The enigmatic A Sagittariun is responsible for some of the most melodic, attention - grabbing music coming out of the UK at the moment. Not a lot is known about him though, although I've heard on the grapevine that he originates from the Bristol/West Country area. His most effective method of communication is, unsurprisingly, through his music, which is exclusively issued through his own Elastic Dreams label, resplendent with bastardized Disney imagery and a witchcraft/masonic design hybrid (well, that's what it evokes in me anyway). I played a mix by him on my last radio show and contacted him to see if he would answer a few questions regarding his (mal)practices. He very kindly sent me some answers at the end of last week just as I was going to bed listening to the World Service with a cup of hot chocolate, (for medicinal purposes, you understand), so here's what passed between us.
You're not the only artist to hide behind a mask, but you are the only one I've noticed who uses an established image. Why Mickey Mouse and why the juxtaposed designs which grace Elastic Dreams' releases?
It's not so much about the image of Mickey Mouse, more the context in which the image is presented. The logo as a whole depicts Mickey with his eyes X'd out, in a pentangle, with Satantic scripture around the outer circle, skulls in the corners of the pentangle. Such a cool collage of very strong imagery….Mickey Mouse is such an iconic character, the symbol of American innocence, a symbol of industry, but also a character whose roots lie with darker forces, you know Walt Disney allegedly linked to the Nazi party, propaganda films featuring early Disney characters…it's taking this wholesome image and sticking it in this quite dark context…the pentangle downturned and the Satanic scripture….
Has the Disney corporate behemoth noticed you using their intellectual property, and what do you plan to do if they do?
I recently changed the logo actually, removing the Mickey Mouse image, but not at the request from Disney, but from another source. So I reworked the logo and stuck Bambi's head on there, the message is still the same
How has the current economic situation had an impact on the way you work?
The A Sagittariun project is very much a labour of love, I do not benefit from it financially and quite frankly, do not expect to. I'm fortunate in that I have other incomes from my day job, you know to pay my rent, feed my children, and so there's no economic forces between me and A Sagittariun, so the music that comes through is pure, from the heart, from the head, it's a very personal project, I'm not making music for money, I am making it for pleasure. I press up records that lose money, the digital downloads are chicken feed, but it doesn't bother me, I'm always moving onto the next record, and currently putting the finishing touches to my first A Sagittariun album. If people dig the music, great, we've made a connection, my mind to yours, and that's something special that I'll take with me. Pure music always comes out of repression, of hardship, look at the history of music, the blues players, the reggae musicians, rhythm & blues players, people making music as a way of expression, so many influential musicians die penniless, I try not to get tainted by the 'music industry', so many contemporary artists now have become obsessed with the notion of money and success from this artform, and it breeds negativity and hatred, the way some of these DJs carry on, bitching and all…..
It's normal for the underground to hide itself even more during times of economic and political turmoil. Do you think that is the case at the moment, and what is "the underground" anyway?
Right now I'm not sure sure what 'the underground' is, because in my opinion, there's too many artists obsessed with fame and money, and they making fuckin drum loops, chord stabs, basic shit.
Listen, A Sagittariun is what it is, I'm not hiding my identity because of any cultural or economical situation, I'm presenting a music project known as A Sagittariun. I'm not interested in putting myself forward as some fodder, I'm putting the music at the forefront, I'm not interested in seeing my face star back at me from flyers and magazines and websites, because that image is not what the project is about. I'm not knocking any artist for doing it their way, but this way is my way, as intended from the inception of the project.
Economic and political turmoil have always thrown up some of the greatest music, art and literature in modern times, fact. These times should make people think for themselves, represent themselves, have an opinion, make a choice, take an alternate path. But in 2013, I'm not so sure that there's this wave of creativity coming through, I'm old enough to recall the climate in the 70s and 80s, when there was huge divide between classes and the power, and these times are etched forever in the history books, such a fertile time for art and expression, but I'm not so sure the younger generation know how to rise up, and I think the internet has played a huge part in this shift and apathy...
What about the corporate influence on music? Glastonbury being a prime example. £205 for a ticket is the price of a small holiday abroad for some. How do you view the herding of people into place to be entertained? They all seem to be enjoying themselves.
