Hailing from Rhode Island the ominous and atmospheric electronic duo (comprising of Rob and Elizabeth) known as Snowbeasts have been carefully building their sonic wall of dark and cinematic horror-type analog and ethereal sound with releases on Component Records and M-Tronic. Rob (aka Raab Codec) is the owner of Component Recordings and has been a staple in the US IDM scene for as long as I can remember. I used to see adverts for his label in Grooves magazine on the book stand and wanted to know who ran this boutique electronic label.
A good example of their sound can be found on their video Weight of the World.
I personally regard Snowbeasts’ 2016 album + – on M-Tronic as the best electronic album of that year. The low end analog from modular constructions rattles your innards like a hidden Scorn track and Elizabeth’s ethereal vocals echo This Mortal Coil. There is another forthcoming Snowbeasts release on M-Tronic Survival.
Hypnos Audio recently caught up with the duo to ask them a few questions about their project.
HA: You have been running a renowned underground label and producing music for as long as I have followed you (at least 15 years). What keeps your creativity going and where do you find inspiration to keep producing music ?
Rob: Inspiration can come from anywhere really. It can be something as simple in hearing a snare or kick sound that resonates with me or a certain emotion that I want to capture. For me I try to make music part of every day, be it making sounds, mixing a track, mastering or noodling with the modular. When I went on hiatus with Component back in 2005 , I came very close to giving things up completely so when I started writing stuff again around 2010, I have made a commitment to myself to keep things going and to keep pushing myself.
HA: Could you describe your creative process of starting a new musical project, either tracks or a release?
Rob: It usually starts off as a single track that doesn’t seem to fit elsewhere. I can use the example of Snowbeasts-I had finished an ambient piece and it seemed a lot different than what I was doing with Raab Codec at the time, it came together very fast and felt very natural to me so I just plugged away for the next couple months until it turned in to an album. The first few tracks come almost effortlessly and I usually find that the last few are the hardest to finish up.
Elizabeth: With Snowbeasts in particular we often start with a new instrument, experiment with that and then work from there. Right now, for example, Rob just got a new eurorack module from Mutable Instruments. The drum patterns he produced with that led us to pick some other instruments we have like a gong because the sound seemed complimentary. From there a certain mood and atmosphere begins to take shape and I laid down some vocals with my Pedal chain I use for Snowbeasts live sets. The piece I think will be called Daughters of Atom. To me it feels and sounds subatomic so I wanted to express concerns about nuclear war, the importance of compassion (typically thought of as a positive quality but weak leadership skill associated with women), on gender equality and assault on sciences in some form.
HA: Your sound has varied between projects like Raab Codec, Pattern Behavior and Snowbeasts. Do you find yourself drawn to certain directions over others?
Rob: Yes , absolutely. I think for me I feel lately like Snowbeasts is really the project I feel most drawn to working on. I am very happy with what I did on my other projects but I identify with Snowbeasts the most I would have to say. It wasn’t something I really planned – I had originally just planned the first Snowbeasts release to be a side project but it just sort of blossomed from there.
HA: Playing in a creative partnership (Snowbeasts) do you find sharing a creative vision or process is a challenge at times? I would love to hear how you two compliment each other from a creative perspective. (I’m asking because I’m also in a music project with my wife)
Rob: I think we are sort of lucky in that we work well together and there are rarely any disagreements about the direction we head it. I think it also helps that we then to work in different ways. I tend to be a more structured and beat oriented while Elizabeth tends to be more organic.
Elizabeth: I would agree that the majority of the time we respect each others ideas and processes. Snowbeasts started out as Rob’s project but I ended up working on a few parts here and there in the earlier albums and now between the live sets and recording the latest albums together I would say it is more collaborative and a 50 50 effort.
HA: In addition to electronic music, are you currently working on any other artistic projects, or in other mediums?
Rob: Sadly, between our day jobs , music, running the label, and doing some mastering work on the side, free time doesn’t really allow much time to spend on other pursuits other than some album covers and backing videos.
Elizabeth: Not at the moment but if given the time, inspiration and opportunity I would like to perhaps create sound installations or work on more visual art again but I do find creating music and working in the studio together rather fulfilling creatively so I tend not to miss working in other mediums.
HA: With running a record label do you find this compliments your creative work or does it make it challenging at times?
Rob: It pushes me. Getting great tracks in from the other artists on component pushes me a lot.
HA: Do you typically have an inspiration or intended direction prior to starting a track or album or do you leave the process to chance?
Rob: I usually have a rough idea where I want to go when start working on a track. I spend a lot of time formulating ideas for tracks in my day to day life. Even when I am not working on stuff, I am thinking about about what I am going to next.
Elizabeth: I used to be like that but honestly I have a hard time making whatever idea I think I had work well when I try to put it together later so I typically go with the moment and improvise a lot more than I use to.
HA: What is currently, and respectively, inspiring you two at the moment?
Elizabeth: The courage of those standing up for their family and friends. For creation and not destruction.
Rob: I think for me it is something that is ever changing for me. Sometimes inspiration pops up in the most unexpected places.
HA: If you could give advice to one artist on the creative process, what would it be?
Rob: Take the time to develop your own sound. It might take you years but worth it in the long run.
Elizabeth: Don’t give up !