Chipmusic • Interviews

Interview with Edward Shallow

Edward Shallow is a creative powerhouse currently residing in Dundee, Scotland. His approach to chipmusic is on the deeply technical and intricate side. He is definitely among the most interesting musicians to come out of Scotland for the past few years. I caught up with Edward today and he was kind enough to answer all of my questions.

Hello Edward, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.

You are very welcome.

So, how was meeting Lorraine Kelly?

I didn’t actually meet her. I made a conscious effort to avoid her.

According to your previous university website, I understand that she was a VIP at your degree show for Time Based Art & Digital Film.

She was, for the whole art college, in fact. They tend to invite ‘names’ to walk through and say things are nice. It’s good for advertising but does nothing for the esteem of artists who have spent years honing their art for it to receive nothing but a glimpse and a nod by Lorraine Kelly. She didn’t see any of my work.

I wonder how that conversation would have went down if it had taken place.

I would make comment, but libel is a tricky road to walk. She wasn’t the only VIP though. There were visitors who have a better grasp for the work I do.

You’ve used a mixture of outdoor performance, installation and now you’re working on a music video as a way of extending Edward Shallow beyond a simply musical project. Why do you go all out?

Do I go all out? I’d say ‘all in’. Whatever engages me at the time is where my interest lies. I run with most ideas until they run dry.

Well I do think you have taken lots of difference approaches, for instance when looking through your Flickr account, I found the following posters that you made on the 15th of December 2009. They read “Which statement would you deem more offensive? Every religion is wrong [or] Every religion is wrong. Except mine. Support free thought.” The second poster says “I created the Universe. Prove me wrong, win £10. Answers on a postcard.” Then each poster is finished with “This message has been brought to you by the good people of the Official Society of Shallowism.” What was the purpose of these posters? What exactly is Shallowism?

I’m a devil’s advocate. I wanted to rile up responses from people, I wanted people to question their beliefs. Shallowism is a result of me doing just this. It’s a set of flexible beliefs that are entirely catered to me. It’s a personal belief system. I don’t believe in organised belief systems without question.

That seems reasonable, but did you only hang them in the university? I’d imagine you would have got some better reactions hanging them in a local pub, for instance where people tend to be a bit less liberal minded.

I did. It would surprise you, though – the majority of the posters were ripped down. I figured that students would be more likely to engage in debate than your typical pub-dweller.

When I first saw them I was intrigued by them. It seems to capture your intellectual curiosity. This is something that you have explored in submissions to the Dundee art zine Yuck and Yum. How did you get involved in that?

I seen they were looking for submissions. I like the idea of releasing work alongside other people’s work where it loses all context.

Would you say that your Science Vs. Religion submission was an extension of the mentality you displayed in the making of the Shallowism posters?

Very much so. Science is just dangerous as religion, difference being science doesn’t have an emotional attachment and doesn’t deal in absolutes.

It seems that the artistic aspect of Edward Shallow has led to a Threadless t-shirt submission in June of 2009, can you talk us through the process of making the design?

The design was created using a sprite editor and is an amalgamation of stories surrounding solitary islands.

What did you want to communicate with the design?

Nostalgia, I suppose. I wanted others to read into the idea that it’s part of something. That they should recognise it.

For performances, you seem to always wear an orange hoodie and blue jeans, or something similar to this description. Did you take influence at all from those Simpsons and Futurama characters in 3 pixels, or just like them, did you want to create an image that was still recognisable at the most basic level?

Simple most recognisable combination of colours. Superheroes have it, cartoon characters have it, religious followers and video-game characters all have it. I was once described by good friend, Jo Foster, as a “future monk”. That about sums up what I’m going for.

From release to release, I think that your music has become more technical and intricate, even less immediately accessible to people that are not fans of chipmusic. What would you say to this?

I’d say that’s the case. Earlier work was music that’d been in my head since my early teens. I’ve never been sure what kind of music I make, but whatever I did before – I’ve moved on from it.

It seems wrong not to mention the Ultrachip festival in Edinburgh since it was such a big part of Scottish chipmusic in 2010. Do any memories that particularly stick out of the two days?

An incredible amount. Altercations with the public, the hundreds of fantastic fans and sneaking our friend Tyler into our hostel so he wouldn’t freeze on the streets. There’s no footage of me performing that night but there’s a brilliant video by the artist Comptroller asking me to play more, as he didn’t have his camera out in time.

Finally, what exactly does Edward Shallow represent to you? Would it help to tell you what I think?

Shoot.

To me, it’s the complete fan experience. You’ve created this whole identity in a deliberately piecemeal fashion and your myspace, tumblr and flickr are all parts of the puzzle. It’s like you want people to realise that there is something beyond the music, but you’re not willing to give it away quite so easily. In an age where a band is a collection of songs, album art and black t-shirts, it’s actually quite inspiring.

That sums it up rather well. I want to spark curiousity. Edward Shallow is vehicle for everything I do – traveling, observing, creating. It’s a catalyst for the change I want to make.

I want others to start a dialogue with themselves of the challenges they face. I want them to realise there’s such a thin line between the things they want in life and the things they can have. It’s the whole ‘life is a game’ mentality and an awareness of our finite lifespan that encourages to do what I do.

Thank you for answering all of my questions today Edward Shallow.

You are very welcome. Take care.

Edward Shallow’s latest release ‘Swarm Cycle’ is available for download at:
http://edwardshallow.bandcamp.com/album/swarm-cycle

This post was submitted by Garry Lee.

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