No pre-meditation, no need to understand the reasons behind his works - Ben Frost is certainly a nonconformist sound explorer. Shifting the frontiers and dimensions of audible universe, letting his artistic feelings flow from the highest-technological means to the essence of the noise. His records quite consistently have a very bold visualisation in ultimate synergy with his sonic explorations. 

When did you fall in love with electronic music and realise that this could drive you professionally?When did you decide sound is a necessity for you?

I am not sure I am in love with electronic music at all actually  - it feels much more like a battle than a love affair. As to the question of the importance of sound - I think probably long before I understood the mechanics of sound recording and production I was dealing with it in a physical, sculptural way- I was using effects that I didn't really understand, compression and eq long before I understood what compression or frequency manipulation was actually technically doing. I came to all this technology quite oblivious of how it was intended and that has probably had a lasting effect on my work – it’s always been kind of shooting from the hip, technically I don't know what the fuck I am doing at least half of the time. 

The sound in your music seems to reveal a process - a process that is working towards a moment of escape and becoming entirely unaware of the self. Does escapism influence your music, and if so how?

There are fleeting ecstatic moments where I can get lost totally inside a piece of music, where the world slips away - and yes, finding those becomes an addiction of sorts. But the constant oscillation between the bathing inside a sonic object, as its creator, lost, without objectivity, and then flipping constantly to a view it from outside, assessing its shape, taking measurements - that conversation never ends.

One criticism of contemporary music we hear a lot and that has always bothered me is this idea of self-indulgence. I think most, if not all, of my favourite music is entirely self indulgent. I don’t want any artist to consider me, his or her audience in the creation of a piece of work. This idea that art should have a social awareness, be aware of and take consideration of its context, and criticise itself, whilst the vinyl is still warm, the paint still drying- I want no part of it.  

Could you talk to me about how the performance on stage relates to the existing notes of a piece of music?

I consider my records to be more of a midpoint in a period of work than a culmination of it. It’s like, plant the flag first, then continue exploring. And in that idea, the live realm can actually be the long tail of a record, an amorphous space where the unresolved math of a record can be teased out and dealt with, hopefully to some kind of conclusion, or reconciliation at least.

How has the way you deal with sound evolved over time? Has technological advance influenced your process of composing throughout the years?

It’s funny, I am revisiting some of my older music quite a lot recently, my early moves coming back to haunt me- old dance pieces being restaged, scores for films I did years ago being used in new films or whatever, and most recently a project that revolved around a video game I wrote music for many years ago, that was- for reasons totally beyond my control- shelved until very recently. And so I am having to blow the dust off it and complete the work. It’s a fascinating process, getting under the hood of these mixes, seeing the choices I made four or five years ago, opening up a session, seeing what proportions felt right to my ears and how that differs from now. It’s taken a considerable amount of work to pull the compositions into a shape that feels physically “right” to me now, in 2015. 

I would like to think my ear is probably more sensitive perhaps?, to music than it was- I hear details that probably escaped me five or 10 years ago. The difference seems to be a yearning for more of a physical and reactive relationship between elements, some of the older work feels to me as though sound a, and sound b are kind of existing within the same space and propelling along the same trajectory but there is a kind of separation- imagine like, cars on a highway, sort of metres apart, heading in the same direction but largely oblivious to one another whereas now, clear spaces between, where now I lean more toward a kind of liquid, T1000, melding interaction of objects, where they are pushing and pulling and flexing against one another, like a kind of magnetism- music that reacts like muscle groups and the molecular definition of an object is less clear

What is the most powerful social validity that art and music can possess for you?

That, in its purest form, it’s utterly fucking useless. 

Interview by S/TEAM
Photography by
Nat Urazmetova | S/TUDIO