“Something dark”: Throwing Snow talks electronic magic, knife fights and his superlative new EP
By, Jul 5 2012
Throwing Snow probably doesn’t need another label. But he’s starting one anyway.
The man behind Left Blank and A Future Without (as well as storming 2011 singles ‘Wallow’, ‘Shadower’ and ‘Too Polite’ – usual disclosure: the latter released on FACT staff member Tom Lea’s Local Action label) will inaugurate another new label, Snowfall, with a new EP titled Clamor. The EP’s title track is perhaps Throwing Snow’s best yet – crushing kicks and jagged strings slowly ascending into an avalanche of cold electronic magic, while d’n’b-esque bass whips add flair – and another step-up for a man already making some of the UK’s most hard-to-define music.
There’s a certain amount of magic to your productions – not just in a lots of fuzz / static / misty atmospherics way, but in the sense that everything merges together so naturally that it’s sometimes hard to know where one element starts and another begins… not like a lot of producers, where you pretty much know exactly what’s going on on their Logic screen while you’re listening to the track.
“I think it comes from the arrangements because I never really want a standard dancefloor progression, I prefer a more band-like feel I suppose. I also really like repeating elements that don’t loop in 4, so this allows things to morph and develop in a different way. Using the space in a track is something I like doing too, allowing sounds to float around the listeners head a little.”
“I suppose I naturally gravitate towards something slightly dark and moderately epic sounding…”
Are there any particular aesthetics, or specific feels that you find you’re constantly striving for, or at least gravitating towards, while making music? A lot of it’s really misty and – obviously – cold.
“Nothing too specific, but I suppose I naturally gravitate towards something slightly dark and moderately epic sounding. I like using real instruments and sounds as much as I do anything electronic, and tend to embrace mistakes and things that are a little bit wrong.”
“I came from playing in bands up North when I was a teenager, to d’n’b in Bristol and musique concrete while studying in Bath. I’d like to think that I have an open mind to pretty much anything musical and hopefully this reflects in my music and mixes. That’s why working in London and in the music industry is perfect for me at the moment, purely because there is so much variety around me.”
You’ve just started a new label. Why now, and how does Snowfall differ to A Future Without and Left Blank?
“A Future Without is more of an unusual model for a label that is going strong and Will and I are experimenting with different formats and genres. Patrick, John and I at Left Blank [home of Vessel and more] are pushing more smudged and odd dancefloor music, so Snowfall is really meant to be an outlet for me. I have been lucky enough to release on some amazing labels – Local Action, Sneaker Social Club, Super and Ho Tep – that have really looked after me, but I’ve never really released something without it being A&Red to some extent. It allows me to have no creative restraints and put out a variety to releases that would not fit anywhere else.
What are your plans and ambitions for it?
“I want to develop the label so that it doesn’t just encompass music. I really love photography, illustration and clothes; and they all kind of tie in with what I like musically… I suppose the idea it to combine these in Snowfall but we’ll see how that pans out! I definitely don’t want it to become a ‘brand’ though, more ‘stuff I like in one place’.”
Did the Gold Panda remix come about as a result of his record saving you from being stabbed?
“[laughs] That was a weird incident! Basically some crackhead with what I thought was a pretend mic started singing as I was crossing the road, I chuckled a little and walked on. She took offense and tried to hit me with a blunt knife but luckily my Gold Panda 12″ came to the rescue and blocked it. I then legged it. If I’d met Gold Panda through that it would have been an amazing story but actually it just came from a tweet at Field Day and then I remixed’ Snow & Taxis’ for him. We’re good mates now and I appreciate his liking of heavyweight vinyl for self defense purposes.”
Not that bpm should really be the huge issue it often gets made out to be, but I think it’s interesting that a lot of your recent tunes (‘Too Polite’, ‘Clamor’) are a lot quicker than the majority of UK dance music right now. Are you finding working at 140-150bpm more appealing than house tempo right now?
“I think modern music can be classified by a ‘sound’ a producer has rather than a bpm. Recently I’m writing stuff at 85/170, 100, 110, 125 and 140 using double/half times. This allows so much more freedom to experiment and do something a little bit different, but I realise this can mean that listeners don’t really know what to expect… but that’s sort of the point).”
“I want to develop the label so that it doesn’t just encompass music.”
You obviously work both solo, as Throwing Snow, and collaboratively with Snow Ghosts, but there’s been moments where the two collide (‘Pyre’, ‘Equuleus’). How do the two projects sit together, and how do you approach them differently? There’s a Snow Ghosts album on the way, right?
“Yeah, currently writing the Snow Ghosts album which should come out on Black Acre. Hannah (Augustus Ghost) and I work so well together, mainly because we are close friends and have a common affinity with dark folky stuff. Often vocals for Snow Ghosts tracks appear in a messed up form on Throwing Snow tracks, but the album is meant to be a coherent mix of songs with a bit of a dancefloor edge.”