Listening to Tony Young's music can be as comforting as it can be challenging. Recording under the name Autoclav1.1 since 2004 he's released three full length albums, a couple EPs and a remix album to much acclaim. The music typically falls under the "IDM" categorization because it's a smart mix of atmospheric, almost ambient texturing layered over engaging, pieced-together rhythms and bold, organic instrumentation revealing a sound that's hauntingly familiar yet startlingly original and refreshing which appeals to music fans of most every electronic subgenre.
The emotive subtext of the music he creates is entirely genuine and, as one might expect, conversation comes easy with Young. His affable personality is honest and inviting while his tone is straightforward and deliberate. A rising, important star now on a rising, significant record label, Autoclav1.1 is an act with which you should familiarize yourself if you haven't already. We sat down for an intimate look at the intriguing constructs of Young's attitudes toward his label, his music and the people in his life.
Interview by Christopher Roddy
DTC: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.
Tony Young: Hey, no problem mate! Cheers for asking.
DTC: What is it about music that makes it such a compelling form of art to you? Why did you choose this path as opposed to other means of artistic expression such as writing, painting, acting, etc.?
Tony Young: Well actually I used to go to art college and I can draw but I guess it's when you are a kid you buy albums, you dream of being in a band. I worked for labels and wanted to do what they do so it seemed a natural thing to attempt. I love music above anything, so making something I love is just great.
DTC: Do you have strong ties to "home" or do you see yourself more as a transient individual that can pick up and move onward at a moment's notice?
Tony Young: I have zero ties to home. I was brought up in a terrible and frightening environment if truth be told, Christopher.
DTC: Well, how has the environment in which you were raised shaped your attitude and the music you make?
Tony Young: I could say it hasn’t shaped my music, but then I guess the things that happened to me shaped me as an individual and my music is from the heart so...maybe it did shape the songs in some way. But I draw on recent influences when making music really, it is very cathartic.
DTC: So then what were your earliest experimentations with creating music like?
Tony Young: To be frank they were utterly terrible in the early stages (laughs).
DTC: Can you look back on your initial efforts with pride or do they elicit amusement, even embarrassment? How did your interests and style evolve from those youthful methods of expression to what you have now with Autoclav1.1?
Tony Young: I look back and cringe, but they were fundamental to what I am and do now I guess. Saying that I think you always look back at every release and go, "maybe I should have done it this way." It’s probably best not to regret but that’s harder than it sounds.
The interests have always been the same, mate. It’s purely down to me becoming a musician now and when I started I simply wasn’t. It’s taken a lot of learning and that’s the reason why it's gotten better with each release. Every song you complete is a learning curve. Youthful? Cheers (laughs), I was an old bugger when I started.
DTC: You've switched labels for your latest album. Can you describe the dynamic between artist and label in your experience? Have you noticed a significant difference between your dealings with Crunch Pod or Hive and what you have now with Tympanik Audio?
Tony Young: From Crunch Pod to Hive to Tympanik, yeah I knew it would raise eyebrows. I am very much into communication and having a bond with the people I work with. I like to be friends. It's very important to me. My other labels functioned for me and I will pretty much leave that there. I would say though I feel truly at home. Paul and the guys at Tympanik are brilliant; they communicate and have evolved the label into a small family. I am impressed with the way they work and the professional manner in which everything is dealt with. Not to mention that they have a stunning catalogue already! I have to say I love the output on that label as much as I love being on them.
DTC: I have to agree with you on Tympanik's output. We're pretty big supporters of that imprint here at DTC.
There's a lot of diversity to your music that's usually pretty subtle. Have you written songs that just don't sound like they would fit on an Autoclav1.1 release? Have you ever considered a separate project that might lie in stark contrast to what you've been releasing under your primary moniker?
Tony Young: There are a few ideas in mind without a doubt. I have one project I can’t mention just yet because that would be unfair to the person I am working with. It’s very different. I also have a purely electronica side project with another friend, which you will hear of soon and a shoegazer type thing I am thinking of working on with my bro. I would love to be in a band like Danzig really. Seriously, being a vocalist in something like that or maybe Paradise Lost as an influence would make me happy. Of course I could never let go of Autoclav1.1. I also want to do a Dark Ambient project at some point too as I simply adore that genre.
DTC: You've performed live as part of Synnack. How did that collaboration come about?
Tony Young: Oh, Clint and I have been friends for a while and through general talking he asked if I could play live and add some parts for his debut album, V2. He’s a good lad and it’s a laugh when we actually get to hang together. What more could you ask for?
DTC: So are there others with whom you're really hoping to work on music in the future?
Tony Young: I haven’t thought of who else I could perform with, really. I guess I have my dreams and that would be playing for Danzig or having a piano afternoon with Kate Bush or something (laughs). Actually I would love to do that, she’s wonderful.
DTC: How do you balance your life as a musician with the need for supplemental income? It seems like people still have this idea that being a signed musician
who records and tours is the primary job but most have a regular place of employment they have to report to in order to make enough money to survive.
