The internet can be a hard place to break away from as a producer. As a platform, it’s a double-edged sword. It gives young bedroom-based musicians around the world a place to exist whilst smothering them in the congestion of a seemingly endless realm.
However, amongst every flock of beat-smiths in an echo chamber of 808s is a swan. A beautiful and elegant artist that stands out in a crowd of flapping wings. These swans reach further than a Soundcloud URL with a sound that transcends into clubs, parties and IRL scenarios. They have a style that undeniably belongs to them, pushing their own personality in every synth pulse. Iglooghost is a swan – that’s if a swan is still a swan when it’s covered in the grease and grime of a web-based reality.
When I talked to Iglooghost, he was coming off the release of his song ‘Niteracer’, released alongside an announcement for two new EPS – Clear Tamei and Steel Mogu. These will be his first projects since his 2017 opus Neo Wax Bloom – one of last year’s most acclaimed electronic releases. But what Iglooghost proves is that even when you’re signed to Brainfeeder Records, and people like Anthony Fantano label you as “one of the most cutting-edge producers out there right now”, you still have to go through the regular, annoying shit of a day-to-day life.
To start off simple, How are you today?
I am okay! My big lad hard drive broke the other day so I’m having to remake shit tons of stuff I was working on this year right now. Still feeling excited though because I got some stuff coming out really soon muahahahahahaha.
When we were organizing this interview you mentioned you were looking for a new place soon. What does Iglooghost look for in a house?
I’m moving to a new place with a semi-see-through plastic door that lights up. Remember in like 2001 when all the toys and gadgets were like slightly see-through, and you could see all the green circuit boards and shit? That’s what the door looks like. Also, every hallway is like a long ass bath corridor that you have to swim through to get to other rooms.
Iglooghost’s ability to conjure up such picturesque images of an imaginary reality is one of the things that makes his music so great. Each project isn’t just a collection of beats, but a world. Neo Wax Bloom took place in a universe full of creatures such as a worm named Xianjiao and a witch named Lummo, telling a story of these characters recovering after events of destruction. This paired with the maximalist, open structure of his production bring these obscure and mythical worlds to life. But Neo Wax Bloom merely introduced this secondary existence that Iglooghost has created for us. And these two new EPS are set to enrich the fantasy even more.
What differs between these two EPs that separate them, as opposed to being one project?
Clear Tamei and Steel Mogu happen three thousand years before Neo Wax Bloom, but the two EPs are from the perspectives of two different little beings. Mogu is a moody steel racer who is the head of a gang called the Xao Void Goons, and Tamei is a young god-in-training. They have a big fight and it’s scary.
You’ve talked about the frustrations that lead up to the creation of Neo Wax Bloom, and the toll it took on your brain after. Did you do anything different this time around to avoid wearing yourself out?
Oiiii yeah it was mad weird – these ones came together fast and painlessly. They were made between January and April – and it was the first time I’d had this much fun making music. I guess I was still really in the swing of things after cracking the formula on the album and I wanted to blast out these last ideas. Big ass Igloo album 2 is gonna be way way-way different. I’m deconstructing everything and starting again. That shit is so exciting I might scream really high pitch and low pitch at the same time right now.
So would you say they are a direct continuation of Neo Wax Bloom?
I think they’re made in the same vein as NWB. But then Clear Tamei’s got a ton of influence from all this choral and string music I started to get obsessed with, while Steel Mogu is loud ass trancey crunchy HD slappers.
Something that I love about your music is the incredible use of sampling, and not long ago I saw you on Boiler Room’s Crowdsourced using noises from acts like Death Grips. Are there any other weird samples you’ve used in the past that come to mind?
Hehe yeah, I guess I’d try and make sample-based stuff when I was like 15, but I could never figure out how to time-stretch or do it properly. So I’d always end up playing it like it was MIDI – and that’s kinda still what happens to this day. I make tons of sounds in my music with my mouth cos usually the best way for me to express how I want a physical sound or impact to happen. That shit is near impossible to google steal from the internet. Sometimes you just need that “fzzzwwwoaoaooashshhhhhhhZPPppPp” sound and the only place it’s gonna come out of is your pie hole.
What also is apparent in your music is the diverse range of stuff you listen to. There’s a heavy grime vibe, I’ve heard you incorporate some saxophone, and I’ve seen you say you used to listen to Slipknot. Who are some of the particular artists that have inspired the sounds you use over the past few years?
For my entire discography, I’ve been trying to make music that sounds like late 00’s T-Pain and I’m so stupid that it comes out sounding like Iglooghost. I literally just want to make club shit from 2009 that sounds it would feature Flo Rida and The-Dream, but I cannot get my head around how these songs are constructed because my IQ is really low. I’m trying to do like trunk knocking beats with snaps, R&B chords and autotune. Yet sounds like stupid ass fast Iglooghost gibberish.
