New York producer and Scatalogics Records founder, Ulysses, has returned to local imprint The Bunker for his second EP on the label, Feelings. Lead track "How Does It Feel To Feel" explores psychedelic, 4AM-on-the-dancefloor existential inquiry, followed by "Object Of Interest"'s grossly seething, metal on metal creep. Closing things out with a curveball, "The Mascara Snake" is a sharp, almost defensively reserved synthpop instrumental, rich in synth harmonies and distinctive arrangements of timbre.
We're excited to premiere the exclusive stream of Feelings today, and for the occasion we reached out to the producer for an interview via email, in which we discuss what defines techno, the EP's distortion-centric production process, and what keeps an a 17-year career going.
The Bunker will release Feelings on June 24; it is available for preorder on Bandcamp.
THUMP: In the press release for this EP, you say, "You can make the weirdest, most 'out there' sounds and as long as it has a pumping kick drum—you can call it techno." Can you talk about that subtle difference and overlap between "experimental music" writ large and techno in particular?
Ulysses: I think techno is experimental by design. It's "Future Music" after all. It's a global experiment to see what will make people dance and how far you can push something called a "song". It's music with a purpose—to get people to dance—but there aren't any rules to get to tell you how to get there. I don't really think there is a genre that you could call "Experimental music", though. There is music that is created through an experiment and there is music that isn't. At it's most basic level techno can be some sort of experiment with harmonically unmodulated music with a kick to make it danceable. But then again it can modulate if you want. Remember: no rules.
What was the production process for this EP like? Was there any gear or specific software tools you found yourself gravitating toward?
The tool I was gravitating towards was massive, obliterating distortion. I like starting with very basic building blocks and then blasting them out of the galaxy with distortion of every kind, and then putting the pieces back together. Outside of that there was no specific gear choices, though in retrospect my Juno 106 got a good workout.
According to Discogs, you have been putting out records since 2001. How has your work evolved over this extended period? What keeps you interested in producing dance music?
I've actually been releasing tracks since 1999, the date listed on Discogs for my first EP is incorrect... It's not the work that's evolved it's been my attitude towards it that's changed, the music changes along with it. When I first started I did what everybody else does; you know, "that's the kind of music I like, I'll make some of that". After that I got more involved in the nuts and bolts of how to actually produce and engineer a song, then I got interested in how to actually write a song. All the while, I noticed how my output improved the more I experimented. I also learned not to be too precious with each song and how to take feedback well. It's not such a linear process, of course—I'm constantly veering back and forth between interests and I've never felt fluent in any of it. I think part of what keeps me interested in producing music is that it's still challenging. I also still manage to find inspiring music and that's enough to send me to my studio to try something new.
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