In the run up to our next collaborative event, Semi Peppered & Intermission: Empty spaces, we meet the artists getting involved.
Joe Dadd (Donnagan)
How and when did you first get into DJing?
I guess my first proper foray into music was a late night radio show I started when I first moved to Bristol, aged 18. The late night slot meant I could play a load of stuff I wouldn’t have usually, and helped me get some practice in while probably no-one listened… The show actually went on to be called Semi Peppered, and became the basis of our ongoing mix series, which I’ve been doing ever since.
You have been working with Semi Peppered since they started, do you think this has helped to grow your own creative abilities?
Definitely, back in the early days I was using SP as my main creative outlet, and my creative abilities kind of grew alongside it… Myself & Will were regularly preparing & releasing EPs, which massively pushed me to become better at production. Alongside that we started to put on more nights & be booked in and around Bristol. We’ve taken a step away from releasing music for now, and as a result I’ve had a chance to focus on my own music and build my own style away from SP, which I’ve enjoyed a lot.
How would you describe the Semi Peppered sound?
I’ve been doing it for around four years now and as you’d expect, mine and Evan’s taste has changed a load over that time. The difficulty is we’ve got multiple residents and a mix series to consider. I’d like to think that PEPmix is really eclectic & slightly inaccessible in parts, but I wouldn’t say our nights follow that ethos completely - so it gets a bit confusing. Even within SP for instance, Marko is massively into his Jazz… We all have fairly different tastes that we tap into, which makes our nights quite varied. James is doing his best to make all of our final tunes either jungle or hardcore though, so maybe that.
What made you want to collaborate with Intermission?
I really liked the idea of combining a showcase of art and live music under one theme. That idea kind of sold it to me, but I had been to some of the previous I:M stuff and really enjoyed it too.
How do you plan on fusing the experience of looking at art and listening to music?
I’ve done a few bits of music to moving image; scores for a couple of short films, and the AV set I’ve been performing this year. I’ve found that using predetermined imagery as a production aid is completely different to the process that I’m used to. A few months back I created an original score for Evan’s short film “The Door” and loved doing it, so I was keen to get involved here. The Door ended up going to the Palace International Film Festival in Poland, alongside a few other pieces from in and around Bristol! I’m hoping all that will translate well into what I’m doing on the 8th, but playing at an art showcase is completely new to me.
I hear that we can expect wacky and wonderful sounds from you, what’s your creative process?
I usually start on my laptop, slowing down and speeding up drum samples over and over again… I tend to build a couple of layers of percussion at a really high tempo, before cutting the tempo in half. I add a few more sounds at that speed and half it again. Once I’m happy with it, I up the speed and add some more. Repeating that process seems to help me find different rhythms and stay interested in what I’m making. Once I’ve settled on a tempo, I move away from the laptop and add some kicks, synths etc.
Do you think living in Bristol has been a big influence on you?
Definitely. There’s a load of stuff coming out of Bristol at the moment which I’d love to think is similar to what I’m making - especially Pessimist, he’s become a major influence on my music. There’s also a tonne of local producers like Ossia, Batu, Bruce etc. who have made it a really exciting place musically over the last few years.
Who are your musical crushes?
Rabih Beaini. He did a session recently for Knekelhuis at ADE that you can find online - that’s where I want to get to. One day I’ll hopefully bring him to Bristol or Manchester.
And do you see it as quite a challenge to link such a visual theme into a musical set?
If I’m honest I don’t see it as too much of a visual theme! Empty space in music is just as important as everything else - the space between each drum hit ends up creating the rhythm… I’m hoping my set will be able to play on that.
Artwork made by @kimizoet