Insight Interview: Twisted Psykie

Twisted Psykie is an amazing Oklahoma-based electronic musician who has produced some wonderful, dark, deeply emotional music. We caught up with him recently – and here’s what he had to say…

Hey Twisted Psykie, thanks so much for agreeing to an interview. Where are you based? Do you tend to travel a lot, or are you firmly rooted at home?

Thank you for wanting to interview me.

I’m currently living in Oklahoma. It’s not that interesting, so there isn’t much more to say about that. I live in a pretty small town that is no more than a rest stop for people on their way to somewhere else.
I don’t really travel much. Not that I wouldn’t mind traveling more, it’s just I really don’t have anywhere to go. So for now, I would say I’m firmly rooted at home.

Can you recall your first real exposure to music?

I was pretty young. I used to spend a lot of time at my grandparents house and my grandfather used to listen to John Denver a lot. I actually really don’t like country music but I still enjoy John Denver’s music. I think some of that is just the nostalgia factor but the guy was amazingly talented.

I probably didn’t start really developing my own sense for music until I was about 10 or 11. It was around 1995 and hip-hop was huge. I got really into it for awhile. A couple years later a friend of mine introduced me to the band Alice In Chains, and that really kinda set me off on my own search for music. It made me very mindful of the fact that there is all this different music out there and I had mostly been ignoring it. From that point on I spent a lot of my free time just looking for new music. I couldn’t get enough. I think that’s a big reason why I ended up where I am now.

How and when did you first begin writing and creating music?

I think I was about 16 or 17. I had always wanted to play an instrument but it was expensive and we didn’t have a lot of money. It was around this time that I really got into electronic music through some friends of mine. Mostly Detroit Techno and Trance. I had read some interviews online from producers talking about making music on their computers and I thought, “I wonder how they do that?”, and that was basically the beginning of it. I went online and just started searching.

I originally found a program called Sony Acid, which was the most confusing thing I’d ever seen. I spent a few days trying to figure it out but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Later I found FL Studio which at the time was called Fruity Loops, and downloaded a pirated version of that. I know, I’m a bad person, but I own it now so please don’t come after me if you are reading this Image-Line.

Unfortunately I didn’t really take it very serious. It was just something I did to pass some time. I really regret not pushing myself harder early on. Who knows where I would be right now if I had just worked a little harder.

How did you decide upon the name Twisted Psykie?

I don’t know. I thought I was being clever I think. I really wish I had thought it through a bit more. Sometimes I want to change it but I figure it’s probably too late now. Besides it’s just a name right? It doesn’t change the music or the experience of it so I’ve gotten over it.

Have you made or released music under any other name?

I did put out some Dub Techno tracks on Soundcloud under the name Monosphere, but I’ve long forgotten the account information and I can’t even access it. I found out someone else was using the name already, so I just stopped using it. I’m sure there are still some songs up on that soundcloud page if people actually want to hunt it down. After that I just decided to release everything under Twisted Psykie.

Can you describe your music for us?

Not really, can you?

It’s tough for me to describe my own music to anyone. Honestly I think the title of my first LP pretty much described it, ‘Night Music’ – shameless plug. That’s really kind of what it is. It’s the kind of music that you put on when you’re just hanging out in your room by yourself at night with your headphones on, or maybe when you’re driving alone in your car in the middle of the night. You don’t necessarily have to be alone, those are just 2 scenarios I gave for example, but to some extent it does kind of feel that way. I put a lot of emotion into my music and I feel like people are most susceptible to their emotions when they are alone, so that’s probably when my music is most intriguing for listeners.

Have you played live recently? Would you like to do more shows or tours in future? Anything coming up soon you’d like to tell us about?

I’ve never played live. I honestly have no idea how I would even translate my music into a live show of any kind. I’m not a DJ, I never learned how to be one. I simply produce my music and send it out to the world. Honestly I think that’s probably for the best. I’m not the most social person and I prefer the anonymity.

What have been your biggest influences?

That’s a tough one to answer. My influences span a fairly large array of music. But what really pushed me in the direction I ended up going in was early Dubstep producers – Distance, Skream, Benga, L-Wiz, El-B, Digital Mystikz, and Kryptic Minds to name a few. But really it was hearing Burial for the first time that flipped this switch in me. I know that’s an obvious answer for anyone making Future Garage but I think it would be a crime not to give Burial the credit he deserves for the existence of this genre.

