His music turns to liquid and his vocals roll over the ripples as Toronto/Berlin-based Alt Altman takes his moniker, Digits, and layers synthpop with passing tones and aligns minimalist sound with harmonically complex moods. If that reads as fluffy writing, lend an ear to this track off the forthcoming John Carpenter-inspired “serialized story/album” titled, In The City Of The Dead, where it all comes together.
2. Prologue: In the City of the Dead
Tight blending and smooth layering equate to an awkward digital romance between synthesizers, flats and vocal monotone. But the emotional provocation and audio elements are arranged to produce a polished track which spans the musical landscape of The XX, Thom Yorke, and inspiration by Junior Boys.
It’s cold and electronic but still retains a soulfulness. I’m usually trying to take very minimal, repetitive, highly programmed electronic arrangements, and put a tiny bit of soul on top of them, hopefully make a combination of the two that people find interesting. – Alt Altman
Eccentric and international, down to earth and uncanny, Alt Altman, aka Digits, reveals a little behind his music in an exclusive interview with TL. Dive in and keep up with Digits music www.digitsmusic.com.
TL: The arrangements in the track “Prologue: In The City of The Dead” call upon a mystery, moodiness, and ambiguity in direction as it builds. That being said, where lies the emotional stream within your music as you mix beats and deliver this sound?
Alt: Well, I love John Carpenter and the mood that he created in his films with his soundtracks. So for this song I was trying to work within the emotions evoked by the music in his films: bleak, dark, electronic soundscapes. A future with no hope.
TL: Electropop, indie rock, ambient mayhem, genres aside, there is no doubt that the pulse for polished technology is maximizing internationally, where do you find your place (motivation, drive) among this saturated music scene?
Alt: The current musical landscape might be saturated but I think there’s still plenty of new ground that people are covering by combining multiple genres. I guess what really excites me the most right now is very dark R&B/electropop like Zebra Katz or the XX. It’s cold and electronic but still retains a soulfulness. I’m usually trying to take very minimal, repetitive, highly programmed electronic arrangements, and put a tiny bit of soul on top of them, hopefully make a combination of the two that people find interesting.
TL: What are you most excited about in the release of your latest material, and the upcoming tracks? I also noticed you release chapters of music, less of an “album” so to speak, what is this about?
Alt: So I’m currently in the middle of releasing what I call a “serialized story/album.” It’s called In the City of the Dead and it’s a John Carpenterish story about a journalist trapped in a world that’s like The Warriors combined with Escape From New York and a zombie outbreak. Each song narrates a different part of the story, and is accompanied by a written chapter that appears on a website or blog. The table of contents for the story/album is on my website (www.digitsmusic.com/inthecity.html). It’s been a really fun project so far, it’s almost finished, and I really have found myself inspired by working with this concept.
TL: Can you speak a little bit about your experiences in the journey to arriving at music?
Alt: I used to play in indie rock bands, as a guitarist and trumpet player. Although I sometimes wrote songs, they weren’t very good. It wasn’t until I head the Junior Boys that I started making my own electronic pop music on my own. And it took a long time to have to the courage to make music and perform on my own, it wasn’t until 2009 that I started really taking Digits seriously. That’s when I released my first album, which was a scary thing but it was very rewarding to find that there were people out there interested in hearing what I did.
TL: What is your beverage of choice?
TL: How much of the international music community has been influential (musically, culturally) in your artistic approach to sound and storytelling?
Alt: I take my influences from all over. Although I listen to a lot of older music as well. I feel like the biggest influence for me on this album was Electric Light Orchestra’s synthpop concept album Time. But from Giorgio Moroder to Trust to Azealia Banks, I’m trying to combine it all and see what comes out.
TL: Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Johnny Jewel from Chromatics and Glass Candy is my big hero these days, that would be my dream collaboration.