It seems that the word "legend" has become a tedious part of common vernacular, overused to the point that it has very little meaning or substance any more. Surgeon is one of few electronic music artists, or music artists in general, that encapsulates the word entirely. Being one of the most essential, and prolific (with releases that span forward-thinking labels such as Tresor, Warp, Downwards, Soma, as well as his own imprints Dynamic Tension and Counterbalance), producers of the last decade and a half, Birmingham's Anthony Child has changed the face of UK techno repeatedly over the years, rendering it a malleable, cultivated genre with seemingly no limits. So it's almost criminal that he's never once graced our soundsystem under his Surgeon moniker (though he has appeared as British Murder Boys, alongside Regis) until this Saturday. But that is the case, and as such you have only one choice: lock that date in your diaries. Missing it is unthinkable.
Seeing him live, Surgeon's toughened, complex rhythms come to life through a soundsystem, bringing anyone on the floor to a faraway place, somewhere between reverie and mechanic, industrial landscapes. But the same could be said of any headphone or home-listening journeys with Surgeon - pop on 'Basictonalvocabulary' or 'Communications' or the 'Surgeon' EP that got all heads turning in the first place (or any number of gems from his endless discography), and you'll be transported straight back to that place with a temporary one-way ticket. That's the beauty of his music; his hypnotic, otherworldly soundscapes breed a detachment from time, space, location...
We decided to dive deep into the mind of Surgeon and see how the world looks to him in its current state.
As someone that’s seen electronic music mutate and shape-shift over the years, what do you make of it these days?
Technology has changed many things, but many fundamentals stay the same.
There are pockets of innovation and sounds which are hyped, as it's always been.
Search out the good stuff, ignore the bad. Make that decision yourself.
What excites you about electronic music nowadays?
Raw energy, emotion. Imperfection.
What frustrates you?
I make a real effort not to waste time and energy focusing on the negative.
Who are you interested in as producers and artists at the moment – who do you think is really pushing the boundaries and doing something special?
Off the top of my head - Scott Walker, William Bennett, Jamie Vex'd, Lars Von Trier.
After all these years, how do you keep evolving/pushing boundaries yourself?
I think that's a result of musical boundaries constantly shifting, which in turn changes my ideas about music, which changes the boundaries again. Like a feedback loop.
How important is the past to you? To me, you’ve always seemed very rooted in the future, especially in your creative outlook…
The past is very important, I study it. It's interesting to get a current perspective on some older music. Its relevance to me changes so much over time. Sometimes you realise that you weren't ready to accept some music when you first heard it.
As for the present, what are you working on these days?
I've been doing a lot of recording recently then carefully road testing the tracks and refining them.
As a musician, do you feel like you’re on a mission or search for something? What is your end goal as a producer?
Yes, I do feel like I'm on some kind of nameless mission and it is a search. It's totally elusive and really without end. Infinite. The fun is the journey really.
Who are your influences beyond music?
Every experience in my life influences me to some extent. Films, books, music, travel, communication, ritual, practice. A lot of which is quite private.
I’ve always felt like you excel in creating an alternate universe with your sounds – taking a listener deep into fascinating and mysterious soundworlds. How would you describe the world you create with Surgeon material?
It's great that you picked up on that. Yes, it is an immersive and hypnotic experience that is a mirror of the soul of the listener, so I'd rather not pin it down too much on any occasion. Just give hints and suggestions with titles or artwork.
Do you feel like your productions are quite personal &/or intimate? Is it ever strange to have fans (or other artists) tell you about how much you’ve influenced them, or how much your productions mean to them?
Yes, they are very intimate. They are like my children. Offspring. It's great when they transmit to other people too, I glad that other people have enjoyed them.
And lastly, are you looking forward to playing at fabric on Saturday? What can we expect from your set?
Yes, very much. I really enjoyed it the last time I played there. I never decide too much about my set beforehand, but ideally it will contain a depth and variety of texture, rhythm, pace and emotion.