Well, I have a huge infinity to Glastonbury actually, I have a special bond with the Eavis family, and I like what they do. I haven't been in a few years, and yes, the whole affair has completely changed, and I guess become more corporate, but on the subject of the entry fee, well you can't complain, all those acts, DJ, performers, for £200, come on, Glastonbury can be a life changing experience, even now in it's more corporate form, it's not a huge sum of money for people to go have a lost weekend in the beautiful Somerset region.
Corporate influence on music? Well, that's just happened over time really, hasn't it, and the big corporations have moved in on the scene, from record labels to the devices on which we listen to music…advertising, marketing…..it's a sign of the times, you know we used to have such a thing as counterculture, and this is where ideas and debate grew from, the the corporations bought up all the countercultures so they can control the mass population and brainwash them into feeding into their ever expanding pockets. Perhaps the younger generation don't know any difference, so I sure hope they are having a good time, that would be pretty sad if they weren't
How does the music you make relate to your world view and do you believe in music generally being a subversive force for good?
I'm not sure I write the music I write with any world views, in just the same way that I don't write music to ensure sales or popularity, I just write the music that I emotionally connect to. A lot of my stuff is quite melancholic in ways, but I like to sprinkle a lot of hope in there, I want my tracks music to be positive, to go to some place. Sometimes I'll use a choice sample in there, something with a message, something to make people think a little deeper, I don't know, you see it's a wholly personal thing, I only draw upon my own history, the music that I grew up with, the messages that I got from this music and imagery, and I guess I'm keeping the line going with music that isn't just designed for some hedonistic moment, but something to really engage in. And quite frankly I'm a long way off achieving that, but I enjoy the creative process and trying to get to that point.
You recently posted on your Facebook page:
"I don't make music for DJs and nightclubs, I make music for dreamers and heads, I would rather my music be consumed through headphones in the horizontal position, preferably on a comfortable bed, and that my 12" vinyl records may come in handy as a table or rest in order to perhaps construct a mellow smoke to enhance your listening experience…."
Yet the music you make is just what the doctor ordered for many a discerning DJ, so why say this?
Well, like I said in my post, I'm NOT making music for DJs and clubs, I don;t sit down and start writing, thinking 'oh yeh, I can imagine this in a club, people going out their minds'….I write across the whole electronic pallete, lot's of BPMs, music with melody, music without….4/4 techno beats aren't exclusively for the dancefloor, I never understood people who could not listen to those kind of rhythms outside of the nightclub environment, music is music. And when all is said and done, you can't beat a one on one experience with music, hence my reference to listening through a pair of headphones, lying on a bed, perfectly relaxed, poised to let the music posses you. The album which I have coming out in November, it's a listening experience, from start to finish, call me old fashioned, but that's how I want the album to be digested. There's stuff on there in the mid 130bpm right down to 80bpm, but you listen to it as a whole and it will make perfect sense, it's a trip
The video for 'The Mojo Odyssey' is a great piece of work. Could you explain the thinking behind it and do you have plans for any more similar sound collages?
Thank you, truth be told I put the video together pretty quickly, I found a couple of striking short films on the internet and spliced it all together. So much of the music I love has always been represented by great visual elements, and I think this is lacking in so much music today. People forget that the two go hand in hand, instrumental electronic music can still be visualised, you can relay a message in the marriage of the music and moving pictures, and this is what I did with both The Mojo Odyssey and A Lucid Dream, in fact the music has MORE impact when coupled with the videos, because I am able to express both my music and perhaps my outlook, my dreams, my nightmares, my imagination… I plan to take A Sagittariun out as a live experience, and will lost definitely be hooking up with like minded souls to compile images and visual accompaniment to the music I'll be creating live.
There's a purity in your output that conversely feels lived in and raw. I read the article in Slim about your favourite producers, but what influences and interests do you have outside music and how are they brought to bear in your work?
I guess my influences and interests are within the arts, and history. You know, as a teenager, I read a lot of books, on history, politics, alternative politics…I'm interested in film, and literature, and counterculture and I suppose subconsciously it's all there when I create the A Sagittariun music. It's a vibe, an attitude, you can't put your finger on it, but it's there, because it's what made me, shaped me, and it most definitely shapes my music.
What does the future hold for Elastic Dreams?
The album 'Dream Ritual' will be out in November to coincide with the Sagittarius zodiac time, I expect I'll put out a 12" single before that, and I'd like to sign up other artists is they are to my taste, but right now Elastic Dreams is A Sagittariun and vice versa, so I'm more than happy it being a vehicle for the A Sagittariun releases