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Aris Hatzidakis (aka Craün) is an Australian based producer of ambient electronic based music. He makes vast soundscapes of evocative and intensely deep music that transports the listener some place else, in the tradition of many of the greats of the genre. But the thing is that he is relatively young, and has to some extent developed his style independently of the kinds of influences you might expect. It is a situation that is not unusual. Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner) recently conveyed to me that he started dabbling in what could well be regarded as ‘musique concrete’ when he was a child and completely unaware of the experimental lineage of previous decades. So I began by asking him what attracted him to ambient music at his age?

“I’m 31 and I started listening to electronic music around the age of 13, I discovered bands/artists such as Massive Attack, Aphex Twin and Future Sound of London. This sound instantly caught my attention and there was a sense of deep warmth and solitude behind it that kept pulling me in for further exploration, which still happens to this day.”

I enjoyed listening to your material very much – how do you go about composing a piece like that?

“Thank you very much I really appreciate it. I tried to keep the composition process as simple and raw as possible, basically building layers of soundscapes on top of field recordings and vise versa. In the mixing process I just tried to maintain the first impression of the sounds without much manipulation to a personally pleasing point and of course to a right-structured audio point of view.”

So what are your main influences?

“I have three artists which I call my personal mentors when it comes to ambient music, simply because they changed my musical views dramatically and made my everyday life a whole better. These are – Biosphere, Tim Hecker and Oval.
Geir Jenssen’s work inspires me greatly. Of course, artists such as Aphex Twin, FSOL, Murcof, Stars of The Lid, Alva Noto, Christian Fennesz, Loscil, Lawrence English and other similar musical masterminds can’t go unmentioned.”

What are your favourite pieces of gear in the studio, and if you play live, in that setting?

“At this starting point I’m using a set of Novation hardware. The Launch Control, the Launch Pad and the LaunchKey midi; they’re easy to carry around for my future live settings. I want to acquire more equipment in the future and work live with FX pedals, rack-mount gear etc. Software wise, I mostly use Native Instruments, Camel Audio and Melda Production effects.”

Do you prefer studio or live work?

“I believe that both situations have their privileges and their appropriate times. In a sense, I kind of do both when I’m working at home. If I’m manipulating any given sound for a piece, I intend to leave it as it is without going back to “correct” it or change it, same logic if I was to perform it live. But if we’re talking about actual live sound manipulation on gigs then yes, that’s something unique and more spontaneous I think. It’s nice to put yourself on the spot and create without knowing sometimes the end result, they’re really hundreds of different paths to choose and experiment with your live set. The audience can sense that and appreciate it as well I think.”

How did you get into doing games music? That seems to be the Holy Grail for many aspiring electronic musicians.

“I was lucky because one of my good friends, a well respected audio engineer and lecturer, was already working as a sound designer for a gaming company. They wanted something more electronic and ambient for their update on the game and they were really pleased with the samples I presented them. He introduced me to sound design and he liked my sound approach as a musician. Since then we’re working as a team on sound/music libraries for games, films etc.
Nowadays it’s a bit easier I think for a musician to get involved with games, since you have a huge gaming platform to choose, from simple flash player games to the more high level – demanding ones.”

Downloading and the attitude that people seem to think they should get music for free now has made it super tough – especially for small labels and artists. Do you have any
thoughts on that especially in terms of the way forward?

“Yes that’s true, although you have people that support music via the internet in a great manner. A lot of underground artists and labels came to surface because of the internet, and when people listen to something good they have the power to support it in many different ways now online. I think that the internet is a beautiful and powerful tool for everyone, some may abuse it but if you are a music lover you will see beyond that. I personally grew up buying tapes, CD’s and vinyls and now I simply have the option to buy something in digital form, which is also the cheapest way as well in case I’m low on cash.

It’s a great topic for discussion that requires a big mug of coffee and tobacco haha. But in all seriousness, a lot of great things came out because of the internet. Yes we’ll see people downloading tons of music without even thinking the amount of time, effort and love that an artist or band put into it, but at the same time you have people where they give their money online to buy lesser known artists and support them, I don’t think that was happening a lot before the internet era.”

Hmm … I am old enough to remember tape trading and you would definitely buy a tape based upon a review in a fanzine. People expected to pay for music. But do you feel music has the power to change our perspectives on life…….our worldviews……even our spiritual viewpoints? If so, what are your thoughts about this, especially considering that you make thoughtful, evocative music?

“Yes I do believe it so, especially on our spiritual viewpoints which is the most important of them all in my opinion. Improving our spirit means that we’re improving ourselves as human beings and becoming more functional in society. Personally speaking, I can’t imagine myself without some of the artists I mentioned above. Ambient music in particular makes me think, generate ideas, tackle everyday problems. Any ambient music lover knows the feeling that this music gives you, it expands your brain waves to an astonishing point”.
Finally is there anything else you would like to add?

“Just a warm thanks to you Barrie for this pleasant set of questions and to the Australian Musician for giving the opportunity to emerging musicians to speak their mind, you have my sincere appreciation. Much love, be well and take care.”

Shucks! You should support Craun because he does really awesome music. And he’s even released it on cassette! A huge thumbs up from this writer!

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