Will Smith, idiosyncratic clicking, and integrity. Behind the scenes of Project PULL UP phase 1...
Back in March our co-director Delson received a commission from Unlimited to create project PULL UP. Delson is an emerging learning disabled artist with communication difficulties who’s a wizard in the recording studio. For phase one of the project Delson has composed an album of 12 eclectic tracks with sound artist and producer Bulblet AKA Mat Hawkins.
The most important outcome is ensuring we are integral to Delson’s artistic vision and leadership. Vicki caught up with Mat and Delson in the studio to find out how they were getting on:
V: What was the first session like?
D: I made lots of songs. It was good to finally make music.
M: I feel like the first session was as much about Delson realising he was the boss as creating the music itself. BLINK have only ever co-devised so this is Delson’s first time as overall director. It was important to lay a solid foundation of communication where Delson knew he was being listened to and there was no ‘end goal’ as such.
V: How would you describe an average session?
D: Fun, and hard work!
M: I ask if Delson wants to work on a new or previous track. I set up all the possibilities including guitar, Ableton Push (the board with the colourful buttons), microphone, internet and all of the printed words and then Delson does whatever he wants. He generally uses his voice as a starting point and then from there just gets in a vibe. It’s always surprising what twists and turns the sessions take, such as inserting excerpts of Will Smith with different effects into an ambient track, or recording idiosyncratic clicking rhythms. I always ask if Delson is finished, as I never want to assume, this is the point when some of the tracks have taken some of their most unsuspected new directions. We always listen to tracks the whole way through to check Delson is happy.
V: How did you make sure Delson was leading?
M: I guess it was partly to do with attitude; I never gave my opinions and I didn’t second guess. Also, the atmosphere was chilled; there was never any pressure so Delson could work at his own pace and follow his interests. We developed techniques; for example, I had words laid out spanning a range of genres, themes and emotions. Sometimes he used them a lot and sometimes not at all. I asked open-ended questions like ‘how do you want it to sound’ and ‘when do you want it to finish’ so I didn’t guide him in any way. The music is vastly different to my personal style, and Delson commonly made choices which were not to my artistic taste but I always supported his choices 100%, after a quick listen anyone who knows Delson will have no doubt it is his genius.
V: Do you agree Delson? Who is the leader of this project you or Mat....
V: Are there any themes in the music?
D: My music is about things.
M: Dels would say you have also gravitated towards dub and experimenting with pitch?
D: (signing) yep
V: Can you describe any of your tracks?
Delson answered by choosing a track to play and describing using theatrical hand movements. We discovered more through questioning that the track theme is: Scary, sad theme about something magic. I have the power, good power.
Delson on the mic:
(Delson) generally uses his voice as a starting point and then from there just gets in a vibe.
V: Delson do you have anything to add?
He shows me a picture he's drawn (see right). This represents how Delson feels about working with Mat in the studio
Delson will launch his album this week in a premiere DJ set after our FOUR CORNERS performance in Fabrica de Pensule Cluj Romania and Bucharest. Commissioned by Unlimited funded by the Spiritof2012 and supported by Shape Arts and The Gate Arts Centre