Interview: Digital Deformation
Interviewer: Phill Bruce
The UK has been a place where a lot of good and iconic bands have appeared from over the many years, we also have a lot of new raw talent appearing on the alternative scene. This definitely can be said for a band called Digital Deformation, producing killer tracks like A Desolate Reunion which when you hear it you wouldn’t believe Digital Deformation were still in their infancy.I had the pleasure of catching up with them man and the music from Digital Deformation Matt and here’s how it went.
Phill - Can you tell us a little bit of a background about yourself and where in this beautiful world you are from?
DD – My name is Matt J. Powell, and I am the sole member in Digital Deformation, an experimental Industrial band, and I hail from the tiny seaside town of Harwich, Essex, UK.
Phill – So life outside DD, do you have a day job?
DD – I do, I work for a major supermarket on shop floor
Phill – So why would you call yourself experimental?
DD – The band does not follow standard music conventions, and I try to mix the song structures up as much as possible. I might try to mix many styles of music to try and create a unique sound. Another factor is the heavy use of cut up sampled drum and vocal sounds. I use random drum sequencing algorithms, so every time a track is rendered, or played live, it is always different.
Phill – Essex isn’t really a place you wouldn’t associate as having a big industrial scene, how have you got your music out to the masses?
DD – Without the internet, DD would not exist. There is very little in the way of a scene in Essex, so thats the way i get the music out there. I also have had a close knit group of supporters who have helped to spread the word through various means, and again, without them.....
Phill – At what point in your life did you decide to form your band and why?
DD – I have been writing music form the age of 14, and was in various metal and punk bands, but I never felt quite right. I started experimenting writing music using cheap MIDI controlled keyboards, run through guitar FX pedals, and recording songs onto 4 track tape players. This was the first building blocks of Digital Deformation. Several years later,(late 2009) I was at a point in my life were I felt extremely isolated , in both a geographical and a social sense, so I formed DD as an outlet to take out my frustrations and to give myself a voice, in a way to reach out to the wider world.
Phill – So what didn’t feel right about in your early bands?
DD – I think it was a case of the music being too generic for me. People in bands have a certain expectation of who their band should sound, and I never felt truly at ease. Were the others would be going for heavier guitars and verse/chorus/verse structures, Iwould be putting guitars through modulators and experimenting with drum machines. I only felt at ease when I was able to write music on my own and write songs with the constraints of other musicians
Phill – What instrument did you play when you were in your early bands?
DD – Keyboards and a bit of guitars
Phill – So can you remember the first song you wrote in the DD style, what was it?
DD – Yes, it was a song called Choke On This written with my last band Einsatzgruppen. That song was the blueprint to what would become the first DD demo, System Failure
Phill – So were your early songs about your isolation and as you have grown with DD what do you write about?
DD – The first DD demo was written during the break up of a relationship, so the album was greatly inspired by that. The follow up demo Powertrips had a military/political theme to it. I think these days, as my personal life is very stable now, its more difficult to write lyrics, (I blame my girlfriend, Charlie!), but I still manage to get inspiration from various sources.
Phill – Who besides yourself is in the band and what background are they from?
DD – DD is a one man project, but for live performances, I have brad Brad Jones on live keys. He is an accomplished live performer, and a great writer, and is a great asset to the band.
Phill – So how did you hook up with Brad?
DD – We have been friends for many years, and was a natural choice to have on stage with me
Phill – Is there any memorable venue you have played so far?
DD – We have only done one show, and that was the Dark7 festival at the Underworld in Camden, London, with SystemFX and Machine Rox amongst others. We are looking to do more live shows after the first full length album is done!
Phill – What are your musical influences?
DD - Skinny Puppy are a massive influence on DD, and probably the biggest. Their album Bites had a massive impact on DD, as well as NINs The Downward Spiral. Another big influence is Aphex Twin, who really inspires the drum work in DD, which has a pivotal role in most DDs songs. I live by a big shipyard/port, which means that I hear the very mechanical sounds that it produces, and I think that is reflected in the music, especially the random nature of DDs music
Phill – So out of all your influences, who would you most like to share the bill at a gig with?
DD – Definitely Skinny Puppy!
Phill – It’s great to hear industrial music influenced by actual industry. If you could isolate one sound from the industry you grew up so close to you, what would the sound be and how would you use it?
DD – That’s a hard question! You can hear the power, and electricity in the air due to the vast power output of the ports, so that would be a great sound to use in an ambient piece.
Phill – Where do you see your band in five years and what are your hopes for the future?
DD – I really can’t think what 5 years in the future will hold for DD! If 100,000 people are downloading my music, or just 10, I will always write music. This project is for me, and I think that’s the most important thing. As long as I’m writing interesting and challenging music, DD will exist. That’s not to say I don’t have ambitions! Playing live is really important to me, so I think my biggest dream will to play Europe at some point. Also, another goal is to score a film, which would be awesome!
Phill – Is there any of the festivals in Europe you would like to play?
DD – Anyone that will have me!
Phill – What sort of film would you like to write the score for and what would the music be like?
DD – The film i would love to write the score to would be Blade Runner. That would be a dream if it was possible to re-write the score to that! In a more realistic sense, I would love to write a score for a gritty horror film or a thriller.
Phill – Is there any place or venue you would like to play at and why?
DD – I would love to play at the top of the Fernsehturm [TV tower] in Berlin. A big inspiration for DD is about human empowerment over oppression, and I would love to play my song resistance crushed in a place so iconic for its past oppression [and empowerment] of its people.
Phill – What is it about the Fernsehturm TV Tower that holds so much mystiscism?
DD – Because its such a potent symbol of the power of East German Communism, it was created to show the strength of the DDR, which ultimately failed. I think its a reminder that in the end, people can overcome anything.
Phill – So where in the world would you play Resistance Crushed?
DD – Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
Phill – So what was the inspiration behind Resistance Crushed was it oppression in general or was there some specific event that inspired you?
DD – It was totally random, I wrote the backing without any idea of the lyrics, and it seemed to come out of no-were. I think the best songs are ones that write themselves like that.
Phill – Without giving too much away is there any instrument or program you wouldn’t be without and why?
DD – Defiantly my PC, it’s made putting down my ideas so much easier than when I was working on tape. I use a lot of VSTs programs, I not prepared to say which ones, but I use Ableton to write the songs, as I think it’s an extremely powerful DAW and great for editing too! without it, DD would sound a lot different to what it does now
Phill – So how are songs brought to life in DD?
DD – It might start with a drum sample, a bass line or a lead, then built of that. I tend to spend an average of about 3 months on a track, and is on my MP3 player so I am ALWAYS listening to it so I can come up with new ideas on the road.
Phill – So what’s on your MP3 player at the moment?
DD – Katy Perry
Phill – What’s your inspiration for life itself, what keeps the breath in your body?
DD – That im lucky to be alive and to live life to the fullest
Phill – Who’s your favourite actor/actress?
DD – Too hard to choose one!!!!!!! I think Sigourney Weaver just because she is Ripley in the Alien films!
Phill – If you could be any cartoon character, who would you be?
DD – Ren (from Ren and Stimpy)
Phill – You can go anywhere for a holiday real or fantasy, where would you go and what would you do whilst you are there?
DD – Rhoad Island in the family guy Universe, and punch Meg
Phill – Thanks again so much Matt for giving Grave Concerns this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
DD – Thank you for an amazing interview, and yes, DDs first full length, NO SIGNAL, will be released on the 28th of July, so please buy it when it is released!!
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