There’s something unique to take in when listening to Serena Butler’s discography. Whilst limited the Italian producer has been hard at work crafting a sound that’s extraneously welcome within the hallowed dancefloors of the techno underground, appreciated on an individual basis for its softer merits.
The music created comes from an environment that welcomes sensory overloads from various mediums, with Motoko Kusanagi and Abyss Watchers vying for attention in the background. A cursory glance, a sound, a flicker…all these things formulate the sound that imbues what Serena Butler is all about.
With their latest release, KONSTRUKT007 out now at your reliable digital and physical retailers, we caught up with Serena Butler to delve deep within their creative process, thoughts on science fiction becoming a reality, and their future plans alongside a featured mix on the latest episode of Newtype Rhythms. Butler’s mix starts 42 minutes in, with resident Sheepshead starting off the festivities.
Interview by Mitch Stratchnov
"Even if my sounds may seem quiet and tidy, the process that generates them is not at all, being much more chaotic and unpredictable."
Your latest release is a breath of fresh air when it comes to techno — your music in general has a had a uniqueness since your initial releases, though it seems like you’re evolving with every release moving forward. Has your creative process changed since you’ve started to make and releases these tracks (or is constantly evolving) — if so, how has it changed?
I’m deeply grateful for the fresh air, although this “evolution of sound” is constant but not predetermined, my compositional methodology has not radically changed in this last year, except for some new hardware additions to my sonic palette. Even if my sounds may seem quiet and tidy, the process that generates them is not at all, being much more chaotic and unpredictable.
My workflow is an intricate array of multimedia suggestions among the most disparate, and include video games (constantly lit in the background), movies, audio books, digitized comics and much more. For example I can start working on some melodies on my synths, then be massacred by one or two bosses in Dark Souls and finally find the right sample or mood to shape the flame of the track. It’s just a bunch of intuitions, errors, attempts and instinct.
As I said before, it’s a pretty chaotic way to make music, but I’m perfectly comfortable in this system, having tried more canonical routes (jamming with machines, changing the colors of clips in Ableton) and failed. I get distracted easily, so I decided to channel this force of casualties by creating a systematic bombardment of sensory stimuli; and so it begins.
Your music takes its listeners to places that aren’t so distant technologically from the realities we face every day, yet are still perhaps ideologically eons away. Whether it be in your Eerie release where you reference Blade Runner or in you New York Haunted referencing Ghost in the Shell. While music is obviously used as a form of escapism, do you feel your music is impacted on any sort of internal strife you feel within the constructs of modern society and technology today versus what it could possibly be within the fiction referenced?
It may appear less credible, but I’m a rather optimistic organism despite producing music that seems to linger on a lost sense of hope. Man creates any kind of technology just because he is able to do so, sometimes without any prior or posthumous reflection on the effects of reckless creation. But this has not completely negative effects sometimes, and I believe in the help of technology for our emancipation from a primitive species of (rarely) well dressed apes to beings conscious of their own position in the continuum.
Please notice that I wrote help and not replacement. We must overtake the idea of exclusively binary gender and struggle for an equilibrium in our society. Could sentient machines be the answer for our evolution and the search of the balance? I sincerely can’t imagine all the implications behind it, but I would love to assist in the process. In my music I can just send messages – messages of hope or changing, but this depends on your ghost and your expectations from yourself and others. Perhaps it’s time to make our transition?
"My workflow is an intricate array of multimedia suggestions among the most disparate, and include video games, movies, audio books, digitized comics and much more."
Tell us about this mix you’ve made for Newtype Rhythms.
Originally the mix was another; based exclusively on non-dance tribal rarities that I collected here and there between physical reality and the digital netherworld. But after a while I realised that it had no fluidity, other than it was also quite artificial and weak in musical terms. So I completely improvised a new set on my 4 channel desk (2 turntables and 2 CDJs) with random tracks picked from old nuggets and new gems from today.
It has been really an improv session — one take — recorded the day after I returned from my South American tour and then WeTransfered to you. And about the music, I included every kind of beat and texture I feel indispensable in every human life. Hope you will find a tiny light at the end of this mix.
The melodies on your KONSTRUKT 007 release are blissful, somewhat transient — balanced out by cavernous kicks and warm bass — there’s a comfortable intensity that you evoke within this release that is rare nowadays in techno. How important is it for you to feel as open as possible to go into any direction you want when it comes to creating the music you want to make?
Openness to new data and experience it’s my only goal, and the unique path I want to follow. I’m really not able to believe in labels and names, we live in a perpetual continuum of sounds and the only way to evolve (and at the same time be conscious of our work) is to let us overwhelm by the fluxus of thoughts. Resistance, in this case, is futile.
What does Serena Butler have planned for 2018?
Plans by nature are never perfectly defined, but as far as the growth of our label Bene Tleilax is certainly one of the most important goals of the next years. I will surely release another new EP (maybe an album, my first) and we will open our labs to other interesting creatives we’ll release on a special series of tapes.
There will be also other disks ready for a really cool set of labels that I cannot reveal. I would also like to increase my gigs and visit new far-away lands around the world, and thanks to my new live show (debuting on December 8th in Milan), an unpublished perspective will open a whole series of unknown possibilities that I cannot wait to face.
Discover more about Serena Butler on Inverted Audio.