The term »hypnagogic pop« was first justed by David Keenan in »The Wire #306«. It refers to music based on a creative mis-hearing of hyperreal 1980s chartbusters. It’s a questing post-noise that worships new age and uses half-remembered hits as portals to the subconcious.
The most succesfull hypnagogic pop record is Oneothrix Point Never’s »Rifts« album (No Fun, 2009). The most active hypnagogic pop star is James Ferraro. The best hypnagogic pop record is »The Music Of Belief« by Dolphins Into The Future (Release »The Bats«, 2010).
Lieven Martens knows how to combine the 1980s nostalgia of Oneothrix Point Never with the dreamlike mood of James Ferraro and the sweet melodies of Ducktails. And still, the end result sounds totally unique.
skug: With Dolphins Into The Future, you no longer produce junk noise but rather melodic and somewhat ethereal synth drones. Why this radical change?
Lieven Martens: Maybe to you it sounds like a radical change but not to me. As a matter of fact I never limited myself to junk noise only, just as I’m not limiting myself to synth drones now. I don’t make music just for the sake of the music. That’s something I’ve learned through the years. I prefer a book on tape rather than a conventional musical project. What I am trying to do is to make music based on intuition and amazement. It has to feel right.
Is your music influenced by Vangelis?
I don’t think my music refers to Vangelis on purpose, although he has made a few records that are uniquely inventive and weird in their genre. Just listen to La Fête Sauvage, Albedo 0.39, Heaven & Hell, Beaubourg and Earth, or the two bootleg LPs »Hypothesis« and »The Dragon«: all of these are classics. Having said that, »Hypothesis« tends to lean towards boring lounge jazz in places, but it makes up for that with excellent album art. Vangelis’s music goes from fake free jazz with synths to animal sounds, opera, spacey sounds and native sounds, and every now and then the odd bit of fancy fair psychedelica. The monster hit »Chariots Of Fire« has to be my favourite medley. The ecstatic feeling in this song is just incomparable, it’s the ultimate feelgood song! I have to specify though we’re talking about the Vangelis from before 1982. I don’t really care about the stuff he made after that. Even though my girlfriend can play »Conquest of Paradise« on her melodica!
Both with Dolphins Into The Future and your »Cetacean Nation Communications« blog, you seem to be flirting with esotery and new age. I suppose this is ironic, yet at the same time I suspect you are serious about it too, no?
I may be a lot of things, but certainly not ironic. I’ve never tried to be ironic, neither in my music nor with my label. And I never will. Irony is not part of my imagination. I’m influenced by communication with dolphins. These animals will show us the way to a new and better future. They possess an extensive knowledge of the cosmos and the earth, much more than we do. Through sonar and telepathy they send us holograms and information. My music is a reflection of my personal communication with these animals.
You also run the Taped Sounds lable. One of the things I like most about CD-R and tape labels is the fact that their limited print runs all make sure it is very »here and now«. Is that one of the aspects that appeals to you too?
This »here and now« aspect is quite nice indeed. Though I wouldn’t mind if people still played my music or the music I released in 2083. That would be cool. The decision to release music on tape is partly because of nostalgia. But what’s even more important is that, to me, cassettes just sound perfect: their sound is so deep and elastic. Another big advantage is that they are dirt cheap and last forever. Cassettes are also a perfect source for bizarre discoveries and sounds, and they remind me of bootlegs, India, children’s stories and meditation music.
While preparing this interview, I read an interview with you from five years ago in which you describe yourself as insecure. This surprised me – maybe because I only know you superficially – because I’ve always seen you as somebody who really knows what he wants.
I don’t think you can relate insecurity to knowing what you want. I actually know really well what I want and so far I’ve only had to make a few compromises. Compromise can even be a good thing sometimes. I plead guilty when it comes to insecurity, but somehow I also cherish this insecurity, as it stimulates my creativity. In a strange way it forces me to not opt for the easiest or most evident solution. So insecurity doesn’t have to be a negative thing at all. Besides I tend to like other people who act out of insecurity and are not afraid to admit it.
Info about Dolphins Into the Future’s »The Music Of Belief« on Release »The Bats«: