“The thing that really triggered the change was when I met Aphex Twin and slept on Luke Vibert’s sofa in his caravan at Bangface festival in 2012” – Kristian Shelley, aka Inwards, reminisces on the moment he transmigrated from the realm of extreme metal, latterly funk-band, drummer, into the world of solo electronic production and performance.
On that move: “I think acoustic instruments are fun but can become boring when you hit a rut in your learning curve. Drums are especially boring to play without the rest of the band to lock in with… Guitar is fun with loopers and other FX pedals on your own, but the computer is limitless fun.”
In 2012, Shelley visited Bangface festival on the north coast of Cornwall. After realising his friends would not be able to join him, he decided to buy the ticket and venture down on his own, over 200 miles from his home town of Worcester.
“I was taking a leak in the toilets in the Rephlex Takeover stage when I first met him [Aphex Twin]. It was awkward because I really wanted to tell him that his music changed my life but… but it wasn’t really the right time!”
He continues, “Later on I saw him and we got chatting and I told him I had nowhere to stay that night because I didn’t have a chalet and I was there on my own – he was like, ‘Come and chill with me and Luke [Vibert]!'”
As many people know, it is not the easiest task to be able to meet Richard D James (Aphex), let alone talk to the man. What is he like? “They were all such nice guys, real down to earth and easy going. After meeting them I had this unstoppable urge to be making electronic music. It was a very inspirational time… A few months later, I got my first drum machine…”
“The progression into the modular world came around 2014 when I started to feel like I wanted to play live. I wanted to be generating electronic music live, rather than playing it back with my laptop.”
Does the modular set-up affect the process for live shows? “Every show is different… I can play a show with a set I think is totally finished and then have a show a few days later and I force myself to start again – rebuild the patch, reprogram all the sequences and drum patterns… I don’t want people to see me twice and get bored, you know?”
The intrigue of Shelley’s progression from acoustic to digital to analogue-modular creative environments is one that reverberates through the modern electronic creative circles. Artists are seemingly seeking to break free from the conventions of typical digital plugins, DAWs and the plethora of similar-sounding “new” electronica being created; artists like Squarepusher and his ‘Music for Robots’ EP, which saw a dig-acoustic marriage between robots and instruments. New technology, an increase in mastery of different techniques, and the common drive of musicians to break the mould makes this an exciting time to be alive in the world of experimental electronic music.
As Inwards, Kristian Shelley, a 23-year-old resident of Brighton, UK, has compellingly forged a musical entity that is self-realised and truthful to its own sound. The name is appropriate, as his music effortlessly emanates a sense of introspection, self exploration and a childlike nostalgia. He boasts a creative mind that yearns for ‘the new’, both in the studio and on the stage. His art captures the essence of his experience of breaking out of the cooperative and embracing a creative solitude.
Inwards is touring the Balkans at the end of April 2016 and is imminently releasing a new EP. In the meantime, his Soundcloud is oozing high quality bangers…
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