There are certain songs which, by no intent of their maker, seem perfectly tailored for a walk through New York City, headphones on and volume up, while the busy world blows past. From his stone-barn studio outside of Edinburgh, British songwriter and producer Kyle Molleson, otherwise known as Makeness, managed to craft one of those very songs. In “Stepping Out of Sync,” off of his recently released album Loud Patterns, Molleson captures a particular kind of pace and excitement familiar to locales far more populated than the green pastures of Scotland.
Molleson–based, when not recording, in London–grew up amongst folk musicians in the Outer Hebrides, a series of tiny Scottish islands. (Current population of Isle of Harris, from which Molleson hails: 1,916.) Given the nature of the writhing electronic music he makes, it’s indeed a peculiar footnote. But it is perhaps his deep familiarity with the emptiness of wide open spaces that allows him to connect to the very full and dense sound of urban environments. Chaos, echos, a rhythm that can drive you made if you let it: it’s all there in the Makeness sound.
Years ago, in a FADER article, Molleson once described a song he wrote as feeling like a “physical journey.” It’s a notion that remains in–and defines–his music today, earning him a place alongside moody, motion-filled acts like Four Tet, Burial, and Caribou. While in New York opening for Unknown Mortal Orchestra, we met Molleson in McCarren park to talk bedroom studios, soft synths, and pizza in New York.
Place of origin:
Isle of Harris, Scotland.
Place of residence:
South East London.
What folk song would you say most reminds you of your childhood?
That’s quite a hard one! One that comes to mind is “Up The River” by Laura Veirs. I listened to her album The Triumphs and Travails of Orphan Mae loads when I was growing up.
First instrument you learned how to play—and who taught you:
Bagpipes–my Grandad. Although I can’t play them anymore!
First piece of equipment you remember purchasing:
A red Japanese Fender Telecaster.
High school job:
Worked in a supermarket.
Where did you record ‘Loud Patterns’?
Between bedroom studios in London and my dad’s place in the Scottish Borders. We’ve built a little studio there called the Black Byre and it’s perfect for getting away and digging into a project.
How does recording in Edinburgh (versus London) influence your work?
The studio in Scotland is quite isolated and there is the freedom to make as much noise as you want at any one of the day/night. For a lot of the tracks on the record, I would start them in London and work out the edits and details then take a fairly close to finished idea to the studio in Edinburgh and give it some life. Swap out soft synths for analogue and run stems through guitar amps, run drums through a summing mixer. Try and give the whole thing a certain color.
Inspired by your Instagram post recording in the Chunnel–what’s the strangest place you’ve made music?
Ha! Yes, that is actually a pretty heavy track. Dan (AEVA) sent me a mix of it the other day. Heavy! I’m not sure it gets much stranger than that–in a car, on a train, under the sea. Making music while traveling seems to be a recurring theme for me though!
Least favorite part of being on tour:
Most favorite part:
Most interesting part about New York City:
Everyone I have met in New York has been super friendly and welcoming. I spent a bit of time cycling and skating around Brooklyn the last few days and visited some great record shops. Also played a live session at The Lot Radio which I loved!
Fast food of choice when you’re on the road:
Trying to be healthy these days but it’s got to be pizza. Pizza in New York is something else!
Song you’re currently listening to:
Giant Swan “Celebrate the Last 30 Years of Human Ego.”
Art/film/book that recently inspired you and why:
Went to the Serpentine Gallery in London a few weeks ago to see the Sondra Perry exhibition. Very immersive audio visual experience.
Not the most niche of choices but I thought the new Blade Runner film was great. That soundtrack had me spellbound. Synths and tape machines!
Favorite album of 2018 so far:
Daniel Avery, Song For Alpha.
First thing you’ll do when you finish touring:
I’m going to Cornwall with some friends for the weekend. Hopefully get some surfing in!