Field Talks: Carter Fox

Carter Fox isn't exactly new to the music world - his first record Suburbia dropped in 2009. Ten years later, Fox is still hard at work, recently releasing a record with Toronto-based label Biblioteka Records (Field is proud to have Biblioteka's entire catalog on our platform!). Lots can happen in ten years, but one thing was apparent when we caught up with the artist - artistic maturity is as much about bettering one's technique and craft as it is about developing an understanding of our work, and what it means to us. The dreamy, jazz-influenced work of Carter Fox is mature, genuine and refined. It's music that speaks to the 10,000 hour rule as much in technique as it does in his approach to music. When we linked up with Biblioteka, Carter Fox's music grabbed our attention, and we're thrilled to have had the opportunity to connect with him about his craft and upcoming projects.

The oldest record of yours we can find online is Suburbia. Is that the first thing you released?

That is the very first thing I released, when I was 16 years old, back in high school.

And that was in 2009, so it’ll be 10 years this year…

Oh wow, I had not noticed that!

So what’s changed in these past 10 years?

Oh gosh, for me personally so much has changed, and not changed! My style of song writing and production, and the genre, has definitely morphed even though for me I still jazz. I’m just much better at production and I can finally do things like chill-hop jazz, and the cool vibes I end up with in Epoch and Soulful Traveller, and my new record coming out this summer.

But honestly not too much has changed otherwise. I’m still trying to write music to introduce myself to the world and say “hey, you don’t have to be violent!”. There’s a lot of good, intelligent, mesmerizing things in this world and that’s where it all started from. Suburbia was about being in the suburbs of a city growing up, doing nothing, and saying “this is beginning, let’s go somewhere”.

Hilariously, I still record things more or less the same, with an audio interface into my laptop. I’ve just enriched it with more people and better sounding “fake stuff” (laughs).

The further we move along in your discography, the more your music sounds more intense and produced. Was that a voluntary change or a matter of mastering production techniques?

It’s a mix of both, but I’ll pull back it say it was also an inspirational thing. Back at the time of my first record, I was really into modern jazz, and smooth jazz, all these records where it’s just four people, no layering and it’s not produced out as much as a pop or EDM production.

Once I got into college and starting learning more about production styles and techniques. And what really hit me was Phil Spector’s wall of sound. It really opened my eyes. So now I just use what I hear, what I feel, which has led to more intense and produced music and inspired me to dig a little deeper all around.

In your bios, you often refer to using cosmological notions in your music. Can you develop on this?

Overall, there’s always been a touch of spirituality in my music, not in a religious way connecting with something deeper. And in my life, that’s always been based in astronomy, physics and cosmology. To the point where Epoch is all about the 14 billion years of existence that we have to grasp on at the moment and all these elements.

But I’ll look at the stars or try to be funny and take a mathematical formula I learnt about and throw numbers in my music. Or in Epoch I also took sounds from NASA and threw them in the record, as an instrument. In Pride, there’s also a song with some NASA recordings.

It’s something that inspires me. I won’t usually listen to a record and be inspired to song-write, though it does happen. I’ll be more inspired by looking at a telescope live image, diving in, learning about black holes or something crazy and then thinking “alright I’m gonna go write a song”.

Do you think there’s a transcendent aspect which is common to music and cosmology?

Yes, and it’s such a unique thing. How many times have you heard an artist talking about how everything is “waves”? But in the reality, everything is that, music is just another element that connects to us in a way as mysterious as quantum mechanics.

There’s a great book out there called The Jazz of Physics which connects these elements in a masterful way.

You also mention philosophy a lot. How do you go about integrating philosophical concepts in non-verbal music?

It doesn’t always get there. Music is so individual, once you listen to it, you have your own opinion of it, which is the beautiful thing about it.

The records I put out are auditory journals of my life. They capture emotions and ideals I learn through philosophy. I try to read every philosophy to understand everybody. But my personal philosophies are more positive and inter-connected, which inspires my instrumentation.

“Welcome to The Universe” to me has a feeling of openness and hope. That’s what music is supposed to do: connect everyone’s heart through vibrations, which is a really trippy effect. I connect more with instrumentals because of that. There’s a tendency with popular music to be way too happy or way too sad. I connect with smaller and growing instrumental producers, when the music is emotionally captivating. I also connect with reggae because it’s barely negative.

You released Epoch on Biblioteka Records, a Toronto-based label though you’re not from Toronto. How did that come about?

I had Epoch done, which I had spent a long time on. I sent it out to get feedback to a couple of different labels. I spoke to everything single one of them and had a few contracts in front of me. A lot of these I couldn’t accept. Sofie and Biblioteka were killing it, so I sent it to them. Sofie had so much passion and had such a clear plan so I thought “let’s do it”. She understands the game and is really into it. So we partnered up, set up a plan and went through with it!

You’ve said you were going to release another record this summer …

I am! It’s already done actually. The first single will drop in April, then a second one and the whole record should be out in the summer.

It has a great chill vibe, and it’s heavily inspired by a mix of science, cosmology, and also Minecraft actually! It takes on a new journey. I also explore new sampling techniques and it’s closer to some modern sounds.

And any other projects to talk about?

I’m also launching a little clothing line called Soulful Traveller Apparel. “Soulful Traveller” is literally the theme of my life. I don’t get tattoos, but if I did, it would say “travel soulfully” on it.


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