By Kiah Easton, Columns Editor
Photo by Joey Medlen
Q&A with galen tipton, Columbus electronic dance and experimental artist.
Can you tell me about your upcoming project on Orange Milk?
galen: I’ve been working on this project for almost three years now alongside other things I have already put out. This project has kind of been used as almost a testing ground for new ideas or new plugins; the whole album is me learning how to do new things that I have used on other projects since then. This project is actually pretty massive. There is a lot more stuff that probably isn’t going to come out for a while just because it’s just such a massive undertaking trying to make it into one project. It’s definitely more cohesive because I had to cut down so much. At one point it was a double album, and I don’t know–it might have been overwhelming for people to listen straight through.
Do you plan on releasing some of these “leftovers” in the future?
galen: Definitely, there are a lot of songs that came out that sound like they are a part of a completely different project. I’m planning on taking a lot of the songs that didn’t make it on to this album and making a separate album that is darker and more textured–very moody and a little bit more ambient. There is a lot of fun collaborations on that one too, and that’s another reason I feel like I have to get it out. I want the projects that I’ve done with these people to be in the world already.
You have collaborated more than the average artist. Can you describe your process when it comes to these collaborations?
galen: For someone like Kali Dreamer, another Lobsterfest performer, I just had a beat that I thought they might like, and I sent it, and they were like, “Oh shit, this is awesome,” and they laid down vocals super quick. With other collaborations, specifically on this new project, I had to experiment a lot with different ways to collaborate. A lot of these collaborations happened before the collaborations on nightbath. There is one track where me and other artists would each work on two or three bars of music and then trade off back and forth. The song eventually just evolved over time. It’s obviously easier to do that with experimental music. It can just be whatever the fuck it wants. One thing that has been really important to me with collaborations is to just be able to get the artists’ blessing to take the reins at one point. It’s like, “We’ve done all this cool shit, do I have your blessing to make it all fit together and work cohesively?” Most of the time that goes over pretty well, which is good. At least for this project, there are a lot of other songs that I’ve done that just makes sense on its own, collaboration-wise. When it comes to this project at least, the collaborations have been pretty smooth in general.
It’s really amazing how many collaborations you’ve done. Especially with artists such as Giant Claw, Seth Graham, etc.
galen: Collaborating with Giant Claw has been really fun because we actually get to do it in the same room. That’s the most rewarding collab experience, being able to react to each other’s stuff in real time. I would love to do that with more people, but it’s hard.
It’s really exciting to see how much press Keith Ranking (Giant Claw) has been getting with his recent cover for Rico Nasty.
galen: I’m really glad that album broke into the top 10. I really hope it will end up drawing more people to Orange Milk. The fact that Keith isn’t bigger than he is blows me away.
You’ve been working on this album for three years, along with a lot of other projects. What has been the deciding factor in pushing you toward a more experimental style rather than your dance music that more people seem to enjoy?
galen: The music that I first released was probably some of my most experimental. I started out making stuff that was actually a lot more experimental, and this gradually developed into beat music because of both me starting to engage with that music more and enjoy it, and I also wanted to play more shows. I got a lot more enjoyment out of performing beat music and the reaction you get from a crowd. I’ve played stuff from this upcoming album at a couple of smaller shows, and it’s really hard to gauge how people feel about it. It’s usually a lot of people sitting in a gallery space not really saying anything. I also have not really figured out a way to perform it in a way that is satisfying for me. With dance music, I have gotten a feel for what I like to do and what makes it most fun for me. But with experimental stuff, the most fun I get out of it is working on it over and over again and finally producing something.
Do you know if you will want to play a lot of shows with this upcoming album?
galen: I would like to mostly because of the fact that it is coming out on vinyl. I don’t know, maybe I could try and tour off of it. Keith and Seth are playing shows all the time, and they are playing super weird shit. I want to take cues from how they perform and maybe work that into the way I could do it.
Can we talk in general about your sound design, and how you get these insanely detailed intricate sounds?
galen: Most of the time, especially for this project, it just starts with me trying something out. For example, some of my skittery, bug-like sounds just came from me being like, “Oh, what would happen if I threw an entire sample pack on a single track and combine that all into one sound file, and then time stretched it and squished into three seconds?” Sometimes I will just be scrolling through Instagram and an ad will pop up, and I’ll hear a sound that’s really sick. I will find a way to take that out and throw it into a session, maybe with three or four other sounds that I also thought were interesting. I usually just see where that goes.
I’m sure there is a lot of ways you go about it, and it just depends.
galen: Yeah, I’m definitely down to talk shop more, outside of this. One thing I can say is that I had always been really interested in making more experimental music, but being able to work one-on-one with Keith and see his process really changed the way that I’ve approached stuff. Keith will just micro edit things to death. He will have a couple seconds worth of shit, and there are just so many sounds happening in that short time span. It’s very much like a stream of consciousness flow; he will just edit until something comes out that sounds right.
That definitely has been one of the most stressful parts about making experimental music, in my experience. Whenever I try to make something like what you or Keith are able to do, I really just get lost in the number of files and lack of organization. Which DAW do you use for the most part?
galen: I mostly use Logic. I will sketch melodies and things like that on Ableton with the push, just because it’s made for that. I do most of the shit on Logic, though, just because I grew up making stuff on Garageband. It is mostly just because I know how Logic works and all of its little intricacies. It’s just easier for me.
You do perform with Ableton mostly, right?
galen: Yes, I won’t be tonight. Tonight, I am using Traktor. It will be more of a DJ set, but I will still be engaged.
Check out galen tipton’s latest single, “scream”, here.