INTERVIEW: Chlorine | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Daniel Marston

Although he might be better known by many people for his visual output – the vivid, surreal collages that have recently adorned albums by Field Music and Moor Mother amongst others – Graeme Hopper’s musical alter-ego Chlorine has gained widespread appreciation for his gritty take on ambient music and aural collage.

Discussing his route into the world of experimental music and found sound, Hopper explains, “I guess I became familiar with found sound and sound art music in my late teens. I didn’t know it had any musical references, names or anything. I was just getting my head heavily into experimental and electronic sounds. The usual names I guess: Coil, Kevin Drumm, Autechre, Zoviet France, Laurie Anderson, Chris Watson, Fennesz. Such vivid, colourful, tactile sounds. I’ve been told some of my tracks remind people of my collage work, basically due to the formula of combining a variety of different audio sources to create one finished piece. One recording/image may not work on its own, but when brought into a group of sounds/other imagery it can take on a whole new life.”

Discussing his process, Hopper makes it clear that immediacy is a vital part of his working practice. “I’m quite quick at hearing where I want a track to go or can develop after a few seconds of hearing samples and audio recordings. A lot of tracks on this release are one takes or improvised pieces that I’ve not messed up when recording! If it works it works, that’s basically how it is. Manlines took the longest to make, that’s a couple of tapes and other samples all sewn together, Raxx is just me hitting my ride cymbal in my folks’ living room. There are rhythms in all of my tunes, every one of them. Just maybe not as immediate as some people would like them to be.”

It’s a funny paradox, as I’m at my happiest when producing these melancholic tracks. I guess you can’t help but be influenced by the world around you, and I’m no exception

Chlorine’s latest album Velvet Teeth is another part of a hectic release schedule, but it also stands out as one of the most comprehensive Chlorine releases yet: rave nostalgia and socio-political discontent stands alongside weatherworn nostalgia and brief snatches of beauty in a fast-moving and diverse collection of tracks. “It’s a funny paradox, as I’m at my happiest when producing these melancholic tracks. I guess you can’t help but be influenced by the world around you, and I’m no exception. A few of the tracks come from the past twelve months of me travelling around Northumberland, seeing what was happening in Sunderland culturally and the complete mess of the UK in general.”

For the release of Velvet Teeth, Hopper is partnering with North East based experimental music magazine TQ to distribute the album with their October issue. “Andy, who is the brainchild of TQ, had been a fan and supporter of my work for a while. October is the month of the mighty Tusk Festival, and TQ thought it would be a nice touch to put the record out in the same month as the festival as I helped with the design of the Tusk Festival poster. I think it’s also a bit of fun to release new tunes this way. It gets people buying/reading the magazine that may not have been aware of it before, and gets some of my music heard to a few people who wouldn’t know of it without TQ.”

Chlorine plays Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle on Tuesday 9th October. Velvet Teeth is self-released via TQ Magazine this month.


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