Her Future Ghost with Tim Green
‘Her Future Ghost’ is the debut album by Tim Green and is released this Friday (18/05/18) via Cocoon. After more than a decade of releases across labels such as Dirtybird, Get Weird, Get Physical and Cocoon, Tim has crafted a wholly unique and mesmerising piece of work. Having been part of the Cocoon family for so long, it is heartwarming to see Tim Green being afforded the freedom and creative licence to produce what is arguably his finest work to date.
Before the interview, Data Transmission went to see Tim play live as part of the Cocoon showcase at fabric a few weeks ago. Much like the album, his live set was full of hypnotic piano strokes and carefully placed percussion. The live show is almost like a live animal, twisting and turning before morphing into something new, whilst recurring sounds maintain a sense of direction and continuity. ‘They Want Us To Fall Down’ which is off of ‘Her Future Ghost’ sounds perfectly at home in room 1 of fabric as it does in your headphones, with some minor club oriented tweaks. Played towards the end of Tim’s set this was a euphoric moment shared by all lucky enough to witness it.
‘Her Future Ghost’ your debut album is out later on this week, how long has this project been in the works for you?
I think the time it took for me to write was about a year, and it started really because Cocoon asked me. Cocoon for one have been asking me to do an album for them, but I’ve always been hesitant because I’ve never wanted to do an album of 10 singles or just a bunch of tracks that you package together and call an album. They’ve always asked me but I’ve always been patient, I’ve always said “I just don’t feel like I could do a very good album, or I’m not in the right space at the moment”. They asked just over a year ago and they said “we’d still really love for you to do an album” and at the time I’d just started half writing a couple of the tracks off of the album, but I didn’t know they were going to be on the album or anything I just started writing two tracks. It was the catalyst for the album, because I felt like I was writing a different sound and taking inspiration from orchestral music and film scores. It was them (Cocoon) who were the catalyst and from there they asked if I could do an album and I asked them if I could do whatever I wanted and they gave me complete freedom. They said “yeah do whatever the hell you want”, which was really nice to have that support and freedom.
Was it important to you that the album was released via Cocoon?
Yeah, I think them giving me that freedom was really important and also because I’ve worked with them for such a long time. To be honest, in this techno scene they do albums really well and as you know Cocoon is still going strong, and it’s quite a testament to how much longevity they are able to have.
I read that you are a big film score fan, how did that affect the writing of the album?
The concept that I had for the album was, I thought what if I was writing music for a film, and I didn’t want to write music for a film that already exists. After those two tracks, as I said at the beginning which were a catalyst, I started to hear a repeating theme/melody in them which I thought could translate into more work around those two tracks. I wanted to expand it more and try and find some kind of a story out of it and a universe. It really spurred my memory onto to do more stuff and more writing. To do a soundtrack is the easiest/simplest way of what I was trying to think in my head but it sort of equated into me wanting to make an album which is sort of a story and a journey. I’ve always felt like the best albums and my favourite albums, what I grew up listening to a lot of jazz and rock etc, it’s always the perfect time for an artist to showcase their diversity and allowed to have creative freedom. So I think that’s always what I wanted to do with my first album and any album really. So I thought this story idea was what I wanted to try and do out of it, a story from a movie would be interesting enough for me to explore that avenue and something different that I’ve never done before.
And the tracklist reads like scenes from a film…
Exactly! That’s done on purpose. I didn’t come up with a big strong story or anything, it’s very loose. I could feel certain parts of the songs were characters like a repeating theme could be a certain character or a love scene. I was kind of piecing it together like a jigsaw puzzle, I knew where every track was meant to go, like I knew how I wanted the last track to sound. I knew how I wanted the first track and track 7 or whatever, and the scenes were a similar thing. I was writing and then had this loose idea, and that’s how the track names came about as well. Like you said, I usually find that in most film soundtracks the names of the tracks are just telling you the name of the cue or whatever in the film.
Her Future Ghost
They Want Us To Fall Down
Do you have any plans to tour the album?
My memory is so bad I can’t remember where I’m playing! The summer is getting all divvied up and I’m touring it as much as possible but I’m doing live and DJing still. I like to do both, I get bored very easily so I try and do as much as I can as much as possible. So DJing and playing live, I’ve got loads of shows coming up and over the summer.
