Travelling through the musical cosmos on the sound of off-kilter electronic beat music, Space Dimension Controller has found a niche on the dance floor through a retrospective sound of a intangible future. Traversing galaxies between Techno, House and Electro, SDC plays on Science Fiction themes through album narratives like The Pathway To Tiraquon 6 and Welcome To Mikrosector-50 for labels like R&S and Ninja Tune and often extends that narrative to the dance floor with countless 12” and EPs for those labels and Clone.
An esoteric figure in electronic music, SDC is the creation of UK producer Jack Hamill, who also answers to Mr.8040, a concept that began its life as a lo-fi-ambient electronic project and grew into an extensive conceptual artistic pursuit, replete with space-age narrative. His most recent release, Orange Melamine catalogues the artist’s earliest expressions as music made by an eighteen year old Hamill, a singular release from a time before the birth of Mr.8040 the complex world he has created around that character, who is also known as The Space Dimension Controller.
SDC has crafted two albums for R&S based on an imagined screenplay taken from this complex narrative, experimenting with many different forms of music as he channels it through the artistic character and his own musical instincts. These are bold pieces of incredible dexterity that engages at some weird psychedelic level with visceral effects, at times purposefully positioned for the dance floor cuts, away from, but extensions of his overarching theme.
In a live show about to hit Jæger as part of an R&S showcase, we’re curious to see how he develops the sound and the narrative for the stage, so with this and other burning questions on our mind we shoot off an email to Mr.8040 in the hope of unraveling some more of this eccentric artist behind the music.
You’ve seemed to have found a home at R&S. What is about the label and the people behind it that keeps you there, and how do they inform the sound of Space Dimension Controller?
I wouldn’t say a home as I’ve released on Clone & Ninja in the last few years but I have a huge amount of respect for the label. Its heritage in dance music is second to none and Renaat is a crazy lovable genius. They don’t inform my sound at all, but I do love to make a more dancefloor focused record for them.
In the early years of the label I’ve heard it was very much about a community and it revolved around an R&S studio. What is it like today to work with the label and is that sense of community still there?
I mean I’d say it’s very different as community now, which has a vast digital platform known as the internet. The label is great to work with and super friendly. The old R&S studio days must have been legendary!
Albums like The Pathway To Tiraquon 6 and Welcome to Mikrosector-50 are eccentric, bold, nebulous electronic music pieces that often avoid strict designation. How would you describe your music for the uninformed?
I wouldn’t want to label my music but “esoteric’ seems to come to my mind. Thanks so much for the kind words.
There are often strong Sci-Fi themes to be found on your records, in the abstract and the tiles. What is it about sci-fi that inspires you and how do you go about putting it into music?
My youth was really geeky and I spent loads of time watching these old sci-fi films. I guess i just draw ideas of my own that are set in that spectrum of genre and the overarching narrative to my music is definitely inspired by certain science fiction themes. The musicality side is different and I draw inspiration from vast amounts of places.
Which Sci-FI books/movies/series do you currently draw your inspiration from?
Rewatching ‘Primer’ definitely got me thinking about time travel again. (Laughs) I’ve not checked that much new stuff lately.
I’ve always thought Mikrosector 50 would make the perfect soundtrack for a film like that or Total Recall. If you could score any sci-fi film from the past what would it be and why?
I love Total Recall so thanks again for the kind words. I’d probably score the original ‘Solaris’ as its such a beautiful film and I think still stands up as a modern piece of art.
I know you’ve expressed an interest in filmmaking, and I’ve read somewhere you’re working on a screenplay. Can you tell us a bit about that side of your creative identity and how it informs your music if at all?
My albums have an overarching narrative so it’s essentially writing a detailed screenplay but depicting it via audio and not so much the visual side. It’s a huge part of what I do and I’ve been trying out some ideas on the visualization but nothing I can reveal just now.
Through your albums that narrative might unfold mostly through the titles, but do you think in terms of a story when you’re putting your songs together?
Yes it has a complete story written and the music depicts what happens.
In “Introduction to Mr.8040″ the vocals mention Tiraquon 6 and on that album, during the last track we hear the name Mr. 8040 for the first time. Is there and ongoing creative concept throughout your albums?
Yes through the narrative it is apparent throughout my albums (not orange melamine though).
Mr.8040 is also said to be the space dimension controller. Who is Mr.8040 to you?
A space cowboy I guess. A rogue hero and a smooth guy.
What do you think this sort of plotline or character adds to the music and how does it inform your music, if at all?
It is the entire concept of the music so definitely adds a lot! It helps me guide the album process and structure the tracklist.
Your last album Orange Melamine, was a collection of music made when you were eighteen, so it was like a flashback, like the second series of the Star Wars movies are proposed to be. How does that tie into the grand narrative of your albums?
It doesn’t and was made before the grander scheme was conceptualised. I’m still very proud of it though.
* SDC stops by Jæger as part of the R&S roadshow with a live show.