Following the release of his Moonstone, Aether opens up about the unique concept behind the EP, his goals for the future, and more.
Scottish artist Aether is one of the most remarkable artists to come out of Monstercat Silk, consistently lending his unique perspective to the label’s brand of chilled-out, atmospheric music. His output consists of everything from melodic dubstep to classical music to, most recently, ambient downtempo – but no matter what genre he’s honing his focus on, his skillful composition abilities come through clearly in everything he touches.
The producer debuted on Monstercat in 2020 with “Odyssey,” a collaboration with Direct, which showed off his downtempo stylings while incorporating garage elements into the mix. He later returned to the label with the drum and bass track “Airborne” on Monstercat’s collaboration album with the video game Rocket League. Following this, he would release the emotive “Jupiter & Saturn” before rolling out singles “Sapphire” and “Tourmaline” ahead of his Moonstone EP, which landed in March.
Although he was diagnosed with a visual impairment as a teenager that left him legally blind, Aether’s found new approaches to production that allow him to traverse the process with ease and create some musical masterpieces. His artistry is a testament to the fact that disabilities do not have to hinder someone from making great art and sharing it with the world. To gain a better understanding of how he translates the ideas in his head into sound, we had a chat with Aether himself – read on to check out the full conversation, and be sure to listen to Moonstone on Spotify below.
Stream Aether – Moonstone EP on Spotify
Hi Aether! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. Let’s start off with congratulations as this year marks your tenth year as an artist! What kind of music did you start out making, and how have your tastes and preferences evolved throughout this decade?
Thank you for the kind words. I started out making a very similar style of music, but over the years I become more confident in my abilities and started branching out to further expand my knowledge of sound. My sound has however definitely evolved over the years through a lot of different ways, whether it’s better mixing or different microphone techniques, everything I have learned has shaped me into a more diverse artist.
Over the years, what sources of inspiration – whether it be people, places, or things – have provided you guidance on your artistic journey? Have they changed at all or stayed relatively the same?
I’ve always been inspired by things that are not of this world. Fictional universes that I dream up are a great source of inspiration for me and this has remained true since I started. The people I keep close to me are also a huge inspiration, including my dear friends Ken (my roommate) and Gabriel (my longtime friend). Both of these people continue to push themselves forward in their artistry and their lives in general, which to be surrounded by them, is truly a blessing that continues to motivate me to seek more!
At 17, you were diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a condition that impairs your vision. Could you tell us a little bit about the systems you have in place that assist you in your production process and allow you to navigate making music?
First and foremost is FL Studio. The theme system on there, and their overall UI in general has been extremely usable as someone with a visual impairment. This is due to how you can assign meters and faders to “glow” with bright colours. Other than that, there’re many plugins with scalable UI and I also have a lot of hardware gear that is easy to work with as it’s all hands-on, and you can physically touch to control it.
Do you have any advice for folks with visual disabilities who want to start their production journey or make music in general?
FL Studio is a great place to start for the reasons above, it’s also a very user-friendly software in general. If you struggle with colours, plugins that have customizable skins (Like Serum) are also recommended, and again like above, scalable plugins can be very useful for reading parameters.
Congratulations on your latest EP, Moonstone! This is a wonderful body of work with some really gorgeous sonic elements on it. You say it was inspired by the crystallization process of a gemstone – is there any specific reason you chose this concept for your EP?
Thank you. My Moonstone EP started out as a completely different body of work, an ambient one. I decided to reshape those songs into something new by sampling them and using them as a foundation to build upon. I see this in the same light as the process a raw mineral takes in its transformation into a polished gemstone.
What draws you to this kind of ambient, downtempo style of music? What feelings does it evoke in you personally when you listen to it?
There’s something about the tones in ambient music that are so otherworldly, which as I mentioned before, is very inspiring to me. Sounds in general that stray from the ordinary are very appealing to me, and if you can make them sound pleasing at the same time, then you’re onto something special.
Outside of releasing singles and EPs, you also produce video game compositions for games like Rocket League and Röki. How would you compare your method of scoring video games to your method of making “regular” music?
Video games vary based on each game, but they typically have themes in the form of motifs. Think of the Imperial March whenever Darth Vader is on screen. These themes can occur multiple times and with different emotions each time, so there’s a lot of narrative that you can weave into a melody and its instrumentation. It’s always very story focused.
Finally, what are some of the short and long-term goals you hope to achieve as you continue on with your artistic endeavors?
Short term I want to finally separate my bedroom from my studio and have them in individual rooms! [Laughs] Long term I’d love to record some live orchestral work for video games, especially a choir, that’s such a powerful tool to have.
Thank you so much for these great questions!
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