Starting over isn't easy, especially when you've cultivated a fiercely loyal fanbase over the course of a long and storied career.
Feed Me, however, embraces challenges head-on.
The renowned electronic music producer's latest full-length album, which arrived by way of his own Sotto Voce imprint, is his most cohesive yet. From the funky, triumphant intro of "Big Kitten" to the electro-infused sound of "If It Bounces," Feed Me is a complete change of pace from what fans have come to expect from the UK beatsmith.
The record is bold and fluid, eschewing digitized production in favor of analog instruments and synths. The expanse of instruments utilized throughout the album speaks to the acute attention of detail Feed Me had while writing it.
In fact, the album is a total reset of Feed Me's career thus far, breaking the mold he created by reinventing himself musically. And with this new direction, Feed Me's vision for the future is clearer than ever.
EDM.com caught up with Feed Me to chat about his self-titled album, how quarantine influenced his creative process, and what the future holds.
EDM.com: What was the writing process like during the pandemic?
Feed Me: I wrote it almost entirely during quarantine. As with any project I had a stash of ideas that build up and fade away or stick around. One or two of the tracks was seeded from those ideas. I would say the vast majority of it was created during lockdown. I tried to build a situation where I was only influenced by the things around me. It was beneficial to lean into the isolation. I spent a good beginning part of lockdown getting ahold of new equipment I’ve always wanted and trying to create a workflow that I knew would be 1 of 1. From that, I basically just had a good time.
I benefit so much from spending time trying to be as creatively true to myself as possible. With so much of the world’s distractions removed, I had so much opportunity to hone in on what that means. I know when I look at the record I can feel all the way through that it’s exactly what I want to say in all regards. It’s been massively cathartic to get that down and out. It gives me more energy going forward.
EDM.com: Did you find it more challenging to write music during lockdown?
Feed Me: It would be unfair of me to say it was just "fine." Just like everybody else, this has been testing and I’ve stayed conscious that my situation is a lot more fortunate than other people- even within my industry. I’m very lucky to have this studio and to be able to afford to sit back and create. That was on my mind a lot while I was working: I needed to make it all count. That was a nice driving source and certainly a humbling one.
This is the longest I’ve been in one country since I can remember. I started DJing in my teenage years. I’ve never ever been afforded such a long period in my home country which has been quite affecting. Something that I didn’t expect. I’ve always used creativity as an outlet for my feelings as a place to go. I never really felt trapped. Creatively, I found it beneficial because I had so much time. I was able to bury myself. As for the creative aspect, I very much enjoyed it.
EDM.com: Did you enjoy your extended stay at home?
Feed Me: You come to define yourself as a traveler. I never wanted to travel. I never wanted to DJ or be a musician. These are places I found myself. There are things that come to define huge areas of my life and huge expanses of time. You come to love them. I’m super grateful for these things. It’s taught me so much about the planet and people.
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Adjusting to suddenly having so much time at home was weird. You have to redefine who you are when you’ve come to define yourself as a nomadic music character and you’re suddenly grounded in one spot. I had to rediscover my definition of myself. I realized that really immersing myself in the creative process and omitting everything else is when I feel most myself. I had a vivid reintroduction with that feeling.
EDM.com: What did you initially see yourself as being instead of a musician or a DJ?
Feed Me: DJing in the sense of how I do it now wasn’t really on my radar when I started making music. I had only seen one or two DJs and it was only drum and bass which at the time I saw as an underground UK thing. I found out about DJing when I was already releasing Feed Me music and was told these are the shows you’re going to play now. It was like going down a waterslide in terms of the difference in exposure and the range of people you’re coming into contact with. The stimulation was exponentially greater.
Before that, I always had a strong relationship with art. I had never really separated video, audio, and motion art. I had always drawn and played instruments from a young age but I always imagined things in terms of animation and had a strong interest in that. I have some education in special effects. I also have a range of friends that have been a great influence on me that aren’t just musicians.
When I started Feed Me and it snowballed into what’s basically dictated the last 12 years of my life, I fully embraced it. I wanted more all the time. The project, the name Feed Me, that’s the point of the title. It’s a generic, consumptive admission to wanting more and trying to grab at it. You get point when you’ve been on the road for huge amounts of time and you get a few days downtime. You get this brief crash where you try to process all the people you’ve met and all the memories you’ve created. That can feel exhausting. Now when I look back at my releases and people ask about a certain one it puts me back at a specific place in time. That can be overwhelming. Overall, I love it. I’m trying to get as much done as I can before I shuffle off.
