‘Artisanal Electronic Music’ | Interview with CERATONE

CERATONE’s latest release, Mycelia, blends warm organic electronic tones with the gentle sounds of acoustic guitars and piano. This serene composition pays tribute to the beauty of nature, celebrating its boundless array of stunning landscapes. Read our discussion with the Singaporean artist below!

Describe your sound in 3 words

Artisanal Electronic Music

Can you walk us through your creative process for “Mycelia”? And how does nature influence your creative process?

Mycelia began its life as a textural guitar/vocal sketch—titled Forest Green—that my best friend sent to me in August 2021. We had no idea what we wanted to do with it and they simply gave me free rein to do whatever I wanted with the sketch. During this time, I did a lot of reading on various topics across different areas of interest, all of which were somehow related to growth, randomness, and interconnectedness. In hindsight, there were really two main discoveries that influenced my creative process for this piece.

The first one was actually learning about mycelium and its fascinating ability to grow into these dense and intricate network of threads without any external guidance. Similarly, Mycelia grew from what was little more than a guitar/vocal sketch into this intricate, elaborate web of organic sounds without any specific direction. Just as mycelium cleverly adapts its growth structure in response to changing environmental conditions, Mycelia’s evolution was constantly subjected to the influence of new ideas, approaches, and techniques that I discovered during this fertile period of exploration. I eventually created 18 different permutations of the same guitar sketch, reconstructing the piece each time to integrate new discoveries and influences, taking elements I liked from previous/adjacent branches, recontextualising them, and repeating the cycle until 10 months later in May 2022, I finally ended up with the 18th and final version of Mycelia.

Aesthetically, I also wanted to explore how randomness and unpredictability can actually be quite satisfying. Essentially, I wanted chaos without the confusion. So I spent some time playing with exponential rhythms, and I found that I could place accents on specific hits within a rhythmic phrase such that—when juxtaposed against a relatively symmetrical kick pattern—it creates a satisfyingly intuitive sense of gravity, even though each individual hit isn’t really aligned with the grid. The other discovery that really influenced my creative process for Mycelia is generative synthesis, which I’ll talk more about in a bit.

You incorporate organic textures into your electronic compositions in a very creative way. Can you share with us some tips on making electronic music sound more organic?

Thank you! Well I guess the obvious answer would be to curate a library of organic sounds such as water droplets, wood blocks, gravel, etc. But I also briefly mentioned exponential rhythms and generative synthesis earlier, and I think it’s really worth exploring if you want to create electronic music that not only sounds organic, but behaves organically as well.

I find it endlessly fascinating that if you “simply” modulate the “right” parameters using a combination of random signals and just sit and observe, you end up with an everchanging soundscape that never creates the same sound twice. I’ll usually let my patches do their own thing for about 15 minutes and record the entire “performance” and listen for interesting phrases and flourishes that arise.

Artists and people that have influenced you?

Woah, fun question! I’d like to think I’ve always felt drawn to artists whose styles bear an emphasis on aesthetically pleasing sound design. I used to listen to and create a lot of progressive house and melodic dubstep in the style of Alesso, Zedd, Madeon, and Seven Lions. I think I briefly had an ODESZA phase as well. Then at some point, I grew bored of all this music I was making and wanted to explore what was beyond the EDM world. I probably spent the next couple of years bouncing between several spheres of influences ranging from Tom Misch, FJK, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Puma Blue, to Bonobo, Jamie XX, and Mura Masa, before I discovered Flume which shook my entire musical identity to its core. Since then, I’ve been actively searching for artists with really unique sounds and stories. Some recent favourites are: FKA Twigs, iglooghost, sv1, Katu, Päascal, and Cosmic Quest, and ZAXCY.

I’ve actually curated a playlist called “Artisanal” which you can find it on my Spotify page if you’re interested in this style of music.

What made you gravitate towards electronica?

Interestingly, I seldom create music with an intention to gravitate towards a particular genre or tell a particular story. My music usually starts as a collection of sounds that I want to explore in a certain context, and the piece usually grows from there. It takes me anywhere between 2 hours to 2 years to finish a song and by the end of it, I’m never really sure what genre it falls under. I would have categorised it under Glitch/Experimental/IDM but I feel like my music lacks that element of “chaos” that seems to be a central element in a lot of glitch based music. I’ve decided that Artisanal Electronic Music is a more fitting reflection of my sound and my approach to music but unfortunately, it doesn’t exist as a genre in most databases—yet.

With that said, I chose to categorise my music under Electronica because it embraces such a wide range of artists with very different sounds, from Aphex Twin all the way to James Blake and Portishead.

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

Never actually gave much thought to this question, simply because my music is so abstract. I can’t say it works very well on the dancefloor based on previous experience, but I look forward to proven wrong. Fundamentally, I think my music is meant to be experienced as you would observe the intricate variety of patterns in plants, the elaborate swirls and strokes in the grain of mahogany, or the ever-changing landscape of bubbles and ripples in the deep blue sea. Nonetheless, I invite you to ascribe your own stories, your own meaning, and your own experiences to my music, whether you’re listening to it by the ocean or on the dancefloor.

If the music of CERATONE was a film, which film would that be?

I’m not a huge film person but the one that comes to mind instinctively is Interstellar. I’ve always enjoyed films about space exploration and I’ve rewatched it about 5 times now. With every watch, I often notice some interesting detail that I haven’t noticed before. I imagine that’s the experience people have when listening to my music.

What’s your advice to humanity?

All flourishing is mutual. That’s a quote from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This book reinforced my conviction in the wisdom that Mother Nature has to offer humanity. In this case, it revealed to me the importance of collaboration over competition—of cultivating deep, nourishing relationships and supporting each other through this excruciatingly beautiful cosmic journey.

Thank you!


Follow our Spotify Playlist Waves Eclectic feat. CERATONE

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