With the album and playing live was it important that you had an outlet to perform some of the tracks from the album?
Yeah, I think so! I’ve played live once before, I did a version one of playing live about three years ago sort of thing with a different setup and a different bunch of music. I didn’t really enjoy it so much, I think I was playing that live set up for about two years and I stopped doing it and went back to only DJing and it all worked fine timing wise. Then I think definitely with writing this album and this new set of music, it felt like it would warrant playing a lot of it live. But it has been an interesting challenge to try to bring it to playing live because as you’ve heard from the music, most of the tracks aren’t really dancefloor friendly. There is a lot of ambient and different sounds, so I’ve had fun transforming a lot of the tracks, I guess kind of remixing a lot to play in a club so that it would work.
When you wrote the album did you have in mind how and where you wanted people to listen to it?
Yeah, I think even when I’ve done proper club music, I’ve always hoped that my music can be interesting enough to listen to at home or in your own personal headphones or just on your own, whilst it works on the dancefloor. So I guess it’s the same, yeah it has always been my vision, always with my music (the electronic stuff anyway). I am hoping people can enjoy it as a whole album, a complete piece. As you can tell, I want people to listen to it from start to finish, I don’t really want people just to listen to certain tracks. I’m sure people will obviously because you can’t stop it but I do hope people can listen to all of it in one go. Then also the more clubby kind of tracks I hope will work on the dancefloor. It’s always an interesting thing, I know you’ll be totally aware of this, to try and be very musical in an electronic dance track especially techno or something, doesn’t always work on the dancefloor. Sometimes simple is much better and especially when people are partying and taking drugs, if you have too much going on it doesn’t really work and people don’t like it, don’t react to it. So I’ve always found it hard to strike that balance and I like that challenge, I like to be as musical and complex as I think you can try and get away with.
What equipment are you using in your live setup?
So the main hub of it is Ableton Live, it’s just so flexible and then I’m using Machina as well the Native Instruments drum machine thing. Then I’ve got a controller that I always forget the name of, one of the Akai ones. I was using an external sampler as well for a while to do all the drum side of things but I found it easier to use Machina in the end, just because I think the flexibility of it. A lot of the stuff, especially on the album, a lot of the synth parts are fused with my analogue synths at home and it’s just not possible to tour with all of that. I’ve sampled the keyboard sounds and put it into a digital sampler on the computer or find a nice emulation plug-in that I can use it to play live.
***A note from the author***
‘Her Future Ghost’ is one of the most intriguing and unique albums you are likely to hear this year, and that is a testament to the vision of Tim Green and his ability to breathe life into his idea. The concept behind the album is it is a soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist, not outside of Tim’s mind at least. The artist heavily influenced by his love of film scores, has produced a rarity in the techno scene. The album could easily exist as one piece of work and the songs on ‘Her Future Ghost’ are more scene titles than definite tracks in their own right. With sounds ebbing and flowing from one moment to the next, this is a body of work that should be appreciated as a whole, as the artist intended. Within the album, there are recurring melodies that could represent characters or moods as Tim has alluded to. What is interesting about this album bearing in mind the idea behind it, is that every person listening to it, will imagine the characters and scenes unfold will experience a different version of Tim’s unmade film as it were.
Brimming with emotion, the title track builds around a central piano refrain which is equal parts moving as it is compelling. Immediately the album lurches into ‘Colliding’, with warm arcing synths that aim to engulf before the song kicks into life. The percussive drum beats and snares feel intricately placed and almost provide a melody of their own atop the brooding bass that works its way into the latter stages of the song. ‘The Opera’ and ‘The Incident’ are excellent examples of the feelings and movements that Time Green has created in this universe, reaching crescendos at pivotal points in the plot. Tribal sounding drums weave their way into ‘Evaded’, snaking around the foreboding synth notes, all of which contributes to an ominous mood. ‘They Want Us To Fall Down’ is akin to a morphing organism, gathering in pieces to use as the track gains momentum, assembling itself on the way. The closer on this album, ‘He Fell’, is perfectly fitting with recurring piano notes culminating in an explosive and climactic finale.
Tim Green ‘Her Future Ghost’ is out vai Cocoon on Friday 18th May, you can pre-order from here