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Jack D'Arcy is living on the line of a life of recording the world with his new sample based electronic project Mondegrin. With backgrounds in sound direction, theatre making and multi disciplinary art, Jack patchworks together salvaged scraps of the past. Mondegrin is a display of this. Using sampling in a constructive way to play his part in an electronic rebellion.

The self-titled Mondegrin EP published early last month works as a kind of time machine, warping spaghetti string licks into laps of ambience, stapled between scatty breakbeats and a sympathy of synths whistling like spaceships.

In this interview we discuss how he uses samples to create something entirely his, the dangers of sampling, the music industries' approach to sampling and his process of compiling a sound library and searching for the right sounds in his record.

How was the process of creating this EP in a kind of isolation, or filling an otherwise quiet space with noise?
I made this EP based around the idea of creating the library of sound. And then going through it, thinking what can I do with that?, and finding how things interact with your own music as well. It naturally leads you to do more creative things, so I don’t fall into an old routine of just playing bass.
I work as a music director, so I did an albums worth of music of like 80’s synth type stuff. For one project, I did one that was more piano bass style. I did one that was in singer songwriter style, I did rave music for Saturnalia. I work into other people's briefs. You're always beholden to someone else's vision. But yeah, this was the one thing I guess was more mine.
You call this EP a sample-based electronic project, what does sampling as an art form mean to you?
I still think sampling is difficult to qualify as an art form. It has been done by the pioneers of the 90’s, and Hip Hop artists like Public Enemy who are now owned by Sony and Universal. So what used to be something that was sort of free real estate, has now been resold by the big companies.
Does that mean that there is a danger in producing this music?
There is, I find joy in showing people the original and then what I have done to the track. But the problem is that when you do that you open yourself up to legal ramifications.
I still think there needs to be aspects of that protective control. Because like, there are some people that will steal someone's beat and upload it to SoundCloud, and that's different, because that's not constructive. You're not recreating something from different elements, which becomes unethical.
But sampling came from this obviously black art form. And it already came with a lot of like, baggage of white like rock musicians taking umbrage with it. But  it is mainly because it's something that is a counterculture outside the mainstream.
So if this project is dangerous and anxiety inducing, why do you do it?
Sampling is art that's made accessible. All you need to use a sampler is a turntable, the ability to record from the turntable, and then you can emulate samples, and you already have a professional sounding aspect to or if not professional, you have flavour that you don't get on different things. That elevate tracks a little bit more. It's just an accessible art form. Anyone could get it. It's like collage, isn't it? Anyone can make a collage.
Andy Warhol replicated Marilyn Monroe's face a dozen times, or a can of Campbell’s soup whatever, and didn't have to get permission for it, because the whole point of it is it's unlike Campbell's soup. The point is that you're sort of being constructive, you're taking something building on it. It's like pop art.
I also became interested in Taoism as a philosophy, which recognises the importance of finding chance, and finding that as an aspect of beauty in it. I mean, like David Bowie, back when he made Diamond Dogs in the 70s. He took that concept to his lyrics. Writing lyrics out, and then cut it up and rearrange it, that’s based on chance in the same way.
Do you have a go-to method when creating your songs?
I actually tend to write a lot on the bass, which not a lot of people start with, usually, because they don't have as much harmonic content. But I found, especially with a lot of this stuff, it was getting that original sort of sample impetus, and writing a baseline around it that leads it in a direction. Then I literally just freestyle over it. And then I create things wide before I correct the details. So I'll try and get out eight minutes of content before I find the best bit. Because the best bits are always the stuff that you don't expect to be here like different parts. The problem is that now I've got to go back and try to work out how to do it live!
Tell me how you chose your samples.
I tend to hook up my turntable to my sound card and just record directly. The turntable goes on, I'll literally just browse the internet or whatever and have it on in the background, then I'll wait until I hear something. And then I'll stop, cut the bit out during the library and then continue the record.
It could be anything, I got a lot of that from old nursery rhymes, for example. Then I combine them with my creations, create an interaction with them.
Tell me more about this process of the collection of sound before mixing them into music.
Something like, only 10% recorded music is online, something like that. The rest of it is just sitting in bargain bins.
There's a website called Discogs, which is just a great marketplace on there's quite good because you can sort of find something unusual. If I buy five more records, I get free things. But they're all like 50p anyway. So I find on that sort of bass stuff I've got has been by just trying to fill a basket to make it free postage.
Lastly, what genre would you describe your music as? Or would you make a point out of not doing so?
There isn't a defined genre for the sound.. I've called it electronica, folktronica, or a sample based electronic project. It plays at 164 BPM, which is faster than drill. Trip-hop maybe, but not downtempo. I could draw parallels to Caribou except there's a scientific aspect to a lot of his electronic music, and I think I come from more literary aspect.
The EP was produced as part of the Level Up project at Contact Manchester and is supported by SM Music MGMT.
Mondergirn is available via  Spotify, Apple music, Bandcamp and Youtube.

Georgie Brooke

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