Interview with David Ball (Soft Cell, The Grid) about PHOTOSYNTHESIS, his album with Jon Savage

“Photosynthesis” is new experimental electronic album from David Ball (Soft Cell, The Grid) and classical pianist Jon Savage. Using vintage analog sound sources with digital recording and processing,  the duo creates richly textured and often otherworldly soundscapes.  In an email interview, Ball provided some background on the project.

How did this project come about? Were you and Jon just looking to collaborate, or did you initially have a concept for it?

We didn’t start with a concept – it just dawned on us one day sitting in the garden having a cup of tea.

I know that Jon is a classically trained pianist, but could you provide more info about him, and how you met?

David Ball: Jon, my collaborator is indeed a classically trained pianist. We first met some years ago when I was living in Marylebone,Central London. He was studying at Trinity College of Music, just around the corner from me & we used to go for a drink together.

What was the creative/working process like between the two of you?

David Ball: We just kind of bounced ideas off each other – it was a very relaxed process.

At what point did you decide on the name “Photosynthesis” and to what degree do you feel the idea shaped the music?

David Ball: I came up with the name – I’d always wanted to use it as I thought it sounded very techno/electro.

Do you feel the album should be listened to as a complete piece, from start to finish?

David Ball: It’s meant to be listened to in any way you want.

Could you describe the equipment used in the making of “Photosynthesis”?

David Ball: The equipment was a hybrid of vintage analogue; Mini Moog & Mooger Foogers, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 & digital plugins.

Are there any plans for live performances of this material?

David Ball: No live plans at the moment, although we’ve had offers from Germany & New York. We’re not really a live act yet.

Are you currently working on any other musical projects?

David Ball: I’m currently producing albums for Gavin Friday & another for Anni Hogan.

What was it like going back to Soft Cell for the “Cruelty Without Beauty” album and live shows? Had you seen it as a one-off album/tour or were you considering continuing? Any chance of future work with Soft Cell?

David Ball: I really enjoyed the brief reunion & working with Marc Almond but there are no future plans for Soft Cell – they’d have to pay a hell of a lot of money ( £1,000,000) for that to ever happen.

As a pioneer of electronic music, how has the evolution of musical technology over the years altered or affected your creative process?

David Ball: I’d say the evolution of tech has made things a lot quicker & easier – particularly when doing arrangements.

“Photosynthesis” is out now on COLD SPRING. Click here to purchase it.

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