Secret Thirteen Interview - Loscil


Loscil sound concept is quite explicitly inscribed in the title. Loscil is the blend of "looping" and "oscillator". And you can certainly feel what Scott Morgan, the man behind the project, means by that when listening to his new album "Sketches from New Brighton". Evolving loops here paint the picture of the forgotten place in Vancouver, where industry and nature merge into organic whole. This paradox quite accurately describes Loscil music, floating between electronic experiments and human warmth of acoustic or chamber sounds. Hypnotizing and beautiful repetition creates unique narratives and stories, that are so easy to immerse into.

Scott's musical journey is also an interesting subject to talk to. While playing drums with indie/new wave conceptualists Destroyer, he dived into the depths of ambient/electronic sounds existing a bit further away from what he did before. In this exclusive interview, we not only tried to find out the parallels of this, but also chatted about utopias without recording technology, lucid dreaming, influence of fatherhood and other topics.


Your title stands for "looping oscillator". What place does repetition occupy in your music? Do you employ it as a tool for creating? What does the concept of loop, repetition means to you?

Repetition - looping specifically - is an essential part of my process. When I compose electronically, I compose from a loop in real time. In this sense, I am building up by adding material or stripping away by filtering and editing to arrive at something I find pleasing to my ear. For me, the loop is a way to be in constant engagement with the material, always analyzing, modifying and adjusting. Once I get to a point I am satisfied with - once I can listen to a loop for long periods of time without tiring - then I know I have something. In many ways I have thought it would be ideal to release my music as loops, and this is certainly something I hope to explore.

In album "Submers" you use the pieces of classical music. What is you relation to classical music? Is it inspiration or source?

Both. I periodically listen to classical music and I studied it in university. I think, what I often long for and miss with electronic music is the warmth of the sound of acoustic instruments. In this sense, recorded classical music or the use of classical instruments such as strings or piano become about trying to find some of that warmth and couple it with the sometimes cold sounding electronic sounds. Synths have always sounded a bit cold and distant to me so in this sense I tend to avoid them for the most part and work with samples instead.

How do you find samples used in your music? What part of creative process does the searching take? Do you have some technique how to find them or do you just search randomly? Have you ever found something unexpected, that influenced your music taste? What would you never sample?

There is very little rhyme or reason to my process here. I do a lot of field recording but these do not always find their way directly into my productions. Sometimes, it is simply the act of listening that inspires me while recording. I do quite often use very short, clips of instrument recordings to use as impulse responses in convolution processing. Recording a note of any instrument such as a guitar, cello or piano or a snippet of some prerecorded music can often provide really interesting spectra to work with. Most often, when working this way, I am looking for interesting timbre and texture. In terms of unexpected sounds, yes. I have a broken old mini-cassete recorder that has always proven an interesting source for weird, unexpected sounds. I have garnered many odd and interesting percussive sounds using this device. In terms of what I would never sample? Hmm. Not too many rules here so long as the resulting sound in the music is something interesting and rewarding.

New album is called "Sketches From New Brighton". We see here an actual geographical name mentioned. Why Brighton? How do places you live or travel influence your sound and mind? What do you think about idea of psycho-geography (the influence of place to people's mind)? How important are places to music in general?

In many ways it’s about the beauty of the mundane, the allure of the seemingly forgotten place. We have many points here in Vancouver where industry and nature meet and New Brighton Park is one of them. You have the inlet, spanned by a bridge, the shoreline carved for cargo ships, the wildlife coupled with grain elevators. I find the mundane nature of this place interesting, contemplative and in many ways, ambient. This works for me aesthetically. Of course, we always consider industry and nature at odds but here it works for me somehow. This is what my music is all about really. It’s about the machine but it’s also about finding something organic inside the machine. A balance of the technology and the quest for beauty. So in this sense, place is essential to the music but it is also simply a reflection of something that’s already there for me in the act of creating.

You used to play drums in Destroyer. It is more indie/new wave oriented band, although with experimental elements in sound and concept. What do you think, is there anything in common between Loscil and Destroyer? What do each of these projects means to you personally?

