AVA Mix Series: Space Dimension Controller
A lot has changed for Jack Hamill aka Space Dimension Controller since he last graced the wheels of steel at (the first ever) AVA Festival, breaking the internet with his unforgettable Boiler Room debut. In the years since, Hamill has been on a journey just as much as we have. After over a decade in the game he’s quit alcohol, launched a new record label; Tiraquon and streamlined his entire production process.
The fourth edition of the AVA Mix is an hour of out of this world house and techno from the back of the cosmos. It’s a blend of intergalactic bleeps and bloops that contrasts the personalities of Space Dimension Controller and the new-age of Tiraquon.
Ahead of his set at AVA next week, we got together with Hamill for a candid interview about music, process and his current worldview.
Hey Jack. How have you been doing over the last 18 months?
Things have been good considering the situation. My wife and I bought a house in the countryside and I built a really nice studio. Coming from an apartment to a detached house with no neighbours is pretty amazing as i’m able to make noise whenever I want. After making some things for the first Bandcamp Fridays before moving and a few other releases in the new place I had a break from writing electronic music for a while due to a bit of lockdown creative block. During that break I got really into Pink Floyd for some reason and back into playing guitar which has been really nice even just as a hobby.
How did you spend your time during lockdown?
I loved the first one as it felt like being a teenager again. I was playing World of Warcraft Classic whilst listening to ambient for about 8-12 hours a day just like when I was 16. It has also been really nice to have my wife working from home the whole time. When we moved house during Summer last year a lot of my time was spent building the studio so that kept me distracted, but the winter lockdown was pretty rough.
A lot has changed since you went viral at the first-ever AVA Boiler Room in 2015… What’s has changed for you though?
I’m a much different person than I was then, though I guess i’m the same type of DJ. I just lack the confidence of booze to behave anywhere near as rowdy as I used to.
How on earth are you going to top that at this year’s festival?!
I don’t think topping it has ever been part of the plan haha. Probably a party classics set or one hour of prog rock.
Do you have any favourite moments from AVA?
This will sound awful, but I don’t really remember much of the first AVA and i’ve only made it to two other editions of the festival in short visits. The first one I wasn’t really all there for various reasons, that period in general is quite a blur. Looking back at my Boiler Room set on YouTube it does seem like fun though, but I don’t remember playing it.
You’ve been quieter on social media than you used to be. Is there a reason for that?
I’ve been a bit more active on Instagram over the last couple of weeks, but overall it just doesn’t suit the type of person I am nowadays. I’m fairly private and really don’t like taking pictures of myself. Studio videos are pretty fun, but even then I think they can get a bit dull after a while. I don’t mind Twitter as it’s just a direct brain to internet interface, but I sometimes go through periods of tweeting absolute crap so i’ve got a bot set up that automatically deletes tweets around a week old.
You’ve been sober for a couple of years now, how does it feel and how does it affect your work as SDC?
It just hit 4 years last week. I try not to go on about it as much anymore as I did a lot at first which in hindsight may have been quite annoying to read. My last album was probably the most I could express the positive change it had on my life. Knowing exactly who I am, the structure and how much time I seem to have gained, all very nice.
Things got pretty nasty with R&S Records this year. As someone with a back catalog on the label, would you like to comment about it at all?
The label was so important to me from practically the start of my career as SDC. I’d been with them since I was 19, signing the contract on my 20th birthday while I was in London at the Red Bull Music Academy. When everything kicked off again once Raj left in October last year it coincided with the start of my creative block which wasn’t great. I’ve always liked not being on many labels and R&S was definitely my main one so I felt quite rudderless for the most part of the last year as I didn’t have that one label I knew I could send whatever to anymore.
Talk to us about your new label and your Tiraquon project. We noticed a couple of tracks in the tracklist…
The first release was September last year followed by another in November. Both were digital only, but later this year i’ve got a vinyl double pack coming out that includes the first two singles along with a third and a vinyl exclusive track. Initially, the label started as an outlet for slightly less conceptual SDC stuff, but lately i’ve thought it would also be good for exploring other aliases. As for the new Tiraquon thing – Last year when I was making the hardware only EP’s for Bandcamp Friday it was my first real instance of solely hardware sequencing, so when I moved into the new studio I designed it with that in mind. A few months ago, I found the only way to get out of the creative block I was experiencing was to keep things as immediate and simple as possible which I guess is the main vibe i’m going for with the Tiraquon stuff. It’s just simpler, live arranged hardware tracks that I enjoy making with no expectations or concepts latched to it from myself and hopefully anyone else. It is also very chill to make music with zero concept after 13 years.
What is the inspiration behind it?
There isn’t any central theme or inspiration behind it all which is kind of the point. I want it to be something that I can do whatever I want with that reflects what i’m into at the time of production.
How did you approach this AVA Mix?
I guess I wanted to have it sit somewhere between this new Tiraquon stuff and SDC, though I think it maybe ended up leaning towards the Tiraquon thing more.
You’ve changed your approach to production recently, what’s exciting you the most about music these days?
Over the last few months i’ve sold a lot of vintage equipment that I was maybe too familiar with in favour of modern, more reliable equivalents and some more experimental stuff. Vintage analog synths are great, but when you’re working on a track with a bunch of machines that are 30-40+ years old all switched on at the same time it can make you feel a bit uneasy as you never know when one of them is going to stop working.
One of the synths i’m really liking is a small modular and I haven’t a clue what i’m doing most of the time which is what is so great about it. It feels like when I first started producing music using Reaktor. I’m not thinking about getting massively technical in my arrangements, just fiddling with things until I get something that I like and recording a live take instead of spending a few weeks arranging one track that I dread working on every day.
If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead, who would it be?
Our Mothers Meds – Bathing The Ghost – Sores (Sound+Matter)
Mark E – Rain (Patrice Scott Remix) – 18437
Louf – Tides (Saine Remix) – Omena
Marlon Kirk – Don’t Call Me I’ll Call You – Unprincipled Records
Schiggeria – Morning Dew – Wetpak Rec.
Tristan Arp – Alternate Looking Glass – Eternal Ocean
Giulia Tess – Mesto Ritma feat. ioieo – Scarlet Tiger
Doctor Jeep – Key Activation – DRX
CiM – Crash – Delsin
DJ ADHD – Blem – Pretty Weird Records
Tiraquon – Unreleased – Forthcoming Tiraquon Recordings
RR – Chord Bomb – Paloma
Silas Ryder – Inaugural Dance – untitled (recs)
Yush – Periwink – Awkwardly Social
Tiraquon – Unreleased – Forthcoming Tiraquon Recordings
Lack – Microshift – Livity Sound
Anastastia Kristensen – Volshebno (Ctrls Remix) – Houndstooth
Bolam – Hype Shifter (Al Wootton Remix) – Breaks N Pieces
Plant43 – Cloud Monolith – Future Massive
VC-118A – Update – Delsin