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An Inaudible Conversation with...Bicyclops

Hosted by Paul Geldart aka Astrolope


Greetings, Bicyclops!

How and who are you?

Phil saluting a projector

Hi Paul, I'm Phil J aka Bicyclops and I'm mostly just happy to be here! I guess you'd say I'm a Toronto-based producer and multi-instrumentalist, at least at night. During the day I'm a grad student. I'm also lucky to be the most recent addition to Plutoid Records (I think you've probably heard of them?)

Oh yeah, that does sound familiar now that you mention it. Well, what's up with this new album I've heard so much about? Is it any good? And do you mind if I ask about school? You're some kinda brain scientist right?

Yes that's right - I shouldn't miss an opportunity to plug the album! It's called Marooned and it's out right now on the aforementioned Plutoid Records.

As to whether it's any good? I can't really judge at this point. My favourite thing about it is that it's finished. Seriously, I've been chipping away at it in the evenings after work for more than four years now. I know I shouldn't be too concerned about how long things take, and just trust that they'll arrive when they're ready, but there's always a feeling that the algorithms will lose interest in you and that'll be that. But personally I love to listen to full albums start to finish, and I wanted to take the time to make something that works as a complete package. I think there are lots of people that still like to listen that way as well, and I've been really pleasantly surprised with the way people are connecting with it.

As to your second question, you could say I'm a brain scientist in training! More specifically, I'm doing my PhD in psychology at the University of Toronto. My main project involves using a really cool technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG) to study abnormal brain activity in stroke patients. It's definitely interesting work, and brains are great, but it does get in the way of music making sometimes :)

Well If you won't say it then I will: It's good. It's a damn good album, full of satisfying sonic details and deep, spacious melodies. I also love the song structures; I don't think there's a single track here that has a typical verse-chorus pattern, yet they always maintain a flow that makes perfect sense. And the drums! They're so abstract sometimes, but they always complement the music and never sound robotic or out-of-place. I'm not surprised that it took so long to make.

But yeah, fuck these algorithms for real. Don't even get me started...They're almost never beneficial for artists or listeners as they're only designed to serve corporate interests, which usually means advertising and/or surveillance. And as a result, they are heavily biased toward certain kinds of content. It's my opinion that we need drastic change in the "industry" to break the cycle of exploitation and allow everyone to express their art in exactly the way that they see fit. I don't know exactly how to get there, but that's why I like the old-skool, web 1.0 kinda way that things work here at Splendid Industries.

I hope you're not too overwhelmed or conflicted between doing music and science though! I think it's a bit of a myth that people should only focus on one goal at a time, but it can often be really hard to find a healthy balance. I personally really disliked my time in school because it was quite demanding and never took my needs/priorities into account, but I know that you're very disciplined and clever, and you're doing important work! So keep looking for that equilibrium.