Interview: The Cyclist

Derry’s Andrew Morrison has been tickling our eardrums with wigged-out, tape-stretched techno and electronica for some years now, ever since his first release for Leaving Records as The Cyclist in 2013. Since then he’s adopted another alias, Buz Ludzha, releasing two rave-indebted 12″s under that name for Dublin’s All City Records, with whom he also released another album as The Cyclist. That’s without mentioning releases for 100% Silk, Music Is For Losers and his own Tape Throb Records. We spoke to him recently ahead of his latest 12″, Pressing Matters, which is out now on Hypercolour.

While looking through some of your older work, I came across your Gongue alias and the track “Sleeping” really stood out to me. In many ways the sound is quite different from your current productions, but it seems your approach is somewhat similar. Have you considered making more ambient tracks or are you more focused on the upbeat side of things? “I definitely do a lot of ambient just when I’m sitting around, it doesn’t get released unless it drops into an album. I’d definitely like to explore that a bit more.”

You don’t have any albums in the pipeline at the moment? “I’ve got one in the works. It’s pretty much near completion, and it does have a fair few beatless ones, on that same kind of vibe as sleeping, kind of broken, analogue synths melding into each other.” Do you know who that’s going to come out with? “I’m just exploring some options at the moment, so I couldn’t really say who.”

On that note, how did your various different connections with labels come about? “Well, with Leaving Records, who released Bones In Motion, it was literally just an email to them, and it sort of built up from there. I hadn’t met them, I didn’t get to meet them until the album was released and we went on tour – that was just a “the power of the internet” kind of moment. With All City I was over playing a free gig just to get a flight over to Ireland so I could get home, and I met Sonel Ali and then that just sort of kicked off from there, I got chatting, showed him a couple of tracks and they were into it which was pretty cool. A few of the others have come through other connections, like 100% Silk came from that whole LA scene – I’ve never been out there, it’s just knowing people through email now.”

All City’s probably been the most fruitful in that of you’ve put out the most with them, is that right? “I guess so, I’d definitely work with them in the future, they’re good lads, they’re great to work with and they put a lot of effort in when they bring something out.” You had a track on the Jheri Tracks compilation as well? “I did, there’s a great vibe coming out of that.”

So the next release is on Hypercolour? How did that come about? “Jamie [Russell] got in touch and we got on Skype, just chatting through music, and had similar kind of interests. We got into a whole chat about jungle and how much we liked it, and I ended up thinking ‘maybe he’ll like these tracks that I’ve been working on that are a bit more breakbeat-y”; which is what the 12″ turned into, that mixture of jungle nostalgia and lo-fi synth that I’ve been doing a lot.”

That track “Born In 92”, is that a nod at the fact that you were only born then? “Yeah that was the year I was born, but obviously the whole scene as well at the time, a mix of things all that fake nostalgia, as well as my own actual nostalgia, there was a weirdly big jungle scene in Liverpool, when I was living there for uni, as big as any of the other scenes, a lot of breakbeat and jungle nights, they were all early 90s jungle so I got really into that, and it’s definitely inspired the last few things I’ve done.”

Is “Push” the first proper song you’ve done? “I randomly got in touch – again the power of the internet – I was just flicking through listening to people and I thought that voice is great. Her name is Tanaya Harper, and I’ve made a ton of tracks with her now, some of them will get released at some point, and there’s a couple on that album that I’m working on. That’s one of the first tracks I really thought that’s totally really ready to be on a 12″, but I’ve definitely got more, I guess, song-style tracks as you’d call it, that same kind of vibe – meld as many dance tropes into one song as possible with that voice over the top of it.” That one does go off in a couple of different directions. “Yeah that jungle tangent towards the end, the broken beat in the middle.”

You said before that Buz Ludzha was a dancier side of things but The Cyclist is getting pretty dancey. Is there still that split personality? I’m trying with the next Cyclist release to veer them off in different directions. I kind of think of Buz Ludzha as a more bombastic version of The Cyclist, like when I did that Jungle Tapes thing it was 160bpm jungle the whole way through, and with the two 12s I did they’re just really, loud, loads of slapping drums.”

