Every time Joseph Fraioli (aka Datach’i) posts a new video, it is a welcome revelation! Unlike so many modular synth videos, his have coherent shape and form and apart from enjoying the music for its own sake, my inquisitive mind always wonders about the techniques he employs to achieve that form.
Each video appears as a live take, with minimal but crucial interaction, the results of which transcend its formidable constituent parts. Joseph was kind enough to agree to answer twenty questions for me and the following video is a great example of his work, so I highly reccomend you have a listen while you read!
1. You have a new project due for release in August, so first of all where we can experience & support it?
I have a new Datach’i album called ‘System’ that was made entirely on my Eurorack modular synthesizer and is now available for pre-order here:
Pre-orders come with a bonus CD-R “System Bonus Tracks” which are a bunch more modular tunes made around the same period.
Also, those who pre-order physical copies are automatically entered to win a FREE modular start up kit by Tiptop Audio which includes a Z3000 MKII smart VCO and a Happy ending kit and 20 percent off a one time purchase of additional modules.
2. For people who may not know you, what are your primary fields of endeavour?
What do you do creatively, and professionally?
I am a post production sound designer and owner of the company Jafbox Sound where my focus is original sound design for Advertising, Experiential, Virtual Reality and Film.
My music project is under the alias Datach’I where I have several releases that came out between 1999-2006. ‘System’ is my first album release in 10 years!
3. What was the genesis of the project? Its initial origins, inspiration, concept?
I had been making these modular videos for a few years that were more based around exploring various new modules capabilities but were very musical I suppose. I hadn’t really thought about making another album until I was chatting with my friend Aaron Funk (Venetian Snares) who convinced me to think of making a modular Datach’I album. From there I went on to make 108 total modular patches/tracks for the album. Of which a total of 35 made it to the main album and bonus album.
You can check out those modular videos here:
4. In a practical sense, what was the timeline for the project? How long did it take from start to finish?
I’d say the bulk of the tracks were made between January of 2015 through April of 2016. There are a few older ones on there as well from 2012 and 2014.
5. Who did you collaborate with? What did they contribute & how did you find them?
The only musical collaborator on this album is the Eurorack modular system itself. I like to think of it as an Artificial Intelligence entity and I am more of a creative director who steers it into the direction id like to go.
6. The person who starts a long term project is different to the person who finishes it. How does it feel to have created something new? How has it changed you?
Feels pretty great to have completed an album I’m really happy with. Like with any long term project, you learn a lot along the way. I’d say one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned on this one is that the more complex the patch or music doesn’t always make the best music. Simplicity sometimes wins the long run.
7. Completing a long term project can sometimes open the floodgates of new ideas…
Do you have immediate plans for the next project/s?
I have loads of ideas for modular patches and concepts to explore. Plus a pretty big backlog of tracks so I’m sure there will be more soon somehow ☺
8. Tell us about the evolution of your creative tools? What changed over the course of the project?
Well there were a bunch of new modules that I incorporated during the process of creating the tracks, so those definitely inspired my workflow. Mainly the Tiptop Audio Circadian Rhythms really changed the way I work and made a lot of programming/performing techniques possible that weren’t before. It brings not only control but but also real time expression into the performances. Its sort of the main hub or brain of my patches/tracks these days.
9. How about the evolution of your ouevre?
I suppose more and more I like my musical endeavors to be more minimal in arrangement, very clear, sharp and identifiable while still having a unique complexity to them that creates an aural interest.
10. Do you work best in parallel, series? multiple projects? multi tasking? mono tasking?
I’m more of a parallel guy; in fact I’ve made most of the tracks on the album while being busy with client sound design projects. It helps to keep the creative flow during downtime. For example finishing a first sound design pass on a client project, as you know there’s some time before you get feedback or are waiting for new picture. It’s then where I’d start up a patch. If I have the day off I’d rarely make any music. More likely to go outside, be with friends or watch a movie.
11. If you could skip back in time & offer yourself some sage advice back at the start of the project,
what would it be?
Just because a patch or track is complex doesn’t make it good music. Don’t spend so much time on that.
12. Creating order from chaos is a fundamental aspect of art. Do your best ideas or creative elements come to you consciously? subconsciously? Is finding the balance primarily intuitive? intellectual?
What role did improvisation play in the album?
Working with modular synthesizers there’s always some percentage of improvisation. As I mentioned before I like to be more of a collaborator with the modular and improvise various aspects of a patch during the performances to get the right expression across.
13. Time based art requires both the use & manipulation of time. How did your perception of time change while working on this project? consciously? unconsciously? is time elastic?
Are friends electric?
Friends are definitely electric!!!! Though I think I may like Telekon better. I love the production on that. Its so warm and intimate sounding. Are Friends Electric? is great too though, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of Gary Numans early work.
I’m pretty sure time is elastic while our perception of it is linear. Are friends elastic?
16. What was the first music or sound you ever heard that sparked the motivation & desire to work & create in this field?
For post production sound design it was the first Jurassic Park movie. I was 16 I think and my brother had convinced me to go see it with him in the theater. I was a bit of a punk as a teen so wasn’t super excited about the idea of seeing a kids/family movie. Anyway I decided sure it will be ok to get really stoned and check out the dinosaurs on the big screen. I was falling asleep until half way though when the T rex makes his appearance with that massive close up roar. It completely blew my mind. The sound was so unexpected and terrifying yet completely fitting. It was a few weeks later I caught a news segment on TV where Gary Rydstrom was showing how he would combine the different animal sounds to make the T Rex roar. I couldn’t believe that someone did that for a living and was so blown away from how his process was to create these sounds. That really started my experimentation with sound. The T rex roar from the first movie is still one of my all time favorite sounds. Here’s that scene:
For electronic music it was Wendy Carlos score to a Clockwork Orange. It was the combination of the awesome synthetic sounds and voices that recreated classical pieces against the contrasting imagery in the film that really struck me. There’s this pleasant yet slightly strange interpretation of this classical music happening against all this weirdo violence. I loved it! When I got the tape I discovered the full version of timesteps, which is still one of my favorite tracks.
17. Share a memory with us – a live music concert which was profoundly inspiring to you
One that really sticks out to me was Merzbow live in 1999 in NYC. It was like being underneath the space shuttle while it was taking off. Deafeningly loud. Though there was so much depth and beautiful color to this noise. The space he played in was this white boring room with regular ceiling lights. The sound was so powerful that it transformed the environment even while it was bland.
18. Share a memory with us – a place which was profoundly inspiring to you
Anytime I get out of NYC and go upstate or to the country its super inspiring to check out the stars at night, when there’s less light pollution from city haze.
19. Share a memory with us – a work of art you experienced that profoundly inspired you
Anything by James Turrell. Love experiencing his work in person.
20. Lastly, a meta question: please answer this question with a question about your project
Thanks so much Joseph!
If you’re intrigued as to the choice of modules, hit this image to view a large version:
Also well worth a visit & subscribing is his Youtube channel here
Thanks again – looking forward to the release!