Linear B

Linear B

Belfast-born producer Linear B has been making and DJing electronic music for almost 20 years. This October, he returns to his own Rainbow Tipi imprint with an impressive 14-track debut album ‘Healing Time’, written during and after the pandemic. We discussed the album, as well as the process behind creating it and more with Linear B in the interview below.

Linear B - Interview

Hi Linear B, and welcome to Minimal Mag. How has your year been so far?

My year has been kinda difficult and also rewarding at the same time; I had stomach surgery a year ago for a hiatus hernia repair, that didn’t go as well as expected and I caught COVID for the first time whilst in recovery from the operation. The whole process knocked me for six and I’ve been at home recovering for a year with various degrees of pain, unable to eat properly, loads of exhaustion and back and forth to the hospital . But the silver lining was more time at home with my daughter who was a year old at that time. Being around for her early speech, reading books, identifying everything in books, nursery rhymes, nappies, feeding, naps, cuddles – lots of fun things that helped take my mind of the pain and discomfort.

I’ve read in interviews that your tracks often have some sort of story or meaning behind them. Based on the track titles for your new LP ‘Healing Time’ I imagine that’s the case here as well, are there any you can tell us about? 

The inspiration for the tracks are: 

Healing Time: Being forced to go back to work when struggling with illness, needing time to recover. 

Old School Fool: Still making bangers, and years of experience, and not using drugs whilst DJing and partying.

Hazey Chains: Writing dance music during lockdown and waiting for the club scene to open after the pandemic gave rise to the “report to the floor” line.

Sleeping Dogs Lie: Resolving conflicts, meeting of minds, peace and harmony, “meet me in the middle”.

Ain’t Messing Around: About a run in with a bad builder. 

Temptress: I woke up in the house early one morning, I had the house to myself (as my partner was away) and I previously had a seductive dream where I was in the bath and Rihanna the singer got in. I bailed out before it went all the way – I basically bottled it! It was a dream for fucks sake. I told my partner about it, she thought it was hilarious. 

Make It Rain: About asking a pretty girl to smile, which men often do, hence the line”women don’t owe you pretty” which is a book by Florence Given that my partner was reading at the time. 

Journey Man: Journey man of sound, learning the craft, being late for gigs, travel issues etc….. “well here I am, how the hell are you?”. 

Long in the Booth: Being old and still clubbing/ DJing, play on the saying “long in the tooth”. 

Shimmy and Shake: Suffering from stage fright, anticipation of going out to play. 

Finding Rainbows: This is about going out to festivals again after the lock down pandemic and getting messed up…”everyone is free”.

Emerald Isle: A German magazine quoted that I’m a British techno artist producer. I’m actually Irish, was born there, so I did twist on the famous JFK speech in the track saying “I’m a not a Berliner I come from the Emerald Isle”. Thanks for the idea guys!

Surrounded at Dawn: About being in a messy club and being the only one sober as the sun’s coming up and needing to bail out… soz no afters. 

linear b

You’ve used vocals in one way or another on a lot of your tracks, but this LP sees you taking this much further with full vocal melodies and hooks. What was the motivation behind this development of your style?

I’ve always been into vocals, I grew up listening to artist like Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and Pink Floyd to name a few. I use my voice rather than using generic sample files, I’m Irish so we are traditionally very song based. I wanted to push the boundaries, take risks and explore my artistic side with words as I sing a lot, write poetry and record loads of ideas on memos. Most of the time it’s hard to shoehorn some of the vocals into tracks but I had a go with this album. I’ll probably just make instrumental tracks for a while now as I’m always too critical of my voice anyways. 

There are three previously released tracks on this LP, ‘Finding Rainbows’, ‘Emerald Isle’ and ‘Long In The Booth’. Why did you come back to these tracks and what about them makes them a good fit for this LP?

All of the above tracks were always part of this collection of work but I wanted to tweak some of them and release the album in its entirety. Believe it or not this is my 6th complete album, most of them are unreleased. Most of my tracks have a lot of stems so lots of them end up not getting used. I guess they are a remixers dream, they’ll probably all end up in a pool to create new tracks later on. 

‘Healing Time’ was put together over the last three years during and after the pandemic. With such a long writing period, did you feel you were able to listen back to your music differently, perhaps more objectively, compared to previous projects?

Listening back, I felt that some of them were a lifetime ago as I’m a prolific worker I’m never short of ideas. I’m driven to create; when I don’t I start getting crazy. These tracks were moments in time, stepping stones to new creative processes. To be honest, I just wanted to box this collection of tracks off and start working towards a new album. 

Linear B - Finding Rainbows (2021)

You have a good amount of hardware in your studio, which is evident listening to the sound of the LP. With the explosion of AI tools and plugins the general trend is leaning towards simplifying the process of music creation. In this context, what for you is the value in keeping things ‘complicated’? 

I love new kit, it spurs me on. Getting to know it is like forming complicated relationships with new people – they can also be a nightmare at times. Currently, I have a DAW-less semi-modular set up where I just jam ideas. I’ve never gotten rid of stuff I’ve bought, I’m still using most of it 25 years later hence loads of kit in the studio… sorry, I’m an addict – probably need to sell off some old friends, which I’ll probably regret later on. 

As for AI, I guess that’s fine if you want to sound like someone else as they’ll always need a reference point until they can think for themselves. I couldn’t imagine asking a computer or something else to write for me… a bit like the sync button with DJing and the ghost writing debate. 

Do you feel that living outside of a city, removed from club culture, impacts the way you write music either positively or negatively? 

I spent over 30 years going to clubs, festivals and raves living in the city and I’m fortunate to have seen the birth of rave culture in the UK and all its various genres; I’m never far from inspiration as I have loads in the pot delve into. I’m back and forth to the city a lot with work so I’m not isolated, we have the radio on constantly in my house from morning till night (mostly BBC Radio 2). I love to hear new artists, plus I buy lots of new music too so I’m always connected. 

The countryside is great, I can make music night and day and not bother anyone; I’m happiest in the country, surrounded by trees and nature. I grew up living next to a forest so it’s like coming home amongst the trees, it’s magical living in tune with the seasons too surrounded by animals. Another fun thing is all the wild birds love tweeting along to modular techno. 

Which part of the creative process do you find that you enjoy the most: the initial creation of an idea, the embellishing of an established idea or the finalising of the entire work and the mix down? 

I’m all about the creative process, getting loads of ideas down with an emphasis on making something slightly different than I previously did before. Once there’s a huge collage of sound I end up editing bits out to create space. I never really set out with an idea, I just vibe on the kit and with what ever thoughts or feelings are going on at the time. Mostly everything just gels when I’m in my flow, mix downs can be dull but also so rewarding; finalising the project is a blast but it’s also hard not to keep going back into tracks to add bits. Basically, I love to get them boxed off so I can move onto something new completely.

Finally, what else can we expect from Linear B and Rainbow Tipi in the near future? 

I would like to go out and start doing live performances with vocals, maybe an album in it’s entirety or a hybrid set of sorts. I’m still in love with DJing but the artist side wins every time now. I’ve stepped back from doing a lot of DJing/ radio and promoting events as it was exhausting trying to manage it all, so I’ve opted for a slower pace of life to settle down in the country and start a family. These days, I’m happy being an artist and exploring sound design, focusing more on the craft. I’ll probably open up my studio as a business in time, for people to come and work as it’s very tranquil space with no distractions. Also, there is a lot of talk of starting a little festival with a big group of friends who are very passionate about music too, so who knows! 

Linear B - Links

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