Filed under: Interviews | Tags: bluetech, evan bartholomew, Evan Marc, interview, Native State Records, Somnia Records
Though you have a fairly large web presence, there is very little personal information. How about a brief bio as a way of introduction – name, age, where you live, family, what you do for a living. Or are these closely guarded secrets as part of the ambient music mystique and persona?
My name is Evan Bartholomew, I’m 31 years old, and recently moved to rural Hawaii. I create music and all that that entails for a living – touring, remixing, scoring, and running a label.
Evan Marc, Evan Bluetech, Evan Bartholomew. So just who is this Evan guy? Why so many names and labels?
I’ve created different aliases which allow me to explore different parts of the musical spectrum without having to stretch any one alias too much. Evan Marc is my alias for forward thinking uptempo music like tech-house, minimal, techno. Evan Bartholomew is for more experimental soundscape, ambient, modern classical stuff. My Bluetech alias is for all things electronic, downtempo, glitch, dub, etc.
How long have you been on the music scene, and how did it start? Was it always about electronic music, or did you start in other genres?
I played classical music since I was a little kid, but started on the scene in 2000 DJ’ing psytrance music. By 2002 I had shifted into downtempo and was working on the material that became the first Bluetech album.
You have the most amazing cover art I’ve ever seen – hand stitched, homemade paper, with beautiful artwork. I think it is wonderful. But in a day and age when music is becoming more disposable and downloadable than ever before, why go to the effort?
I feel like you answered your own question! It’s precisely because less and less people buy music, that we go to the extra effort to make really special packaging. Instead of just being another plastic disc in a plastic case, we create numbered limited edition pieces of art, which I believe are an incentive to supporting the music.
So I’m thinking there’s not a lot of call for DJing in rural Hawaii …
I didn’t move to rural Hawaii to be getting a lot of DJ gigs! I just moved out here a few months ago, though I lived her for awhile 10 years ago previously. I’m sure there is an electronic scene here, but I haven’t really sought it out.
How can you afford to live in Hawaii and just do ambient music? Are you living in a hut and growing your own food or what?
I afford to live in Hawaii and do ambient music because I treat my music career like a day job. I get up and put in my 8 hours a day running the labels, writing new music, searching out gigs, and doing all of the menial office works that goes with trying to keep a record label floating.
Do you live alone in your rural getaway? Any family, friends, pets? Do they like your music?
I have a dog named Kaia who is a blue eyed Siberian Husky, though all of my family is on the west coast. I hope Kaia likes my music, though whenever I ask her, she just kind of wags her tail and puts her paw up on my foot, so I’ll take that as a yes.
What made you decide to move there?
I tour enough that I get hyper urban overdose I think. There is something about being in 5 or 10 different cities in a short period of time that makes one really crave solitude and quiet somewhere in the country.
How and when did you meet Steve Hillage, how did that come about? What was it like recording with him?
I originally met Steve and Miquette at Glade Festival in the UK, though I’ve been listening to System 7 music since high school. We hit it off, and they licensed a few tracks of mine for a compilation they were putting together for Platipus Records. I started working on Dreamtime Submersible, and had a feeling that it would be a much better album with the addition of Steve’s signature guitar parts, so I asked him and it just kind of came together. Hopefully it’s not our last collaboration!
How do you decide what music ends up under which pseudonym? Do you compose/record it with a particular project/name in mind, or do you just record a bunch of stuff and decide later which ones “fit”?
I definitely compose with a specific project in mind. Bluetech music is what I tour with most of the time, so I tend to write stuff that has a really kinetic personality to it, like some cosmic space hop – stuff that will move people on the dance floor as well as entertain them intellectually, and hopefully impart a spiritual component to their dance. When I’m a particular techno mood, usually inspired by listening to something that gets me going, I write for the Evan Marc project. When I’m feeling more intimate, or melancholic, or subdued I write ambient and experimental music for the Evan Bartholomew alias.
What are your primary sources of musical inspiration?
My primary sources of inspiration are extremely varied. I am inspired by natural forces, and I mean that in a more animistic sort of way. Like the force or energy of the volcano here is an inspiration to me, the way the lava destroys and creates room for new life and new land at the same time. I’m an active dreamer, and many of the scenarios and events that occur in the dreamtime became inspirations for music, though I’m usually looking for a more universal thread, or element that reflects a common mythology, i.e. Phoenix Rising off the new Bluetech release on Somnia. In one sense it’s about the larger mythos of the phoenix, but it’s also about a very personal and intense dream involving the energy of the phoenix, which affects and directs the way that I live my life.
What about your collaboration with Steve Hillage? Did you record together, or swap sound files across the net, or what?
Steve and I swapped files across the internet. He’s in the UK, so it’s hard for us to physically work together. Sometimes I think that is better in a collaborative environment, as each person has their home base where they are used to creating. I wrote base tracks and sent them to him, and he did a number of passes over what I had written and sent the parts back to me so that I could construct, edit, and reconfigure them to make it all work as a story.
Do you use both soft synths and actual gear? Any favorites?
I’m almost entirely digital at this point. I had recently invested in a modular analog system, but sold it as I knew the Hawaii weather wouldn’t be too kind on those circuits. I am looking at the new Dave Smith analog devices with a bit of gear lust however.
What do you like best about making electronic music?
I like electronic music because after a period of extreme specialization into infinite micro genres, it seems like the horizon is open again. You can make music via electronic means that has the subtlety and sway of Debussy or Satie, music that sounds organic and otherworldly at the same time. Truly there are no rules about what it’s supposed to sound like anymore. It’s liberating as a composer to have that sort of freedom!
-Interview with electroambient space
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