The internet has undoubtedly shaped the way that music in the modern world is promoted and consumed. With the easily accessible global audience that the internet provides, there should no longer be the risk that the most potentially talented artists who desire an audience are left unheard without their chance to make a mark. There are huge benefits for both the artist and the audience; the more music that is made and heard, the more music can continue to develop in new ways as a result of global artists’ and audiences’ influences. However, within electronic music especially, where music production software is only a torrent away, the continuously expanding online music sharing platforms still require the record digger’s spirit to find those special new productions.
After countless clicks, a recent Soundcloud browsing session led me to a producer working under the name Sayles. The three tracks displayed on the artist’s page show a warm and musical blend of house music, focussing on drawn out hazy chords and exotic melodies. Slightly melancholic in effect, the tracks evoke impulses of reflection and nostalgia that can be repeated with each listen.
Impressed and intrigued, but with little information available about Sayles, I harnessed the internet’s powers of connectivity and put together this Q&A shedding some light on the anonymous producer, their music and their upcoming release on Amsterdam’s Taped Artifact.
So firstly, where are you currently based?
Right now I’m making music in Portland, OR.
Why did you choose the name “Sayles” for this project?
The name Sayles comes from an X-Files character, Carina Sayles. I always loved that name and it’s kind of always stuck with me. Interestingly, Palmbomen released a record last year and all the track titles were named after characters from that show. It was probably my favorite album of the year.
You’ve decided to remain anonymous with this project, why is keeping your identity separate from your music important to you?
I guess for now I’m doing it because I’ve worked on so many projects under different names and my social circles kind of get flooded with all these projects I’m working on. I kind of like to think of this new project as some sort of social experiment to see who will dig the music without knowing it’s me. I also feel that leaving out my personal identity has allowed me to write without any type of ego getting in the way, I can craft these tracks without caring what my peers will think.
Are there any other projects that you’re currently working on or have previously been involved with?
There are several projects I’m always working on. My longest running project, which focuses on ambient synth music, will have a new tape coming out later this year on the BARO label with a component zine one of my good friends made. Other labels I’ve worked with include Phinery, Constellation Tatsu, Twin Springs, Rainbow Pyramid, Habitat, Hacktivism, and Psychic Troubles, just to name a few…
How would you describe Portland’s music scene?
The local scene is really great for the most part. It’s definitely changed over the past few years with the influx of people moving here but I think it’s mostly good. There are a lot of really talented people and Portland is small enough that you get to know everyone quickly. The house and techno scene has really emerged recently too; It’s nice living somewhere where shows are still affordable.
So, how long have you been making music for?
Overall, I’ve been producing for about 8 years.
What are the main features in your current production setup?
My gear setup is constantly evolving. As a starving artist sometimes it’s necessary to sell and trade gear quite often, but I’ve found that it’s actually a good thing because it keeps you moving into different palettes. Lately I’ve been using some drum machines from the Roland TR series, a Korg Volca Sample, Yamaha PSR-41 synth, Casio SK-1, Boss sp-202, some pedals; also ripping samples from old tapes.
Do you have a particular approach to making music?
The inspiration to make music always comes in waves, it can never be forced through. Anytime I’ve tried too hard to make something I just end up hating it. With this new Sayles project I kind of just dove in. I wanted to put less of the focus on production value and more on the raw feeling, letting it pour out and seeing what happens. There’s always some post-production just to tweak small areas, but for the most part all the Sayles material is recorded live.
In terms of musical style, where do you see your Sayles project fitting in and what are your main sources of influence?
Somewhere within house and techno, which is pretty vague (haha), but I always try to incorporate some ambient textures to my songs.
I like to think that I derive influences from every type of music. Though it’s not particularly represented, all music leads into one another, unless it’s something just terrible. “House” music is a huge part of my life, but there are just so many styles and eras you can explore. From Theo Parrish to Moodymann, to newer contemporaries like Leon Vynehall and Motor City Drum Ensemble. I also draw a lot of influence from new age, ambient, and experimental musicians as well like Steve Roach, Gigi Masin, Ryuichi Sakamoto and even Oneohtrix Point Never. There’s really just too many to list though.
What music have you been listening to a lot of recently?
Lately I’ve been trying to submerse myself in the more “online” community of musicians and surfing Soundcloud for hidden gems. Labels like Lobster Theremin, Material Image, 1080p, Pastel Voids, Moodhut, L.I.E.S., and Panal Records have all been in heavy rotation. Then there’s local talent like Natural Magic, Golden Donna/Ausculation, and WAV FUZZ who have all been killing it lately.
And finally, have you get any releases planned?
I am very excited to say that the Sayles project will see a 12” EP release this year with Amsterdam label, Taped Artifact. Can’t say when, stay tuned!