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Cepia talks influences, remixing, and working with M.I.A.

Categories: Interview
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It's that time of the year. Ye ol' record shoppes are brimming with fresh new music and newly packaged moldy oldies for the holidays. Amidst albums hoping to become stocking stuffers or to be put under the Hanukah bush this week comes the newest offering from Twin Cities electronic music maestro Huntley Miller, a.k.a. Cepia.

This self-titled and self-released collection of blissful electronic soundscapes, head-bob-worthy bass, and scattered beats is less a departure musically and more an excursion from the confines of the reputable Ghostly International label Miller has worked with in the past.

Though not really a big live presence in the local music community, Cepia has maintained a role as one the most recognized names in down-tempo electronic music in town for the last decade and has brandished his skills remixing and collaborating with similarly minded music souls such as Martin Dosh and Fog, and will be doing a remix for an upcoming single from M.I.A..

Always with a knack for minimalism, we asked Huntley a few short questions and he decided to respond in some sort of ones-and-zeros type computer code. Using the old Google-ator and various typically antiquated scientific methods, we were able to decipher the programming to let you know just what is going on inside the complex mind of this local electronic music wonder.





Your sound and ways of constructing music for Cepia is all your own, but certainly there are influences in your work. What types of music do you listen to that are inherently reflected in the music of Cepia?

I don't really listen to much electronic music. Over the last few years I've listened to more '70s music than anything else; the Band, Neil Young, Dylan, etc, and I think it's had a large impact, but others might not make the connection. It's reflected in the production style, feel, and overall ambience of the work.

Though completely synthetic, some of the sounds seem quite organic, almost cathedral-like. What is your process and do you ever use "real" instruments when constructing pieces for Cepia?

There are no real instruments or samples. I design sounds in a software environment called Max/MSP. The process entails synthesizing all of the individual parts; hi hat, bass, melody, kick drum, etc, and then writing with that generated sound palate. Bussing them out to analog hardware, and then a more traditional mixing process.

How did you end up working with M.I.A.? What is the approach and general idea when remixing other artists work?

Someone at the label asked me to do it. I guess she likes her remixes fairly abstract and they thought of me. My approach with the M.I.A. track was to ditch everything except the vocal and write new piece around it. 

XXXO (Cepia Remix) by Cepia

Ultimately, whose work would you like to get your hands on for remixing? Who would you wish to see remix some of Cepia's stuff?

Nico Muhly, or Thom Yorke would be fun. I'm doing a remix project with the vinyl release early next year with Fat Kid Wednesdays, Marty Dosh and a few other friends doing remixes or covers from the album.

Your music lends itself quite well for the winter. I think of artists like Boards of Canada or Pole that have a minimalist sound that on the surface is cold, but then as you envelop yourself into what's going on in the music there is a warmth at the center. Do you think of a time and place for Cepia's music?

People have always told me it reminds them of fall or winter. Besides seasons, I hear this material as daytime or late afternoon, outside music. It works at night, too.

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Photo courtesy of Cepia
What's next after the new record drops?

Remix EP, vinyl release, a little touring, and then finish writing the third album.

If Cepia's music was suddenly the hottest sound for the holidays and you were asked to participate in a holiday parade or perform in a department store, would you see yourself in elf garb, as Santa, or a reindeer?

I would participate in a holiday parade.

Groove Me (Cepia Remix) by Cepia


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