Interview: Plutonic Lab talks energising collabs, song sketches, and multimedia art installations
With the release of his EP The New Ruins, we caught up with Plutonic Lab...
This latest EP ‘The New Ruins’ is your take on modern soul, interwoven with elements of hip hop and funk, what draws you to these genres and this sound palette of musical fusion?
My introduction to music was jazz and, as a teenager, writing songs and playing drums in bands, playing anything from soul, RnB, rock and reggae - it was all just music to me. But for years I got deeper and deeper into beat making and rap music. The time feels right for me to go back to exploring harmony, song craft and generally mixing it up a bit, something that felt almost a little hindered by the parameters of rap. The styles on the EP are those that I’ve always been naturally drawn to, especially anything with a strong rhythm and singable lines. Soul music to me is many things.
As a producer, how do you approach making music and what was the creative process for this new release?
I tried to approach it with the song in mind first rather than from a beat makers perspective. I’ve sampled less and less since I signed my publishing in 2008, and over time I’ve relied less on using sampled material as a jump off point to spark and expand on ideas.
All of the songs on this release began as sketches, usually on electric piano with a rhythm track, just trying to get a vibe and something memorable from very few elements. I've found this method to be really beneficial when working in the studio with collaborators as it leaves a lot of room for creative ideas.
You’ve worked with a number of other artists on this EP, including Black Milk, Olivier St.Louis, Raiza Biza, and Nardean - what appeals to you about collaborative projects?
For me the reason to collaborate with someone is the possibility of another artist transforming the music beyond what I could achieve on my own. I like writing on my own, but I also love the feeling when you hear a melodic line, chord or lyric I would have never thought of myself, it’s also good to get energised off of each other and push an idea to a more memorable place.
It really must come back to being in bands when I was younger, the collaborative way that you can jam out ideas and play off each other to create something. I think there’s something a bit depressing, or at least mundane, about making music in isolation all of the time.
Which contemporary artists inspire you and where do you take your influence from generally?
Listening to Jazz, rock and pop, my dad performing in jazz bands at a young age - that stuff lives somewhere in my head and pokes through sometimes. Years of studying beat production and sampling, digging for samples.
The music I have on repeat is often from artists that don’t even create in the same genre as me at all, but inspiring nonetheless. Beach house, Broadcast, Badbadnotgood, Bon Iver etc, basically anything beginning with B. There’s also a thriving music scene here in Melbourne, there’s inspiration dropping from the inner city suburbs all the time.
Are there any live shows coming up, or additional projects for you?
I have a few irons in the fire, at the moment I’ve been curating a soundtrack for a massive multimedia art installation about world graffiti, collaborating on several recording projects, and engineering and mixing records for some exciting young artists here in Australia.
Finally, what does the word ‘groove’ mean to you?
The feeling and space between the notes that make you move.