We love David Sugar! So much so that we thought it was about time we interviewed him! Thanks to the wonders of the internet our very own Jo Whitby caught up with David via e mail…
Cat On The Wall: I first heard your music quite a few years ago when you were literally just coming onto the scene. I remember loving the chaotic computer game sounds and melodies! You’ve really developed your sound since then. (To Yourself has been on constant rotation here at Cat On The Wall HQ!) Was it a conscious decision to move away from the ‘Chip Scene’? How would you describe your musical development?
I was very active with the chip music scene between 2003 and 2006 and love all the people. It was really the closest I felt to how punk rock must have felt when it first began. I started out with a very purest approach of making gameboy music, I only recorded to tape and didn’t use any other instruments. Love goes out to anyone who has those early cassette recordings, I sold them all and don’t even have a memento. I come from a guitar background and was in a folk electronica duo before I went backwards with technology and was always writing and combining my writing with my programming. This has always been a big part of my musical interest and tension – the relationship between the organic and the synthetic. I might go back and do some more gameboy work one day but I reached a point in 2006 where I felt I’d pushed the soundchip in there to it’s very limits and that there wasn’t much left for me to experiment with. In August I’ll be putting out a retrospective 12″ vinyl of my unreleased pure gameboy tracks.
COTW: Where’s your ‘E’ gone?
I lost it over New Year, it might be back at some point.
COTW: You’ve launched your own record label! How did this come about?
I was getting a bit annoyed with the time between my releases and I have lots of music that I really want to have out and so everyone can hear the full spectrum of my work. I also have never been good about not being in control of my destiny so this way I can ride the handsome carriage into the morning sun! Tally ho!
COTW: It says on your myspace page that you’re going to release 52 songs this year… that’s quite something! I have trouble writing 10 songs in a year! What’s your mindset? Do you have most of the tracks already recorded or is it more of a personal challenge?
Yes I’m releasing a track all year and a 12″ every month – the idea came about not as a gimmick but rather because I am very prolific and have over 100 tracks that I want to put out. I’m pleased with all of it so I needed a way of being able to explain how I work and what I make. Putting out a single then an album then touring all year isn’t really my style. Although most of the tracks I’ll release are ready to go I’m still writing and this way I can finish a track one week and have it out the next week. Some artists take ages to write whereas I learnt to work fast, I enjoy quickly made work of mine the most as well, it feels more unconscious.
COTW: Can we expect to see you on the stage this year? Do you enjoy performing live? Any memorable experiences?
DS: I’m off to play Paris soon and will be playing live again in the coming months. I’m hoping to have my band rolling again by the summer. I’m going to be putting on a party every month around the place although this will be to mark the release of the 12″ I’m putting out each month and will be less of a stage audience affair and more like me talking to people and DJing. Come and say hi!
COTW: What are you listening to at the moment?
DS: I’m doing a weekly radio show for Ministry of Sound so I’ve really got back into listening to things again. I’ve been hearing lots of good electronica like stuff from the moon gadget label. I’ve been getting back into acid too. Also been listening to Mathew Dear, Miccachu, Chromatics, Pete Herbert, Andrew Bird. I’ve been listening to a lot of ambient and film scores too like Angelo Badalamenti and Vangelis’ Blade Runner score. Joakim’s been doing some nice work recently too. That Fred Falke remix of the Whitest Boy Alive is stunning. Also anything that sort of sounds like it’s underwater.
COTW: With distributors going under and artists feeling it necessary to offer shares of themselves to fans it looks like independent artists will need to work even harder to make a living out of music. What are your views on the current state of the music industry?
I embrace a less centralised method of distribution and think that new technology will eventually level out a new model for the music industry. Though this is scuppered by champagne socialists like Radiohead who devalue music – it’s easy for them to give records away as they have reaped the benefits of a major label promoting them for years and therefore already have everyone’s ear. Though I do worry about digital distribution because of the impatience it plays on with a naturally impatient Internet using audience. I also hate mp3’s sound quality so I’m concerned about people’s standards. That’s why I also want to support the vinyl market because it’s beautiful and beauty is important.
COTW: 2009 looks like it’s going to be an exciting year for you. What are your plans for the near future (what you’ll be doing in the time you have left between recording those 52 songs!)?
I am excited about this year – I’m going to make time to see more of my friends. I’ll also be spending as much time as I can with animals. I love animals so much and get sad if I haven’t seen one for a while.
COTW: Thanks very much for your time!
Interview by Jo Whitby