Clifford White‘s Lifestream is new one on me but apparently has been a sought after item for some time amongst the balearic high wizards. With friend of Test Pressing, Phil Mison, being a particular fan. It’s one of those amazingly NOW sounding records that instantly blows you away – a trip for the mind but one you can 100% see working on more open minded dancefloors. Weirdly the synth work really reminds me of this …. but that’s has to be pure coincidence, unless Mundo Muzique was tripping out on some far more outré records than expected.
We had a quick chat with Clifford to get an insight into where his mind was then (and now)….
TP: What were you listening to around the time you made Lifestream? what were your main influences and inspirations in that period?
CW: Although I would say that listening to Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Mike Oldfield had a significant impact on my youth, the early works of Jean-Michel Jarre were (and still are) some of the biggest influences on me. I felt that Jarre invented a whole new musical language entirely of his own when he created Oxygene, Equinoxe and Magnetic fields: utilising synthesizer textures to emulate the sounds of nature (he in turn was influenced by music concrete) was a stroke of genius, and those albums still inspire music producers today. In fact, I think most aficionados would agree that those three albums still sound as fresh today as they were in the 80’s. In any event, they had a big influence on The Lifespring album, especially on the Lifestream and Rain Trek tracks respectively.
TP: I listened to an interview of yours where you talk about not feeling that favourably about some of your work. how about these two tracks, how do they sound to you now?
Probably like most artists, I do tend to prefer some of my albums to others, but they all mark history in their own way, and have special meaning to me.
To be honest, when it comes to the music I actually release, I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. I won’t let it go out into the world until I’m 100% satisfied.
That can however make for a difficult life! Luckily, it does mean I can listen all the way back to stuff I did in the 80’s and still enjoy it, without being bothered by some niggly mistake.
In reference to those two particular tracks, I still think they sound great! I’d probably mix them today much in the same way as I did in 1989.
TP: Geeky question: what synths and equipment did you use on these recordings? can you tell us a little about your workflow when you made them? and do you operate in a similar manner now?
CW: Back in those days it was all hardware, old analogue synths and suchlike. I had a Yamaha DX7, but it was my Siel Opera 6 that did all those bubbly analogue sounds. I loved that synth! I also had the first sampler that came out, the Akai S612. If you want more techie stuff, I wrote an article about my old gear here
Nowadays I do everything on a single Minimac and a M-Audio keyboard controller! Not very glamorous I know, but I can get far more out of that combo than I ever could with all my hardware gear!
I do of course have a large sample library and innumerate VST plugins.
TP: did you know that Lifestream had become something of a sought after record or was it a surprise to be contacted by Emotional Rescue?
CW: I did have a vague inkling a few years back when I discovered a bootleg version floating around, but I had no idea it had reached such a wide audience.
One always hopes!
TP: Any plans to reissue anything else? personally I’d be very interested in having the Stairway LP Moonstone comp on vinyl
CW: The Stairway album was never released on vinyl, but maybe someone should approach Jim & Louis (if there’s a demand for it?)
I have just finished a four album, 46 track electronic music epic called ‘The Synergy Series’ which is being released next year.
Four albums in one go! Is that wise I hear you say? What the hell, you only live once! (maybe)Many of the tracks on the Synergy series are in a similar vein to the Lifestream track, as well as drawing influence from Jean-Michel’s other 80’s and 90’s albums, as well as sounds inspired by Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and other electronic music luminaries. Let me know if you would be interested in reviewing those. They are due out in January, although I will have preview copies beforehand.
TP: Researching your stuff led me to the discography of New World Cassettes which looks like fascinating era of music. Did you ever feel part of a ’scene’ (for want of a better word). It looks like there were a lot of UK artists recording pastoral electronic ‘new age’ music with a focus on health and well-being around the 80s through to early 90s. did you have a connection to or know any of the other artists?
CW: I was quite involved yes, in fact I stared NAMA (the New Age Music Association) with a colleague back in the 80’s. We used to organise monthly new age music artist meetings on a barge in Kings Cross, and all the big names of the time were members: Tim Wheater, Asha Quinn, Kevin Kendle – the list goes on and on. However, contrary to what you might think, most new age artists are pretty reclusive, preferring to do their own thing, so NAMA didn’t ultimately amount to very much, although we did stage a few excellent collaborative concerts!
TP: Finally, what are you listening and music making habits these days? what’s changed and what is the same
CW: I’m embarrassed to say, my musical taste hasn’t changed at all really! I’m still listening to all the old electronic stuff, and enjoying it just as much as I did in my teens.My palette has expanded over the years to include Jazz and EDM, but I’m afraid it’s still the 80’s electronica that really floats my boat!
You can find out more about Clifford White and his work here
‘Lifestream’ is out now on Emotional Rescue