Meet Michael Page, Norwich-based designer of electro-mechanical sequencers, educator of humans and general maker of noise. We caught up to talk about fitness routines, tablehooters and curdled acid smoke stacks. Also, Michael has kindly provided us with an exclusive recording of a recent live performance.
Hello Mike, what are you listening to at the moment?
Hiya! My new years resolution is to get fit so I’m developing an exercise routine. Its called the ’92 – ’96 jungle workout.There’s an LTJ Bukem mix from 1995 on youtube that lasts an hour and its got some belters (e.g. Say It by System X (who is actually Photek)). In the mellow floaty pads you do press ups and sit ups, then when the drums come back in you jump up and throw shapes. Try and move to every sound you hear. Other than that, early Liz Phair, Nicholas Krgovich, Bochum Welt, Mount Eerie, Elaine Radigue and Paul De Marinis. There’s normally something good on resonance FM.
So what drew you to the glamorous world of analogue synth design?
The process of turning music into electronics systems / electronics systems into music is incredibly fun! The concept part is awesome, puzzles to make your brain fizz. The building part is sometimes fun and sometimes arduous. Then the debugging and optimising bit is painful but rewarding when things spring to life.
Are there any synth designers out there whose work you particularly admire?
All the weird ones: Peter Blasser (Ciat Lonbarde), Jessica Rylan, Meng Qi, Staš Vrenko, Bugbrand, Eva Justka, Martin Howse, Herbs and Stones, Václav Peloušek, Peter Edwards, Lorre Mill, and of course Don Buchla and Serge Tcherepnin.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever incorporated into a musical instrument?
I don’t do much circuit bending anymore but there is a particular toy keyboard (hing hon ek-001) that is a devastating tablehooter. It outputs duaphonic multipulse squarewaves which sound strangely medieval. I’ve pulled the brain out of a couple of these and turned them into total monsters.
Is there a difference between art and entertainment?
You can’t make a hard distinction, art can be entertaining, entertainment can be art. Broadly speaking though art is usually made to communicate a concept or feeling and pure entertainment is for dumb shits who are just killing time before they die.
Do you see what you are doing as art?
Somewhere between art and a science experiment. I think I might start making synths to conduct cognitive psychology experiments.
You perform live quite a bit, do you release music too? Anywhere we can listen?
Strangely I don’t record anything at all! I almost exclusively get my kicks from designing and building. I do quite like improvising though and I’m thinking about starting a project recording in interesting site specific scenarios to get all that lovely environmental noise and happenstance. So if you hear some curdled acid coming out of an old smokestack come say ‘Hi’