After being featured last year on Anjunadeep’s compilation ‘Reflections Vol. 1’, Finnish producer vàr sofandi presents ‘Disintegration Works Vol.1’ on SOL. The result is a stunning three-tracker offering some cold, uniquely arid textured ambiances. We caught up with the rising artist to chat about the way he comes up with ideas, the relationship between ambient music and cinematography, how his environment shapes his sound, and more!
WWD: How was the process creating Disintegration Works? Would you say you were looking to create a cohesive whole or rather three complete pieces on their own?
At first, I wasn’t thinking of doing a full cohesive project, but I made a bunch of songs and the ideas just happened to fall into place. Sonically they all fit together since I made them in the same period of time. Then we sent the songs out and 3 ambient songs got picked for an EP. Later on I realized I could ask my classmate Riku Kiviharju for the artwork, since his drawings fit the sound I was going for.
WWD: What does your artistic process usually look like? Do you always begin with a specific part to craft a piece, or is it a more so a general feel?
Honestly, it’s fucked. I don’t really have a specific way I go about it and I just try to get an idea down and then build on it, until it resembles a full song. Sometimes it begins from a drum loop and other times from a chord progression or another musical idea. The time it takes for me to get something down, that I like, also varies. In some cases, I can finish a song in weeks, but some ideas take years for me to figure out.
There’s nothing specific, I just try stuff until it works.
WWD: And what are some techniques and habits that help you get inspired?
Taking breaks helps me a bit. I stop thinking about making music completely and watch films, play video games, listen to some albums or focus on schoolwork. If I try to force myself to work on music (or anything creative), it usually turns out shit. Ideas and inspiration come naturally. “They’re like fish”, as David Lynch says.
WWD: With a lot of ambient artists, there seems to be this proclivity with cinema and movie scores. Is it the case for you? And if so, which movies or soundtracks have guided your craft?
Well, I have a Letterboxd account, so I spend way more time watching films than I’d like to admit. Last year I was lucky enough to have a chance at making some music for a student short film and now I help with sound environments or music whenever needed. I hope in the future I get to explore that stuff more.
Hildur Guðnadóttir’s Chernobyl-soundtrack, [made from field recordings of a decommissioned nuclear reactor in Lithuania], was a main inspiration for this EP, especially for the opening song ‘33,000 MW’. I adore the soundscapes of Blade Runner and Akira, but even simple, straightforward music like in Still Walking is equally effective. Takagi Masakatsu’s work is also great.
WWD: What are your main musical influences? Are there some unexpected names who we wouldn’t think about when hearing your music but that have nevertheless had an impact on your sound?
Main influences are definitely Jon Hopkins, Burial, Jónsi & Alex and Ryuichi Sakamoto. I could go on for a whole page about artists and musicians that influence my work, but I try to keep it short.
I draw inspiration from everywhere so I try to listen to pretty much everything. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Earl Sweatshirt again, as well as Kino, Radiohead and Gud’s solo stuff.
WWD: Hearing your music for the first time was very reminiscing of the northern winter winds which we experience here in Montreal. How does coming from Oulu, a city from Northern Finland, affect your creative process?
I actually struggle with it a bit. It feels like I live so far away from everyone else who take electronic music seriously and I’ve kept this mostly to myself. Bouncing ideas off other people doesn’t really come naturally and the stuff I make ends up sounding a little odd/weird. But at the same time, I feel that it’s a good thing, because I’m staying true to myself. I think my music has a distinctive “Oulu-quality” to it, while still taking influence from your typical Finnish landscape.
WWD: Is it a conscious decision to feature those aspects or rather just what you’re drawn to instinctively?
Both conscious and instinctive, I think. I use sounds that I’ve recorded on my phone, and since I’ve grown up here, I’m drawn to certain atmospheres, soundscapes and feelings that evoke what I see.
WWD: Your alias vár sofandi, means “Was asleep” in Icelandic. What is the relation between choosing this name and your music?
I don’t actually speak Icelandic so it’s most likely misspelt. It’s kind of funny though, so I’ve kept going with it. It’s imperfect like the music that I make.
I used to make music under many different aliases, but I was never happy with those. I guess now I feel like I’m making music that’s true to myself.
WWD: Is there a specific piece of gear, software or hardware, to which you’ve given a lot of love lately?
I mostly just use the Ableton stock plugins and Massive from Native Instruments. The main drone sounds on this EP were made with the GrainFreeze Max for Live device from Monolake and I’ll definitely continue using it in the future. Arturia’s emulated analog synths are also amazing.
WWD: How have things been in the last year for you? Overall, how would you say the pandemic has affected you artistically as well as on a personal level?
Not great as expected. I haven’t felt motivated to get a lot of things accomplished. I think Finland is doing okay compared to other places, however. Everyone’s got their own shit to deal with.
WWD: What kind of things can we expect for you in the coming year?
More music, hopefully. I appreciate SOL and When We Dip for wanting to put out a release that’s a bit odd and out there. Thank you for the opportunity.
Stream/Download “Disintegration Works, Vol. 1 : https://solxyz.lnk.to/varsofandi
You can follow vàr sofandi on Soundcloud here.