I compose using the GarageBand app for iPad. I use a limited selection of instruments and any field recordings I make. My arsenal consists of a small number of synths and, on occasion, any instruments that suit the aesthetic or theme of a track (the French horn* in “Airship”, for example). I think I work best when I have these self-imposed restraints. When you only have two bass synths to choose from, you spend less time cycling through endless options and more time wrestling with what you have to produce the sounds, effects and textures you want. To me, that is the “experimental” part in experimental post-rock music. This rigid framework forces me to be creative. It is a stimulating and interesting exercise and GarageBand provides the perfect environment in which to do this. It is uncomplicated, often very sophisticated and always a pleasure to use. This approach appeals to my minimalist aesthetic and love of precision. I like “clean” music, whatever the genre, from Erik Satie to William Basinski to Grooverider. I want to create such simplicity in my own work and composing music digitally helps me do that.
* My adoration of the French horn comes as a direct result of my obsession with Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191 and Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16. If you have a quiet moment, please listen to the first movement of the Dvorak cello concerto for the most sublime use of a French horn I have ever heard. (Only Grieg’s subtlest use in the second movement of his piano concerto—my favourite piano concerto—comes close, in my opinion). When I first heard Dvorak’s use of that instrument, I am not ashamed to say that I wept, as I do today, every time I hear it—so graceful, so delicate and so stirring of one’s soul is the sound it produces.