Tony Young: You know, people really do believe you have a musical project and are signed so you are loaded. I wish that were the case, really. Well, maybe not actually 'cos if I earned a ton maybe the music would suffer eventually. I have a full time role as well, it’s a job I enjoy in a lot of ways and feeds my geek side enough. I need the security a full time job can bring and it does that, thankfully.
DTC: Bearing that in mind, how do you think the fact that most artists these days are allowed less time to work on their art has affected music? Is there any benefit to that?
Tony Young: I suppose people make their own time and I know some people just struggle to sit down and write because of work or whatever. My time is pretty much my own after work and I do have enough time to write. There isn’t a woman in my life or anything so I pick my own time to work on stuff. Employment doesn’t interfere too much. I guess I am lucky. I suppose being a terminal insomniac helps me too. I don’t know about any benefits, I guess we all work differently.
DTC: Are you interested in keeping current with what's considered "cutting edge" these days? Do you make any effort to keep up on new, invigorating musicians?
Tony Young: Well, "cutting edge" is a matter of opinion and that varies between folk. I keep an eye on people but if it doesn’t immediately grab me I can’t take to it.
DTC: So are there any artists fresh to the spotlight out there that have absolutely blown you away?
Tony Young: Subheim is one of many I love at the moment. He is wonderful, imaginative and full to the brim with emotion. He also did the artwork to my album. Top lad. I also believe that Tympanik are one of the best labels in the world right now for music, honestly.
DTC: Are there times when you actually have to escape from music?
Tony Young: Everyone has to.
DTC: Then what comforts you when music isn't there for you? Are there interests you have that others might find surprising?
Tony Young: When music isn’t there I rely on the wonderful friends I have. Interests? I love Boxing and Formula 1. I see Boxing as a game of chess between two individuals. Formula 1 is so technical and I love the thought processes that go into it. Woe betide anyone trying to disturb me while F1 is on.
DTC: Right on. Switching gears, how do you arrange a song like "The Essential Condition?" The way it evolves over the course of four and a half minutes is intriguing. Can you explain how it was written, how long it took and how you come to the realization of where to end a song?
Tony Young: That’s a strange one to pick out of the album. Ummm, okay, with this one I wanted a different structure. I listen to a lot of Morbid Angel and even if you don’t get it in the music that’s where I took the structure as an influence from. I wanted some ominous, almost sinister approach to the song because it’s about death and how it literally is the essential condition of life but I also wanted it to sound like a release and not too dark toward the end, a journey if you will. We all have to face it some time and I am pretty upbeat about death and have experienced it a lot in my life. I wanted it to include a hell of a lot of styles. I actually started with the drums and bass and then added the live strings and cello and piano, etc. as I went along. Pretty much how I do all songs nowadays. I played with live bass a lot on the new album, I wanted it to sound organic.
DTC: How loyal are you to equipment/gear? Are you always on the lookout for new toys that might augment your sound and performance?
Tony Young: Not really, no. I see people going on about a lot and I ignore it. In the studio I use my Imac and Logic and a whole heap of gear. Live I use Ableton and a Trigger Finger. If it’s not broken then don’t fix it. I do look out for new software though and plug-ins. Guitars and stuff are what I take real interest in at the moment.
DTC: On a more personal level, what does family mean to you and what do you look for in a true friend?
Tony Young: Family. Well, if you mean real family I created my own from friends. My close friends are my brothers and I can’t see them any other way. I don’t deal with deceit very well. I don’t lie to my friends and I don’t expect it back. My tolerance levels only let people off for a few things then I will drop someone if they fuck me over.
DTC: Is there enough time in your hectic schedule to connect with people on a significant level?
Tony Young: I make time for my friends. In Denmark the gig happened but the most important bit for me was hanging with my bros Eugene and Bill, Brian and Malene first and foremost. I made some new friends there so that’s all good too.
DTC: Do you give much thought to the performance aspect of music? By that I mean what, in your view, makes for a great live experience?
Tony Young: Definitely. If it’s not live then don’t bother. Simple as that really. A live experience is good if the person or people you are watching truly believe in what they are doing. Then you can enjoy it too.
DTC: The new album, Love No Longer Lives Here is out and it's getting great reviews. What's next for Autoclav1.1? Are you always writing new material?
Tony Young: I can’t stop. I am always thinking of something. I already have a title for the next album and ideas and images for it. I honestly believe the next one will be even better than Love No Longer Lives Here. If it can’t be better then why bother? I believe I have managed to make every release better as I have gone along.
DTC: So do you have songs that as of yet haven't made it on an album either because you were unhappy with them or they didn't seem to fit?
Tony Young: If it’s not good enough I will throw the songs away. So I don’t have any about that are spare. I hate the old EPs as they were old demos when I was still learning in every aspect.
DTC: Ideally, where do you see yourself ten years from now? Have you set goals or do you just take life as it comes and pay little mind to the future?
Tony Young: I hope I am still doing this. I have my side projects too to think about and a 12 inch with Synnack as a collaboration and one with Iszoloscope that will eventually happen. I just hope to be able to keep Autoclav1.1 going and keep those that like my music happy. If it stops it stops, simple as that, but I can’t see that just yet…
See also: Review: Love No Longer Lives Here