EDM.com: Can you explain how your self-titled album contributes to your project as a whole?
Feed Me: I want it to wipe the slate. When you have a world and you are adding to it all the time, it can start to feel a little piecemeal and diluted. So I’ve got lots of images I can draw from, lots of sources of inspiration that I can show in succession and say ‘What happened with these images, paintings, logos, stage presentations?’ They might have a general meaning, but given the huge expanse of time I’ve had to really dig in and be creative on my own, it seemed like a great idea to destroy all that and get rid of it. I start off right at the beginning by trying to define why I want to do this, why am I doing this, how do I feel when I’m doing it, and what do I see when I do it. Everything from the colors to the way I drew the art to the pieces of equipment I chose are what felt closest to the line I had drawn.
In terms of a body of work, it feels like the one I’m most proud of when I look at it. My career has been multimedia and travel for so long. When I look at the other albums and talk to people about them, they see them as a start, a middle, and an end. In my mind, it’s a spiderweb of when I could get things done or when I could travel back to a certain city to finish a track someone. I see a much more sprawling architecture between my other albums. When I look at this one, I don’t see any of that. It was methodical. I got to take my time and I learned something with every track. The album was done when I was satisfied. It’s very cathartic to feel that about a Feed Me record for me.
EDM.com: Tasha Baxter is a longtime collaborator. What can you tell me about your relationship and the process of writing “Reckless?”
Feed Me: I’m an 80s child and I’ve seen a lot of 80s synthwave stuff come and go over the last few years now. Some of it has scratched the itch and some of them miss. I started to realize that I had something to say in that space. The longer I’ve done this, the more I’ve realized fidelity isn’t what I’m after. A lot of the equipment I bought to make this record was about lowering fidelity and finding ways to find new textures as a result. With ‘Reckless,’ I played the instruments on the track and played the synths. I was trying to capture a feeling about my situation. Once I got to a certain point, my friend Oscar came over to play the top guitar line and solo over it. Then, I put it on in the car and drove around at night which sounds cliche, but I wanted to write about how I felt when I was doing that anyway.
I wrote the song for Tasha. I wrote the guide vocal for her and her voice sits over it lovely. I’m actually in there too: in the refrain in the chorus, in the harmony, and in the bridge. I coached her through some of the phrasings. She found it a challenge because this is the first song she’s recorded that she hasn’t written. She has such a well-formed way of interpreting lyrics and timing. We had to really rehearse and do takes so she could get my phrasing. We had to make sure she was picking spots between drums and toms to emphasize syllables and things. It had to be specific. It was good fun and she did a great job. When I look back at the tracks we’ve worked on together it reminds me of how much of a happy experience it is to work with her.
A lot of it’s played on a UDO Super 6. I also used a Korg MS700. I saw one in LA years ago and wished I bought it and it’s played in my mind ever since. When lockdown hit, I went on a hunt. I managed to track a guy down who had one since the mid-80s. He bought it from a psychedelic band in London. It’s an oddball synth. I played a lot of leads and background synths live over the track on that to get a little more organic stuff moving around. It doesn’t perfectly hold a tune. It doesn’t perfectly hold anything. Some of the synths I recorded on a four-track with a particularly bad cassette to pass the sounds from magnetics to binary. It’s a sort of a game of lo-fi tennis.
EDM.com: Tell us a bit more about the instruments you used while writing the album.
Feed Me: I made a couple of decisions before writing this album. I wanted to make sure I was away from the computer as much as possible. I tried to lean towards items that I felt like I should be using. I always wanted a Red Special, so I spent a while finding the right version of that. It’s a guitar that I’ve been emulating for a long time as Feed Me but never had a direct path to. My LYRA-8 is a good example too. I’ve always benefitted creatively from trying to create eccentric situations within the project and generate results I didn’t necessarily ask for. It’s a machine after my own heart. I used a lot of modular synths. Almost all of the percussion was recorded here just to try to keep it organic. That’s always something I’ve wanted in my music.
shortening all the distances creatively has made me feel closer to the final result, even down to the tempo of the tracks. I did a lot of them without looking at the numbers and playing bass to a beat that I made without a drum machine trying to stay away from staying with a tempo I’m comfortable with. Definitely didn’t approach this as a dance album. I know intrinsically I can make stuff that I want to dance to but when you get into a system as working as a dance artist you start producing tracks that are made to mechanically fit into a set. I wanted to remove those stipulations and just work to my own drum. Turning this into a live show is something I’m doing retroactively which is a secondary creative endeavor for me and makes it interesting all over again.