Underground Interview With R10T
Valis is a musician/producer. His influences range from bands, musicians to producers some of which include Robert Smith, Adrian Belew, Butch Vig, Brian Eno, Martin Harnett, Jimmy Page, Kevin Shields and Trent Reznor.
He released two demos online before officially releasing his first EP Digital Riot by his electronic outfit R10T.
What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?
I’m not deeply immersed in the electronic music scene, it would be difficult to directly respond to this question. I grew up listening to a lot of guitar based music. I could name a genre like progressive music having a lasting impression on me. I’ve only released an EP which is really just a sample of my influence. I think my sound and process is still evolving.
Websites or Social Media Pages:
How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?
There isn’t so much of a story, rather what I wanted my music to stand for. The name R10T is alphanumeric like R-1-0-T and can also be interpreted as RIOT. It’s also a reference to binary code and technology.
Since technology has an impact on music, I tend to think that progression of technology opens up more possibilities with electronic music. I think humans play such an enormous role with technology, they can envision, invent, shape, design, explore and play with it. I don’t think I’m saying anything profound but I do like the association of how electronic music is like a reflection of progressive nature of computers, hardware, software or transistors.
I've been thinking about how recordings in computers can be continuously altered to sound different, have we escaped the limitations of physical hardware that becomes outdated because there are new hardware circuits being made, where software is sort of plastic that can stretch recording or piece information to new possibilities as new software is made.
I’m excited about how technology expands our capabilities to express ourselves. There is a need for a human agent or the artist to shape from the context to create the expression. The expression of human thought is sort dependent on the period they live in, but there are new variables because of technology and so the context that humans draw from changes the output continuously.
The human actor is the organic component shaped by the past, but aspires to create the future through the use of technology. Digital technology has a no limits repertoire that needs imagination and methods to become clear with the creative process.
What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?
I grew up listening to a lot of bands mostly which were Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, The Smashing Pumpkins, Queen, The Police, Jesus and the Mary Chain, White Lies, Tears for Fears, Cocteau twins, Interpol, My Bloody Valentine, Collective Soul, Sonic Youth, Foals, A Perfect Circle. There is so much more I could go on. I think my two major influences are The Cure and Nine Inch Nails, both of which are inducted into the Rock n Roll hall of fame. I think both these bands really had a significant influence on art and the music scene truly deserve the accolades.
These are also individuals who are producers and musician who have made an impression on me who are Robert Fripp, Andy Summers, Adrian Belew, Butch Vig, Brian Eno, Martin Harnett, The Edge, Flood, Tony Visconti, Daniel Lanois, and Butch Vig. At some point I started developing an interest in producers aside from bands. For electronic music I don’t have a lot of reference but I would cite New Order, Aphex Twins, Chemical Brothers, and Prodigy as motivation for why I make electronic music.
What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?
At this point I am not working on music. I plan to write new materials. I am at the state of the world right now where certain things are frozen. I’m working on different areas of my life.
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry? What Is Your Plan Of Action?
I guess the current goal is to have people become aware of my work. I released Digital Riot in 2015 as an indie artist and in terms of exposure, it was quiet.
I’m taking things a step at a time but I would like to put up a debut album for R10T or maybe a second EP. If I was in the situation of being able to stimulate the electronic music scene through gigs across Europe and Japan, giving the scene a kick would be a milestone for me.
I think a gig in some city in a factory or warehouse somewhere with people dancing to my music in a post-pandemic world. I think when this situation blows over we are going to be living in a different time than pre-covid period.
What Is Your Favorite Track To Perform Live and Why?
I am One by the Smashing Pumpkins. If you hear the song it picks you right away with the riff, if you hear the bass line alone even that is just solid. Once in a gig, I played the bass line just to see how it sounded and the crowd was getting a buzz.
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far?
Losing data is an issue I face. My computer was stolen which had songs inside that I was working on. I lost my hard drive, which had most of my recordings. I also lost access to my Google Drive which had tracks that I wanted to release. I wish google had some kind of way to easily talk to someone, so I could have recovered my account. By the time I was able to reach them, they had purged my email and all my data. There were songs I was going to release for later. I need a new set up before I can get back to music which also explains why I’m not making music at the moment.
There is also an unstable aspect of my life which is economical and geographical. I moved and relocated, and it's possible I might relocate again.
Being sort of invisible in the digital social space, partly because I could not or did not work enough expanding in that area.
What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?
For guitar based music I improvise to get interesting riffs. I might have an image of an idea I’m trying to achieve with a song or a concept. With electronic music it's sort exploratory from what sounds good to mixing through digital signals to see how sounds change.
There is a sense of discovery when I am working on a new track, seeing the sum of parts fit together.
How Has Social Media Influenced Your Career As An Artist?
I think it's great I’m able to follow record labels and keep in the know of events in the music industry, usually very far from me. I appreciate there are more avenues for sharing a piece of my existence, although it probably does not compare to real life.
I don’t have a music video yet, but it’s nice to be able to push it out to YouTube. I watch videos of gigs with my former band. I would like to document more of my music life if it's possible in the future.
What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?
Absolute beginners - David Bowie
Somewhat damage - Nine inch nails
Reflecting God - Marilyn Manson
Holes - Mercury Rev. I really like this song, it has a pretty cinematic quality to it.
Mick Ronson - Angel No 9. What a great solo, soaring really.
