Keep it Local: Underground City Loop

Melbourne producer Will Holden – aka Underground City Loop – has been creating music solo and in bands for a number of years. We were lucky enough to speak with him this week about kids yoga, his early influences and life outside the studio. Catch his live set at Lucid this Saturday night. 

Tell us a bit about your upbringing – where are you from and where do you live now? Have these experiences influenced your direction as a musician?

I’m from the big smoke, Melbourne. As a child I lived in Flemington, then spent my adolescent years in a bunch of houses in Brunswick and Brunswick East. Moved up to Coburg for a few years and now I’ve recently settled into a big house in Carlton. I would say the surroundings of a person’s upbringing will always influence their creative path in some shape or form. For me, having an older brother definitely moulded my tastes in music and films from a young age. Going to a public high school in the inner city exposed me to the ritual of seeing live music, and allowed me to associate with a wider scene of likeminded people involved in art and music. My decision to take up drumming lessons from age 11 totally changed the direction of my musical education, and it’s effects are still unfolding. My teacher exposed me to a huge range of musical styles and methodologies around rhythm and composition.

What were some of your first experiences with music?

The earliest memories of music I have is when my Mum would take me to kids’ yoga once a week, they would play soothing meditation CDs during the classes. Mum also decided to take me to Suzuki method classical guitar lessons when I was very young, unfortunately I can’t remember how to play much apart from ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, but I think it all would have affected my cognitive development, for sure. Thanks Mum.

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What was the first 12” you owned? Does it say anything about your journey as a musician? In what ways is it still relevant to you (if at all)?

I didn’t start buying records until I was 21, I was more of a CD guy before the internet came into the mix. Before having my own, I played my parents old records, even if they were shit, I just enjoyed looking at them spin and messing with the speed. I ended up inheriting a tonne of old dusty records from my grandparents as I got into sampling and making weird hip-hop beats and also got a couple of records as presents. When I got into spinning a few of my own tracks, I think the first 12″ I bought with my own money was a very cheap second hand record called Voices In The Sky (Remix EP) by 16B. Surprisingly, I think it still reflects the some of the musical ideas I’m into and some production techniques, but definitely hasn’t been played for a while!

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What appeals to you about the type of music you produce? Is it a marriage of convenience or is your style something you set out to do from the beginning?

I think the creation and process in which my music is made is usually more enjoyable than a finished product, that’s where I get the most satisfaction. The kind of musical and technical decisions I’m making in my sounds is naturally influenced by the accumulation of tastes and approaches from the artists that I’m surrounded by at the moment. Mostly I’m getting my inspiration from artists in Melbourne and Australia that are generating some interesting ways to create and combine weird and wonderful together in the realm of danceable electronic music. My style isn’t something I’m particularly focused of curating, I’d like to think that it forms on its own accord from whatever I’m currently inspired by. The equipment I’m using isn’t necessarily determining what style I’m creating- I could be making synth pop, noise music or dubstep and it would be just as convenient. I think the lines between genres and styles are becoming more and more blurry for me.

On the note of inspirations- what do you do with your time outside of music? I’ve had some interesting conversations with artists (both musical and otherwise), that have found their ability to create has improved dramatically from the indirect influence of other hobbies or work they undertake. How true is that of you?

I don’t really have much time outside of music, haha. I’m a full time fine arts student, specialising in sound, play the drums in a bunch of bands and work as a freelance sound tech. Occasionally, I go up to Triple R Radio and help with the sound. It’s all a labour of love and now I think now I’m in too deep to have a 9-5 job, but that works well with me. I think travelling and new places can be pretty inspiring for me and just going to see gigs, films and art in general influences how I create. Also, Wii Golf is pretty good.

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Talk us through your studio setup. Any favourite pieces of gear? What is your process? Is it strict or malleable? Any rituals?

I like to start something if I’m feeling fresh. Big cup of coffee, make the room look a bit clean and sometimes listen to something to get me in the mood. I’ve recently started practicing some meditation exercises, I find that I can make better and decisive judgements about sounds and tend to be more patient with reaching the sounds I want. Usually I like start with creating a sound that is non-representational of an instrument or drum, then build the more musical elements around that sound. That way I think the track can begin sounding interesting and have a vibe from day one. For performing live, I’ve been trying to cut down the amount of gear and simplify the setup, mainly so I can focus on making better sounds from less elements, instead of just adding layers over the top of each other. At the moment I’m digging a Teac Model 2A 6 channel mic pre mixer with 4 bus outs. Really simple and effective mixer and sounds great when you overdrive the pres, using it live creates some nice limitations too.

Is creating music an individual experience for you?

Yes, and no. This project is, but I’ve probably created music with others more than by myself, usually in a band environment. Making music by myself a completely different experience for me, it’s very personal. I find I need to have a totally different attitude when collaborating. Creating with other people is all about sharing, not being too selfish and learning from each other, finding common ground and building up from that. Collaborating is probably way more fun, I’d love to do more collaborative electronic projects in the future.

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What’s planned for the rest of 2017? Beyond that, what place will your role as a solo producer hold in the remainder of your life?

Something I haven’t done enough, but I know works, is creating deadlines for myself. Maybe this will be my mid-year resolution. I’m just aiming to be super productive and a nice person. I’ve got plans to put out a debut record, do some jamming with friends and some more performances. Looking to the future, I think working alongside other people is important for creating opportunities in music, solo producing is easy and satisfying but I find it can be limiting in its output. Individually, I’ve got aspirations for more experimentation, travel and a coupla’ records.

Underground City Loop Facebook / SoundCloud

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