Itsu’s deep exploration of the physics of sound

Fresh from the Aussie bush party scene, Itsu started out playing experimental cinematic bass and glitch hop finally matured into his infamous neurofunk drum and bass style

Hi Itsu. Can you please introduce your project to our readers?

Hi guys, I’m a producer and sound designer from Sydney Australia. I’ve written lots of different genres over the years from experimental cinematic bass music to glitch hop. For the past two years or so, my main focus has been neurofunk drum and bass. I write and perform my tunes in Ableton Live and worked as a lecturer for a few years teaching a few units in a Diploma of Electronic Music Production course. Outside of writing music, I also love pure sound design. I spend a heap of time making crazy science fiction style sound effects with no musical purpose at all haha. Unlike lots of other producers, I didn’t start out as a DJ. Instead, I grew up playing in bands, so getting up on stage and pressing a few buttons then jumping around between mixes isn’t really interesting to me. Playing electronic music that’s actually performed “live” can be kind of difficult, especially in the genres I work in. The sound design process takes ages, and you can’t just generate a lot of those sounds with a synth and play them live. I try to do as much live stuff as possible though. I use a heap of different controllers and my Ableton performance session just keeps getting bigger haha.

I know you are studying for a masters degree in acoustics. Is it changing your way to compose music? What is the direction your music is taking?

I’ve always had a pretty scientific approach to audio and have a formal education in both audio engineering and music theory, so I suppose it was a natural progression for me to study the physics of sound in more depth. It’s changed the way I make sounds because I think a lot about how a fictitious sound might actually occur in real life and try to emulate those processes. I’ve also gotten much deeper into DSP programming, which means I’ve got the ability to make custom tools for mangling audio in new ways. In a practical sense, studying acoustics has also improved my studio in that it’s now properly acoustically treated, so I can hear things more accurately.

Which artists have influenced your style & sound, if any?

So many. In the early days it was people like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Autechre. More recently I’ve been influenced by Sun in Aquarius, Vaetxh/Rob Clouth, Mefjus, Emperor, Billain, Noisia, Koan Sound, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Solar Fields and Richard Devine. Amon Tobin’s ISAM album was a huge influence on me, and I grew up listening to lots of metal and progressive rock, so bands like Tool, Karnivool, Deftones, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree have also probably had something to do with my sound.

You posted few public requests on LiveTrigger, cause you are planning to book shows in the US West Coast between the 27th of July and the 31st of August. What kind of shows are you looking for and what are your expectations about them?

Haha, uh, actually, that tour has been postponed till 2018 so I can focus on my research dissertation. I toured in the US in 2015 and played mostly club shows, so on my next trip over there, I’d like to do some more outdoor festival stuff. I really like it over there, and had heaps of fun last time, so I reckon it’ll be a good tour.

What do you think about the Australian music scene today?

The Australian music scene isn’t doing so well to be honest. There’s plenty of great music being made here, but the government here just don’t support the arts, and as a result of over-regulation, exorbitant licensing fees and overly stringent noise restrictions, live music venues are have been closing down all over the place. Melbourne, is an exception to this, but in Sydney, we have very few decent small to mid size venues left. The outdoor festival scene is a little healthier, but again, councils and police like to make things very difficult for organisers, especially in NSW.

What’s the coolest live act in Sydney?

Seekae have a great show. They’re really pushing the “live” aspect of electronic music performance. Mr. Bill has an awesome live show, though he’s based in Colorado these days. He’s another dude who’s constantly pushing the limits of live electronic music performance. Cog are always a great band to see live too.

What’s the best live music show you’ve seen recently?

Mr. Bill’s show at Regrowth Festival in January was great. I saw At The Drive In last year and that was awesome. Those guys have so much energy on stage. Really stoked to see them return after so many years.

Tell us something about your best and your worst memory on the road.

Haha, uh, worst memory on the road is nearly driving off a cliff in the desert in Nevada while on tour in the US 2015. I had a few days between shows, so we’d decided to take a detour to some hot springs. It was raining, which doesn’t happen a lot out there, and the road had turned to slippery-as-fuck clay. Got stuck there overnight and had to make a new road surface out of tree branches haha. It’s actually not a bad memory come to think of it. It was kinda fun. Bit of an adventure haha.

Best memory would probably be Island Vibe festival in 2016. I was playing to a packed dance floor and these local kids up the front were going mental and literally tearing bits off the bamboo stage. They were climbing all over the front barrier and hitting it with bits of bamboo. Totally out of time mind you, which was a bit distracting. This one kid probably about 12 years old was going absolutely nuts. Looked like he was off his head on PCP or something haha.

What do you think of

The site is a great way to connect artists, venues and promoters. I’m looking forward to more people getting on board with it. Networking for the purpose of booking shows overseas can be hard when you’re starting out, and this is a great tool to help artists make new contacts, even on the other side of the world.