Bibio

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Skapad den: 21 jul 2009
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Bibio is the recording name of the British music producer Stephen Wilkinson. He currently releases music on the Warp Records label. Bibio is to strike again in 2011 with new album, 'Mind Bokeh',...

Autobiographical notes by Bibio, March 2009: The name Bibio is a word I remember from childhood. It is in fact a small black and red fishing fly. I remember looking through my dad's little plastic box of flies, and as a child I was obviously drawn to the big day-glo pink fluffy flies with goggly eyes, but my dad always insisted on using this little black Bibio claiming it was the one for trout.

I started playing guitar when I was 12, and went through the usual teenage route of rock and metal - genres that eventually felt like a trap, bound by rules and macho fashion-conscious etiquette. Then at the age of 16 I discovered electronic music. I discovered that electronic music could make rock music sound 2 dimensional. Electronic music was more about color, texture and abstract fantasy. Before I discovered metal, we're going back to the age of 9 - 10, I had a Yamaha keyboard that had a basic FM synthesizer built into it. I used to spend hours and hours on that thing making weird sounds. It was seldom worthy of being called music by popular definition, it was more about texture, timbre, drones, noise.

Going back nearly 30 years to the days of my push chair, I remember being a lover of the rain. As a kid I used to dangle my mom's karaoke microphone out of my bedroom window at night and lie there listening to the rain on crappy headphones, secretly envying the stray cats and foxes for their wild and free lives and imagining what it’d be like to sleep behind the shed or under a bush.

It follows then that in my 3rd year of university, I dedicated the academic year to as much location recording as I could manage, much of it consisted of recordings of rain and wind. During my years in the suburbs of London, I became less interested in the city and would rather spend my time amongst the pines of Trent Park near my house. So maybe rather than going shopping or hanging out in cafes or bars on a Saturday, I might be in a forest, recording a squeaky tree and later work it into compositions. And to this day, I never feel like I have enough recordings of rain.

I moved to North London in 1999, and lived there for 4 years, doing a university degree in Sonic Arts. It was a lure because I didn't want a dead-end job in the Black Country. I enrolled for sonic arts and got stuck in. I had very little equipment at home - no computer, no multi-track recorder, no decent microphones etc. I used to use two portable mini disc recorders and a cheap 2-way headphone splitter to make a very crude multi-track set up. I'd use a cheap plastic karaoke microphone, recording one track at a time, swapping the discs over and recording the next layer - this primitive overdubbing technique was something I learned from my brother in the 80s when we used to do the same thing with a Goodmans ghetto blaster. I also had a little budget sampler and it could only play 4 samples at any one time, and all this in mono. But something happened. While trying to do yet another pale imitation of Steve Reich's electric counterpoint, I stumbled upon a sound I could call my own. I was layering short acoustic guitar loops on this little basic sampler and I realized there was something magical about this lo-fi music, the nature of the methods and technology meant the loops were going in an out of time like a rusty clockwork toy, and this was the start of Bibio, although the name came to me a year later. Tracks like 'Cantaloup Carousel' which I made in halls of residence in 1999, reminded me of things like 'Magic Roundabout' and 'Trumpton', or more generally, Victorian toys and automatons. This idea was something I extended when I started releasing music in 2004 on Mush records, it's been three mush albums to date and they almost feel like a trilogy to me. The idea of wooden Victorian wind up toys is evident in 'Fi', then elaborated on in 'Hand Cranked' and is still present in 'Vignetting the Compost'. This debut on Warp differs from previous releases. The diversity in the album just reflects that I don't believe in sticking to one thing. It feels like a kind of artistic almanac in a sense, it captures the phases and moods over the last couple of years, reflecting the diversity of my musical interests.
I discovered some life changing music at university, thanks to meeting some life changing people. Being around people from different parts of the country, and from different parts of the world was refreshing to someone who grew up hearing nothing but west midlands accents and surrounded by a more homogenous culture. Bands like Boards of Canada, Plaid, Chris Clark, My Bloody Valentine, The Incredible String Band, Sea & Cake and Tortoise had an impact on me and my music as did Nick Drake, Joao Gilberto, Marcos Valle and many more.

Boards of Canada was more of an obsession than anything else. I think people who get hooked on them don't just love their music but are compelled to hunt charity shops for old science VHS tapes, or old 70s blued and faded books of North American wildlife. Then there's the psychedelia and the nostalgia, something not easily put into words, something that feels simultaneously outlandish and familiar. It was a reminder that music can be much more, especially if you trust that the listener can decipher whatever you put into your music. A lot of my music is aesthetically influenced by nature. Organic things can be gnarly and their forms are often wigglier than man made things. Tape can be crinkled, tangled, scratched, stretched, flaked. There's something fascinating and beautiful about seeing or hearing something crumble and decay, it adds texture, noise, dust, fluff, cracks and knots - it adds unique character. That's why I choose to exploit things like tape and valves and not pursue a crystal-clear default pro tools sound. I get more turned on by a little inconspicuous photograph from an old wildlife book or film than I do by the loudest, biggest, brightest, slickest masterpiece. And I know that there are others out there like me, and I want to find them and give them some little fictional places to explore. I want my music to be the opening of their day dreams, their imagination, so the creativity is handed over to them. Listening can be as creative as making.

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