Interview with low.poly.exe
Over the past few years, I've had the pleasure of becoming friends and meeting a lot of people through the internet, especially on Twitter. For all the vitriol and aggression you see online, I truly believe that it's a tool to be utilized to connect people with information and each other.
However, even among a lot of those whom I would call my friends online, I don't always know a lot about them. This small interview series is a chance for me to learn more about them, as well as to share with you all the cool people I know and the work they're up to.
This week, I talked to James, or low.poly.exe. He's a super talented musician and artist that just saw his debut album release, Nodal Point Gang, which you can hear here.
Who are you? What do you do?
I go by the name jhm (james henry █████████)
Where does the name low.poly.exe come from?
There's something about the low poly aesthetic I find charming. Maybe it's because I grew up playing a lot of playstation and N64. Taking "low.poly" alone as a handle/project name felt a little silly so I added another word to it (which made it sillier, whoops.)
When did you become interested in music production?
I got a hold of a MIDI program when I was 14 that I used to tab out guitar work I'd come up with, but then I found it fun to play with all the different instruments to come up with instrumental tunes. Later I learned you could import MIDI into DAWs so it was all downhill from there.
Do you have a formal music backing?
I do not. I took a couple years of guitar lessons where my low attention span as a teenager kept me from taking it seriously.
How do you come up with ideas for music?
Typically I'll have a "sound" or mood I want to convey. Whether it's something coming from emotion or a particular sphere of influence.Sometimes I want to make a song that can express what I feel reading a particular book or looking at a certain kind of art.Other times it's something more conceptual.
What is your process for production like?
Depends on the piece. Sometimes I start in MIDI, sometimes I open up the DAW (Reason or FLStudio) and just start experimenting. If I've got a melody or something stuck in my head, I'll try to recreate that.
What tools do you use?
Reason and FLStudio. Audacity for editing samples. Sometimes recordings I've taken as well.
How do you stay inspired while in production?
I'm always inspired by artists I follow on twitter and tumblr whether it's audio or visual. I've come to know or follow so many talented people who are always creating and it really lights a fire under me. Other times it's a need to vent. Creating is definitely a way I express myself when I need to get something out.
How do you determine the grouping and sequencing of tracks on albums and EPs?
When I make an album or EP I have a series of files/folders set up for that release. It's mostly for backup but I also keep notes on each track as I go, whether it's things I need to edit or improve on, or ideas I haven't added to that track yet. As I do this I keep a running list of tracks I've completed or am working on. As they near completion they sort of fall into a natural order, whether it's for album pacing or just how they "feel" to me. Sometimes particular tracks just go together. That's how I see it anyway.
What do you do when you aren’t making music?
Gaming, reading. I'm a graphic designer by trade so while I do that for work I also enjoy doing design work for fun.
The aesthetic and sound are very unified on Nodal Point Gang. What inspired the sound and design on this album?
I actually ended up making the album cover long before the album had really materialized. The cover was a heavily edited photo that I began adding design and typography too. I wanted to create a really clean and "techy" design piece. It seemed to naturally fit what I was working on in terms of music and it all came together.
In terms of music I wanted to explore various influences that I didn't fully realize in my other music project.
You being a graphic designer makes total sense to me: the art on your work is impeccable. And that sort of reverse design, art than music is fascinating.
For sure. It doesn't always pan out like that, it just worked out that way with NPG.
How did you come up with the meta-narrative on NPG?
There's not so much a narrative as there is a "persona" that goes with the music. It's a character. It's an idea, but there's no real story. There's some light fictional elements at play in there whether it's design work that goes with the music or on twitter. low.poly the character, NOMAD Industries, all that, it's just kind of a loose fun idea to go with the music instead of "me."
There are, however, a lot of references to a separate project of mine called enviNET. It's an interactive fiction project I do at nv023 set in a dystopian future. While low.poly as a project isn't some grand concept, it does reference that "universe" quite a bit. The track "Within the Basilisk" from my first EP is actually the "theme song" to the end of Part 1 of that story and the TWINE game that went with it.
"Nodal Point Gangs" are a type of collective in that universe too. So there's definitely connections but it's not important or integral to the music itself to know any of that.
You seem to have a plan for the future expansion of this project. What’s next for you?
I'm knee deep in the 2nd album "OniTECH." I have about 9 out of 11 planned tracks in the works so far. It's still a ways off so the recent release has room to breathe and people don't get sick of this project.
Any dream collaborators? Or dream projects?
Android Lust - Shikhee's music has always been majorly influential to me. Ed Harrison - the neotokyo soundtracks, I've said time and time again, are some of my favorite albums of all time. I've had a couple tracks play direct tribute to his material.
And if we're going to be completely unrealistic here, Björk.
How can people hear your music? And see what you’re up to?
My music is here. I'm also on twitter @lowpolyexe and tumblr.