Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bing Satellites [Interview # 153]

1) What exactly is a Bing Satellite? I know what a satellite is, and I think Bing is a search engine, right?
I wanted a name that was a bit spacey and not too serious.
And the name pre-dates the search engine by quite some years.
It came from a track of the same name (which can be found at ) , recorded 9 or 10 years ago. It started with a soft bleepy sound that, to me, sounded like a satellite transmission - softer than a ping, more of a bing.

2) What does the term ambient mean to you, musically?
I think the term ambient has become pretty meaningless. It is such a coverall, perhaps like jazz, for quite a wide range of music from boring new age nonsense to industrial noise.
For me, it is a blanket of sound. It can be quiet and sparse or a wash of noise.
I live near beside a motorway (or freeway) near the centre of Manchester, a busy, almost constantly noisy city, so my music tends to counteract that noise.
Perhaps ambient music isn't showing off. It is not about the musician, it is about the music, or more specifically the sound and atmosphere.
I do a weekly podcast called Mostly Ambient on ( details: ). Adding 'mostly' too it means I can get away with playing almost anything!
I have tried to make different kinds of music over the years but it always ended up sounding ambient. I stopped fighting it and making music became a whole lot easier and a lot more fun.

3) What bands would you recommend someone listen to had they never heard ambient music before and wanted the best representation of it?
Perhaps start with the quiet piano music of Harold Budd - a major influence on me.
I would also include Ulrich Schnauss and Thomas Fehlmann - both on the fringes of ambient, and very different shades, but well worth checking out.
There is quite a substantial online community of ambient musicians from around the world - a whole heap of super talented, creative people making wonderful music. Something I'm very glad to be part of.
I highly recommend the music of Cousin Silas - - and SineRider -
Both create a wide range of beautiful music which is always a joy.

4) Can ambient music be both boring and good?
No. I think music can be uneventful but still good and interesting but boring, no.
I think this applies across the board though - not just ambient music.
Music can be noisy and full and still be boring.
The most important thing in music, for me at least, is honesty. If someone is only doing something for the money or whatever, it is usually pretty transparent and lacks any depth, and that to me is boring.
Some of the best singers and musicians aren't technically brilliant but because what they perform is honest, it has a character and brilliance all of its own. Nobody can take that from you. Nobody can copy that.

5) Why does it seem as if so many bands that are good come from outside of the U.S.?
Hmm. I've never really thought of music as being geographical.
I enjoy music from all over the world.
Certain places produce more than their fair share of good, original music.
Manchester has been one of those places in the past. New York is another.
One thing both places have in common is a mixture of people from all over the world - different cultures and music blending and feeding off each other.
It's good for creativity. It's good for life in general!
Four years ago, I started a BFW recordings ( ), a netlabel to distribute my music and music if my friends online.
I was surprised to receive a lot of demos and interest from Indonesia - somewhere with a thriving music scene.
It was very refreshing to see these Indonesians taking Britpop and shoegaze music, adding their own flavour to it and making something new.

6) Final thoughts, plugs, etc…??
Well, I have lots (and I mean lots!) of music available on CD and download from
More specifically, my latest solo album 'Und'
and my upcoming collaboration with Daniel Land (ex Modern Painters frontman and bass player in Engineers with Mark Peters and Ulrich Schnauss) entitled 'King Midas In Reverse' ( ) which is an album of quiet music performed on piano and guitar. That is released on deluxe CD and download on 23 September 2013.
Also in September, my label BFW recordings will be doing Album In A Day volume 7, an album of songs by musicians around the world, all completely written and recorded in one day. More details at

Other than that, there will be lots more music and I hope to make more music for films, following on from my contribution to the soundtrack of Scott Schirmer's multi-award winning coming-of-age horror movie Found ( playing at a film festival near you! Details at )

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