Interview With Lysergene

Lysergene is the latest producer to take the time to answer some questions for Night Tracks. Outside of his more commonly known work for Area Recordings, he’s also played in the band Esoteric and made more ambient metal tracks as Lysergene (check out ‘Nebula’ from the split album with Dust To Dearth for one of the most beautiful metal pieces ever).

NT: Hey man, can you give us a quick introduction to yourself?
L: Hey, I’m Gordon Bicknell, a Birmingham based producer. I’ve been into programming, production and sound design for around 17 years now and I’ve produced music in many styles of music for various reasons. I’ve stuck with Dubstep for a couple of years now due to the multiplicity and potential for experimentation the genre offers. I’ve been teaching programming for five years at an FE college in the city centre.

NT: Did your previous ambient/doom metal work with Esoteric and as Lysergene have much of an effect on your dubstep productions?
L: I guess so. Any prior experience must have some constructive influence. The Dark wave stuff I’ve released through Aesthetic Death Records allows me to explore alternative programming techniques and sound design through experimentation. Producing trance, house, DnB etc. never really gave me the urge to apply a violin bow to my guitar for example. The music doesn’t even necessarily follow a tempo or time signature and pretty much anything goes. This is great, almost the perfect outlet, but it’s very open and it’s sometimes difficult to get started on a piece when there are literally no rules. I enjoy working to the constraints and rules, if you will, of a particular style, as this offers a given framework to build from and work by. As far as I’m concerned, Dubstep offers the best of both worlds.

Lysergene - Nebula

Lysergene - Critical Mass

As for the band, use of outboard effects and boutique guitar stomp boxes offers a broad and more extreme parametric range than is available through most DAWs. The ability to play a drum kit obviously helps in programming the more ‘realistic’ drum patterns etc. but again, I think the main influence is the level of experimentation involved and sound design using instruments and outboard effects etc. as opposed to a computer alone.
Esoteric - Ignotum Per Ignotus

NT: How did you make the move into producing (for want of a better term) dance music, or was it something you were always interested in?
L: I’ve always been interested in producing electronic music. Releases like the Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld and Lifeforms and ISDN by the Future Sound Of London helped me realise the potential to create something really special. Accessibility was an issue earlier on though as the music PC didn’t really exist when I started. I started using a program called Octamed on the Commodore Amiga and had to type every MIDI event which was very time consuming. I had to be very resourceful with the four available 8bit sampler tracks too. I then bought some outboard gear and moved on from there, with varying degrees of success. I’ve now taken the easy route and use a PC DAW but I’m currently looking into ways of taking the music back out of the box, without my spare room becoming a tangled web of cables. 

NT: When we were talking, you mentioned that you don’t DJ. Is that something you’d like to do, or is it something you feel pressured to do as a way of getting your name out there?
L: I have considered it more lately because I haven’t played live with the band for over a year. I’m looking into ways I can do Lysergene live too because I’ve had one or two offers. I just need the kit really and the time to set it up, so that it’s more of a live performance and not just hitting a play button. I don’t feel pressured to DJ, and I’ve never been too fussed about getting my name out there. I just want those who might like the music to have the opportunity to hear it without giving it all away for free.

NT: Your dubstep productions are of the sub-bass, half-step, "eyes down" variety. Is a sense of weight and darkness something you consider important in what many people would say is “true” dubstep?
L: The ethos of Dubstep as far as my own production is concerned is to program at around 140 BPM and see what happens, although some general rules may apply depending on the intention; sometimes I’ll go for something simple but effective like Bring It or Particle, sometimes I’ll concentrate on programming like on Aurora or Crucible and other times I try to push boundaries and come up with abominations like Tundra and Hammer fall. I admit that sub-bass is a massive part of it and I do tend to concentrate hard on that element. As far as an overall ethos is concerned; it’s too subjective to put your finger on a general inclusive rule. As soon as you do it moves, disappears and springs up somewhere else. It’s what the people want it to be - it is what it is: many sub genres and subsisting styles to cater for and reflect the diversity of its participants. I’m clearly no expert however, I just produce music.

Lysergene - Bring It

 Lysergene - Particle

Lysergene - Aurora

Lysergene - Crucible

NT: Bit of a stock question, but who are your influences in both dubstep and doom/ambient metal? I’m genuinely interested in hearing this as I’ve got a bit of a growing interest in doom/ambient.
L: Anyone who pushes boundaries, anyone who can make a computer sound beautiful and sincere holds my interest. Too many influences to list a mere few, any decent track will influence me to want to produce music. Sometimes it’s just one sound within a track.

I don’t listen to much Doom Metal these days, early influences include: My Dying Bride; Cathedral (first couple of releases); Paradise Lost; Winter Unholy; Crowbar; Skepticism;

A big influence more recently has been the Mars Volta and the side projects of guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez: Very strange music in places, pure genius throughout.

A few dark ambient acts: Skinny Puppy ; cEvin Key; Download; Lustmord; Coil; Download; Mother Destruction; Ulver; Arecibo; Die; Nordvargr; Toroidh; Necro Deathmort; Velvet Acid Christ.

NT: Have you got any releases forthcoming that we should know about?
L: Area Recordings have some releases in the pipeline and I’ve recently been talking to DJ Crises with a view to releasing some tracks through his Mindstep label. I’m open to offers - I have a stock pile of tracks which grows on a weekly basis.

NT: Finally, can you name your three favourite “Night Tracks”?
L: My favourite tracks change depending on my mood and what’s going on in my life or current events. Here are some tracks I can always go back to and still enjoy.

Headhunter – Grounded
Kryptic Mands – One Of Us
Robert Fripp and Brian Eno - Evening Star

Felix K recently produced a mix for FACT – I’m playing this to death at the moment, along with Can’t Sleep by Kryptic Minds.

NT: Thanks for your time man! Labels, get releasing Lysergene now! Check out the links below!

Buy Tracks by Lysergene
Lysergene on Soundcloud