Sneaker Pimps - Low Five
Suicide - Ghost Rider
Some tracks by Tycho
The Bladerunner soundtrack
Big Ship - Brian Eno
Belfast - Orbital
Tear Drop - Massive attack
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
Claude Debussy - Reverie L.68: Reverie
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
Before I made music I was writing prose and other short writings. I had been casually playing guitar in my teens but never had the confidence to compose music. I think I was blocking myself.
I began a job working in a laboratory and that was all that was my life. I did something uncharacteristic that back then made no sense after I left the company, now I suppose it was a good thing. I worked as a sound and lighting engineer in a nightclub.
An occasion came up where I collaborated with a filmmaker for an indie film project titled Letters from Death row. I was to take on the helm of writer and sound designer/composer. The project was announced as a social media campaign on Indiegogo to gain funding for the project.
I got some gear, set up a home studio,got down to composing music and posting it on SoundCloud. In this period I founded a band with two other people which began as a metal core band that took the name Forsake me Not before changing to Ataraxia and becoming a progressive metal band. There were like 2 years that went into the band writing and drafting songs for an EP.
My time with the band ended when it came to final recording and my film project did not work out as we did not secure the necessary funding. I felt like I needed a new start, so I left for Canada. I ended up meeting more people in Canada and formed two more bands.
I met a guy who was a math rock drummer, and we decided to pretty much jam. It was strange, from the first session we ended up playing songs that just wrote itself. I won’t forget it. We had several sessions, most of it recorded with an iPhone. Each session sounded different genre wise. We played some gigs, it was basically us showing up and improvising since we were pretty confident that something interesting would happen. I put what I think back could have been our last session on Bandcamp.
There was a café or art space called D-Beatstro in Toronto, it's closed now as of this writing. I got to know a music event that was going on, it was a punk lottery event where you get matched up with random people to form a band. I was up for that just to see what came out of it. I met three other people, and we formed a band. We practiced and songs just came out. We played a few shows around Toronto, I scraped recordings from our time together and produced a demo.
I can’t give an exact reason why Digital Riot was produced, considering I always thought if I put a release out it would be a band type thing. Sometimes you get an impression, and you consider it then it takes on a life of its own.
Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?
I’ve come to believe being born in a society where there is infrastructure in place could serve meeting your goals that lead from better accessibility. What I mean by this is if you are located closer to a place that has a history of music performance and art that was either in the present or heritage you could build a traction quicker.
So to elaborate if you are present in a place that has a lot of bars, venues. I think you could be on ground preaching to the masses through real life interactions and making use of proximity. Yes we have the internet that frees us from being confined to physical location but I still think you need physical space to let the audience know your art but as a way to practise your craft to be a better musician.
Refining on your craft is the first thing you need to work on, materials that hold your conviction for the reason of why you do what you do. I think to produce that reaction you get from artists that have created meaningful art that reaches you.
What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?
If I were a Top music Executive my other ear would be on the ground listening to what’s brewing in the tech scene. I think technological advancement has made it easier to create music and to experience music in terms of streaming or portable music devices. Tech advancement has an impact on the social fabric and commerce.
Music labels need to be agile in how they can provide new models for artists to join them. The music scene is not just a cultural endeavour but when it comes together like a movement, it stimulates the economy.
I read an article on The Verge that Google plans to release their Quantum computers in 2029. This is bound to have some major impact on the market, there might be new softwares and maybe even new ways to compose music. I’m speculating but if it's new technology it's going to be a wave of change. There might be new ways for how music labels could work with artists operating on different commercial models.
How Do You Feel About Originality?
It’s something I have thought about when I was in my teens, during the final years of high school and college I was reading some philosophy. I became convinced individuals must go through a state of self realization as they become distinct individuals to have an original vision.
Later on I would find that most of the people I admire have a source of influence, or you could trace back so that got me to consider what is originality?
I mean how do you create something that is relevant in the future, the future is entirely conceptual but the present is a place that we are constantly situated in.
What is the condition that you need to put yourself in a train of thought in conceiving an original vision? The kind of vision that cuts across time and space. I am sure humans are capable of doing that. I just don’t know how often it happens.
I don’t think you can sit around and think about how to be original, it needs to have a process of practice and theory that come together because in the act of doing you discover more about your experiences and conceive a plan for what you could explore or create.
Jimmy Page had his influence, but he had a new perspective to add to the scene. I suppose being a musical chameleon and having sessions with so many musicians help feed the creative vision.
Brian Eno, resting in the hospital while listening to music, gained a perspective on how music could be experienced as ambient music. I suppose there was a shift in consciousness and he sort of became associated with or pioneered ambient music in popular culture, among other things.
These days I don’t think much about originality. I would like to be in a place of continuous engagement working towards my better self and putting out materials that get my approval. The idea that I’m more fascinated by, that I think is the working model of pursuing originality, is the concept of Emergence which is sort of all encompassing that you could relate across different domains or disciplines.
Is There Anything Else We Should Know About You Or That You Would Like to Add?
I once had a random conversation with Billy Corgan on facebook. He asked me about what gear I used, I told him what I used. Back then my favourite pedal was the Muza FD900 reverb pedal which was budget. It sounded great and it was awesome.
I met Richie Hawtin in Toronto. It was some electronic festival that also had workshops.
As everyone else is holding out during this pandemic for the last 2 years I hope that the world will once again continue.