Asian Dan


Asian Dan Q&A: BIBIO

Bibio’s “Ambivalence Avenue” caught me off guard this past fall. I am familiar with his past work but this album is the perfect blend of introspective lo-fi electronica with beautiful guitar work. Exactly what I need in these banger times. “All The Flowers” and “Lover’s Carvings” are perfectly written pop songs that I just can’t stop listening to. “Ambivalence Avenue” is up there for album of the year for me (Check out the blog next week for all my obligatory end of the year/decade lists to see who made it, as well as a few lists from some guests)

Stephen was kind enough to answer a few questions for Asian Dan giving us all a peek into his musical mind, naming some of his favorite guitar compositions by the likes of Steve Reich and Tortoise as well as explaining his musical philosophy.

Bibio – All the Flowers

Bibio – Lover’s Carvings

Asian Dan Q&A: BIBIO

1. Who is Bibio?

Bibio is Stephen James Wilkinson from Wolverhampton, England.

2. What are your influences, musical or otherwise?

Imperfections in technology like spherical aberration in lenses, wobble on tape, distortion in valves, crackles on vinyl. Also, beautiful common occurrences in nature like flickering shadows caused by overlapping leaves wagging in a gentle breeze. The smell of damp foliage. The sound of wind through leaves and the chorus of bees, lawnmowers and blackbirds.

What was your first musical memory?

Learning ‘Silent Night’ on my brother’s old bontempi electronic organ.

3. You set the guitar in a very interesting and refreshing context. When did you pick up guitar?

I started to learn guitar chords at the age of about 11 or 12.

Who are some guitar heroes?

Dave Murray (Iron Maiden), Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine),Jeff Parker (Tortoise), Joao Gilberto, Joe Pass.

Who are some non-guitar musicians/composers you love that inspire your playing?

Steve Reich, Boards of Canada.

4. What are your top 5 favorite guitar based songs/compositions?

Hmmm, don’t usually think about this, but off the top of my head:

Electric Counterpoint (Ironically, it’s Steve Reich). *Pat Methany plays on the recording.
Valsa (Joao Gilberto)
The Suspension Bridge at Iguazu Falls (Tortoise)
Harvest Breed (Nick Drake)
To Here Knows When (My Bloody Valentine)

5. From a inspirational and conceptual standpoint do you have a preconceived vision or intention for your songs before you write them? For example a tune like “Lover’s Carvings” – how did that song come about?

I sometimes have ideas before I start to compose, but they are usually abstract, based on vague ideas of texture or imagery. Other times I have an idea to try something out technical in the studio, like an idea for some specific experiment. Most of the time I just improvise, if something I play has substance, then it usually dictates to me some kind of context. The lyrics to Lovers’ Carvings came to me because the melody prompted it, that may sound pretentious, but it’s 100% genuine.

6. “Lover’s Carvings” and “Cry! Baby!” are very visual tunes – perfect songs to listen to on a fall day. You have a very cinematic quality to your music. Any films or directors you liken your music to or look towards for inspiration?

Nothing specific, I’d say I’m more influenced by vague memories of things I saw as a kid, like old documentaries. It’s always the ‘cut-away shots’ I get inspired by the most, like a little scene of a stream or a drop of water in a pond. I admire the visual aspect of cinematography, the attention to detail. The same goes for life in general; it’s not always the fulfilled ambitions that make me glad to be alive, it’s the little moments like watching raindrops join on a windscreen, or watching a cat lick its paws.

7. Your songs are quite dense and complex yet are very pop in classic 60s/70s songwriting way. It is great that artists are no longer underestimating their audiences and are crafting songs with harmonies and melodies that you would not have heard in pop music 5 years ago. What or who do you feel is going to be the next big thing?

Hmmm, I dunno, what do you mean by big? Like lady gaga big? I’m not really interested in stuff like that. I think maybe Hudson Mohawke could be an important sound in future pop if he produces more artists, as well as his own personal output of course. He could be responsible for making pop interesting and dignified again if he had the chance. Video killed the radio star a long time ago, and since then image has taken over, but now it’s just trite and predictable and it seems to be more about fashion designers and make-up artists, there needs to be more attention to the music again.

8. Warp records is quite iconic and forward thinking family, what are some of your favorite Warp releases?

Music Has The Right To Children – Boards of Canada
Richard D James Album – Aphex Twin
Big Loada – Squarepusher
Rest Proof Clockwork – Plaid
Body Riddle – Clark
For Beginner Piano – Plone

Any label mates you would like to collaborate with?

For sure: Plaid, Boards of Canada, Clark, Broadcast.

I love what you and Clark have done, remixing each others tunes.

We’ve also done collaborations, hopefully one day they get an airing, although saying that, we’ve both opened shows with one of our favourite collaborations.

Clark – Ted (Bibio Remix)

Bibio – S’vivie (Clark Remix)

9. Future plans for Bibio in Twenty-Ten? Tours? Releases?

Yes, tours, hopefully the start of a proper live show as opposed to DJing, and I’d imagine another album too, got plenty of music under my belt.

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