Mat Jarvis – Gas, High Skies Interview Part II – ‘Breeding Mutant Synthesis’

This is Part II of an Interview with ex-emitter Mat Jarvis who runs the Microscopics blog and records under the name High Skies. (Part I here)

S9: What are you currently working on?

MJ: I’m working on videos for some of the Sounds of Earth tracks. When I was writing them, images and visual ideas would pop into my head, so I thought I’d create them to make them real. I’m editing lots of glowing lights at the moment.

S9: You mentioned you dont use many softsynths but where do you see the future of synthesis? and what would be your perfect synthesised future?

MJ: I think the immediate future is more of the same, but more refined, so more VA softsynths and more classic analog synth recreations, but with more depth and more life. I think they’re already good and in a mix would be hard to tell from the real thing, but unfortunately a lot of my sounds are very exposed so the differences are more obvious.

In the long term I can see more resynthesis, so the starting point would be a sample of say a trumpet, which would be analyzed and the software would separate the trumpet from the vibrato and tremolo and envelope etc. Quite boring for recreating trumpets, but feed it with weird sounds and you could deconstruct sounds a molecule at a time, selecting which harmonics are used, or pushing the harmonics to sound more like glass or a vibrating steel plate. You could feed it an OBX pad and Moog bass and it would take elements from each, which you could select -kind of a Breeding Mutant Synthesis (BMS?)

My perfect future would be to have a few perfect analogue recreations but with one hardware surface that reconfigures to whatever you’re using, a Jupiter 8 one moment, a mixing desk the next.

The Microcopics Moog available from Microscopics.

S9: What do you listen to / what do you avoid listening to?

MJ: I listen to everything, generally, but on my iPod I enjoy similar music to that I make (because I’m trying to make the music I would want to listen to), so mainly analog electronics, from any decade. The things I don’t like are usually the Simon Cowell type bands, where there’s a singer who has no input and the musicians and producer who are just fulfilling an uninspiring and well trodden brief.

S9: You are currently celebrating 15 years of Gas 0095 what’s your most vivid memory of creating the album/ your time at em:t?

MJ: I locked myself in the studio so I didn’t speak to anyone for a week at a time, but there was one time at the start of recording where a friend popped in during the writing of Experiments on Live Electricity; I put the monitors on full and played him the beginning (where after a minute of ambience the bass suddenly blasts in), trying to make him jump. But writing wise; there was no automation so during mix-down I would write out a list of mixing instructions and their times; mute this at bar 10, fade this up at bar 12, EQ this etc; I guess trying to remember all these instructions set it in my memory a little firmer. So during the mix-down on the track ‘Microscopic’ I made a mistake near the end where I forgot to unmute a sound, MonoPoly I think, so there was no Monopoly but you can still hear the reverb from it. I did record the end again to edit together later, but decided later to keep the mistake; for some reason that sticks out. The Emit office usually had a good atmosphere, but the most vivid memory there was perhaps making a chair out of boxes of thousands of Emit CDs.

S9: Do you have a favourite piece of equipment and if so is it the same as one as back in ’95?

MJ: Probably during the Gas 0095 album it was the Korg Monopoly, quite a raw, lo-fi sound. I don’t have that Monopoly now, but these days it may be my Jupiter 6 (the same one from the Gas 0095 days). It’s not actually a very good analog synth, quite thin, but because it has full sliders and buttons it’s fun to use so I end up using it the most. Most of the sounds on the Sounds of Earth EP are the Jupiter 6.

S9: Where do you see the future of High Skies?

MJ: Musically, maybe getting a little more raw, more dirt, more hiss as I add more old equipment. And as I’ve done in the past, I want to explore all forms of electronic music, from ambient and subtle, to fast and raw and everything in between. I’d also like to collaborate with some film makers, visual artists and programmers.

High Skies EP is out now get it HERE

Follow the Microsopics Blog HERE


  1. […] Read part II of this interview Here […]

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