As the first dark ambient project that I really paid attention to, Flower for Bodysnatchers was important to me. It’s pianos layers with real sound, true darkness incarnate. But’s beautiful at the same time, taking long unblinking looks into the human soul.
Resounding Footsteps: What drew you to the genre of dark ambient?
Flowers for Bodysnatchers: I guess it’s an evolution of musical taste and interest in darker cinema I’ve had since I was young. I’ve been a horror movie fan since I watched my first horror movie. Which if I’m not mistaken was Halloween II. I was an 80ʼs metal head and listened to everything from Whitesnake to Coroner. Taste of course matured over time but, all the time found myself drawn to film scores. From then on things slowly moved me towards classical music and eventually ambient, listening to Brian Eno and the likes. Then along came Einstürzende Neubauten and Lustmord and things are where they are now for me musically speaking.
RF: I have to ask, what’s with the name?
FfB: Flowers for Bodysnatchers is an amalgam of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and a Radiohead song title. I was listening to a lot of Radiohead at the time and clearly the film rubbed off on me also.
RF: When did you realize you wanted to make music in the dark ambient style?
FfB: It was something I’d always wanted to get into. But like most musical acts it can be difficult to forge an identity for your project and get a footing in the industry. I’ve been at this since 2002 producing music with my friend Shiro Takehiko as The Rosenshoul and Flowers for Bodysnatchers only came to being in 2012.
RF: What is your set up like, what sorts of instruments, equipment do you use to create your music?
FfB: Iʼve been using Yamaha and Arturia gear for some time now. The Arturia Keylab Midi Controllers in my mind are some of the best on the market. Coupled with Yamaha Monitors and a Roland interface make the heart of my studio. I also use an Arturia Mini Brute Analogue Synth, Zoom Field Recording gear and various real instruments, Cello, Bass guitar and whatever I can get my hands on.
RF: When did you start playing the piano? Were you classically trained or self-taught?
FfB: We had one at home as a kid. If I was bored, I’d mess around with it playing adlib pieces. I took music classes at school but never really picked it up until I was older. I’ve never had to much in the way of classical training just a natural understanding of chord progression I guess. So self-taught for the greater part.
Rf: What are some of your favorite instruments to use in your albums? Sounds?
FfB: Fielding recording gear and midi controllers. The sounds you can record and sample can be spectacular. And just being able to get out of the studio into the real world gives you a greater understanding of what you’re trying to achieve in the studio.
RF: If you could learn a new instrument for your next album (solo or collaborative) what would it be?
FfB: Saxophone, Iʼm hopeless at wind instruments. I can figure out almost anything but wind instruments have me beat!
RF: What nonmusical medium do you think you look for inspiration the most? Are you a movie person or a book person?
FfB: I do read and watch my fair share of films but they’re not my primary source of inspiration. I like to base my music on real life exploits. Either my own or others. Watching people from close up and afar and trying to understand their “real” issues. That’s where the inspiration for Aokigahara and Love Like Blood came from.
RF: What sort of music do you listen to outside of dark ambient?
FfB: I donʼt really confine myself to any particular genre. If it’s well produced and actually has some relevance Iʼll give it a go. At the moment Skinny Puppy, Bohren Und der Club of Gore, The Birthday Massacre and The Cult are getting a good thrashing. Oh and I’m a huge Boom Boom Satellites fan!
RF: I compared you to Brahms in my first review of Aokigahara, what are some of your music influences and inspirations?
FfB: David Lynch and Alan R. Splet and the score they did for David Lynchʼs film Eraserhead has influenced Flowers for Bodysnatchers sound enormously. That dry industrial grind of unkept industrial machinery is key in adding a wasted world atmosphere to my music. Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mica Levi, Brian Reitzell to name but a few have also been of great inspiration to the way I produce music.
RF: Love Like Blood and Aokigahara are both intricately related, do you think the next Flowers for Bodysnatchers album will follow the same story and turn this into a trilogy?
FfB: No, that story is finished which has now freed me up to work on other ideas. Whether the next body of work is a standalone piece of a larger body of work only time will tell.
RF: Following up on the last question, both albums are very Japanese and Tokyo centric, is there something in that culture that draws you? What is your major inspiration when coming up with material?
FfB: I’ve been visiting Japan on and off for years and lived in Tokyo twice. Itʼs such a rich, quirky and mysterious culture. Thereʼs so much happening and so much has happened in the past that inspiration is easy to find. Whether youʼre in the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku or the quiet of Aokigahara, all you need to do is close your eyes and your mind gets flooded with ideas.
RF: You took part in the mammoth “Nyarlathotep” collaboration, what was your part in that and how do you think it differed from your normal work?
FfB: I provided maybe 6-7 layers of sound for the project. More traditional dark ambient elements than the neo-classical sounds I produce. Everyone provided layers of sound from which we then composed an original piece from. It worked extremely well considering 25 artists had to work to the same deadlines.
RF: You did another collaboration in the form of “Locus Arcadia,” tell me how that came up and what your approach to that story was.
FfB: Randal Collier-Ford approached us regarding the project. He had the idea of a sci-fi/horror album. Reminiscent of films like Aliens and Event Horizon. We all came up with the idea to pick two locations within our mythical space station and compose the music around those areas. For me one of those locations was a morgue. This allowed for cold metallic sounds and to approach the track from a haunted house angle.
RF: This has been a very productive year thus far for you, anything left undone that you hope to finish soon?
FfB: I’m working on a 3 track EP at the moment which may act as a prologue to a future body of work. Quite a long EP so fans can get something solid out of it.
RF: What kinds of stories do you like to tell through your music? Or is that even something that goes through your mind when youʼre creating music?
FfB: Isolation, fear, loneliness. I think that’s a key element is most dark ambient music. I believe we always take the role of the oppressed looking out at the world.
RF: What do you think 2017 will hold for you? For Flowers for Bodysnatchers?
FfB: Thereʼs no hurry for a new album from Flowers for Bodysnatchers. Although Iʼll always be working on that project. I would like to focus more attention on my other project The Rosenshoul and collaborating with other artists.
RF: Some dark ambient groups perform live, is that something Flowers for Bodysnatchers would ever do? If so what do you think a Flowers for Bodysnatchers show would be like?
FfB: I’d love to do a Flowers for Bodysnatchers gig with Shiro Takehiko (The Rosenshoul). I think for a performance to work it needs to be a two person show, splitting the piano and synth work load. Like most things I’m the last person in a hurry. For it to happen it has to be done properly and I think it would be a rather intense gig.