by Alison Zavos in New Music on Thursday 30 June 2011

British producer Bibio (aka Stephen James Wilkinson) has just released his sixth album, Mind Bokeh, which is out now on Warp through Inertia in Australia. We caught up with him for a chat.

A few of your album titles, such as Vignetting The Compost and your latest release, Mind Bokeh, refer to effects in photography. How would you describe the relationship between photography and the music you make?
‘In my head, I make connections between the various sensory worlds. When I tweak the timbre of instruments, I often think of adding more yellow or more red, and so on. Sometimes it’s texture. Like, I might think to make a guitar track sound like sand or the bark of oak. Other times, I make links between cooking and production.

‘We are sensuous beings, with several different ways of sensing the world. All those senses can be considered separate, like smell, touch, sight. But they all go to make us what we are, so from an artistic point of view, they can be linked. The links I make between sensory worlds may not be scientific. Sometimes they are, but in art, there are no rules. So it follows that my love for light and sound are connected in my love for recording and photography’.

Were there specific photographers you were looking at while working on your latest album, Mind Bokeh?
‘Not really. There’s a hell of a lot of talent on Flickr. I could spend hours browsing through that site. Sometimes things catch my eye on there, like diamonds in the rough. I guess the most powerful photographs are ones with a palpable mood or atmosphere. They don’t have to be bling and they don’t have to be lo-fi.

‘Photography can be like poetry in that the simplest presentation of something can lead to something more than the sum of its parts’.

How did you come up with the concept for the artwork?
‘After I thought of the title for the album, I had various ideas which involved my head full of ‘bokeh’. I tried various things with layering medium format film negatives, and so on. But the outcome wasn’t quite there.

‘Then I remembered playing around with this mirror that my girlfriend made in the shape of my head. I was capturing it on video and liked the way the mirror was in focus but the image in the mirror was out of focus, or blurred. In other words, ‘bokeh’ inside my head.

‘My girlfriend cut me out another mirror of my profile that was more refined and up to date (with my haircut at the time), and after some experimenting with fairy lights, I ended up with a shot of the mirror on my living room wall reflecting fairy lights, which were hanging on a black cloth the other side of the living room.

‘The mirror and wall are sharply in focus, but due to the shallow depth of field caused by the type of lens and setting I used, the fairy lights are out of focus and appear in the mirror as bokeh highlights. So the front cover is one single photograph: no photoshop trickery going on there. It ended up coming out so perfect that it almost looks computer generated, but it’s not.

‘I used the same technique for the sampler video I did before the release date, but obviously in that there is movement. I achieved this by hanging the mirror on a thread and spinning it so it periodically reflects the out of focus fairy lights’.

Which electronic musicians are inspiring you at the moment?
‘Hudson Mohawke and Chris Clark’.


Bibio (2)
Bibio (3)