Leeds-based producer Chris Milnes aka Winemaker works as a university lecturer and tours with a band called Hollow Coves but debuted this solo project in 2022. We caught up with him to discuss his latest EP, his musical background and more.


Winemaker - Interview

Hey Chris, welcome to Minimal Mag! How are you doing and where are you joining us from today?

Hello! I’m actually on the train right now heading to Liverpool, but I’m based in Leeds, which is very grey and rainy today.

You have an interesting musical background, can you tell us how and why you got into electronic music?

Yeah of course. I mean my main musical background is playing in bands, and that’s a huge part of my musical life. I started playing in a shoegaze band when I was about 15 with my best mates, and we all absolutely fell in love with making music. In terms of electronic music, I think there were definitely a few “gateway” albums that got me into it, which I’d listen to a lot with my bandmates. Albums like “Crooks and Lovers” by Mount Kimbie, “Sun” by Caribou, “Causers of This” by Toro y Moi and “There is love in you” by Four Tet. Basically anything that came out in 2010 – I think that was a hugely pivotal time for my music tastes for sure. It felt very natural at the time but I guess analysing the transition now, we perhaps felt a bit limited by the sounds we had on offer with a guitar in front of us, and wanted to explore a bit further. After that, I got really into stuff like “Space is only noise” by Nicholas Jaar and “Cosmogramma” by Flying lotus, and started trying to make electronic music; which was absolutely terrible.

Since around 2011 though making electronic music has always been something I’ve done, mainly just as a hobby. I work a lot in music, but until last year I’d never really considered releasing anything, but some friends helped push me into it and now I’m very pleased that I have done!

As a university lecturer do you find there is much crossover in terms of skills and influences between that and your musical career?

In some ways yes. I teach a range of stuff at the university, some of which is very electronic music centric, so there’s some crossover there. In terms of influence the university teaching is great. Obviously, most students are about 8 or 9 years younger than me, so they think about things very differently, and have completely different tases. It’s a lovely experience to learn from them and see how they do things, as well as vice versa. I get quite a lot of new music from them, and as well, I think that lecturing in general makes you consider how you communicate with people, and I hope I can go some way to embedding that into my music too.

How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard your music before?

My mum recently described it as “nonsense noises”, which I quite like, but I personally think it’s pretty accessible! I always say it’s a reappropriation of real-life noises, often quite nature based, which are influenced by UK electronic music. It’s quite hard to put into a genre though. There’s definitely ups and downs, some sections are very mellow and pretty, and others a lot more aggressive. 

Winemaker - Three Dancers

Your latest release ‘Cold Water’ is an innovative EP that fuses real world recordings with your UK electronic production style. What was your inspiration for this concept?

I think this probably happened over Covid. I got quite sick of using the same instruments repeatedly, but also had absolutely no money, so that’s when I really got into sampling and manipulating sounds. Last year I was away touring with a band called Hollow Coves for most of the year, so I started taking little audio clips from the travels to remind me of all the beautiful places we ended up. I really like associating a track with a certain place, so having an ambience or a subtle little hint to a location makes me really happy when I make a track.

We hear you are working on a new live show later this year. What can you tell us about it?

I’m actually working a lot on this at the moment. I think it’s going to be a small ensemble, maybe a three piece…band? Band doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean. I want to make it quite an immersive experience, so I’m making some lighting considerations now as to how it’s all going to work. I recently went away to Copenhagen and was really inspired by an art exhibition I saw by James Turrell called Aftershock. He uses light to almost disorientate viewers, and I really loved the experience, so I’m hoping I can take some influence from how he does things to capture an audience.

Apart from music, what are your interests and passions?

I really like cooking and eating. I definitely do a lot of those things. Aside from that I do a lot of reading, and I like being outside, so I always try and get in some walks or hikes, or a wild swim. As you can probably hear, a lot of those interests find their way into the tracks in some way or another!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Chris! What else can we expect from Winemaker in 2023?

Hopefully there will be a few remixes on the card this year! Both of Winemaker tracks and some remixes I’m working on for other artists. I’ve put aside a lot of time to work on things this summer, so I’m hoping to nail a live show and get a couple of singles ready. I’d love to put out an album in 2024 so the plan is to work on that too, but we’ll see how that goes!

Winemaker - Links

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