I get what you’re saying about how it’s more bombastic. “I think that’s the right word I guess. Maybe not every DJ would play it, but it’s a bit more angled at the club. I’m trying to veer The Cyclist down.. I don’t want to say path here, but yeah down a more psychedelic, broken… slightly less aimed at the dance floor for the next few releases. I’ll see what happens. I’m always veering and making another tangent, and I have one intention and I make something else.”

What’s your work flow like? “As soon as I have any time I’m just making music. I won’t cook or clean or anything, I’ll not sleep, just keep working on music as soon as I get home or on the weekend. In terms of how I build tracks, it’ll be one of two things: I’ll either start messing around on the computer or I’ll start messing around with synths and the tape machine, start recording some things on a tape loop, and I’ll usually go back and forth and mix clean signal things on perfect computer samples with distorted tape effects and distort all that together. I’ve created some of my own effects on the computer, to fake the tape sound, and mix that with actual tape-recorded sounds, and it’s hard to figure what’s analog and what’s digital, and I kind of like that cause you shouldn’t really care which one it is. I don’t agree with that whole ‘one’s better than the other’ thing.”

I read the interview on Juno and the interviewer said you were much more energetic and passionate when you were talking about actual machines as opposed to computers. “I think that’s cause they’re a bit more unpredictable, so that’s why I prefer them, but I wouldn’t be able to get by, I wouldn’t be able to finish a track without computers. That’s the stable side of it. I’ve made whole tracks with nothing but tape loops and tape loop samples, but they wouldn’t have been able to turn into vague techno or whatever 4/4 tracks, they’d just be a mess of rhythm, not fitting together. So trying to get that compositional element in there is a lot more possible with the computer.”

You mentioned before that there wasn’t much of a scene where you’re from. “When I said that I meant Derry, I think Ireland has a lot going on in general. I think Derry has a good techno scene coming out without a doubt, I would take back the night outs scene, but maybe at the time I wasn’t getting into things that were being released out of Derry. I think I was quite negative about it at the time, but I’ve grown to love Derry whenever I’m back there for the scene that’s come about. They’ve got that Bunker now; they’ve built a club out of a car park. And a few other places have come about. Celtronic festival is pretty great; I was playing alongside KiNK and Rival Consoles, Gerd Janson etc, and in Derry of all towns! It’s got a lot going for it.”

Do you think of yourself as part of an Irish scene now? “Yeah definitely. I definitely felt I got connected to it as soon as I had that first Buz Ludzha release with All City. I had a few gigs over there but it wasn’t until I had something out with an Irish label I felt more connected with it. I felt almost instantly accepted and people were really into what I was doing. Before that I hadn’t really thought about wanting to be [part of a scene] or anything like that, I just wanted to release some music with any interesting label that would come by, I didn’t really care what country it would be. But I’m definitely proud of the releases I’ve done with Irish labels. Especially All City. I think more and more people outside of Ireland are starting to realise there’s such a scene going on there, it’s been overlooked for ages. A lot of people in England don’t really give a shit. I think people are starting to realise when I mention it over here, there’s a lot of people who’ve gone over just for weekends – for Life fest, or a few other things in Dublin”

What’s the scene like in Birmingham? “There’s a bit of a techno scene. I’ve only been living here just under a year, it’s got a good decent dance scene, it’s all local, they don’t pull in a lot of outside names, and while the nights are good it would be good to see a bit more of a mix. I think a lot of people come to London and go straight to Manchester. I like the city, it’s got some crazy corners to it, Digbeth is just a sprawl of warehouses turned into clubs, and old monasteries turned into clubs, all sorts. Very underground, very just on its own. A little bit insular, but it works. The Black Box and the rainbow, there’s a few that I don’t even know the names of, I just know the nights. I don’t even think they have names.”

What are your most pressing matters? “Making tunes and getting them on vinyl and trying to make something new. The label that I’m going to start working on, Tape Throb Records, and my last pressing matter is healthcare research, I can’t seem to get away from it.” Pressing matters is a vinyl reference as well right. “Yeah of course. Everything political that’s going on is a scare story. Depressing as fuck. Leaving the EU etc.”

Do you cycle? “I wouldn’t want to cycle on the Birmingham roads, I’d get run over. I’d love to cycle every day but you know.” Did you know there’s a guy in New Zealand called Andrew Morrison who has a blog who is a cyclist? “Maybe he’s more famous and successful! He’s going to have to be my future rival, in life. You can’t have two of us.”

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...