Sydney-based producer and composer Pat Carroll recently dropped his latest EP Winds Alight (Eyegaze), a downtempo two-track consisting of captivating layers of ambient atmospheric sounds enriched with seductive synth undertones, given drive and percussion by the hypnotic beats of the percussion. The result is a record which actively constructs expansive soundscapes in real time, encouraging the listener to go deeper and lose themselves completely in the sensory experience, for a little while.
In his latest EP, Carroll explores the more introspective side of electronic music, demonstrated by his use of raw, imperfect and beautifully unpolished recordings. These samples serve as an invitation to go inside and surrender, to be lead by the direction of the percussion, an element which provides a heartbeat like quality to both tracks.
Over the past 18 months, Carroll has supported both Willaris.K and Juno Mamba (signed to Soothsayer). His signature melancholic, rich, synth melodies are an ideal foundation, setting the pace and tone for both artists’ memorable shows.
We caught up with Carroll to discuss his distinctive sound, talk writing processes and discover what inspired a more upbeat approach for his latest release.
Hey Pat, thanks for taking some time out to answer some questions and tell us about your new music!
My pleasure! Thanks for asking them.
EDM: When and why did you start making music? Are some of those reasons why you still produce your music?
PC: I started writing music when I was around 17 years old. I remember the feeling of writing some of my first original tracks - that feeling of accomplishment that comes from creating something of your own that reflects who you are. The curiosity I had with music is still there, but I think now it covers many more subjects, from harmony to production technique, music technology, psychoacoustics. That's the wonderful thing about music - the more you learn, the more you realise how little you know and how much more you have to discover.
EDM: How would you describe your sound and yourself as an artist?
PC: It's definitely grounded in dance music, but also with influences of ambient music and electronic art music. I like to look at how organic sounds can act in unnatural ways, and vice versa. there is a lot of micro-editing and sound design tweaks in the writing process, but I also like sounds to have their own untamed behaviours sometimes - I like them to be moving organically in some way.
As an artist, I'd say I am fairly curious and analytical of things. I love testing out new writing processes (they're hugely underestimated! A new writing process can be as useful as a new piece of gear). I like listening deeply to different sounds and thinking about how they could be used in a musical way. And I really like dissecting other artists' work too.
EDM: Can you tell us about any music you've produced along the way that has never been released and why you didn't release it?
PC: I have loads and loads of music from the early period of learning how to write and produce that will never see the light of day, mostly because they're unfinished tracks and also because they are all over the shop in terms of genre. But I think that is fine and probably necessary in those early days. You have to spend ages to try to find the sound that in an authentic representation of yourself, and during those times I was mostly trying to replicate other tracks, learning sound design techniques, things like that. But the thing back then that stopped me from being able to finish tracks and release them was my inability to properly structure tunes. Since I learned how to properly do that, I can now get a full draft of a track within a day or two of starting it.
EDM: Who are some of your favourite artists? How have they inspired your work?
PC: I like artists who have good technical skill in terms of music tech, but also good theoretical skills in terms of music theory. So artists like Stimming, Jon Hopkins, Rival Consoles, Max Cooper are my main jams. Those artists definitely inspire me in terms of sound design and structure. I also listen to a lot of techno from labels like Semantica, who have those really deep and spacious atmospheres over driving percussion - I love that juxtaposition. I also had a couple of years when I was about 16 -18 where I would listen to heaps of film scores, so I definitely feel like a sort of cinematic mood has snuck its way into my music from that.
EDM: Your new 'Winds, Alight' EP seems a little different from your previous releases, why is that? How did the processes differ? What were the inspirations behind the tracks?
PC: I wrote both of those two tunes just as Summer was starting, so I think that made them more upbeat than usual. They also had a much more organised and focussed writing process than my other releases. For Winds, I wanted to just grow the track out of these jams I did on top of a recording of a friend playing a hangdrum in India. For Alight, I started with a chord sequence, turned it into an arpeggio, and structured the whole track just with the MIDI line of that, automating a whole bunch of parameters according to the different sections. I then just built the whole track in a kind of 'top-down' approach around that MIDI. I wanted the structures to be a little more based in a pop-music structure too, so that's why the sections are more clearly separated instead of the usual slow-build of longer sections, like in some of my other music.
EDM: What's next for Pat Carroll?
PC: Obviously it's very hard to say right now. We had to cancel my upcoming Melbourne and Sydney shows in April due to COVID. But we are working on some other ways of connecting with the community, like videos and live streams. It's been so great to see the music community getting so creative with the current restrictions and circumstances. I obviously have more studio time available now, so I'll be writing loads of new music. This year, I'm working with more producers, instrumentalists and vocalists than ever before, so I'll hope to have those kinds of projects ongoing. I'm also constantly working on the live set, and now that I have more studio time, I'm testing out some really cool ideas with that.