Music To Film: An interview with Dimer Ynni.

The city was a portal for many, a gateway to a world of experience and intense emotion. At the centre was a sound. Whether it be Trance, Drum and Bass, Techno, House or the countless other dance music genres that penetrated the streets of Swansea and reverberated around the thriving 90s club scene.

This featured music maker grew up around this as you will read in a bit. But it isn't his dance music that we focus on here. There is an element of cinematic sound design and sparse compositions that are being looked at through a post-dance floor haze.  Someone who is inspired by the wonders of science, film composer Hans Zimmer and the importance of music education.

This is a first for the blog as we managed to collaborate with Swansea based photographer and musician Simeon Smith to deliver a beautiful photo shoot. To find out more take a look at his visually stunning website - www.awonderfulkindofimpossible.co.uk/

Thank you for reading.

MUSIC TO FILM: AN INTERVIEW WITH DIMER YNNI


PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIMEON SMITH



EMW: Hello and thank you for reaching out to EMW. Please introduce yourself.

DY: Dimer Ynni - Swansea based electronica producer.

EMW: Did you grow up in Swansea? If so what was it like as a music maker, did you crave the bigger cities or was it a good place to be?

DY: I grew up in Pontardawe, as you can imagine there wasn't a huge club scene in South Welsh Valleys.

However, there were a lot of outdoor and indoor raves, which heavily influenced my fascination with electronic music and the dance scene in general.



Aside from that, a few local DJ's put on weekly events at Trebanos workman's club. It wasn't the most groundbreaking venue, but packed out every weekend! At one point there were 500 people jammed into this small venue, all going for it.

The Dj's (Juntz, Rodman, Nik Lawson and Bounce) played mainly Trance and later become fundamental in Swansea's minimal, house, techno and progressive scene. Running events at Escape and holding residencies at various club nights. These guys and others indirectly mentored me, gave me a lot of opportunities and influenced my early dance music education.
  
By the time I was old enough to go clubbing, the  Swansea club scene was pumping. I spent every weekend in Escape for at least 3 years. I'd get lost in the music, blown away by guest dj's and residents. Those Trance years have always stayed with me, I've rarely seen collective energy like that, it was like the whole dance floor were on the same page. That's where I fell in love with melody really.

Once the minimal scene had kicked in, I found my taste going in a slightly different direction. Local nights such as The experimental lounge at Escape (Which was set up Nik Lawson & Rodman) Dogruff, Jnk N Fnk (Where Juntz had a residency) and digital session, run by Emma Jayne Smith.


"I'd get lost in the music, blown away by guest dj's and residents. Those Trance years have always stayed with me, I've rarely seen collective energy like that, it was like the whole dance floor were on the same page. That's where I fell in love with melody really." Dimer Ynni


Emma offered me my first residency after Rodman & Lawson introduced us. This then led to me playing regular gigs at Escape, Dogruff, Jnk N Fnk, Monkey Bar, Club Oxygen and Cardiff's System 909.

I found myself exploring the club scenes of Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol a bit. These cities club scenes were pumping. Seeing Sasha, Richie Hawtin, Ricardo Villalobos, Loco Dice and so many others really inspired me. The technicality and music was mind melting. I made the trip to Manchester at least once a month for the WareHouse Project and Sankys. Bristol's Just Jack is also amazing, those guys really go the extra mile on celebrating the diversity of house and techno. Plus their production is awesome.

The many years spent in clubs, letting loose to trance, house and techno eventually led to the exploration of more ambient music.
       

EMW: Dimer Ynni. Where does the name come from and is there a story behind it?

DY: Good question, Dimer is a scientific term,  A dimer is an oligomer consisting of two structurally similar monomers joined by bonds that can be either strong or weak, covalent or intermolecular. The term homodimer is used when the two molecules are identical and heterodimer when they are not.

Ynni, means energy in Welsh. I like science, it is often the inspiration for many of my songs. I wanted a different alias that was a part of me but not too obvious, Dimer Ynni represents things that are important in my life.

 
Technically you could argue that it means homodimer energy, but that's a bit overkill.

EMW: So you have a science background? Can you explain a little more how science inspires your song writing.

DY: No, not at all. It’s a subject I always enjoyed and did well at in school, but never really saw it more than just a subject.

Until I got hooked on Brian Cox’s wonders series a few years back. That series was one element in a number of events, that totally changed how I view the world. It was almost a spiritual revolution for me, made me view life in awe, it gave me a deeper connection to the earth and universe. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true for me.

On top of that an indirect influence of several people that came into my life, inspired me to create another alias, making deeper music. Previously I only wrote House and Techno as part of live duo called Cymbol and my name of Anthony Watkins.

As Dimer Ynni I try to make music that conveys my emotional connection, melodic music is great for that. This is my mantra for writing really. I see music as a story, it’s someone's inner story, an expression of the soul.


The whole idea for my track ‘Galactic’ came about when NASA released a tone of recordings of space and rocket launches. I used a recording of Earth as an atmospheric background track. Sampled a recording of comet and turned it into a percussive sound . You can hear these best at the beginning and the end of the track.
   
The space thing inspired me to do a remix of the theme song for Interstellar. Specifically ‘Cornfield Chase’, The movie is one of my all time favourites. Hanns Zimmers score for the film blew me away. I love in minimalism how the same chords appear at different points in different form.


