Meet: Local Artist
Experience the impeccably crafted LP Expanding Horizons, as you get to know the artist and his craft a little better.
Local Artist aka Ian Wyatt always finds a sonic landscape of his own, in his previous party-starters Dancer and Touch Tone, and with his beautifully atmospheric debut LP Expanding Horizons - out today via Mood Hut Records.
Made up of 9 tracks, each intimate and highly immersive, Expanding Horizons touches on the themes of love and loss in a deeply reflective way. Manipulating organic soundscapes, electronic instrumentations, and Ian’s calm and spacious vocals into stunning compositions, the LP evolves through its tracklisting from the sun setting on our old selves, to the warmth and optimistic glow that morning can bring.
Be sure to treat your senses and listen to Expanding Horizons preferably in stereo and from start to finish to truly soak in the captivating experience Local Artist has crafted with this record - and once your body and mind are re-centred, get to know the artist and his craft a little better below.
Tell us about yourself? (age, location, hobbies/passions, how long you’ve been releasing music, artist name, what you do outside of music etc?)
My name is Ian Wyatt. I’m an artist living on the ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples currently called Vancouver, Canada. I’ve been releasing music as Local Artist since 2013. I also have a deep listening project called Slow Riffs and before that I was in the band No Gold with Liam Butler and Jack Jutson of Pender Street Steppers.
I enjoy weight lifting, running, cooking, art, dance, clothes, dog walking, yoga and meditation. Outside of music I’ve worked as a synthesizer technician at Intellijel and now work as a spatial sound artist and creative mentor at Lobe Studio, North America’s only 4D sound installation.
Tell us about your creative process?
Listening and sensation are at the centre of my music making practice. My early music memories were often in liminal zones. I struggled with insomnia as a kid and would be on the edge of sleep for hours with FM radio playing in the distance from down the hall. As I would drift into sleep the melodies I heard would shift into new shapes from my dreaming until I would slip back into waking and notice the music was different that I’d imagined.
I still us this technique, especially for melodies. Once I have a bed track that’s promising I listen to that away from the studio while walking, running or meditating to activate a subconscious response and let the melodies to emerge. Once they show themselves the choice to make them explicit with overdubs or to leave them implied is always a question. One of the things I learned from painting is how to leave something up to the imagination of the viewer. Art is much more engaging when there is room to interpret.
In University I studied fine art. Most of my close friends where painters often working with abstraction, figure, layering in time, light, color, negative space. I feel there’s a strong connection to these methods and how we write and record music today with electronic tools. I was making music but I saw my process as similar to theirs. Like painting in time. It’s part of the reason behind the trickster name Local Artist.
Playing instruments and experiencing their frequencies helps regulate my nervous system. My main motivation now with music is the sensation of this state. Being lost in music is the goal, more than having a finished product like a performance or a recording. This is part of the reason that my output has be relatively slow. Even though I’m interested in popular music, I don’t think of what I do as a commercial product. It’s something closer to spiritual devotion.
Your new album Expanding Horizons has a different sound to your past releases - tell us about this change in sound?
To me it’s a natural progression. I have a deep respect for my musical teachers and a curiosity that drives me to understand the music they made. You have to work with what you got, and starting off my skills were basic. Sampling was a quick way to get a vibe going and discover unexpected new directions. Over the years I’ve honed my craft writing and recording all the instruments and exploring my voice and songwriting. This record reflects that. The only samples on here are samples of myself playing.
For a lot of producers and DJs there’s an understanding that house and techno came from disco, soul, RnB, reggae, synth pop, electro, new wave, list goes on. I think of it more as a spectrum or a legacy like a chain with interconnected links carried on through time from the past into the future. It’s practical when you are starting out to want to sample some of this amazing music and flip it, and that’s valid if the music turns out well and propels things forward. But gradually the art of songwriting, arranging a band and crafting a recording emerge as skills that go beyond grabbing a good sample. The information about how to do this is more and more available, and this has been a passion of mine for many many years. Slowing growing my skills to execute the writing, performance, recording, producing, mixing, arranging even art direction.
Emotionally making this record started as a form of therapy. My father had passed away from cancer. The same week my partner was also diagnosed. After all the years of treatment we decided to go to the Mediterranean and spend a few months on the beach. So we visited Morocco, Spain, Greece, Italy. We had been to Ibiza a few years before and danced at Mercury Rising with DJ Harvey. There was always a lot of baleric music on rotation, and slowing down the tempo felt natural.
We had been living with my partners parents during her treatment and when we got back from the trip, we finally got our own place again. Vancouver’s West End is a really beautiful old neighbourhood next to the ocean and a huge forest conservation named Stanley Park. We lived in Davie Village, Vancouvers gay quarter. Living with family was incredibly supportive, but once we moved out again after that the feeling of freedom was unreal. I wrote most of the songs from the album in our apartment. It was on the 18th floor and had an incredible view of the mountains and the city. The energy there was incredible, especially early during the Covid lockdown. Every day at 7pm the whole neighbourhood would be cheering for all the frontline workers. The feeling was electric.
The apartment was really close to Mood Hut Studios so once the lockdown happened I spent every day writing music at home and then recording it at the studio. At first I never intended to record any of it. A close friend of mine had also lost his father years before. And his advice to me was to just play music, just play, not record. Like to not worry about the product and to enjoy the process and the gift of music. So all of this music started that way, I was emphasizing the playing part and the feeling of being lost in music. There was nothing else to do in 2020 so I just kept doing that and eventually had a record.
Who/what were some major influences on the new album?
My family and close friends were the main influences. I’m surrounded by incredible people that inspire me to be a better person. I also have some really talented friends that make incredible art and music. That drove me forward to keep pushing my own boundaries and see what else I could make. My listening habits have always been really eclectic but so far I’d mostly released disco, house and ambient music.
I was curious about learning to make other styles of music and wondered what would happen if there were combinations of styles that I hadn’t heard yet. Like what would and RnB song by Jon Hassell sound like? Or what would Loose Ends and Cocteau Twins sound like? Sade and Suzanne Ciani? Laurie Speigel and Laurie Anderson? At some part that became my template: Melting my own barriers and trying new combinations.
Tell us about the title and themes explored on Expanding Horizons?
Well it’s really a personal album. You could say it’s all about growth. Going through difficult times, self reflection and the surprising feeling of optimism after getting used to bad news.
What is your relationship with the influential Mood Hut label Expanding Horizons is being released by?
I’m a member of the Mood Hut collective. We share a music studio in China Town and support each other to help release music.
What's coming up for the rest of the year? (Music or otherwise)
I’ll be writing more music on my balcony. I’ve got another albums worth of Slow Riffs that I’m spatializing at Lobe Studio. Lobe is a very special spatial sound studio based here in Vancouvers Downtown East Side, where I work as a spatial sound artist and creative mentor. In the last year we’ve been developing a tracendent indigenous play, trauma informed somatic therapy, collaborative synth-circle ceremony and deep dreaming opportunities.
How can fans best support your music?
Buy it from Bandcamp or stream it. If you play it say it! Write me and let me know what it means to you.
What have you been listening to lately?
Jack J - Opening The Door
Alex Ho - Move Through It
Lucas Arrida - Solar
Eddie Chacon - Love, Joy and Happiness
Ron Trent - What Do The Stars Say To You
Local Artists debut LP Expanding Horizons is out now via Mood Hut Records.