Foreign Quarters is an idm/electronica artist from Russia.
We recently had the chance to talk to him about the release of Ease, his beautiful new EP.
Headphones For Robots: Who is Foreign Quarters?
Foreign Quarters: Hey! My name is Ivan, I’m from Russia, and I’ve been making music in my spare time for the last seven years or so, occasionally uploading something to my SoundCloud. In 2011 I released an EP under Clover Thing monicker.
HFR: What’s the earliest memory you have of music? Could you tell us a bit about your influences? What was the first electronic record or artist you obsessed over, and why?
FQ: Not sure if it is the first one, but I remember when I’d laid my hands on acoustic guitar for the first time, I must’ve been 8 years old. I had no idea how to play it, so I just plucked open strings, and the sound hypnotized me, haha.
I think the acts who made the biggest impact on my music are Boards of Canada, Four Tet, and Floating Points. I was obsessed with Kieran’s earlier records, Pause and Rounds, I can’t tell you how many times I had listened to those. It turned upside down the vision of my own music – the notion that you can evoke this nostalgic feeling with your tunes, or rather, a memory of a feeling, a ghost of it, if you will – this is what came to be a focus point for my music.
HFR: Can you tell us about Ease your 8 tracks EP?
FQ: Last year I decided that I absolutely have to quit wasting my time and finally record and release an album just for the sake of it, just to see for myself what it is to record a full-length album.
It all started with Night Ride, and while it slightly differs from the rest of the songs, it set course for the whole album – it’s melancholic vibe just resonated with me, I guess, and reached its peak on Finiteness.
HFR: What is your approach on writing music? Which are the steps you make when songwriting?
FQ: It’s a mess, haha. But, more often than not, I’d start with making up some simple sequence playing on one of the synths, and then I’d throw in a rough beat over it, just to get a hold of an idea of what it may become.
From here it gets chaotic. I can spend hours tweaking a synth patch to get it right, or record multiple short loops and then chop them up to really small pieces and rearrange, repitch and reverse, etc. I like messing with resampling, it always gets you something unexpected. For example, on Expanse, the tremolated synth sound that starts with the beat is actually the melody that you hear in the intro, pitched down, reversed, and fed through an FX chain.
I also often use polymeter when writing and it’s all over the Ease. I picked it up when years ago I was into math-rock and I keep experimenting with it since then. Sometimes it’s two different instruments playing overlapping melodies, sometimes it’s just a low tom drum shifting constantly over a kick.
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?
FQ: For beats, I always use Analog Rytm by Elektron, it’s an analog drum machine which also allows you to mix up samples with the synthesized sound. It sounds great, it has a powerful sequencer with conditional trigs, and it supports patterns of different meters for each track.
I often start writing melody on the Make Noise 0-Coast. It’s a semi-modular synthesizer, it features additive synthesis, and you can get pretty bananas with it. On the other hand, it can be tweaked to produce a very gentle plucking kind of sound and this is what I love it for.
For chords and pads, I usually go with Analog Keys. It has lots of modulation possibilities, which is pretty neat for this kind of stuff. Oh, and I recently started to dig the sound of filter overdrive, especially on negative values.
I also have TB-03 by Roland, and I just love using it with its own built-in reverb effect cranked up to high values. It creates this howling sound, I just love it. You can hear it on Finiteness and Marching.
DSI Desktop Evolver handles most of the arpeggios either with its own sequencer or by being controlled by the Digitakt.
HFR: FQ in a near future? What can we expect from you in 2018?
FQ: I want to see how it’ll go with Ease for now, and take a short break from producing. Then I’ll start to work on new material, I want to experiment with field recording and sampling, I had this idea of making a more percussion-oriented kind of record for a while now, so maybe I’ll go that way. Hopefully will present an EP by the end of the year.
HFR: Last words?
FQ: Thank you.