“Weird Electronic Music is Like an Arms Race”: An Interview with Iglooghost

Will Schube catches up with Iglooghost about his new LP, 'Neō Wax Bloom,' the inspiration behind the record, and being a vessel of artistic creation.
By    September 28, 2017

YEH_credit_Tim_Truss

Photo by Tim Truss

There’s a fantastical backstory and a host of otherworldly characters that populate Iglooghost’s Neō Wax Bloom. The British producer’s—real name Seamus Malliagh—first full-length for Brainfeeder is acid driven by bug-eyed shamans and otherworldly witches. Don’t laugh, Malliagh isn’t making this backstory up. He found these figures in a portal in his garden. While the story may only exist in the mind of one particularly bizarre twenty-something producer, this sense of mysticism and fantasy propels Neō Wax Bloom to a place few electronic records have ever gone.

Iglooghost’s method is one of madness and chaos. He takes sounds—literally any sound—and blends them together to his heart’s content. Each track on the LP contains an album’s worth of dance-indebted ideas. Two-step, juke, IDM, bass music, rave music—the list could take longer than a listen through the entire album. But somehow, someway—perhaps credit is now due to the garden portal and the characters it holds—Malliagh concocts his million-ideas-a-minute philosophy into a coherent, fascinating, exhilarating listen. We catch up with the young producer to discuss his grueling creative process, young people making electronic music, and his relationship with Flying Lotus. —Will Schube


How long have you been working on Neō Wax Bloom for?


Iglooghost: Hmmmmm…so I think Neō Wax Bloom started right at the turn of 2016. There was a grim ass period of like six months before that where I just couldn’t figure out a single song for it but I think “Bug Thief” was the first one I managed to squeeze out. That was a big ass eureka moment, man. Then, yeah, it was pretty much from then ’til like March 2017. My soul is broken and my bones are cracked but I’m hyped to finally blast this thing into everyone’s ears.


I can imagine creating a song, let alone an entire record is a painstaking progress. You jam so many ideas into your tracks…How do you balance this need to explore so many ideas while still presenting something coherent and easy to follow?


Iglooghost: Yeah dawg it’s pretty grueling. It definitely takes over a month to make one track and I’ll get about one bar finished after an entire day of staring into the ol’ laptop. As far as balancing these big ass silly cacophonies of noises, it’s just a matter of never quite teetering over the edge and getting overly maximalist. I’ve had so many tracks that have just slowly fallen to pieces because I can get so overboard with layering and layering. It’s hard out here for a Gloo…


Speaking of, with this being your first full-length after some EPs, what did you want to explore in the longer format that you were maybe limited by on EPs?


Iglooghost: Man, it’s a whole different kettle of fish as far as structure goes. I really tried to set out to have every track fulfill a totally different mood and purpose from the beginning—which was way harder than it sounded when I realized I had to figure out totally unique substrates for more tracks than I’d ever released.

I really hate when albums have like four tracks that essentially say the same thing so I tried my best to avoid that. It was also pretty weird realizing there are hardly any modern electronic albums being made by kids my age. Not that I think that’s a bad thing, it’s kind of just how the genre works right now—but what it did mean was that I didn’t have templates to imitate so it was pretty scary. I ended up listening to stuff like that Baauer album and Cashmere Cat for research, dudes I usually wouldn’t listen to, just because they were the only guys putting out albums.


Have you ever thought about why there are few musicians your age making this sort of music?


Iglooghost: I mean, there are definitely people my age making stuff you could draw comparisons to with the Igloo stuff, but it’s more that the format of the album is kinda redundant nowadays. It’s just not really compatible with the speed everything’s moving with Soundcloud. Weird electronic music is like an arms race. That said, I thought it would be fun and weird to just say fuck that, and make a big ass album. Having to make some hot ass banger twice a month for Soundcloud makes me wanna cry. All power to the kids who kill it by doing that, but I’m just not made for that.


I think your album really reflects that, too. There’s a grime MC on there, some really beautiful melodic stuff, and then a lot of different iterations of dance music. Was that a conscious effort to touch as many styles as possible?


Iglooghost: That’s dope you think that. Honestly, I think it kinda just happened by accident. If you threw all the music on my phone in a blender, it might sound like the Igloo album—it’s a big ass amalgamation of the random stuff I listen to in a way. I’d be going to sleep to Balinese music, waking up to Steve Reich or some shit and then going running to loud ass footwork and bass music and old IDM. I think my brain just chewed it all up and spat it out.

I think this shit will definitely sound jarring and overwhelming to a lot of people so I’m ready for some confused looks when it drops, but if I put a bunch of music I felt like had already been done and articulated I’d probably feel like my existence is invalid.


How did you link up with Brainfeeder to put this LP out? What’s it like having Flying Lotus as a label boss?


Iglooghost: Flying Lotus kept sneaking through my garden and eating my garbage at exactly 2:32 AM every night, so I threatened him with a switchblade and he offered me a record deal right then and there on a parchment made of goatskin. I had to sign in the blood of a hooven beast which he actually had the nerve to make me find myself. After all the gruesome logistics were sorted out, I made this stupid ass album and now it’s coming out yo!


You gotta work hard for the things you want! Can you walk me through some of the characters that are joining you on this record?


Iglooghost: Yo they’re actually real and I made this album based on the stories I was told by some of them. Pretty weird. So there’s this weird misty void called Mamu and it’s filled with all these odd looking beings. One day two massive eyeballs fell from the sky and an important life cycle all the creatures go through got interrupted. They then all had to figure out what to do.

A blind witch called Lummo trained a little mischievous band to learn a secret spell, a little bug bandit in a coat called Uso stole fruit and got into fights…as well as this, a gelatinous worm called Xiangjiao explored a bunch of portals, a monk called Yomi fired laser beams at everyone…and a lot more. It got pretty nuts and nobody in Mamu ever expected the conclusion to this catastrophic event, especially me.


Why do you think they chose you as the vessel for their story?


Iglooghost: I dunno to be honest. I’ve always seen little floating eyeballs as a kid, but I heard a lot of these stories through a portal in my garden.


Have you thought about what you want your audience to feel or think about when they listen to this album?


Iglooghost: Man I really hope it makes people imagine pictures and scenes in their heads. To me, one of the most fun parts of music is when a song evokes an entire crazy movie in your brain. I’ve tried to provide a little suggestion with the art that comes with the music, but I really want people to fill in all the blanks and imagine their own interpretation of what’s happening with the music.