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The Midnight Snacks EP marks the debut of the Reading-based ‘sound generating organism’ known more frequently as Stanky. Released via London’s Shades Records, the EP explores a variety of structures, tempos and themes, resulting in a collection of tracks that explore varying strands of music in different ways, be it riding on a 4 x 4 beat or via a more meandering, aimless route. Above all it feels coherent and refreshingly honest, and speaking to Stanky you get the impression a good deal of laughter was had in the making of Midnight Snacks, a thought that also pervades throughout his IA Mix.

Midnight Snacks follows on from Stanky’s collaboration with Owen Howells, and marks the tenth release for Shades, who are dedicated to showcasing some of the best emerging talent in the UK. We got to know Stanky and the EP a little better, delving into his musical history, ideas and themes, whilst his IA Mix is a curious blend of the LA beat scene, abstract techno and King Tubby, and is seriously captivating.

Were you schooled in classical music ever?

Not at all, I’ve had a piano hanging around when I was a kid, but my sister was the one who played the piano I just kind of pissed around on it – I was much more interested in things like football growing up so picking up an instrument was a bit alien to me until I was about 15, with guitar, basically just out of curiosity really.

How did you start composing/producing electronic music?

Well, my sisters boyfriend gave me a Squarepusher CD, and it just blew my mind, I remember just thinking ‘how the fuck is this guy doing this?’ it was just absolutely ridiculous, and I felt at that point that I really wanted to make something which was…not thought provoking but that makes you think ‘oh right, I don’t know what he’s doing but he’s got some sort of idea’. I don’t know, it’s difficult to explain, but that was definitely a turning point.

Thematically the EP is focused on dreams and the merging of fantasy and reality, which is reinforced by the production method – what made you want to explore these avenues through music?

It was a very organic process really, I mean a couple of the songs have just been plucked out of my hard drive over the last two years…I think it might be ‘Shortcrust Dub’ which was just a joke song at the time. I try not to use MIDI that much, I try to keep it organic in that sense, try and record and manipulate in that way.

Do you use a lot of live instrumentation?

Yeah, that’s my main thing, so a lot of sounds will come from…I’ve got like an acoustic guitar with two strings but I’ve kind of managed to fuck around with it enough to manipulate the noises in a way that makes it sound quite different…electric guitar, cheeky keyboard, loads of random sounds, shit on my computer.

Has improvisation and late-night jamming always served as your production crux, or is it a more recent development?

It’s been more of a revelation since I discovered Ableton Live, the ability to get your ideas down at that specific moment is really important, and you can edit it as much as you like afterwards but just to be able to get it down is really imperative to me. So I’ll just start, press record, and keep layering and putting stuff together whilst I’m recording – I might have half an hour of this big slug of music and I can pick stuff out. I just find it’s so fun that way, when you go back through the sound you find chunks and It feels like it’s not really your stuff, it feels like your sampling someone else which takes any sort of sense of ego out of it, almost like the music’s making itself. I think the reason I do it is to ensure the highest possibility of happy accidents can occur I guess – that’s all I want; just weird shit to happen.

The press release notes the use of found sounds, can you give us an example of where field recordings are used in the EP?

There are a few but are quite subtle, so I’m not sure if it would really relate to any listeners…my mate had a really cool delay pedal at uni and we were mucking around with it and just doing stupid, stupid stuff just laughing our tits off, it was just hilarious – voices changing etc, and there are a few parts of that In there, of just me and my mates having a bit of a laugh. I thought it would be cool to put in a more personal aspect – I like using them in that sense. There’s also found sounds in another sense – I might have made something two years ago and now am using it again in a different context. Also just walking around, bullshit on my phone – nothing massively significant.

It’s fair to say there are quite a few influences to be picked up on throughout Midnight Snacks. Who/What has been a particular influence in the making of this record?

Just the general aesthetic, I’m not sure there was a main influence. I love dub, I think it’s original, authentic sound is really nice. The honesty in it is great and I’ve really tried to capture that aesthetic.

How does Midnight Snacks translate live? Are you working on anything in particular?

I’d love to, I’ve got so many bits and bobs I think I could whack it into one massive vial and play around with it, there are so many blocks to build it up, it’s definitely something I’ve considered doing so it’s just getting the time to put it all together, but really I would love to do it – would love to get some visuals involved as well.

So the EP is released on the 16th of September – are you holding any launch parties?

Not as far as I know, so unless they’ve got something up my sleeve and haven’t told me yet then, but will try and sneak some live stuff around them.

Do you DJ as well?

Bits and bobs, I wouldn’t really call myself a DJ – I wouldn’t see I’m good enough really, but I would love to delve into that later on, but with live stuff I feel more comfortable.

And after Midnight Snacks? Where do you see yourself heading?

I’ve got such a backlog of stuff that I would love to release as well – got massive connections with my mates who I went to uni with still, got a little project called Jitter Jazz and think I’m gonna have a little digital release on that – maybe if we can afford to put some vinyl’s together then we might decide to get some of those out as well – so maybe an EP there. There’s so much stuff to release I just need time really.

Midnight Snacks EP is released today on Shades Recordings. Download the album from Beatport or buy the record from Red Eye.