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Fresh Kicks 87: Arvo Party

Belfast Synth-wave and ambient artist Arvo Party recently released his superb sophomore album ‘II’ in October. We catch up with the former punk bassist to learn more as he dishes up a sprawling 90 minute mix of experimental electronics, heady krautrock and ambience...

Last month we premiered, ‘D a N S E’, the second single to be lifted from Arvo Party’s vibrant and expansive new album, ‘II’. The track, with its robotic vocals, chiming arpeggios and maximal atmosphere was a testament to the former punk bassist’s electronic ethos, one rooted in luxurious ambience, robust drums and exhilarating synths.

Since launching the project in 2016, the producer – real name Herb Magee –  has been quietly prolific, with a selection of EPs, singles and spontaneous tracks presenting an artist with a varied scope whose broad tastes – from krautrock and new wave to techno – each get channeled into a cinematic and distinct pallette.

It’s not gone unnoticed either, a video comprised of clips from 2002 dystopian sci-fi flock Equlibrium featuring his ‘Chevy Chase’ track has notched up over 700 thousand views on YouTube.

It all points to a filmic quality in the understated artist who, with some luck, could well branch into film scoring in the near future. Meanwhile, he plans on further improving and expanding his live show and continuing his production work – he just released a rework of the Halloween soundtrack this week.

As part of our Fresh Kicks series, Arvo Party has served up a sprawling 90 minute mix ranging from experimental techno (a lá Clark & Jon Hopkins) to experimental electronics and ambience. Dig in and read our quick Q&A below.

Who is Arvo Party?
“My name is Herb Magee. Or Herbert Vogan Magee as the ‘government’ would refer to me.”

How exactly does someone go from being in a punk band like La Faro to making the music you make now?
“Music is music, regardless of genre. Arvo Party is a lot easier in many ways. The only person I have to run ideas past is me. So the whole charade is at least 75% more efficient but also 75% lonelier. Regarding the practicalities; LaFaro had reached an impasse of sorts and making the music I’ve been making for the last few years has been more of a therapeutic process than anything. Nothing is ever quite over though.”

How has the reception been to the new album so far?
“I’ve been quite pleased with the reception the new album has been getting. If one believes what one hears or reads, it has been a purely positive response. It’s apparently not offensive or poorly executed enough to drive someone to criticise it negatively. I make music to keep myself relatively sane. If I like it, I release it. It’s not strictly for anyone else but if people like it that’s a good thing. It’s nice to know that when I go through the process of turning pain into something audible that it can help someone else the way it has helped me.”

Have you many plans to do more live shows in the near future?
“Yes, I do. But I want it to be better. I’ve been bluffing it in the live arena and I need to up my game there if I’m going to live with myself while doing it.”

Last album you listened to in full?
“‘Double Negative’ by Low. An incredible record.”

Last film you watched?
“Apostle. Creepy folk horror. I liked it but am aching to re-score it.”

Last DJ that blew your mind?
“Hasn’t happened yet.”

Favourite track of the year so far?
“‘Emerald Rush’ by Jon Hopkins. The talented hunk.”

Favourite producer?
“Hopkins, again.”

Favourite place you've visited?
“Denver, Colorado. As that’s where my daughter lives. After that it’s New York or Berlin.”

What record is top of your wishlist?
“A physical copy of my own would be lovely, thanks.”

What's your proudest moment as an artist?
“My proudest moment is, after spending three years trying to fix my mind and heart via the medium of music, looking up from the keyboard in the middle of my first gig and seeing a room full of people absolutely loving it. That and the fact that I even have the courage to do it at all.”

Anything else we should know?
“I’m currently working on some remixes for some special artists and also planning to release an EP which will feature remixes by Therapy? and others (at some point)”

Tell us a joke...
“How many potatoes does it take to kill an Irishman? None.”

Want more? Check out our recent Fresh Kicks mixes with Kampire and The Subdermic...

Eoin Murray is DJ Mag's digital staff writer. You can follow him on Twitter @eoin_murraye

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