Do you think producing electronic music requires technical or creative skill? Or both?

Both and neither.

I know that’s probably confusing, but when I started I had no technical skill or creative skill. At least not that I knew of. It was really just a lot of doing everything wrong and learning from it. So to start producing music I would say you don’t need either of those skills, but to be good at it you definitely need a little of both.

Do you tend to find the creative process a cathartic or therapeutic experience? Has creating music helped you cope with difficult times in your life?

Definitely. When I sit down at my computer to make music the rest of the world kind of melts away. I’m not thinking about that bad day I had at work or that argument I had with a friend or loved one that really upset me. All that emotion and stress that has been building up can all be focused and released right there at my computer. I can’t think of any therapy better than that.

Any collaborations, remixes or joint projects on the horizon?

I do have some potential collaborations I’ve agreed to but not sure what it will turn into. You never really know how that will turn out until it’s done so I don’t really like to make any announcements.

Any new genres or musical styles you’d like to explore in future?

I’m always exploring. I like to do a lot of ambient types of music. I’ve released some of them previously. I’ve done some Dub Techno stuff in the past and that’s always something I enjoy doing when I do it.
I actually recently did a Minimal Techno track that I enjoyed making but not sure if I will release it or not. It’s not exactly the most popular style of music and most of my fans probably aren’t the typical audience for it, but it’s fun to make it even if I never release it. But maybe in the future there will be a Minimal Techno EP or something.

I’ve always been a fan of hip-hop and have always considered trying to produce it but it never turns out how I want it to. So maybe that could also be a possibility in the future.

Do you have any thoughts on the future of electronic music? Do you think the scene will evolve further?

I really don’t think about it that much. Electronic music has been evolving since it was created and I doubt it’s going to stop any time soon. I’m just excited to see what else is in store for the future.

Any new releases coming our way?

I do actually have some things coming soon. In the next couple days I’ll have an announcement for a release through Vaypor and Armada that I’m pretty excited for. It’s been an amazing experience working with those guys. I also have a track on the Florescence compilation from Imminent coming out on the 22nd of November. I have a couple tracks on a couple other compilations that have not been given a release date yet but I’m hoping it’s soon.

Other than those I just have stuff I’m working on that will come out eventually. I never know what it is or when it will be until it’s done but there is always something.

Any artists or other individuals / collectives you’ve not worked with yet that you’d like to work with in future?

I honestly don’t really have a list. There’s so many great artists out there that I think it would be amazing to work with. Some people I’m really enjoying listening to right now are Vacant, Direct, Azaleh, Phelian, Soular Order, Bucky, AK…I mean I could go on for a long time. I think it would be great to work with any of them.

Do you have a favourite track / song of all time? Favourite artist?

My favorite track is Nutshell by Alice In Chains. That might seem weird for some cause it’s not electronic music but that song is so good. I don’t really have a favorite artist though. There are so many amazing artists out there that I love so much that it would be impossible to name just one.

It’s been said that a life in music can be a hard one. Would you agree with that?

Disagree.

Maybe if I was able to make a living off of music I would have a different opinion but I don’t. I still work a normal job and struggle like anyone else. For me music is very much an escape from my life and the struggles of it, so for me it’s not hard at all. Frustrating at times maybe, but not hard.

Do you have any words of advice for aspiring young producers?

Be patient.

You asked me earlier if producing required Technical or Creative Skill, but I think the most important skill for someone just getting into this is patience. It’s a long road you’re about to embark on and it’s gonna be filled with a lot of ups and downs, a lot of frustration, but if you just put your head down and work through it, it will all be worth it.

Any other projects on the horizon that you’d like to tell us about?

Not really. I always have plans to produce music, I just don’t always know what it will be or when it will happen. I’m always producing music and I don’t have any plans on stopping any time soon. There will always be something new around the corner, just keep your eyes and ears open.

Thanks so much Twisted Psykie!

You’re welcome, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this. I’ve never done it before, it was fun.

Check out Twisted Psykie’s incredible back catalogue here and here.