In Space & Sound With Pilo [Interview]

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Los Angeles-based Pilo made his return to the label earlier this year with the much acclaimed ‘Relax / Requiem’ EP on Twin Turbo. Following it up on July 28th, the US producer/dj joined us for our 12 hour RINSE FM takeover. Throwing down a signature sixty minute session (listen below), he proved just why he’s at the fore of the next generation. We were lucky enough to get the chance to catch up with Pilo on site, and to delve a little deeper into the vision behinds the beats.

How do you approach building your own unique sonic identity?

I’m quite an odd producer to be honest. I really judge a sound by multiple factors, I like it spend hours crafting a sound just by tweaking small characteristics of the sound & then I’ll do very complex automation with a synth and bring it to life.

I enjoy venturing into the unknown & finding things that are not usual. The word Unusual & weird used to offend me but I’ve learned to understand that those words are actually quite good.

My obsession with Sound Exploration has taught me to really take care of these textures/synths/sounds I craft & I treat them as mementos or even parts of me. I can hear a sound or project & know exactly how I felt when I made it or where I was. What tastes or smells I had in my head.

These mementos help me piece together ideas & craft a quite abstract picture. Most of the time I’m just sitting there really nailing down one sound or loop. Making it the best it can be then but “sometimes” I get lost & go down a rabbit hole. When I say sometimes I mean mostly all the time. But it’s ok when you wake yourself up & try to source something living from it.

I love to create sound packs & future ideas for myself.

Organizing a sound palette of previous ideas or synths I’ve made then stepping back and say “here are my tools” & then I think that is when I’m ready to really create a song.

Processing is a big contributing factor to my work, I love weaving things together that shouldn’t be & making something totally new. Or weaving multiple things to create this sort of monster of a sound or a family of Shapes. Most of the time I learn new ways to make things sound better or learn how to blend things better. Half my process is learning new techniques daily and from that I can stay creative.

I build a song from one small detail then from that I can understand the nature of my inspiration.

What are some of your more unorthodox techniques for making music?

There are a few core techniques I use in my production but sometimes I just create some on the fly & usually that is where the magic happens.

Granular synthesis can be truly beautiful, finding fragments in between sounds that you would never hear. I enjoy stretching & constantly changing something to create something unique. It feels like I’m weaving textures with my bare hands & remorphing sounds into something I’ve never heard.

Usually I will sample myself as well. My process can get a bit chaotic sometimes that I have to chop up some sound design ideas & play it through a sampler or augment it more in Reaktor with patches I’ve made so it can make more sense of it.

I’ve learnt that sometimes I just like to craft a sound pallet whether it’s a remix or an original. Slowly adjusting sounds & making them melt into each other to create this otherworldly atmosphere. Then I trim the fat & mold the best ideas into something living.

How do you think your style has evolved over the past few years?

Being more aware of what I want in the track. Learning more everyday how to progress & learning to bringing the most out of the sound. Each step I take to improve my craft, I find my sound evolving even more. Stepping back, I see my self straying away from 100% atonal music into blending musical elements of composition.. I enjoy creating with a sense of duality & to be able flip the track upside down… it creates such a more abstract picture in my mind.

What methodologies have you adopted to find your sense of identity as an artist?

It has taken some time to really create these self discovery methods. I’ve learned to catalogue everything I do, even if the idea is just some mental gargle-wahhhhh sound design. I label it & organize it. Because I never know when I’ll use it & it makes me feel more comfortable being me.

I can create multiple ideas daily, (sometimes I’ll create like 5 track ideas at once) & try to understand each idea as its own. Labeling it with a name & categorizing it as well. It makes sense of myself & i find it makes me more comfortable acting me. So with any decisions I’m less worried & know exactly what I want. It’s a huge confidence boost so understand you & what you are capable of. But it all starts with organization & basic principles to live by.

Usually producers are surrounded by other people’s success & start to question their own vision. At times I’ve felt that before and it’s quite frustrating but all you need is a little confidence in yourself. Say fuck it & fall into your own bliss & stop listening to that little voice in your head that says stop. I’m starting to have fun with my music production now that I have this attitude. I’m comfortable with being myself & over ‘trying’. Just doing (or being).

