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Interview: Babe, Terror Goes Wild on Influences

Here at Notion, we love a bit of dark electronica, especially as the wintry nights draw in (just look at our most recent cover). The all-enveloping sound of a bedroom producer’s take on that midnight soundscape is one of the rare things that makes it past the hi-fi Nazis in control of what goes #ontheNotionstereo. So when we cracked out Babe, Terror’s snippet of singles, our ears were tickled pink. Deep, synthy, pulsing rhythms sitting somewhere in between house, minimal and wombling electronica whimsy, Babe, Terror’s sound is pretty distinctive (Check out this Fourtet remix of his track ‘Summertime Our League‘) and we decided to throw some questions over to him in his native Brazil to see what it is that drives him to make such dark music in the Tropics. We weren’t let down by the brevity of his answers.

PlanetNotion: How would you describe your music?

Babe, Terror: I guess one way would be as a headphone score for myself, or at best, for the moment when somebody discovers that being alone is enjoyable, or not necessarily bad. I don’t make it for large audiences or celebrations, it came about simply because in the early 2000’s the standard sound cards in new PCs were good enough for me to create a decent sound for headphones. This coupled with the fact that I already loved walking alone, using music at the same time to move me into other worlds, was the reason Babe, Terror came about.

I believe a lot in the worth of spending time alone and so it felt natural to explore this with music. So I began to record just my voice to make music that I could make anywhere without anything exterior. Later I began to cut and edit the voices with lots of effects that I started to discover.

It’s difficult to give a precise term for Babe, Terror, but If you want a definition today maybe it would be ‘everyday edit-table alienating music, made to alienate myself.

PN: Your music doesn’t immediately make you think of Latin America -  how does place work as an influence for you?

BT: There are many Latin Americas. I don’t even know about most of it, only Argentina out side of Brazil. I live in Sao Paulo and similarly there are lots of big cities just like it here. But I guess I must be influenced by the West area where I live, I feel like I’ve got a strong sense of its atmosphere about me. I was born and raised in Bela Vista and I now live in Perdizes, which are most middle class / Asian & European immigrant neighborhoods, where things are not necessarily associated with Brazilian clichés of the beach, carnaval, outdoor joy, favelas and celebration.

These places of mine have a particular mood, with their own kind of people, lots of Italians, Japanese, Koreans, in fact different kinds of people living their own lives as they usually would with ethnic restaurants and social clubs.

The autumn is a prominent season in São Paulo, which is not the warmest place in Brazil. Guilherme Arantes, is one of my favourite Brazillian composers and he was born in Bela Vista too. I feel deeply connected to what he sang about in the 70′s, basically the gray cold of morning, the loneliness and being a middle class mamma’s boy growing up between school, playground football and piano classes and ultimately totally unconnected to the most of creative traits usually associated with Brazilian music.

PN: You’ve got a fantastic array of influences – what’s been exciting your eyes and ears the most in the last month?

BT: Oh, it’s a pleasure to be invited to talk about it! I’m not afraid of saying that “Skit I Allt” by Dungen is one of the best things I heard in my life. It’s a serious thing, this record is supernatural when you follow and discover its paths. I love it. Dungen is masterpiece followed by masterpiece.

There is this guy Kurt Weisman, he made this album “Orange“, it’s brilliant avant-garde music with old western folk at its essence.

I’m having a good time researching the 3rd generation of psychedelic 60′s music, which involves compilations of bands such as The Tages, which is a Swedish act like Dungen, Orange Bicycle, from London. They recorded some absolutely delightful and unbelievable tunes in late 60′s.

There is also this guy Sam Prekop, with a fantastic drone thing, and the new Astral Social Club album that doped me up real nice, as well as the new Squarepusher, which gave me a lot of fun.

And what more? There is this Australian prog-folk act called Extradition, their 1975 album Hush is made with some really intriguing sounds.

Last week, Ian and Sylvia were going down. Ian’s voices are divine.

I also love movies, I just watched John Ford in the big screen for the first time in my life, films like “Wagon Master” are the very essence of the art that interests me. His way of seeing the landscape, the people, the narrative arch… It’s fantastic.

I also watched a fine new movie by a Portuguese director called João Nicolau, “A Espada e a Rosa”, whilst at the International Movie Festival of São Paulo. It’s a sea-to-farm nautical road movie and it’s really free.

There is the new Shyamalan too, “The Last Airbender”, which is an amazing attempt of purifying again the adventure genre. Making things clearer and solid and simple, one more time. I loved it, maybe the year’s best.

PN: How did you get involved with Phantasy?

BT: There was that article about Babe, Terror on the Guardian music blog last year, I think a friend of the Phantasy guys told them about me and sent the piece. Well, they liked what they heard, got in touch and I loved their approach, their ideas, and since that point (back in mid 2009) we’ve been building this.

PN: Anyone you’d really like to collaborate with in future?

BT: Yes, absolutely. I’d really like to make an album of (only) voices with Panda Bear. I’d also like to make more tracks and give to Four Tet to rework in the future,  and I’d like work in a record with my friend Dayve, of DAY\S  and Trance Farmers. This guy is hugely talented and he started doing working with my songs; let’s wait what will happen. I would also like to create an album with Joe from Primary One, in the same way he did a fantastic rework of my track “Havaí”, which will be released in the future…. He didn’t create a traditional remix, he listened to the track and crafted his own interpretation.  He is amazing.

Above all, I’d like to serve as a guitarist for Fiske in Dungen. I practice the songs on my guitar, trying out the same effects, phrases, etc. My dream is playing agig with them, or a tour.

PN: And what can we expect from the album?

BT: Well, it’s been quite a long time since I finished “Weekend”, and I think it’s absolutely true to the place I was in at the end of 2008. If I hear it again I think it will scare me quite a lot…”

That’s what I expect and that’s what Ithink you can expect  It’s headphone-oriented, there is no beat. I’m excited!  I’m also excited about a piece of work I finished after “Weekend”,  Hope you guys enjoy both!

- Interview by Seb Law

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