Photo: Press (worriedaboutsatan / Thomas Ragsdale & Gavin Miller)
“We’re a machine that never stops producing”, says worriedaboutsatan member Tom Ragsdale and if you look at his and Gavin Miller’s output as a duo as well as solo producers, that sounds like quite an understatement. Ever since the two producers have released their first EP in 2006, they put out three albums under their moniker, two as Ghosting Season and an innumerable amount of EPs under various guises. Miller and Ragsdale, who is also known as Winter Son, have even launched their own imprint with This Is It Forever in 2011, so far releasing 30 plus records in six years. Their contribution to our Groove podcast brings together many of the influences that their music – as a duo or solo – has always informed their sound, from blissed out Ambient to deep Techno.
Between 2011 and 2014, worriedaboutsatan was on hold while you released new music under the Ghosting Season moniker which still seems to be active. Why the hiatus and what constitutes the difference between both projects?
Gavin: Ghosting Season is long since dead I’m afraid! It was just a little offshoot from the worriedaboutsatan thing really, but “the biz” kinda took hold of it and sucked all the fun out of it in the end, so we ended up drifting away from that thing and went back to the fringes with satan! We always saw Ghosting Season as a more dancefloor-friendly version of satan, without so much of the weirdness that we like to experiment with, but after a while, we kinda felt more at home off the dancefloor and cooking up weirder stuff!
As worriedaboutsatan, you’ve always combined post-rock elements with electronic music. How does your working process look like?
Tom: We like to think of ourselves very much as a band in the regular form, so we work as a band. We have band practice and band writing sessions, and it’s great fun. We work with guitars and pianos (like a lot of post-rock), and then combine them with an 808 drum machine and analogue synths. A lot of the time our work process is a “let’s see what happens” situation and most of the time we’re jamming or messing around with sounds! We don’t usually have a focused plan on what we want to create.
You’re regularly performing live under the Worriedaboutsatan banner and make quite a lot of use of guitar sounds. Which challenges does that pose?
Gavin: It’s not that big a deal really, although it is annoying having to carry a guitar everywhere, I guess! Aside from that, it’s fine – we grew up with guitars, and used them in various bands we’d been in before, so it still feels really natural to play one, but this time we’re playing it over a laptop. Over the past eleven years as a band, we’ve gotten some pretty weird reactions to playing electronica nights with a guitar, and playing post-rock nights with a laptop, so it all kinda evens out!
Gavin, you have been the music supervisor for Adam Curtis’s groundbreaking Hypernormalisation documentary. How did it come about that you would work on the movie and how did you select the music for it?
Gavin: Well “music supervisor” is a bit of grandiose term for it I suppose, but he’s just a friend really. He asks every now and then for some new music that I think he’ll like, so I go through my iTunes and compile little packages for him – it’s still up to him which bits he uses, so a lot of the stuff I send down to him doesn’t make the cut, but every now and then you can hear my influence on it I suppose! He really likes dark, noisy stuff, but with super melodic passages in it, so I use that as a template and see if anything fits. It came about because I was just a super fan really, and one day years ago, I decided I wanted to interview him for Drowned in Sound, who we know quite well anyway, so I shot him an email and to my surprise he got back straight away. I actually think no-one’s really asked him anything about the music before, and he really wanted to talk about it! It was great fun, and ever since then he pops up in my inbox randomly, or I’ll see him at a satan gig every now and then!
Tom, apart from releasing music under your birth name you are known in the club scene as Winter Son. What characterises this particular project of yours and your working relationship with Jozef K?
Tom: The music I make as Winter Son is definitely more related to the House and Techno side. I really love House music and just like the music of worriedaboutsatan, it came about from just jamming and messing around. I’ve known Jozef for a while now and we both love spending a day in the studio making music. We have another EP coming on Kim Ann Foxman’s label Firehouse very soon too.
Together, you also run the This Is It Forever imprint, where you mostly although not exclusively release your own music. What’s the concept behind This Is It Forever?
Gavin: To be honest, it just happened a little by accident. We’re not militant about it, but it was just because no other labels seem that interested in us, so it was either do it yourself, or don’t do it at all. We chose the first option! It started just an outlet so we could release our solo stuff as it happens, and the satan stuff came a little bit after that, so it felt quite natural to just expand it further to our friends and help them out if they needed to put something out under a “name” or to make it a little bit more official or whatever. It’s a nice little family now, but we’re always growing and hearing new things, and wanting to do new stuff. It’s all about future music, regardless of genre – as trite as that sounds. We listen to a lot of stuff anyway, so it doesn’t really matter if you play Metal, Techno, or One-Note-Drone stuff, if we like it, we’ll want to work with it.
Your contribution to our Groove podcast comprises a few of your own tunes as well as some Ambient and Techno music. What was your idea behind it?
Tom: Our approach is DJing and selecting tracks is one that’s unfussy, and we’re not afraid to play or big track or something completely weird! We don’t have anything to prove with our DJ sets, we just like to play the music we listen to. Our mixes are a reflection of our own tastes and we like to combine good music that’s well known with music that’s forgotten about or undiscovered.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks and/or live, and what are your plans as both solo producers and as a duo?
Tom: We’re touring the UK later this month, which is going to be awesome! We’re curating all of the gigs ourselves and choosing the line-ups carefully, so we’re hoping it’ll all come together! We want to give people an evening of blissful electronic music at each gig. We even take time to prepare playlists during artist change-over! Individually, we’re working on a lot of music too and will be releasing new music. We’re a machine that never stops producing, there’s always something going on…
Stream: worriedaboutsatan – Groove Podcast 128
01. worriedaboutsatan – Blank Tape
02. Emeralds – It Doesn’t Arrive
03. Gavin Miller – A Brief Flicker
04. Thomas Ragsdale – Warning Mass
05. worriedaboutsatan – Forward Into Night
06. Donato Dozzy & Tin Man – Test 7
07. worriedaboutsatan – Blood (Pye Corner Audio Remix)
08. worriedaboutsatan – Who Is A Hunter?
09. Efdemin – Some Kind Of Up And Down Yes
10. DIN – Aetas
11. Wata Igarashi – Night
12. Peter Van Hoesen – Rapture’s Coming
13. Baikal – Pelican’s Flight
14. Skee Mask – Melczop 2
15. Brainkillers – Screwface
16. worriedaboutsatan – All Safe, All Well