People often talk about Cascine's electronic releases in terms of otherworldly vistas, dreamy explorations and somnambulant soundscapes, and the gorgeous synth explorations of RxGibbs fit these descriptions more elegantly than most - he's even got a Balearic, dub-leaning track called 'Macro'. But the pixelated constellation of the artwork to his new album Contact gestures towards something a little different: not the hope of escaping into the ether, but making your digitised day-to-day shine a little brighter.
In an email, Cascine's publicist Sandra Croft recommended an image that came to mind when listening to RxGibbs' music: Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Wrapped Trees project, where the artists clad trees in gossamer fabric. Like these clothed alive things reaching skywards, Contact may be telescopic but it also holds you close. Today Dazed Digital exclusively premieres the album, and Ron Gibbs tells us why Contact is not an intergalactic impulse, but a reference to that basic token of human relationships - the warm and mutual act of touch.
Dazed Digital: You're quite fond of pictures of constellations and new landscapes in your artwork. Are you someone that often wants to escape?
Ron Gibbs: For me it's not about escaping. It's about appreciating the beauty that exists in the natural world and in the universe around us. I'm not trying to escape from anything. I'm just trying to soak it all in. I could could sit and stare at a beautiful landscape for hours, or look at the Hubble Space Telescope pictures for hours.
DD: Your LP is called Contact. It makes me think of interplanetary "first contact" - but do you mean it in a more human way?
Ron Gibbs: I do actually, even though the cover might suggest otherwise. And as much as I think about the idea of making contact with life from another world, it's more about making interpersonal connections. Music has always been a great way to meet wonderful like-minded people that I would have otherwise never met. For me that's what it's all about.
DD: Do you ever think about making 'dance music'?
Ron Gibbs: All the time. In fact I have another side project, Serpo, with my band's drummer that is supposed to be our dance band. We're both huge dance music fans, although our music always ends up sounding way mellower than we intended. We're hoping to have an EP done later this year.
DDl: Your mononym 'RxGibbs' makes me think of the gender-neutral prefix 'Mx'. Do you think this is a lens to see your music through?
Ron Gibbs: To be honest I never knew that prefix existed. But I do see how the idea of gender-neutrality could apply to my music in the fact that I think it has both masculine and feminine qualities. I think it's good to have balance. I feel there's too much emphasis on trying to be hard or tough in our current culture, and I just can't relate to that. Nor do I think it's a healthy way to live. I'd like to think my music can act as a counter-balance to that hard shell.
DD: Do you have any hobbies?
Ron Gibbs: Beside getting out and enjoying nature with friends, music is the only hobby I've ever really had ever since I was 4 or 5 years old. It really takes up most of my free time. Whether it's creating it or listening. Although this past year my bandmates and I probably spent just as much time skateboarding as we did making music. I'm the worst skater out of all of us. I can ride, just don't expect any tricks from me.
DD: A song like 'Temptations' feels so smothering. Do you ever feel overwhelmed in the music-making process?
Ron Gibbs: I do. I think my music can be somewhat thick at times, and it can be hard to not get lost in the sea of frequencies while mixing.
DD: In music, do you view the voice as a language or an instrument?
Ron Gibbs: For me it's definitely more of an instrument. I can listen to a song for years and never realise what the lyrics are. For me it's more about the melody and the rhythm. You don't need words to initiate a feeling.
DD: Is there a narrative to the 'Contact' LP?
Ron Gibbs: No, not really. If anything it's just about me trying to create something that is hopefully uniquely beautiful and that will hopefully make people feel good. I'm just trying to spread a little positivity while I can.
DD: There seem to be a lot of artists now that are exploring apps/visual environments as a way to experience music. How important is this kind of sense of immersion to you?
Ron Gibbs: I definitely would like people to be able to get lost in my music. I'm always trying to create something that will hopefully transport the listener. I also try to approach my songs as if the music were being played by a live band. It's all pretty much made from the basic band elements of vocals, drums, bass, guitar, and synths. I want things to sound as organic and real as possible, and not like it's just me sitting at a computer.