the drums but there are parts of what he’s doing that you don’t know it’s the drums, but you know the drums are there somewhere. So, have something which is the—I don’t know what the word for it is but to me it’s like the—core of it, ‘the thread that runs through the middle’. So you’ve got something that’s constant the whole way through it but you basically destroy it. There’s something which is constant but everything around it changes.”
Michael Speers is a musician from Northern Ireland, currently based in London. Feedback is the basis of most of his practice, using the limitations of himself and electronic / acoustic equipment—namely percussion, no-input mixer, sampled media, test equipment and field recordings—to depict his engagement with reality through sound phenomena. The resultant soundscape is generally dense and abrasive, focussing on texture and spatial / material resonance, which is formed live in improvised performances, installations and electronic compositional work.
Collaborating with Paul Abbott as yPLO—the duo uses real/synthetic drums/electronics towards realising a speculative drum kit. A solo record is scheduled for release in 2019 with C.A.N.V.A.S.