There’s a scene in the film where the main character ends up in a black hole, he sees time and space from a different perspective. That idea was incorporated into my remix. I recorded the song playing through my monitors, kinda similar to overhead recordings. The recording gives a different perspective on the sound, at the end of the track it seems to finish then the same few bars repeats, with lower quality sound. I was trying to replicate that scene into a sound.

EMW: This leads on nicely to your use of field recordings. You seem to add elements of this in to a lot of your work. Like recordings of Thailand in ‘Nocturnal’ or the above mentioned. How do you implement these sounds? Is there a process that you go through when working with non music instrument recordings.


DY: All of the field recordings so far have been recorded using a smartphone. I should probably look into getting some equipment that records in better quality. But It’s often a spontaneous thing, I’ll hear a cool sound, and think I should record that. I like the process to be organic and off the cuff.


When I get home, I have proper listen through monitors and see what can be done. The sample often dictates to the story of the song.
   
EMW: In film there is a relationship between the music and the actual sounds created by the sound design team. You’ve already mentioned your inspiration from Hans Zimmer. Was it your intention to make such cinematic music when moving away from Cymbol and your dance music productions?

DY: Yeah I suppose I did, but it was very natural process. There were several musical mind openers that first got me thinking about writing more ambient melodic music. Firstly live jamming with Dan Knight, (The other half of Cymbol) opened up new influences and techniques. Secondly seeing Max Cooper, then Nils Frahm play a few years back, really got me thinking about melodic minimalism. I started experimenting with different ways of writing, this initial process lead to Nocturnal being created. I really enjoyed apparching production from a different angle.

I also started working for an education music production company. Became friends with the producers and musicians there, who exposed me to a wide range of new artist, I started listening and analysing to more cinematic, ambient music.
 
I’d always wanted to write more cinematic, ambient, melodic music but couldn't do it under the current alias. House and Techno have a special place in my heart, so many mind bending gigs and tracks. Cymbol & Anthony Watkins are still very much alive and may have some new material in the summer.


 
EMW:
So continuing to develop all of your projects! Do you perform live currently or are you more occupied with production?

DY: I’ve only played live as part of a duo so far. Where one person controls Ableton and the synths, whilst the other handles the drums and bass for example. I’ve not even tried to play live solo yet, but it’s in the pipeline, I’m hoping to have a system worked out in the not too distant future.

At the moment I can’t stop producing, as soon as I finish one project I’m already thinking of another.
 
EMW: I guess when you are in that headspace it’s important to make the most of it. We all know what creative block can be like. Is this something you’ve had much experience with and how do you overcome such hurdles?
 
DY: Yeah exactly, when you're in the flow, you’ve got to go with it. I’ve experienced it a little, where I have no motivation whatsoever to make music. Sometimes I’m just not feeling it! Or I’ll get frustrated when I can’t turn something in my head to something tangible.

The best way to overcome it from my experience is to force yourself to have a go at writing, even if it’s just for an hour. Once I’ve pushed through that barrier, I’m back in the flow. Plus I always try and keep an eye out for future inspiration.
 
EMW: Being in the position of educator I guess these topics are discussed a lot. Would you say that there is more to teaching music production than just learning how to make music that sounds like something else? (I’m kind of projecting my own ideas here) And that as you previously discussed about having an interest in the Sciences and experiencing life changing realisations yourself, that there is more to be taught and learnt through teaching the fundamentals of music production and sound to young people.

DY: Yeah, absolutely. In my opinion creativity is force that should be let loose. Forgot the rules at first, just create, let it flow. Then when you know the rules turn them on their head. Your ideas and experiences define part of who you are, that gives you a whole back catalogue of inspiration. Obviously it helps to learn the the fundamentals, whether that’s playing an instrument or music production, but that can come later down the line.

It takes time to get good at something, so in the beginning it’s important to be engaged, that goes for any hobby. There’s so many good, hands on midi controllers and music equipment these days. These controllers can engage people from the start. You don’t have to be classically trained, you can create something fun and good from the get go. Once you’re hooked, you can go deeper with your learning.

   

"The arts are so important to nurture a young person's creativity, problem-solving and analytical thinking. Maybe not in an academic sense but definitely in a practical one. On top of that, happiness is equally important. Cuts to the arts take away that potential passion, flow and happiness to a young person's life." Dimer Ynni 


EMW: Imagine you are approached by someone who has never opened any music making software or picked up an instrument and asked if you could teach them to make music. What’s the first thing you’d get them to do?

DY:  It’s like learning anything, once you've been shown the basics and persevere, it becomes familiar.

I think at the beginning it's great to start off layering premade sample loops. You don't need to know an awful lot about music or production to get good results.

Once your more comfortable then move onto chords and midi.

EMW: There is a lot of talk about cuts in music education currently. How important is it for music to be taught to children and young people?

DY: Yeah, the cuts to arts and education have been deep! It's a real shame.



The arts are so important to nurture a young person's creativity, problem-solving and analytical thinking. Maybe not in an academic sense but definitely in a practical one. On top of that happiness is equally important. Cuts to the arts takes away that potential passion, flow and happiness to a young person's life.



I see funding the arts as an investment, it gives young people new skills, talent and direction. Just look at Melbourne's encouragement and investment in arts & creative industries. It's created a booming art culture and created jobs.



Music and the arts in general needs to be viewed with more value.

EMW: What’s next for Dimer Ynni?

DY: Keep improving I guess, build a live set and Find more creative ways to write.

Thanks a lot, been a pleasure talking to you.