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  • Ray Pham

A chat with Carrier




Since the mid-1990s, Guy Brewer has danced in the shadowlands of electronic music. From early explorations in drum and bass, his innovative contributions quickly gained recognition, leading to now-iconic releases on some of the genre's most respected labels.


Yet, intrigued by new artistic horizons, Brewer slowly gravitated towards the sound and spirit of techno, culminating in 2011 in his initiation of the Shifted moniker and his pioneering Avian label. Since then, under a myriad of aliases, he has ventured deep into techno's various sub-genres, gaining recognition for his work in minimalism (Pacific Blue), rhythmic noise (Covered in Sand), and drone and feedback (Alexander Lewis).


The continuing evolution of Brewer's artistry has now culminated in the creation of Carrier, transcending conventional genre boundaries and signalling a shift toward a more expansive and unrestricted mode of expression.

 


First of all, thank you Guy for taking the time to answer our questions. We’re super excited to have you play for Patterns of Perception again, but also under your new alias Carrier. 


You have been known as an artist with many guises, namely Covered in Sand, Alexander Lewis, Pacific Blue and of course Shifted, with each moniker representing a different facet of yourself.


What is the concept behind Carrier and what does it represent to you?

Well, Carrier is a little different as most of the others you mentioned were certainly side projects that branched off from Shifted. Carrier is not a side project: it’s my main focus moving forward and is completely disconnected from everything that’s come before. Although of course because it's me there are certain threads that bind it to my earlier work in terms of production.

For me, it represents a fresh start personally, creatively, aesthetically. For a while with Shifted I felt like I was repeating myself and just doing what was necessary to maintain the status quo. There’s nothing exciting in that, nothing artistically interesting ever came staying in one’s comfort zone.

In terms of sound I wouldn't want to say what it's about really as it draws on a lot of different influences. I just don’t want to be hemmed in, and restrained. For me electronic music is always at its most interesting when it’s kind of undefinable, when you can hear it pulling on many different influences.




How did that feeling of repetition and constraint lead to your starting Carrier as your new project?


A few things led to me starting the project. Firstly I moved away from Techno’s epicentre in Berlin and settled in Belgium. I think being removed from the “scene” and having creative headspace without it being polluted by external factors I quite quickly realised that it was time to move on and do something else. This point was definitely solidified by the pandemic. I wrote the final Shifted LP “Constant Blue Light”, which perhaps with the benefit of hindsight could/should have been released under another name. Everything was on hold so there wasn’t any of this pressure to keep up a release schedule simply to keep my diary busy. I could do what I wanted, finally.


Anyway, during this process I started to think long and hard about what I wanted to do and what I wanted it to say. I wrote a lot of music and slowly an outline of what Carrier represents started to form in my head. This culminated in Lazy Mechanics, which came out on The Trilogy Tapes at the start of 2023. 





And, indeed, you’ve already had 3 releases in a relatively short period of time, with each release progressing into a more glitchy, atmospheric and almost abstract approach to techno. How are you evolving this concept and what are you working on next?


I just want to keep surprising myself. There’s certain things that Carrier pulls on, but I don’t want to over-specialise and find myself accidentally boxed in again. If people say one record is a clear reference to say… , 90’s drum and bass, then the next record should kick against that and do something different.




Shifted was known for its relatively tough yet hypnotic and delicate sound. How would you describe the sound of Carrier and what is influencing it right at the moment?


I wouldn’t want to define it rigidly. However there are various periods in electronic music’s history that I find inspiring. As I described earlier, it’s about the blurring of lines between genres. For instance when people like Basic Channel were merging Techno with strains of reggae and dub, when labels like Metalheadz or Reinforced were fusing jazz, funk, techno and dub and coming with music that simply sounded like the future, or more recently when strains of noise and ambient started to find influence in Techno music, and vice versa. Just a few examples to outline my point. It’s when things become messy and the lines are no longer clear. That’s where the excitement comes from for me, not when it becomes inward looking and distilled down to nothing.

It’s when things become messy and the lines are no longer clear. That’s where the excitement comes from for me, not when it becomes inward looking and distilled down to nothing.




Carrier allows you to explore some creative freedoms that you couldn’t as Shifted?


I think that my previous alias simply felt weighed down by all the residual bullshit that it had picked up over the years. The records I felt weren’t good enough but put out anyway, that shit remix I did because I needed the cash, the shows I should have refused. They all contribute to a feeling around the project. I could have done this as Shifted I guess, but all this baggage would still be dragging along behind me, and honestly it would be nigh on impossible to change people’s perception of what I'm about. 



What excites you most about playing as Carrier, as opposed to Shifted?


The lack of expectation and freedom to define myself on looser terms. 




Where do you get your inspiration and/or what inspires you about the scene these days?


I think right now it feels as though we are sitting on the edge of another important shift in electronic music. The borders between genres are becoming less defined and you are starting to hear more of this interesting cross-pollination I’ve described above. A lot of people have complained a lot about the upward shift in tempo we’ve seen over the last years, and while there’s no denying it’s spawned some atrocious music, it’s also been responsible for some important innovations, and pushed us into territory that’s not been explored (at least not recently).

I think things are quite exciting and fertile right now, and we have art coming from a far more diverse pool of talent. As much as certain things can feel rather bleak for an artist now, there’s also a lot that I’m excited about.


And, finally, what does the future hold for Carrier and/or Shifted? 


Shifted is 100% over. RIP. Right now I’m about to put out another Carrier white label on my own label, finishing another EP for someone else, working on a live show and slowly putting aside music toward an album project that I imagine will see the light of day next year.





 

Catch the Berlin debut of Carrier where he will take us through a journey of exploration and unbounded sounds at OHM on April 19th. For more info check out Resident Advisor.


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