Subtempo Guest Mix 017
Wiklow is the pseudonym for Michael G. Dean, a Canadian electronic artist. Combining instrumentalism with a digital sensibility, Dean carefully balances delicate melodies with pure electronic tones and textures. Fascinated by the psychological effects of sound, Dean's performances are as much a science experiment as a musical composition. His strength is the alignment of these two facets, and finding strange emotions in unexpected places. Recent collaborations with new media artists like Push 1 stop and Diagraf have led Wiklow on a world-wide journey presenting audio-visual works at festivals like Transart, MUTEK and Sónar. Either solo or in collaboration, Wiklow creates an intimate listening space for moments of introspection and self-reflection.
Surrounding the release of this mix and his performance at Sonar Festival in Spain, we got a chance to catch up with Michael Dean, aka Wiklow, exploring recent colaborations and his creative process.
Hello Wiklow, thank you for taking the time to do this mix for us! I’ve been following your footsteps for quite some time now. It’s nice that we finally got to collaborate.
Yes! Likewise! I’m very pleased to contribute. :)
I wanted to start by asking you about the mix. How, where and when did you record it?
I recorded it in a small apartment in Lisboa, Portugal in July 2019. No home studio at the moment so it came out of a suitcase!
The set was recorded like a live radio show. There are no beat-synced overlaps, and sometimes there are short moments of silence to clear the listening palette.
Is there a theme to this mix?
Sort of. It was a chance for me to archive some of my influences over the last 5-10 years. There are purposely a lot of Montréal artists, or Canadian artists that I often played on Lo Signal, a radio show on CKUT 90.3FM in Montréal.
Is it mostly your own tracks or did you include other artists’ tracks?
None of my own tracks here. I wanted to create a mixtape that painted a picture of my memories. Something I could share with others but reference myself too.Wiklow during his performance at SAT (Societe des Arts Technologiques) in Montreal, Canada. Photo by Sébastien Roy.
We are doing this mix, surrounding your appearance at Sónar Festival, in Barcelona, this July. Tell me a little about what you brought there.
At Sónar Barcelona, I presented “Membrane” with Push 1 stop, an audio-visual performance for transparent materials. Cadie (Push 1 stop) is a Montréal media artist I really admire and has influenced me a lot. We’ve been touring the project for about one year now.
So this is a collaboration with Push 1 stop. She does the visuals and you do the music? Or do you both contribute to both?
The two mediums have undoubtedly become intertwined. We have pushed to be involved in each other’s process. It’s essential for a dialog to exist between us while on stage. Both of us are interacting with the sound and the image during a performance.
But yes, overall Cadie (Push 1 stop) is the visual performer while I make the music.
And you guys have been working together for a while, correct?
We met in 2017 during MUTEK in Montréal. Later were on tour for projects with different collaborators, but travelling together. So I guess we started working together in late-2017 and early-2018, finally premiering our first performance in August 2018. Hopefully the first of many!
What’s the typical workflow that you and Push 1 stop feel most comfortable with? Do you start with the music and then she does visuals to it?
I think it depends on the work. The latest piece we’re working on, “Frozen Music”, we started by creating visual shapes using sound, but with the speakers turned off. It was important to discover the visual beauty first and foremost since this was the concept, sculpting images with sound. We didn’t want to be influenced by how agreeable the audio was. Now, we’re working to curate a combination of the sounds and visual forms we’ve created, and really develop the movement of the piece.
It must be exciting to show it at such an institution, such as Sonar Festival.
It was definitely significant. We were very grateful to have been invited!
Which stage did you perform the show?
Sonar Complex. This is a 1000-person seated theatre where they show audio-visual performances.
But this is not your first showcase at a big festival. You’ve also performed at Mutek. What are some of your performance highlights over the years?
I have been very lucky to have been supported by MUTEK over numerous projects. It’s largely because of them I’ve found myself in any international opportunities.
I think one of the best performances I’ve ever had was at Sónar Istanbul with “Membrane”. Cadie and I were so exhausted we couldn’t even speak straight. Right before the show, I slept on a cold concrete floor in a little dark room, like four floors underground. We were totally out of it when we arrived on stage. For whatever reason, everything became quite lucid once we started playing. We really connected. It was absolutely one of those magic performance moments.
