65daysofstatic talk to us about the Decomposition Theory tour and upcoming Gateshead Sage gig
We spoke to Paul Wolinski about their fascinating new show and the process behind the music.
65days shows are already well known for being intense audio/visual immersive experiences and you have set the bar pretty high judging by your last Newcastle show at the Boiler Shop in December 2017! Can you give an idea of what to expect at the Decomposition Theory shows?
Thanks. That show was a nice way to finish off the touring we had been doing for our last record, which was the soundtrack to No Man’s Sky. Although that project as a whole was a leap forward to us in terms of music-making (because we wrote an infinitely-long, interactive soundtrack for the game), in terms of the live show, all that algorithmic/generative material got turned into fixed forms to better fit with the regular 65daysofstatic live show. Because usually, our shows are like how other bands do it – a few new songs alongside a lot of material from our back catalogue.
Decomposition Theory is a sharp break from that approach. It’s a different live set-up, and it’s us putting these new techniques front and centre, meaning there’s no back catalogue, it’s all about the new stuff. This isn’t a permanent state of affairs, but something we felt we wanted to try. The shows also have a big visual element too, we’ve made visuals that are very directly tied to the generation of the music, with the intention of making the process a little more visible to the audience.
Can you give us an insight into the songwriting/algorithm creating process? Is it totally electronic or do you have human input too?
It’s entirely human. All algorithms are inherently biased by the human/s who designed them. Ours are only different in that we leaned into that bias rather than worked under the illusion that algorithms could ever be natural. I’d say lines of code have about equal weighting to guitar pedals within the band at this point. Plus we are not dogmatic about this. We have no interest in becoming ‘the algorithmic band’. It’s not a gimmick, it’s just another tool we wanted to get good at. When the algorithms produce rubbish, we step in and try to make it better.
Will the performances be unique musical pieces?
This was the intention although as we’ve now done a few more shows, we notice that a lot of the music is solidifying. It’s becoming more like each show has unique iterations or remixes of the same songs rather than producing entirely new material. This is partly by design and partly because we don’t want to accidentally turn into a more electronic Spinal Tap circa their free-jazz improv period, with us just smashing out insane generative beats in 17/8 time that nobody can dance to. We always try to remember that unique does not automatically equal good. Especially when it comes to music.
What inspired the Decomposition Theory project?
It was a long time coming and involved too many factors to go deep into here. Decomp is not really an endpoint for us and although it’s a loose name for this collection of shows, really it’s more of a methodology that we’re trying to apply to everything we do as a band. I guess we want to antagonise the form of what a band can be, to challenge those expectations a little. It’s not about redefining 65, it’s more about escaping definition altogether. To make ‘being a band’ a process rather than a fixed state. This shows, the algorithmic approach, that’s really just one manifestation of what we’re thinking about these days as a group.
Should we expect any of your recorded material on the tour?
No. In the (very) unlikely event that any old material surfaces, it’ll be in some new weird, liquid form.
What’s next for 65days, any recording plans?
Yeah, probably but do you think that anybody can really reliably say what they’re going to be doing next at this point in civilisation??
65daysofstatic bring their Decomposition Theory show to Gateshead Sage on 24th November 2018