From his home in Manchester, Lee Norris is busy constructing atmospheric and abstract music that marks clear pathways to his synth-pop and left field artists like Black Dog, Autechre, and Boards Of Canada. Working under names like Nacht Plank, Norken, and Tone Language, his primary focus is the Metamatics project, named after synth-pop pioneer John Foxx's album from 1980. He's had a prolific output for labels like Hydrogen Dukebox, Skam, Clear, and District Six as well as launching his own label Neo Ouija that is quickly drawing interest from around the globe. His latest album Death To Passwords When You Are A Paper Aeroplane is clearly the natural and evolving direction for the artist, incorporating similar elements from previous work like Dope For Robots, and So Many Ways, yet adding an increased emphasis on the subtle and lush components of the music adding more melody as well as natural elements and human emotions to his work.

Justin Hardison: Any special meaning behind the title "Death To Passwords Where You're a Paper Aeroplane"?

Lee Norris: There is no deep meaning behind the title, I just happened to stumble across two different conversations once and the title comes from that really. I just stuck the two together and liked what I came up with. In the past I have always had titles that mean something so it was time for a change really.

JH: I certainly hear it, and others seem to think that the new album marks a different and 'maturing' sound for Metamatics. Do you feel the same and what you think contributed to this? Did you fall in love with some new gear?

LN: Yeah, I do think my sound has matured over the years. It's a logical step forward for me. The work is more balanced and has an even more organic feel to it. I bought some new gear as I was getting fed up with the stuff I was using, I guess that has an effect on the overall sound of aeroplane. Since then I have bought more so my sound is still in transit at the moment which is refreshing from my point of view.

JH: Do you work with more hardware or software when you're writing new material? There seems be some unique synth sounds/tones in your work.

LN: I still use my Atari for sequencing and samplers and synths. I have yet to get involved with soft synths and PC driven music. To be honest it does not excite me. I like the hands on approach when making music.

JH: The Hydrogen Dukebox label seems very supportive judging by the large number of excellent releases you've been able to put out under Metamatics and Norken. You must never leave the studio...

LN: Hydrogen have been very supportive of my work. They just let me get on with it which is nice because as an artist you don't want your work to be judged as a non trendy profit making item. I do leave the studio. I'm not as hard working as it's made out to be. I seem to be labelled as a workaholic which is kind of true but I do venture out to the pub most nights.

JH: Could you give me a run down of your aliases and why you've chosen to work under so many different names?

LN: My main names are Metamatics and Norken. My Norken project is my own take on music even though its roots are firmly with Detroit techno. Metamamtics is my electronica guise, giving me the freedom to do what ever I want.the other two names I use is Nacht Plank and Tone Language which are beatless and more ambient than the other two.

JH: What is your musical background like and what would you say your influences are?

LN: I don't have any musical training. I taught myself everything that I know. I grew up listening to Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, David Sylvian, Kraftwerk and Brian Eno. I was always interested in the synthetic sounds produced by Kraftwerk and Foxx. As a kid I was listening to music by David Sylvian and Brian Eno which also taught me the theory of emotion in music, that I knew one day I wanted to produce. With my Norken project I especially add all the haunting elements.

JH: Tell me about your Neo Ouija label and some of the current projects.

LN: I set up Neo Ouija two years ago. We are on release fifteen at the moment. It's a very exciting label and I'm very proud of it. At the moment we have just released a new compilation with tracks from lots of different electronic artists around the world. We have releases coming up by Funckarma,Bauri and Kettel. It's a steady flow of excellent electronica.

JH: Do you perform live very much?

LN: Nah, I stopped playing live a few years ago. I felt a bit foolish pressing go on my computer. I much prefer to play records now instead.

JH: Are you working on any other projects or remixes for other labels?

LN: At the moment I'm starting work on a new Norken project. I'm also working on three different collabarations. The first project is with Clatterbox as we are doing Project Unison 2. The second is a collabaration with Xela who is recording for Neo Ouija and Funckstorung's label MAS.The third is a project with a Polish guy called Krystian Lubiszewski who is also one half of Ilkae. So in all I'm going to very busy this year writing new material. I have also put together an album of Metamatics remixes called Rewired in my Manor. It features mixes of my tracks by the cream of electronica artists. This will be out on neo ouija later on in the year.

Justin Hardison

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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