In Conversation: Minor Science

In Conversation: Minor Science

Berlin producer on unlocking the secrets of language to create club heaters...

Language is fascinating, isn’t it?

Right now, the only languages you may hear are the distinct dialect of your country’s leader as they speak on the television, the sub-titled speak of your favourite foreign film, the sound of your own voice as it bounces off the four walls that shield you.

Language is what connects us yet differentiates us. Learning a new language is very much like taking a plunge into the unknown, not just in an educational sense, but in a cultural sense. 

It’s this process that has piqued the curiosity of Berlin-based producer Minor Science as he prepares to release his debut album – 'Second Language' – on celebrated experimental dance label Whities.

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Prior to the arrival of his Minor Science moniker, Angus Finalyson had gained respect as a talented music journalist, compiling long-reads and features for celebrated publications, such as Resident Advisor and Pitchfork, but in summer of ’18 his life situation changed. He quit.

“That was what gave me the time to properly explore, not just how to make an album, but how to make music in general,” he says, as we meet for a chat over Skype. “I felt like before then I’d always done it in drips and drabs, stops and starts. I’d always felt a bit limited and frustrated with what I was doing. Now, having this unlimited time to explore it, was what enabled me to take it to the next level.”

It was shortly after the release of 'Whities 012' in ’17, which contained the bass defying sequence 'Volumes', that Angus started to develop an idea for doing something around voices, and second languages, specifically.

“I became interested when I moved to Germany and started learning German,” he says. “Somehow, having thought I wasn’t very good at languages, I got obsessed with it and it became a bit of a hobby. I subsequently started learning French as well, although my French is nowhere near as far along as my German.”

“I got interested in the process of learning a new language and the mechanics of it, but also there’s something profound about learning a new language, because in a sense you’re accessing a whole world that you couldn’t access before. There’s this mystery to it. You don’t know what’s going to be there, and the only way to know is through unlocking the code of this communication and culture. This interest in the unknown became quite a big thing for me.”

Angus found similarities within the learning of a new language and producing music, in that you never quite know how things are, or how they will end up. You’re simply probing and exploring, powered by a desire to find out what is behind the curtain. “You never quite find it,” he tells me, “there’s always another corner, there’s always another unknown.”

We begin to discuss the idea of a second language. I tell him that my previous job was working in a coffee shop with a Polish woman, and she told me that she had been speaking English for so long that her thoughts had started to appear in English.

“What interests me with that is when she thinks in English, in some quite difficult and un-quantifiable way, she thinks differently than she would in Polish,” he says. “Your grasp of language and the characteristic of a language really shape your understanding of it. That’s an interesting question to me as well. The impossibility of translating from one language to another. They’re really two different worlds. When I speak German in my everyday life, in some sense I’m a different person as to when I speak English, because German is a different language but also because my grasp of it arrived quite late and so on. It’s fascinating.”

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Throughout the creation of the record, Angus discovered a way to beat his fruitful attempts at trying and failing to finish tracks. “Certain techniques or sounds would start to bounce between all the tracks,” he says. “I started to notice I was using a certain sound or idea across multiple tracks, and that would guide me. You can do these kinds of things when you’re working with a large pool of tracks. A lot of this stuff was old material I hadn’t explored for the previous releases, and they became hugely important on the album.”

This unlocking of creative freedom is symbolized in the label that the album shall call home. Nic Tasker’s Whities has had its finger on the pulse of future-facing electronic music since its creation in February ’14, and it’s an imprint that Angus is extremely proud to have been a part of from early.

“It's great with Nic - to have that relationship over such a long period of time,” he says. “I don’t think I could work the other way. The idea of working with a label who said we really want this type of track. I think I would just clam up. There’s something about my creativity that means I can’t just work to a brief.”

“Who knows what may happen in the future. There’s a thing about working with labels that you idolize… Like that almost brings some sort of paralysis. When you look at a back catalogue that has been formative for you and asking yourself what you have to add to this – that could be quite intimidating.”

“Something that was quite nice about Whities was that I got involved very early on. I think they’d only released one record when Nic got in touch. It was a blank slate. Now, Whities is probably at the point where it’s put out some important records to people, so others may now look at it in a similar way to how I look at Hessle and Planet Mu, and that’s really cool.”

With the album release date drawing ever closer – April 3rd – Angus is already setting his sights on a future long form release, a few more dancefloor focused records and – hopefully – in the not so distant future, a lot more DJing.

“I always thought I preferred producing and DJing was just something I felt like I had to do, but actually in the last few years I’ve really come to love DJing, so much so that I now sometimes struggle as to which one I should prioritise more,” he admits. “I’d like to do a longer form release that’s less explicitly dancefloor focused, and a couple more twelve inches of more dancey stuff. Although the album is a dance album, through my eyes anyway, the tracks aren’t that easy to mix with and they’re a little more structured for listening outside of the club, too.”

“Making some straightforward club tracks would be cool – me saying it now has probably jinxed it anyway, as it’s always something I’ve struggled to do (laughs). We’ll see.”

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'Second Language' will be released on April 3rd.

Words: Andrew Moore
Photo Credit: Cecilia Corsano-Leopizzi

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