“I try to create a sense of personality – I don’t like electronic sounds to seem too plastic”
Ryan West, the traditional-favouring analogue mind behind the digital orchestra of sounds you hear from his excellent project Rival Consoles, has been highly productive since releasing his encompassing third LP, Howl, late last year. Having suddenly found himself creating music once again following its release, West very quickly followed it up with Night Melody, a focused paean to the late hours and enveloping darkness – an environment he did not purposely set out to work under but eventually heavily influenced the sounds and overall complexion of the EP.
“It was a mixture of fun because I have amazing friends that are ridiculous, but lots of solitude and sleeping late. I am not a fan of composing music in long hours into the night as well, I still prefer to work in daylight and always will.” Channelling an evidently relatable lifestyle into his music, West succeeds in creating a strong empathetic thematic without the use of verse – each snap of percussion or wallowing synth meticulously singular and carrying a wealth of personal experience. “I think I’ve created a palette of options, which give everything a connection, even if each piece has a different structure and idea.”
In creating a conceptual piece, the scope of an idea tends to seem intentionally and forcibly conceived by its composer. While West set out to create something of this ilk, Night Melody basks in its ability to craft itself because of the influence of its concept. “I think Night Melody has a lot of subtle sombre moments, which are a result of working at night, for example slow song, which really was exactly how the light felt when it was just about to go each night, it has the this kind of purple to it’s sound.” From working in the isolated and idiosyncratic hours, West colours with the paints of something that embraced him – the power that light and dark, morning and night can possess.
Night Melody follows an evidently individual and existent catalogue from the London-based artist, one who has continuously formed fragmented rhythms that coalesce with an atmospheric cohesiveness. His work organically exudes an overall identity when composing, even when having a varying amount of elements within it. “I try to create a sense of personality – I don’t like electronic sounds to seem too plastic, when there are several together they create energy and realism to me. I think the main personality comes from the sounds actually gravitating towards something.”
In relating back to the growing roster that West has created, his penchants and interest in consistently progressing can be found throughout – a natural cause of an artist displaying his enjoyment in learning and experimenting. “I like to explore musical structure and spend lots of time trying to find interesting chord progressions, all be it they are often simple. I also force myself not to use the same tempo, so phrasing and melodies can take different forms and have more freedom.”
Whether it be arranging from within an analogue or digital landscape, live or situated, or even just turning the construction of a piece inside out, West intentionally sets out to find something new each time. “I tend to flip between traditional and electronic constantly, not for any special purpose but just because I like to play around with different things.” He explains, “I think my better pieces translate well in both, and that is probably a by-product of sketching out in both mediums.”
When considering electronic or experimental music within a live template – one that West tends to work within even when recording – he’ll be the first to admit it’s not easy to translate creatively for such an artist. “Live is something I’m still trying to get right. Over the past few years I have created a studio way of working that is almost identical to my live set up, so that there is genuine translation, but I would say that live I am still learning to be more confident.”
Since the release of Howl, West has created an invigorating live set that concocts a visual experience to accompany his engaging sounds – when discussing the live climate, West finds it just as important to perform, as much as writing or recording – ” Live is where I understand what ideas work well or not. It amazes me how something so simple can be overlooked at home, but live it seems so vivid.”
Ryan West is a captivated artist in the middle of a prevalent chapter, and don’t expect him to take a break anytime soon.
Rival Consoles plays Simple Things Festival on October 22nd. Check out ‘Odyssey’ below.