By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON – How can artists ever be blamed for their own natural evolution?
It’s oddly selfish to impose upon somebody’s creativity and expect the same sound across several albums or different projects. With Artisan Loyalist’s new album Caustics, there’s so much value gained in letting the artist create outside of such boundaries.
If you’ve listened to either of Rob Batke’s previous offerings via Artisan Loyalist, it’s likely you’ve noticed structural growth. From the nearly formless synth and drone-like ambience of 2013’s You’re Glory to the subtly more upbeat jams à la ambient musician Tycho featured in 2015’s Lonely Ghost, his evolution is audible. Fitting then, that Caustics is a culmination of both styles, but as Batke points out, features more of a stadium rock feel.
BeatRoute: What have you been up to since we last spoke?
Rob Batke: A couple things! I was working on a Masters over the last few years and I finished that. And what I’ve been working on within that is proposing we allow kids to use music technology to create and compose; to be more music producers than consumers. I now teach a course based on that principle. And I finished the new album. It was a slow process for awhile.
BR: Within all the work you’re doing in music theorizing, how does that feed into your own personal process?
RB: Every project I’ve been involved with kind of speaks to the next one. What I’m realizing through my work as a teacher and artist are the things I struggled with when getting into electronic music after playing in bands for many years. I’ll always be creating and making something, but it’s in facilitating work with kids that I know I’m not the authority in anything. I’m there to support their goals in creating music.
BR: You briefly mentioned a struggle in transitioning from traditional rock music to electronic. Can you elaborate on what that looked like for you?
RB: I bought a laptop in 2006 and I had no idea what I was doing. Which was a valuable struggle. I desired to make different sounds and felt kind of bored with the guitar. I didn’t want to get more athletic with it. A lot of those lines have blurred over the past few years and I find myself coming back to my guitar more and more. I think some of the sound on Caustics is heavily influenced by ‘80s stadium electronic rock like Tears for Fears. That’s something I’ve been trying to marry for the last few years.
BR: How does that come out in the new record?
RB: I tried to be more intentional about stripping things back for this record in the sense of having specific synth parts, specific guitar parts. Limit the layers and have a certain palette to work with. I wanted to get heavier into distortion because of my kind of infatuation with that stadium sound. The idea of Genesis and big power pop sounds.
Artisan Loyalist releases Caustics at the second Tim Hecker show May 18 at 9910 (Edmonton). The album is now available on all major streaming services.Artisan Loyalist, Caustics, Tim Hecker