Are there any lifestyle changes you’ve adopted that have significantly improved your creative output?

Meditation, Self-care, Exercise, finding inspiration outside music

Meditation has played a huge factor in my workflow. Learning to teach myself how to calm my brain & to BREATHE has helped me substantially. You know constantly my brain floods with ideas & to live with Auditory-Tactile Synaesthesia and having these visions/feelings/sounds pop up in my head 24/7 can be a bit much daily.

I’m starting to understand how to keep my mental health balanced because I use to be just all about being only on the computer. Finding less value in my creative thoughts & being a sound design zombie. How to absorb inspiration & to know how you feel is very important because when you are synced with your mind & body you can be very productive & happy at the same time.

A big contributor to that is learning to how balance your energy for example Exercise, Reading, Chores, Cleanliness, having a second job, always digging for new inspiration. Learn to please your mood and keep excitement at hand.

What experience are you trying to convey with your music?

A sense of limbo. ASMR has always intrigued me. Though it is quite creepy haha. I feel it connects to my synaesthesia. Being sensitive to sound & how people actually react to these videos. I feel such an odd feeling but the sound of the human voice can be so pleasing & relieve any stress.

That’s probably why I am intrigued by sound design because I can weave these textures & atmospheres that can be so odd to the listener but can put you in this state of awe. Especially if it is unpredictable, it’s like the high of introducing something new & unique to someone every time. It’s a special feeling.

So basically I want to morph this feeling into my own style & create this danceable track that can also really make you zone out. Visually, I want the listener have this odd feeling overcome them. A recipe for an OBE.

You grew up with synaesthesia. How does that affect you?

I’m super sensitive to sound. My brain is constantly on hearing music, Earworms. I can taste, smell, feel & visualize sounds in my head. Shapes/forms (usually abstract) appear in my head & I can pick apart so many different sounds from it. I’ll hear vocals sometimes or chords/notes that pair with certain sound design.

When I was younger, I didn’t understand it all & I just felt odd all the time. That’s probably because I couldn’t decipher it & translate that into physical energy so I was a pretty odd kid when I was younger. As I grew older, I took upon sketching & would always draw very abstract pieces. Little did I know I would be sketching song compositions or a visual representation of an idea.

Music always tapped into something deep for me. Sounds would correlate with tastes, smells, like textures were my favorite. Crisp or odd textures in songs reminded me of smoke, rattling paper, or water. Something that’s alive, breathing. And it would shift my mood, I felt alive & the song would feel like a part of me.

I guess I try to create that in my tracks. Build something physically you can feel & visualize in your mind.

What was your inspiration behind the EP?

Concept is based off Anxiety/Stress calming videos aka ‘ASMR’ (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). Ever since I was little I had Auditory-Tactile Synaestheasia, hearing a specific word feels like touching one specific part of the body or may experience that certain sounds can create a sensation in the skin without being touched

What feeling are you trying to translate with the EP?

Sense of Euphoria, but also to create a hypnotic feel that is similar to limbo. The track kind of came to me as like a constant loop of trying to be in control of yourself but at the same time slowly losing yourself. Hence a limbo type of feel.

I was always keen to have someone speak in my tracks. Sort of like commanding you to feel something, whispering in your ear & slowly entrancing you.

You’ve been spending more time developing your Hybrid live show. What’s your vision behind the show?

Synchronicity, bringing the fun & spontaneous feel of playing with a track & ideas live with basing the structure off feeling. I haven’t ventured too deep into a concept since I’ve been busy but hopefully soon I can expand.

Basically I want to start just playing my own music for a while, abandoning the DJ concept by not playing other music too much. I want to sync performance with my production process so they constantly feed each other.

Combining full tracks & loops/ideas I can play live and augment. I enjoy crafting unique experiences in my music and moving to a more live feel could bring some very interesting music. In all honesty, I want to make more sense of my own music & understand my own sound a bit more. It is a journey inward & I feel it has been something I’ve been wanting to do for the longest time. Even before I started making music.

I’ll be slowly developing this hybrid show, introducing a little new thing into my sets here & there. Hopefully in the next year I will have something more concrete 🙂

Photo credit: Jamie Adam Rosenberg