Did you ever own one of those T Pain autotune microphones he released like 7 years ago? I have this distinct memory of leaving it in my backyard in the rain and occasionally hearing T-Pain’s voice saying ‘sing like a pro… Yeaaaaah’ would bellow from my backyard.
Fuck that’s really good. I want to hear T-Pain howl into the ether from a distance sporadically throughout the day and night. I bet that motherfucker is really really really rich. He had a number one hit like every month for 3 years and now you just can’t see him. T-Pain is nowhere to be seen.
The way Iglooghost works and even talks are all reminiscent of one place and one place only – the internet. He’s a product of the era that saw acts like Yung Lean, Spooky Black and Death Grips rise in notoriety from simply doing weird, cool shit. After all, Iglooghost is a man who once described Neutral Milk Hotel as a ‘meme on 4chan‘. You could argue that Iglooghost is possessed by the absurdist, dark comedy of a digital monster pushing its agenda on a computer-addicted nation, but really he’s just a prime example of what cyber freedom can lead to. Creativity, ambition, trolling: Iglooghost is all three.
Much like you – I’m a child of the web. Could I throw some internet phenomenon from the last decade at you and get your opinions on them?
I used to raid that shit and block the pool and I don’t fuck with people who didn’t grow up doing that.
That thing seemed to only exist in pop-up windows. It was scary and looked like it smelt like girls.
It kinda bummed me out as a kid – reminds me of wet rainy Tuesday school nights and being stuck around some kid’s house you secretly hate and wanting to go home because his house smells like dogs and damp books. I started playing it again the other month because some of my boys got back into it and I steal money at the grand exchange and hack peoples’ mum’s credit cards.
But like most people, as they grow up, the internet slowly became a draining place for Iglooghost. You get too old for Habbo Hotel, IMVU stops plaguing pop-up windows and Runescape? Well, Runescape is still depressing. The internet becomes a place of paranoia, fatigue and depression as your day-to-day activities become a continuous scroll. The cyber existence for musicians especially comes with a strenuous demand, with an algorithm designed to doom you into irrelevance whenever you don’t conform with the zeitgeist. The pressure sucks away the love for the craft – diluting the creative in an implication to always put the consumer first.
You come from this interesting era of internet music where acts like Yung Lean and Death Grips broke the barriers for many artists out there. What is it about the internet that paved the way for the music industry today?
The internet is good but also not because all my friends are stressed and freaking out all the time because the algorithm is tryna slap us on the ass. All the crazy new shit we hear is good and I think about that loads and I’m hyped we get to hear all that stuff. But I’m starting to feel like we’re gonna hit a breaking point soon in terms of being compliant with how much everyone’s catering to the algorithms right now. That shit is gross and turns everyone into little worker bees and then kids just burn out really fast for tons of reasons. I really wanna figure out how to bypass this shit because I don’t wanna have to release a shitty song every two weeks in order for my face to not fall off the earth. I think it can be done for sure.
Have you ever read that book 1984? It basically predicts a world where everyone is a working bee and watched by monitors – is that how it feels being a producer sometimes? Do you feel as if there is a public deadline to meet?
Yeah, that shit blows. To be honest, I think I’d want to work at the rate I do even if I didn’t have to, but it’s a bit spooky knowing if I stop for too long, I’m fucked. That’s kind of just how existing is, but I guess we need to kick up a fuss if all this content farming shit hits a fully unbearable level. It has gotten pretty nuts already.
Neo Wax Bloom boasted a pretty insane physical release during an era where the physical release is fizzling out. Is physical important to you? Do you think its a needed way to avoid the algorithm?
Yeah, physical stuff is super important. I’m falling outta love with the idea of vinyl more and more every day – but one of the big goals for this Igloo shit is that I wanna make loads and loads of physical artefacts. I’m gonna try really hard to make toys for next year for sure and a ton of other stuff. Intangible things are kind of cool but, for now, it feels really right to try mirror all the shit I grew up making with this Iglooghost stuff – lil clay figures and trading cards and toys made outta cardboard. I want to do the big kid version of that!
As Iglooghost grows, the more apparent it becomes that he is breaking out of the dystopian world of the URL. He isn’t just another 808 and synth pad amongst the flop, but an innovator trying to create universes. With Clear Tamei and Steel Mogu just around the corner, Iglooghost is looking to continue the legacy he’s building as a human being, and not as a trend in cyberspace. Innovative, ambitious, and inventive, Iglooghost is a swan flapping his way out of the flock – and there’s even more to come.
After Clear Tamei and Steel Mogu, what do you have planned for the rest of the year?
I got a really big ass weird audio/visual show in the works. I’m going to start touring that in October. Costumes and props and crazy flashy silly shit. It’s gonna be like a kid’s TV show rather than watching some dumbass press buttons on a synth pad or whatever the fuck.