[…] To bodies that had been laid in earth, in joyful expectation of a far different awakening, there came that hasty, lamp-lit, terror-haunted resurrection of the spade and mattock. The coffin was forced, the cerements torn, and the melancholy relics, clad in sackcloth, after being rattled for hours on moonless byways, were at length exposed to uttermost indignities before a class of gaping boys. […]
Robert Louis Stevenson – The Body-Snatcher (1884)
Flowers For Bodysnatchers, the dark music project of Duncan Ritchie, takes us to uncommon places, where the body is not essential and the mind may be absent. If you don’t believe us spend some time listening to his latest album ‘Love Like Blood’ while reading his interview.
I think I will start with the idea behind your project. Why do you make music? And why did you form Flowers For Bodysnatchers? Is it something introverted that fills your needs?
I’ve always enjoyed being creative. Whether it’s composing music, painting or photography. It certainly is a form of personal catharsis. Very mediative and all rely on a certain amount of exploration, both internally and externally. You can learn a lot about who you are by what you create.
What means do you use for your music? I can recognize the sound of the piano and the cello and I believe there are also some natural sound recordings, right?
Yes, I do a lot of field recording. Almost all my compositions are built on top of these recordings. It helps create a powerful sense of atmosphere. I also use several synthesisers, FX pedals and Midi Controllers in my work. I also use LIVE as my DAW.
Do you do research for the story behind the songs? What were the field recordings behind ‘Aokigahara‘?
I do research all my ideas thoroughly so they’re grounded in a sense of reality. The field recordings on ‘Aokigahara‘ trace a journey from Sumida in Tokyo to Aokigahara forest at the base of Mount Fuji. The album had a very broad spread of field recordings. From the urban and industrial noise of Tokyo to the more natural and intimate sounds of Aokigahara and the surrounding forests.
I believe ‘Love Like Blood‘ was the evolution of ‘Aokigahara‘. How did the one lead to the other?
The journey to ‘Aokigahara‘ was always two fold. With ‘Aokigahara‘ we watch the journey as the viewer. And with ‘Love Like Blood‘ we become the protagonist in the story, experiencing things first hand. This is apparent in the song titles. ‘Love Like Blood‘ is quite hostile and personal. Where ‘Aokigahara‘ is detached and ambiguous.
Apart from your music’s writing, you are also a keen producer. Do you believe that these two “hats” are essential for an artist in electronic music? What comes first: the musical composition (that refers to the classical instruments) or the effects and the mixing with the help of the computer?
I enjoy using real instruments before relying on “virtual” effects and instruments. I’m a big fan of using real effects pedals with synthesisers. The sounds you can create and the on the fly flexibility it offers is very rewarding. Only during the final composition do I add software effects if required and tweak the composition. And yes I believe these two “hats” are essential for a solo producer.
Some months ago there was also a collaboration album with your record label Cryo Chamber, ‘Locus Arcadia‘. What is going on in the collaboration and with the artists involved? What do you feel will stick with you after the co-working?
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. It was great fun working with the others and I believe it’s something we may revisit in the future. The idea of progressing the mythology is something that has stuck with me and, the album even ties in with the Sabled Sun album, ‘2148‘.
Your music, because of the cinematic atmosphere that it creates, demands to be dressed with images. ‘Everybody Dies In Utah‘ was a soundtrack that was created especially for the movie. What was in you mind before the film was made?
‘Everybody Dies In Utah‘ was a short film score composed in 2012. Only two tracks actually appear in the film, ‘Moments of Cinematic Tenderness, Pt.1‘ and ‘Things Of Such Great Beauty‘, the rest is inspired by the film. The score had to sound ad-lib and minimal as if the lead character was making the piano movement up off the top of his head. It was my first attempt at composing for film and quite a challenge. Trying to get as much emotion across as possible in a short time frame.
If I am not mistaken, you also like taking photographs and capturing dark pictures, with a sense of danger and paranormality. How did that habit start?
I’ve always enjoyed photography, and it’s a very easy medium to travel with. I’ve be into photography since I was 15-16 years old. So it’s been a while now. And I love to explore with a camera in one hand and field recorder in the other.
I know that it is kind of a personal question, but where do you live? I mean, is it a noisy city? Or a house near a forest? Maybe you travel a a lot… How is your every day’s life and how the scenery of it is embedded in your work?
I actually live at the beach. Not exactly what people expect when they listen to my music. But come winter when the ice cold winds come off the ocean and cuts to the bone it’s perfect dark ambient inspiration. Only of recent have field recordings of howling ocean wind and rain started to be used in my music.
We’ve seen still and moving images to follow music and sounds, but I believe that the form of poets being the inspiration of music is not that common. How did ‘Fall The Night‘ happen? How did you meet Nathan Hassall, the poet, and how did you choose the specific poems?
Nathan approached me some time ago about working with him. And to test the water so to speak I selected three poems of his from “The Flesh And Mortar Prophecy” chapbook of his and composed three tracks to compliment the poems. As far as which poems were used it was simply the three that resonated with me the most.
The more I listen to your music, the more I feel that you have played a lot of video games. (Or maybe that is just me having played too many of them). Have you heard that before and is there any truth in my perception?
I do play video games a little bit. Not as much as I use to but, as you’d expect I enjoy “Silent Hill“, “Resident Evil” and those kind of horror survival games. And many people say my music sounds like it belongs in those kind of games.
What are you working on now?
I’ve got a couple of collaboration pieces in the works and, a new Flowers For Bodysnatchers album is slowly taking shape. Hopefully that will be finished before year’s end.