‘Experimental, eclectic, sound’ | Interview with Santipreecha

Photo by Guy Longstreet

Feel the magic of arp. Electronika which involves an innovative style. Art which gives you the feeling of organized randomness. Read our interview with Santipreecha below!

Describe your sound in 3 words

Experimental, eclectic, sound.

Tell us a few things about your new album ROUND A ROO. What is the main idea behind it?

There are several strands that wove together into being this album ROUND A ROO from my own Thai heritage to Mandelbrot’s fractals to Junji Ito’s Uzumaki and the idea of exploration obsession and spirals. Ultimately the album weaves these varying influences and cultures together into a mosaic through refracted simulations. From a technical standpoint one of the main explorations in this album is the use of primarily live modular synth performances which layer and interact with composed constructions to create each piece, each piece having varying amounts of this interplay.

How has your sound evolved since your first album In a Forest Dark? Also which track of your catalog (if any) represents you the most?

I think the main evolution has been that In a Forest Dark was primarily musique concrete in its approach, taking acoustic sources and manipulating those into the tapestry of that album. Of course there were synths as well but there were few and served a specific purpose, mainly in relation to tonality. I feel my exploration of tonality versus atonality and also non-tonality has been a key part of my work and my understanding and usage of that in Round A Roo I think is richer particularly as I really dove into the freedom of modular synthesis to shy away from traditional twelve-tone music for the most part. This allowed me to really play with what I heard in my head (or naturally would lean towards in the moment) rather than conforming that to the traditional twelve tones of Western music. So in effect it added a layer of nuance to use and explore emotionally to what I had previously done which was more or less binary: tonal and non-tonal. In terms of which track best represents me I would say it’s a tricky one. Round A Roo Round is very personal to me as I finally feel I was able to capture the energy and excitement of growing up with Thai north-eastern folk music in a way that wasn’t simply re-doing it in a literal sense but rather capturing the essence of it within today’s ‘voice’, or rather the simulations we live in and through today. But I would say Rose-Tinted Spiral might be most representative in that I constantly feel this struggle between opposites, between my past and my present, between the nostalgia and comfort of tonality and the seemingly bleak quality of atonality and dissonance. Ultimately it’s always a struggle to find one’s place isn’t it? Art for me has always been about self-realization both within ourselves and without, with the world around us. We need both to understand who we are.

Analog or Digital synths? If you had to choose one Synthesizer which one would it be?

I’m not as concerned about whether a synth is analog or digital (there are fantastic sounds capable in both depending on what you’re using it for and in what context) and am more interested in its expressive capabilities. A lot of what I used in Round A Roo for instance were software modular (Softube, VCV) but I also used the MakeNoise Morphagene for processing as well as Arturia’s Buchla Music Easel and Xfer’s Serum for example. Currently if I had to choose one synthesizer though I would choose a full Buchla system. To me it’s still one of the most beautifully designed and incredibly expressive electronic instruments particularly for music that eschews the traditional twelve tone keyboard which as I mentioned above is a big interest of mine. Also for live performance it has amazing capabilities as an instrument.

If aliens visit us and ask us the best techno synth riff ever written, what would be your answer?

Oooh that’s a tough one for me as I tend to listen to a very wide variety of music, electronic and otherwise, without necessarily figuring out whether it’s techno or not. I will mention, if I may, a piece that has haunted me for some time which I would definitely recommend to the aliens. Stockhausen’s Gesang Der Jünglinge (1955-56). Widely considered the first masterpiece of electronic music, it still feels ahead of its time even now and is incredibly powerful and created with what would be considered very primitive today (sine tones, electronic pulses, filtered white noise and a recording of a boy soprano). I’ve returned to it several times now and still feel I’m hearing it anew each time.

From Thailand, based in Los Angeles. What do you miss from your birthplace and what do you love/hate about LA?

Probably a predictable answer but I miss the food most I think. And of course I have nostalgic moments that come to my mind every now and then for people, places, moments from the past. I love the weather here in LA. I love that in the winter (not now) I can go up into the mountains to see snow and also head to the beach after. I wouldn’t say hate, but something I’ve missed about other cities like New York say (I was there briefly several years back) is that there is more a balance of multiple industries there which you don’t find here (it’s predominantly the entertainment industry here as you know) and because it’s not as spread out as LA there is a different communal sense than I’ve found here. We tend to be isolated in our pockets and groups which tend to revolve a lot around the work we do, films we work on etc. which wasn’t helped of course by the pandemic.

Do you consider your music club driven? In which place or state of mind do you imagine people might listen to your music?

I wouldn’t necessarily consider my music club driven no. I come from a classical music and later on film background so I think that plays a big part in my approach to music. I try in my music to capture consciousness particularly as it deals with memories and dreams; how memories can be triggered by any thing in the present which then envelopes us and takes us down a rabbit hole (Proust’s madeleine), how elements from both reality and fiction intermingle and are juxtaposed in our dreams. I continually try to explore these in the pieces I create, at times contemplative, at times visceral and physical, a mosaic of our experience of time just as we experience a piece of music in linear time but always with punctuations and juxtapositions, just like the ebbs and flows of our daily lives, the peaks and chasms sculpted into these structures in time we call music.

You incorporate in your music numerous experimental elements. Should music as a form of art always challenge the listener?

Yes I believe so. Going back to the point about self-realization, I feel all art should challenge and question just as we in our own lives should challenge and question the inherited doctrines and experiences we’ve accumulated. Art should help us try and perceive things in a way we may not have before, offer a new point of view or perspective. Of course there is a place for comfort and nostalgia as well but I don’t think it should exist as a closed system, meaning that that in itself should be questioned within a larger context or framework. Why is this comforting to us? Why for instance are certain chord progressions associated with certain moods? A lot of it has to do with the emotionally coded triggers music has gathered over the centuries but how much of that is innate? Studying and listening to various music from around the world from vastly different times is helpful in getting a glimpse of some of these answers. Like all art, music isn’t here to provide answers but to pose questions which helps us see (and hear) things anew.

Thank you!

Follow Santipreecha

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s