Out from nowhere, Shifted found himself shunted into the spotlight last year after releasing 12”s on Luke Slater’s Mote Evolver imprint. Something like that immediately causes the techno world to stand up and take note, but when you dig deeper you realise that his profile didn’t quite come from nowhere. As an artist Shifted comes equipped with an already successful, decade long career in a different part of the musical spectrum. And it’s that body of work that may well have set him up for a first link up with such a prestigious label as Mote Evolver but it’s his experience, insight and creativity that’s allowed his releases to have such an impact in this new fold.
His debut album, entitled ‘Crossed Paths’, will be released on Mote Evolver a month today and where his single releases met the dancefloor requirements of that format, his use of field recordings and synth manipulation have been explored on a deeper level, fully adopting the immersive potential of a longer format. Exclusively for you, we’ve been given a track of the former mode for you to download in high MP3 quality, plus we got to know more about the motivations and ideas behind Shifted’s output ahead of his Room Two performance here next weekend.
What brought you into the techno fold? You had quite a successful and sudden emergence last year...
Well, as a listener I had been into Techno for a long time. I had been growing disillusioned working within the scene I was involved with at the time and so started to experiment with working on a side project. The reactions to the first few Shifted releases really surprised me and this "side project" snowballed into my main focus quite quickly. To be honest it's been fantastic and after almost a decade of putting out records I feel like I’m the most creatively satisfied I have ever been.
How did you link up with Mote Evolver for your first releases?
Actually I have fabric to thank for that, I met Heidy who is the label manager at Mote Evolver when she was working at the club in maybe 2005 or 2006. We spoke again sometime later and I told her about the Shifted project. I sent over maybe 10 or 15 tracks to her and Luke and after some going backwards and forward between us we put together my first EP for Mote Evolver at the start of last year.
The album for me feels softer and warmer in tone than your singles on Mote Evolver did you see the album as a different way to approach your compositions?
Definitely, being given this opportunity quite early on in my "career" if one can call it that, has been a real challenge but one I have really enjoyed. Every release I have done so far has been a snapshot of my approach and headspace at the time of writing. Even when putting together a 12" release I like there to be a certain ebb and flow to it. Doing an LP is a way to delve even further into that. With the exception of maybe 2 slightly older tracks that were reworked, the majority of Crossed Paths was written over the course of maybe 3 months.
Mostly I wanted something that showcased my overall aesthetic when it comes to Shifted, with tracks that are more aimed at the dancefloor, more abstract moments and things that are really just experiments in texture. All of these things are very important to me, and I want to delve into each area with more focus in the future, but for this first album I wanted a cross section of styles. Hopefully still retaining a constant feel throughout.
Where do you source your sounds from? The record sounds like a lush mix of synths and possibly some field recordings in there for atmospherics...
My only rule for sourcing sounds is that I won't use software synths. If you hear something synthetic in my music it's generally been sampled from a hardware synth or from an old record, then processed. Field recording and natural sounds are also very important, using creative looping and filtering to find small grooves and textures from unexpected sources. There are also sound sources that I feel are almost fundamental to Techno, all the classic drum machine sounds that have become the backbone of the music.
Tell us a bit about your production techniques... Like are you approaching this music differently?
I'm not sure that my processes differ much from a lot of producers. I don't feel like I am the best engineer, I listen to records by people like Luke Slater or James Ruskin for instance and feel very small indeed. I do however think that this raw and almost naive approach to production has almost become one of the things that make a Shifted record sound individual. I work fast and try to get the idea down as naturally as possible, if I force something it comes out sounding false to my ears. I guess I don't have a lot of patience, this is sometimes my downfall but I have learned to embrace it to a certain extent.
On your Tumblr there’s strong aesthetic, a lot of gothic and bondage themed imagery – what’s your interest in this subject matter?
The images I choose are just things that catch my eye, I wouldn't say that I focus more on gothic or bondage themed subject matter more than anything else really. Although perhaps I’m drawn to the latter on a very basic level.
Does the imagery link in with the music?
Not directly, but the whole reason for the blog is to create an atmosphere that is attached to what I do, and enforces the emotions a listener feels when exposed to the music. I think that music becomes so much more when it is combined with a visual medium, and in the future I’d like to tap into this more and work with moving images that are attached to a piece. This is also why I dislike this whole "Digital Only" thing, music should be something physical, the look and the feel of a record are essential to making it what it is.
Can you tell us more about your label Avian, what have you got planned for it this year?
Yes, myself and Ventress are going to be doubling our efforts as far as Avian goes this year. The next release is a collaborative project from two producers who won't be named at this point, together with remixes from Ventress and Sigha. After that there will be the debut release from MPIA3, which has been getting a lot of attention already. I'll also be doing an EP this year. As we'll as some projects from friends of the label that are as yet unconfirmed. I'm also going to be doing a second Pacific Blue record.