Generally speaking there is very little in common between Destroyer and Loscil, but there is a history there. Dan Bejar and I have been friends for years and have collaborated in many different ways over the years and there will always be that personal connection that brings our individual approaches to music together. I enjoyed my tenure as Destroyer’s drummer but I think I have gotten more out of our other collaborations.

Charles Baudelaire once said about poetry "Always be a poet, even in prose". What about music industry? Is it possible to reach wider audiences being just a good producer? Have you ever had some help from outside in your successful career? Or do you work alone at the moment? Could you elaborate on what should remember and what should not do any young and promising artist?

It is cliché, but I personally think it is important to just do what you do because you love it. Anything else related to the industry and career and all that should always come second. Yes, we all need to survive but if you are not making the art you want to experience in the world, then you have failed yourself. Beyond that, yes, you always need help to reach people. Anyone who says labels are dead is a fool. Labels do a lot for an independent artist. You need the press and the critics (though you do not need to listen to everything they say) and you need friends and community. After over 10 years releasing music as Loscil, I feel like I am still just getting started. I continue to make music because it’s something I’m passionate about. My goals are to make music and art that I’m personally satisfied with and hope someone out there gets something out of experiencing it.

Everybody knows whats happened after Adolf Hitler's rejection from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. What, in your opinion, is one of the most important or unexpected human decisions ever made in history or, maybe even in these days? How does it influence us? Could share your "what if" thoughts (what if certain events had happened or had not happened).

Perhaps this is an obvious thought, but what if sound recording was never invented? What would western music be like today, even with this other technology around us? We currently would probably find it absurd to think of attaching a smell to an email and sending it to someone. What if it was just as absurd an idea to send a sound file? This is kind of interesting to me because my entire practice is based on the recording of sound. Digital or analogue, it does not matter. If I could not record sound and document my electronic music, would I still be a composer? In this sense, I think sound recording capabilities have made us all much more dependent on the record industry for music based entertainment. I imagine that without sound recordings, the tradition of

learning to play instruments and songs in the home would continue to be much more culturally central to our enjoyment of music. The concept of stealing music would largely not exist (with the exception of sheet music I suppose). File sharing as it pertains to music would be a non-issue. Live music likely would not be as amplified due to it not trying to imitate recordings. Lip-syncing would not exist. It is doubtful music would have as many superstars as it does as there would be fewer means for publicity without a recording to play on the radio or sales to aid in promotion. Music would be more intimate, small-scale, community-based, I imagine, and the notion of musical copyright would be vastly different. There would likely be more jobs for musicians in society to accompany events, films, etc. I am not saying I desire this, but it is an interesting “what if” for me.

The interesting fact is that we dream only what we know, what we see in our life. What are your connections to dreams? Do you analyze them or believe in them? Maybe you can tell the most extraordinary or the most scary dream you ever had? Explain your choice. Maybe in dreams you find inspiration for your art? Or maybe they helped to answer some questions you had?

I honestly cannot say that dreams have had a major influence on my artistic practice. Now that I have children, many of my dreams seem to be based around them and the predominant theme is the fear of losing them. Nightmares, really. Otherwise, I cannot say that there has been a dream of profound influence on me. I have had ideas come to me in dreams, but similar to ideas that come when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, I have usually realized they are bad ideas when my sober mind takes over. I have always liked the idea of dreams - but never found a way to tap into them. I suppose I am a lucid dreamer. I only dream when I am awake.

What it is to be a father? How it changed your life as a music producer? Would you like your child to follow your path?

I do not believe fatherhood has dramatically changed my approach to music, though it has certainly changed my life. When you had little people in your life, your own needs tend to take a bit of a back seat to the needs of the children. It has been challenging, but mostly rewarding as children experience things with such curiosity, open-mindedness and generous spirit. In this way, they have inspired me. I do not mind either way if they follow my path but I hope to instill in them a love for creativity and appreciation of the arts at the very least.

More about Loscil: website - facebook - twitter - wikipedia

About Author

Paulius Ilevicius is a Secret Thirteen journalist, editor and occasional DJ focusing on more dreamy and melancholic soundscapes. Born in post-industrial town of Pavevezys, currently he lives and works in Vilnius, Lithuania.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Secret Thirteen Mix 052 - Loscil | Secret Thirteen

Leave A Reply