A photographer, designer, radio host, producer and record label boss – Steve Braiden is a man of many talents. His musical journey began as a DJ on Sub FM, before becoming a resident of then pirate radio station Rinse FM. Spending five years on the show, Braiden’s endless ability to join the dots between various underground scenes gained him cult status as a truly versatile selector.
His production style echoes that of his DJ sets, first showcased via Joy Orbison’s short-lived Doldrums imprint with track ‘The Alps’ which similarly explored the middle grounds of experimental club music. Having since released on legendary Amsterdam label Rush Hour and been called for remix duties from heavy-hitters of the scene, Braiden’s most recent musical output comes via his own label, Off Out.
Earlier this year the London producer soundtracked documentary X Years In London, marking a first full-length release for Braiden as he provided musical narrative to a film documenting London’s urban landscapes by reflecting upon the same environment he grew up in. The man’s clearly been busy, as he wastes no time by following up with V.O.L.A.T/Hydroplane, the label’s fourth single and one of his most energetic to date.
A bold, metallic juggernaut, twisting through sonic labyrinths over its ten minute duration, ‘V.O.L.A.T’ comes with an equally stunning video that sees Braiden co-direct and bring his sonics to life. To celebrate the release we asked Braiden to share with us some of the inspirations journey so far, spanning from Japanese shoot ’em up games to classic scenes from David Lynch.
1. Mushihimesama Futari Black Label God Mode – Final Boss (No Deaths)
The vocals scattered throughout Hydroplane are from the boss of the “hardest shoot em up ever”, a gem called Mushihimesama. Have a look at this madness. Instant ADD for life. I love the music and visuals three minutes into this video, a respite after the utter overstimulation of the senses.
2. Braiden – V.O.L.A.T.
This is the the music video for my recent single which I worked on with 3D artists Ryan St James and Alex Baulch. I’m blown away with what they created. I feel it fits the vision I had for the music perfectly, and they created a seductive world for the music to exist in. I’ve always been a fan of looming cityscapes lit up at night, I’m a city person for sure and I still find something sublime and awe inspiring about vast city skylines.
3. Shiina Ringo – Soretsu
Shiina ringo was sampled a couple of times on V.O.L.A.T. – she’s been one of my favourite artists for about half of my life by this point, a celebrity in Japan yet barely known in the west. A mad talented visionary, her third album Kalk Samen Kuri no Hana is a unique blend of pop, noise, techno, jazz & experimental genres with no name, with fantastic songwriting and melodies throughout. She recorded and produced it all in her house and played about 10 different instruments throughout. A born performer, here she sings the epic closer to the album surrounded by 100 children wearing bunny ears and an orchestra. Fine.
4. Enter The Void – Neon City Computer Animation
Enter the void is a masterpiece and here is a scene that typifies its visceral beauty both in its soundtrack and visuals. I didn’t think about it at the time but I’m sure these scenes had some influence on the concept for the V.O.L.A.T. video.
5. David O Reilly – Please Say Something
Ryan St James who worked on the V.O.LA.T. video put me on to this short film and its incredible. Littered with ideas, it’s a funny yet poignant look at a dysfunctional couple who happen to be a cat and a mouse. I love the style he gets out of using such flat animation, you really feel the artists hand in this, and the use of sound is great too.
6. Fennesz – The Point of It All
I remember listening intently to Fennesz on a plane as a teenager, and it being the first time I understood the power of coupling beautiful, emotive melodies with noise and otherwise dissonant sounds. I suppose it hits deeper as life never has pure emotions, all experience is constantly layered and shifting. I seem to delve into his work for a period once every few years and it always feels like it sits in a different place for me. Anyway I’m in one of those stages right now.
7. Ableton / ppooll sound design.
I’ve been thinking a lot of about the involvement of computer processes in music production and the relinquishing of control by the producer and my conclusion is this video on loop.
8. Post Tenebras Lux
This is one of my favourite films and seems to be little known. Its on YouTube (for now) so everyone should watch it. Immediately from the opening scene of the child wandering in an ominous depiction of nature, I could tell this was a powerful and visceral film. Definitely one for Lynch fans.
9. Transmissions From The Technological Sublime
I love this film by Michael Trommer, who is primarily a sound artist. He used simple 3d models in Blender to create a visual world for this sound piece he created and I love it, the whole thing. This was definitely in my mood board for the V.O.L.A.T. video.
10. Mulholland Dr. – Coffee Scene
Speaking of lynch, here’s my favourite scene from this amazing film. Highly relatable, its me.
V.O.L.A.T/Hydroplane is out now on Off Out. Order it here.