Vishnu, aka Brett Kelly, launches his new album, Water Tones, at The Bird this Thursday, October 16, with help from Yelm, Mei Saraswati and Politrix. He tells BOB GORDON how the release’s atmospheric tones and textures are inspired by his love of surfing.
Can you recall what first drew you to the water?
According to my parents I’ve been swimming since I was an infant. My earliest memory of surfing was when I was roughly 6 years old at Trigg beach. I think I was a dolphin in a previous life!
When did you first begin to merge your music with your connection to the surf?
A few years ago I decided to apply my connection with the ocean as a creative tool. I began to sample the waves and compose dynamic swells to recreate the tides and currents.
Do you find yourself composing when you’re out in the water?
I have definitely strung together ideas while floating in the water, however I find myself doing this in most situations. I hear natural rhythms and tones surrounding me in everyday life. My girlfriend has to cope with my tapping, beatboxing, humming and general noise-making as I brainstorm melodies and beats in public places.
How long do you typically spend on each track?
This ranges dramatically. It’s funny, my minimal tracks generally take around a month to sculpt, while some of my more experimental complexities were composed within a couple days.
Could you describe the aleatoric approach you bring to your music?
This is a technique that I first heard in the music from American duo The Books. They inspired me to sample everyday household objects, speech and personal experiences. This usually results in a seemingly random composition because it requires an element of chance to trust that all the pieces will fit together. I have to be in the right mindset, at the right time with a range of instruments and samples at my disposal.
Do the tracks ever tend to rewrite themselves over the period you’re working on them?
I would be lying if I said that I never re-use samples. There’s certain key signatures that I find myself using a lot, but I’m constantly driven to make something new.
What do you hope that people get out of the Water Tones release?
Through the layered vocal, industrial and organic samples I hope to evoke a halcyon feeling within listeners. Maybe you’ll recall memories of summer at the beach, or perhaps a nostalgic connection to various electronic music genres. Water Tones is a collection of tracks that encapsulate fragments of my life experiences at various tempos.
What are your plans from here?
I’m addicted to music so I am always composing and sampling. Recently I’ve been producing DnB and Juke/Footwork music. Ultimately, I’m hoping to collaborate with more vocalists and musicians.
Water Tones will be available via bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify and online stores on Thursday, October 16, through The Community Records.