Last year Preservation records released Deep Magic‘s second full-length record, Lucid Thought, as part of their innovative Circa series. Deep magic’s contemplative, hypnotic music fit perfectly in with the series’ mission, a unity of audio and visual design. Around the same time Auris Apothecary released the Illuminated Offerings tape, which sold me on the power of Alex Gray. It’s always a revelation when you discover a scene of like-minded individuals, and I was instantly blown away. It’s hard not to be when confronted with music this sincere and powerful.
Best known as the man behind the sampler and shredding guitar of the Sun Araw band, Gray is prolific, releasing tapes and art books under a slew of other names. (As it turns out he is also a graphic designer and artist, and unsurprisingly is a fan of that other artist Alex Grey as well.) Alex also creates the artwork for his tape releases, running the art-centric label Deep Tapes to put out limited releases of works by himself and his friends. He’s been DJing a lot and releasing mixtapes as Heat Wave, as well as recently taking Heat Wave to the next level with Purple/Image. Gray is clearly a multi-faceted multi-tasker, collaborating as part of the duo Olympus Mons, playing in the group Dreamcolour, channeling fuzzy hardcore/skate-punk in Earthsurfers, and others. It gets complicated. Deep Magic, his solo work at its most ambient and relaxing, has a lengthy catalog at this point, and you’d be doing yourself a service by zoning out to these blissful gems.
Alex’s mix is quite different than our previous eight. It’s also shorter, but you’ll see why. Below, he explains what he’s up to with this mix, what Deep Magic is all about, and why he loves CAPS. (Joseph Sannicandro)
1. orchestre poly-rythmo de cotonou – ma dou sou nou mia (8%)
2. the xl’s – ruined world (5%)
3. the fogcutters – it’s my world (6%)
4. dallas / og ron c – groupie luv (25%)
You’ve got a bunch of different projects, so many I’m not sure I’ve got it all straight. But Deep Magic and Heat Wave seem to be the poles of your personality. Deep Magic is for relaxation, drones made alone to be consumed alone, music that is designed for contemplation and/or zoning out. Heat Wave takes fragments of more rhythmic music and re-contextualizes it and wants to have fun. Your work with the Sun Araw band seems to be somewhere in between. Despite the differences, it seems like you draw on similar techniques, and hardware, for all your projects. Is this the case? And what’s up with the new project Purple/Image?
HAHA, I THINK THAT’S A FAIR ASSESSMENT. PURPLE/IMAGE IS POST-HEAT WAVE MATERIAL GOING FROM MORE OF A SOUND COLLAGE / TECHNO ANGLE. IT’S ALL KIND OF HARD TO EXPLAIN HONESTLY, WHATEVER YOU GET FROM IT.
Can you tell us a bit about the mix? What were you going for? Why did you choose those tracks? What’s your method of transforming them?
I FREQUENTLY LISTEN TO 60S GARAGE, HIPHOP/R&B STUFF, WANTED TO CREATE AN “AMBIENT” MIX WITH THOSE ELEMENTS. THE PERCENTAGES ARE HOW MUCH THEY ARE TIME-STRETCHED.
Do you ever do “Deep Magic” stuff in a live setting? Or is it more of a studio project? It seems like “bedroom” records often fill this space of music intended for a kind of focused state, but there’s something different that happens when its live. I get the impression that there’s some mystical or spiritual undercurrent to your explorations as Deep Magic, hopefully I’m not too off base.
I DO DEEP MAGIC LIVE. I ENJOY PERFORMING IN LIVE SETTINGS OF ALL KINDS. I ORIGINALLY BEGAN PLAYING MUSIC & CONTINUE TO DO SO WITH MY FRIENDS AS DREAMCOLOUR, MORE “LIVE” IMPROVISATION THAN STUDIO STYLE, AND THAT’S YET ANOTHER OUTLET TO PLAY. THE DJ’ING IS THE FUNNEST THING TO DO LIVE TO ME AT THE MOMENT HONESTLY, BUT DEEP MAGIC MAKES ME FEEL A LOT BETTER.
When did you get into “DJ”ing in this style?
ALWAYS LOVED / BEEN OBSESSED WITH HIPHOP / RHYTHMS.
Is it just samples loaded into the MPC and messed with? How did you develop your technique? Can you sort of walk us through what you’re doing?
HAHA, I’D RATHER NOT GO TOO DEEP INTO IT, I CHOP SONGS WITH COMPUTER / SP-404 USUALLY; REVERBS, FLANGERS, DELAYS ADDED.
Your collages seem to be an integral aspect of your creative works. What is it that attracts you to collage? How do you understand the relationship between the visual and the aural?
I’VE ALWAYS BEEN DRAWN TO COLLAGES, I DON’T KNOW WHY… . . I THINK IT’S A REALLY DIRECT RELATIONSHIP, IT INSPIRES ME TO DO WHAT I DO.
Last week you started a new series of weekly processed field-recordings, free for streaming and download at Soundcloud. Can you just tell me a little about that?
YEA, I’M BAD AT TALKING ABOUT MY PROCESS. IT’S KIND OF A NATURAL THING, HARD TO EXPLAIN. USUALLY JUST BACKED BY SOME KIND OF IDEA, MUSICAL OR NOT.
SO, I SIT PLACES IN L.A. A LOT. THERE’S A LOT OF REALLY BIZARRE SOUNDS IN THE AIR USUALLY. I HAVE A FIELD RECORDER THAT I GOT FOR XMAS ONE YEAR, AND HAVE BEEN RECORDING WEIRD SOUNDS, THEN STRETCHING THEM / SPLITTING OCTAVES / MIDI RE-SEQUENCING / ETC. . .. .. . . THOUGHT IT WOULD BE FUN TO RELEASE SOME FREE STUFF FOR ALL THE CATS THAT HELP ME / KEEP ME GOING.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to mention? Any thing else to add?
GOT DEEP MAGIC – CLOSED EYES COMING JULY 31ST, DEEP MAGIC – ELEMENTAL INTERACTIONS ON HOUSECRAFT, LATER IN THE YEAR DATE TBA ; DEEP MAGIC – TBA FOR PRESERVATION RECORDS. PURPLE/IMAGE – HEAD TEAR OF THE DRUNKEN SUN AVAILABLE DIGITALLY / W/ART BOOK
. I LIKE THE BOOK/MP3 IDEA AT THIS MOMENT, NO PLASTIC CASES BREAK, CHEAP TO SHIP, FUN TO MAKE, AND PEOPLE GET THEIR MUSIC IMMEDIATELY (I’D RECOMMEND IT).
DEEP MAGIC / SUN ARAW SHOW IN COPENHAGEN, AUGUST 11. (Info )
THANK YOU. PEACE AND LOVE TO THE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT ME, I APPRECIATE IT!
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