Favorite ThisExclusive interview: J Sigsworth

Published: June 10, 2013
By: Jordan Calvano
You’re enjoying an extreme sports video, and hear an enticing track burst from the screen. Your mind and body start to wander simultaneously, and whatever you happen to be watching, whether it’s skiing, surfing, wingsuiting, or snowboarding, catapults you into a whole new dimension. This is no longer just humans defying the laws of physics, but a religious experience created by the amalgamation of auditory and visual magic.

More often than not, this uplifting beast of a tune you’re falling head over heels for was created by J Sigsworth. The 18-year-old producer from the UK has infiltrated the world of cinematography as of late, garnering support from major companies all across the world. Mollifying synths mesh with bewitching live instruments, setting the foundation for a palatable recipe that redefines the rules of ambient, electronic music.
The young producer has only just begun his unstoppable ascension, bringing with him a keen determination to inspire those daring enough to lift off the ground, alongside his euphoric collection of driving soundscapes. Sigsworth has even evoked our imaginations, so much so, that we had to learn more about him. Below is our exclusive interview with the burgeoning musician, covering his past projects, future releases, and the joys of balancing school and music.

How did you initially start producing and providing music for action sports films, and can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve been apart of?
I’ve been playing viola, piano and drums since I was learning to ride a bike, but it all started about three years ago. I’d been making little tracks for a couple of years, but it didn’t have much direction. Then I made base with Field Productions, and since then it’s grown beyond expectation. I’ve done biking projects with Anti Media, such as “Lines of Lofoten” and “Lacon de Catalonia,” and some proximity wingsuit projects with Jokke Sommer/Red Bull. All these guys are at the cutting edge of this kind of media. Some tracks have featured in some big TV productions and adverts lately. Each project requires different direction and approaches to the sound, so it’s a challenge. But slowly you get understand the relationship between audio and visuals and develop soundtracks that step outside the normal concepts. But the real dedication lies with Field Productions and their ski films. These guys are traveling the globe, documenting first descents in Alaska, NZ and Norway with Cineflex and Red Epics, so it’s always mind blowing to work on. It’s more than the visuals though; it’s about the story behind it all, as cliché as that sounds. I’m so grateful for everyone that has involved me in projects. They’re the most down to earth people, just focused on creativity.

J SigsworthAre there any extreme sports you’ve participated in yourself?
I ski every now and then, nothing extreme. I suck, but I enjoy the travel, cities and nature that comes with it all, and I guess that’s a big inspiration. I’m looking to get more into skiing over the next few years, but for now the projects I work on keep me hooked on it all.

You’ve mentioned that an album and EP are currently in the works. How’s that coming along, and are there any specific details you can share with us?
Yeah that’s right. I’ve been working head down on so much material for the past 16 months that I’m just trying to work out how best to release it. I’m planning on releasing an EP this summer featuring more epic, ambient tracks. Then I have a set of other tracks that are a similar style, but more electronic and upbeat that I hope to release as an album, hopefully on a label. It’s my main focus and I want it to be spot on, that’s why it’s taking time.

What does your studio setup currently consist of?

It’s pretty low key. I’m using analog gear much more, like the DSI Prophet 08, and recording strings, piano and drums way more than before with some good mics from SE and Neumann. Other than that I’m not really about the gear. I think you can get easily lost with too many options, and lose your style of music. I try to just use a few pieces of gear to their full potential, experimenting as much as I can. I’ve spent so many nights messing with signal chains, reverb, distortion, and reverse to get the sounds I’m envisioning. Probably the biggest focus has been on the monitoring side, understanding sound and mixing more, something very few artists do these days. A producer often takes the idea and turns it into a track, creating nearly all the elements and sonic details in the track, but to me that’s the most important part, and it makes it so much more personal.

Have you started playing any shows yet, or mostly just focusing on production?
I’ve just been focusing on production. So far my music hasn’t been so well suited to the normal live venues, but I reckon my upcoming stuff could work live. I’d love to get into live shows, it’s so much more powerful than listening to music through little headphones.

What have been your most prevalent challenges of balancing school and a passion for music thus far?
I’m in my last year, so generally school presides over the music right now. It’s important to get some good grades if the music doesn’t work out, but school feels like a waste. You see all these kids coming through with no creativity, just getting channeled into some career they’re going to regret and playing Xbox all night. That side of it makes me want to focus on the music, and too often I sit in class just thinking what I could be doing instead. I try not to miss any opportunities with the music, but school definitely doesn’t help it. If I didn’t have music I’d be wondering which way to turn from here on, but it’s an opportunity like nothing else, so I might as well try push it as far as possible.

Which artists and specific works have continually inspired you since becoming a musician?
I’m a big fan of Apparat, Sigur Ros, M83, Bon Iver, and Say Lou Lou. Films are also a pretty big part of it all, The Fountain, Café de Flore, Crash, and The Art of Flight. That probably adds to the cinematic side of my music. I listen to all sorts, anything that gives a good vibe.
What are some of your biggest goals involving music, and where do you hope to take this project in the next few years?
For the coming months, the focus is on Field Production’s next film  “Supervention,” which will feature new tracks and some exciting stuff with Red Bull. Getting this album perfect and finding the right record label is a pretty big goal. I want it to really be a complete album, like nothing is missing or overdone. So I hope it’s worth it. I don’t do it for whatever money comes in, just to see people enjoying it, and set to some incredible film segments. Making these tracks has probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Doing everything from start to finish on a record is a constant strive to make it as good as possible, which gets you down sometimes. It’s also pretty humbling the responses you get, no matter how small. In music, I think if you feel like you have achieved it all, then that’s where the creativity stops. It’s not about all the vain self-admiration bullshit you get with so many singer/songwriters. You gotta be proud of what you make, but for me it’s about the people who listen.
A quick thanks to Filip Christensen and the guys at Field, Anti Media, and everyone who supports. I’ve already got track ideas down for another album after this, but that’s some way off. Feels like the start right here.