Tom Stuart, aka Occams Laser, has released recently The Four Horsemen, a new 4 tracks EP. A nice occasion to talk a bit and know a little more about this super productive and imaginative artist.
Headphones For Robots: Who is Occams Laser?
Occams Laser: A one man band, named as a philosophical play on words from ‘Occams Razor’. My real name though is Tom Stuart.
Headphones For Robots: How did you start making music? Could you tell us a bit about your influences? How does living on an island impact your music?
OL: When I was in my first year of university back in 2007 one of my flatmates introduced me to FL Studio, back then I knew nothing about music production so this all felt like magic to me! Since then it has been my music making program of choice. Back then I was only making very basic electronic music close to EDM.
It was also around this same time that I discovered the band, Justice. When I first heard their track ‘genesis’ I was completely blown away! Since hearing them I feel my sound has been bottlenecked towards what I make now, the darker more aggressive music which started me down this path.
Living on an island is definitely a unique experience. I think the only thing it holds me back on is playing live, as there really isn’t an audience here seeing as most of the inhabitants are over 65! It also makes traveling to any other suitable venue a bit harder and more expensive. The Isle of Wight does have a rich music history though, so hopefully, I can live up to my predecessors.
HFR: Can you tell us about The Four Horsemen, your last EP?
OL: I love strong themes, especially biblical ones despite not being religious. For me, there is something compelling about the fight between good and evil, order and chaos, and what stronger representation than the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!
I wanted to introduce more symphonic orchestral parts in this EP as I felt it needed some grandiose power to fuel the sound. All of the tracks ended up being similar lengths at just over 5 minutes which was a complete accident but a happy accident.
HFR: What is your approach on writing music? Which are the steps you make when songwriting?
OL: I tend to approach each new project in a different way. For some albums and EP’s I have created the artwork first in order to understand what sort of theme or feel I want to aim for. Other times I just play around making 10 to 20 short tracks and pick the best to put together and lengthen into a full coherent project.
However, some of my favorite tracks have been ones which I spontaneously hummed out the tune for and had to quickly write down on whatever was available.
The key is having fun. If I’m not having fun writing it, then nobody will have fun listening to it.
HFR: Could you tell us a bit about your “go to” equipment? What do you use when writing a song and which are your favorite instruments?
OL: My setup for making music is pretty simple, I use an Alesis V49 midi keyboard and my laptop with almost all of my sound coming from virtual instruments. Occasionally I might chuck in some of my own vocals so I guess that is my only analog element.
Of my virtual instruments I would say my go-to ones that feature in almost all of my music would be; the Tal-U-No-LX, Rob Papen Predator, Synth1 & Arturia Modular V3.
HFR: A new EP every 3 months, you’re extremely productive and manage to keep a high-quality level. Do you sleep at night?
OL: Last year I ended up releasing 4 full albums and 3 EP’s and I think I nearly drove myself insane! So this year I’m taking things a little easier. Taking 3 months between my last two releases is actually the longest break I’ve had in almost two years!
This is my full-time job though, so I guess I don’t have an excuse not to be productive. Plus I just really enjoy making music, it’s extremely addictive.
HFR: Occams Laser in a near future? Are there any shows or new EP coming up within 2017?
OL: My plan for the rest of this year is to hopefully have played a few live shows in the UK, it’s definitely one thing I’ve been dying to do for a while now. It’s hard not to feel a little jealous seeing other artists playing live and wanting to have that experience myself.
There will be a lot more music that’s for sure, I’m already planning out the next two releases at the moment.
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