Substance has been out for some time and to celebrate this we had a brief chat with Simon Eliasson, a.k.a. as Moisture. We spoke with him about Klaus Kinski, sampling and manipulating sounds from old x-rental VHS cassettes, abandoned items found in an attic in an old apartment complex in Malmö and the mysteries of life in general.
Tell us a bit about the recording process. Do you have any procedures that you rely on?
To begin with, I work with an extensive library of loops that I’ve built up over the years. I consider sampling to be a serious and meaningful creative method, as well as a helpful shortcut. My approach to sampling is that of respect for the source material, I never use a looped sample unless I feel that the looping itself taps into and reveals something that lies hidden in the realm of repetition.
Often I layer these loops in twos or threes as the base of a track before adding instrumentation. For Substance, many of the final tracks incorporate live takes, either in the recording of loop layers or improvised overdubs played by hand.
Simon Eliasson, also known as Moisture Photo: Private
What inspires you?
I find inspiration in certain contexts, like that of bedroom-produced and privately pressed music from the 80’s and 90’s. Art created in small carefree bubbles has a certain quality to it. These records often feel more intimate in a way. I try to emulate this confidence and self taught approach to music-making as I find it very liberating.
I am also inspired by the physicality of certain works of art, be it music literature or film. Before I started collecting records, I collected VHS tapes. I’m still enamoured by these films (I was mainly into sci-fi, horror and exploitation as a teenager) but not just the films in themselves but their entanglement with their medium. The hiss, grain and colour tone of a deteriorating plastic object adds another dimension to a work.
During the making of Substance I’ve been obsessing over William S. Burroughs and in particular his book Naked Lunch. In the book there is a connection to Malmö and an area which I frequent almost daily. These signs of synchronicity hold a great deal of importance to me, and I often rely on them as guidelines. I'm following the white rabbit so to speak.
What do you look for when researching new sounds or material for sampling? What’s the appeal?
I often look to film for audio to use as I find this to be a good digging spot off the beaten track when it comes to sampling. I tend to revisit certain scenes to try and manipulate the audio track into something usable. Sometimes the mood of either the story or the visual aspects help to inform the development of the entire track. Also, there is a lot of unintentional “music” to a film’s audio track; not just the musical score but sound effects and location sound.
I also use videos from my phone as sample material, or field recordings. The appeal is often connected to the concept or aesthetic I’m trying to explore.
Klaus Kinski from the Alain Fleischer film Zoo Zero, 1979.
There is a story about a lion and Klaus Kinski. What’s your relation to Klaus Kinski?
Well Kinski is of course a unique artist that transcended a lot of boundaries. I used him for the closing track of the album because of his appearance in a 1979 film called Zoo Zero by Alain Fleischer. In the film he plays a zoo manager whose voice for some reason sounds like a vocoder, yet he never opens his mouth to speak (he only smokes). Rumor has it Kinski himself had stolen the vocoder from Peter Frampton. I was inspired by this film in making Substance due to the utter depravity it reeks of. As a film it is a pathetic failure at avant-garde cinema that is too boring to be a fun B-movie and too trashy to hold any cinematic value. To endure it in its entirety is not something I would recommend. To that effect, I found it a perfect reference point to the theme of limit experiences that I wanted to explore with this album.
There is also a sample from a cassette tape you found in an attic, can you explain how you came about this? And did you find anything else there?
I had an apartment until last year in a mismanaged house built around the turn of the century. A common tradition in this house was to discard of unwanted stuff in the attic, yard or cellar for the landlord to deal with. I would peek around the empty storage rooms regularly to see what was left behind. On one of these expeditions I found this unmarked tape. It had nothing recorded on it except for this long passage of “silence” or what you might call it. Of course silence is never really silence. This reminded me of a novella by Heinrich Böll; Murke's Collected Silences, in which a radio technician whose job it is to edit out silent parts in interviews and lectures collects these scraps and creates a patchwork of silence for his own enjoyment. I guess this tape is the first scrap in my collection. As to the question whether I found anything else up there, I think that’s a story for another time.
Substance was released on vinyl and digital Friday 13 2020 and can be obtained here.