Before “Membrane”, I toured a 360-degree dome show called “Liquid Architecture” with visual artists Diagraf and Ewerx and the team from La Société des arts technologiques. We performed in massive planetariums around Europe and at La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris. Some amazing sound systems and 360 LED walls.
And how do you find that the audience in these spaces reacts to your music? Do you find yourself needing to do something more uptempo for the specific crowds?
It does need to be more uptempo for some scenarios. A performance is hugely impacted by context. I imagine it’s not easy to program an ambient set at a festival that has audiences coming from spaces with bright flashing lights and hard techno. It’s good to experiment with different levels of intensity as you grow in your creative practice. So I’ve been playing with that. My natural space for composing music is usually more contemplative and meditative. This really requires a specific environment. I think my ideal space would be an outdoor festival at 6am as the morning light emerges. Some people are still awake, some people are just getting up.
I love your use of space within your music.
Thank you so much.
How long have you been producing?
I started making electronic music around 2010 in Victoria, Canada. When I started I thought, “in 10 years”, that’s when I would know what I was doing. Maybe in 10 more...
[LAUGHS]Push 1 stop & Wiklow performing "Membrane" at Mutek, Mexico. Photo by Diego Figueroa.
Where are you currently based?
Lisboa, Portugal, since July 2019.
How do you find where you live influences your music?
Significantly. I think artistic expression is mostly about life experience, and the people who influence you. Engaging new communities can be impactful.
Scrolling through your soundcloud I noticed you have a bunch of collaborations with other artists. Is that something that comes easy for you?
I believe it’s quite important to explore artistic connections. It’s sort of like dating. You learn a lot about yourself and how to become the best collaborator you can be. It can really strengthen relationships with people.
But it can be more than that. I think artists should try to be part of a scene, and identify less as individuals, creatively speaking. It’s more significant when creativity goes beyond a single individual. It should explode to include different art forms, social groups and politics.
It is not necessarily about the artistic result. I think it’s the side-effects that are important.
Do you have a preference working on your own vs working with other artists?
I started making electronic music when it wasn’t always possible to work with other people. I will always be open to new friends and creative overlaps, but I certainly also enjoy locking myself in a room for two weeks with no distractions! Whatever life serves is the preference, I suppose.
Any future collaborations or upcoming projects you can tell us about? What’s next for Wiklow?
I’ve been working on a set of piano compositions and am enjoying a return to downtempo works. A new release with Felicia Lush should be out soon on Hushlamb.
Push 1 stop and I are working on some installation pieces as well, emerging over the next year. These are more generative compositions and sound design.
Thank you for taking the time man, good luck with all your upcoming projects!
All the best and many thanks!
- Anne-F Jacques - Sans titre [Not on label]
- Racine - Contempler les étendues désertiques [Archipel Musique Canada]
- Tim Hecker - This Life [Kranky]
- Sanctums - Incantations [Not on label]
- Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld - And still they move [Constellation Records]
- Sarah Davaci - For Strings [Not on label]
- Gonima - slip3 gate offset [ygrade]
- AGF - Tunisia [MUTEK_Rec]
- Pessimist - Glued (feat. Loop Faction) [Blackest Ever Black]
- The Haxan Cloak - Excavation (Part I) [Tri Angle]
- Peder Mannerfelt - Serpant And Cross Modulated Oscillator [Not on label]
- DIOXYDE - Uber Lag _ Ovskii ) [MUTEK_Rec]
- Ryoji Ikeda - Test Pattern #0100 [Raster-Noton]
- Anne-F Jacques - Sans titre [Not on label]
- Woulg - Obviouslt Not Real [Outlier Recordings]
- DIOXYDE - Uber Lag _ Ovskii ) [MUTEK_Rec]
- Autechre - Flutter [Warp Records]
michaeldean.ca | Bandcamp
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Most tracks are available on our Guest Mix Playlist available on Spotify and Apple Music until we update it with the next guest. Follow the playlists to get fresh tunes curated by a different artist every month.