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From Dinosaurs To Fine Art: A Q&A With Konx-Om-Pax

Tom Scholefield, aka Konx-Om-Pax, is a young and prolific artist and designer from Glasgow who’s made a bunch of music videos and album covers for musicians, including Jamie Lidell, Hudson Mohawke, Neil Landstrumm, Capracara, and Oneothrix Point Never. His 3D animations conjure up visions of futuristic landscapes filled with multicolored geometric patterns that overlap, fuse together, and eventually liquefy themselves—just like alien organisms might, we imagine. He also runs his own label, Display Copy, where he releases all the music he produces.

Following a collaboration with Optimo, Konx-Om-Pax has just released an EP of abstract electronic music that sinks deep into the thickest abyss of the cosmos. Very much like Autechre and Aphex Twin, he’s established himself at the forefront of avant-garde UK-electronica, and his mixes regularly drop hip-hop beats onto a layer of hardcore breakbeats that slowly drift towards psychoactive ambient noise shores. Last year, he toured and opened for Mogwai. And as he puts it, “it was a good excuse to play Coil tracks to a hundred-strong crowd of post-rockers."

We love pretty much everything he’s done so far, and not only did he answer our silly questions, but he gave us an awesome exclusive mix.

Konx-Om-Pax: Vice Creators Project Mix [DOWNLOAD LINK]

1. Death Grips: “Lord of the Game” (ft. Mexican Girl)
2. Quinoline Yellow: “Spion Kop”
3. Aphex Twin: “Vordhosbn”
4. Merzbow: “Tokyo Times Ten”
5. Kevin Drumm: “Hitting The Pavement”
6. Konx-om-Pax: “III
7. Luigi Russolo: “Risveglio Di Una Città (1913)”
8. Hecker: “23 23”
9. Team Brick: “Track 03 (Hyper Vapour)”
10. Madhya: “Méditations”
11. Aphex Twin: “D-Scape”
12. Atom Heart: “Little Grey Box”
13. Bam Bam: “Where’s Your Child?”

The Creators Project: How would you introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t know anything about your work?
Tom Scholefield:
I hate having to describe what I do to people, I feel embarrassed having to explain myself.

Do you make a distinction between commercial work and personal stuff?
Not really, it’s all part of the same thought process.

What were the first influential images you were exposed to?
I spent a lot of my early childhood in museums and art galleries with my mum in my pram looking at everything from dinosaurs to fine art. They always felt like really safe places to hang out. I think I absorbed a lot of different media types back then, even before going to school.

What kind of music were you into as a kid?
I used to listen to my cousins’ tapes of commercial rock and my dad’s collection of Beatles and folk music. Then later on stuff like the Prodigy and Underworld, Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim, haha (around 13-14 years old)… then I discovered John Peel and got into the good stuff.

Oneohtrix Point Never: “Return to Rifts” (2010); Art Direction by Konx-Om-Pax.

When did you start your 3D video work? Did you go to art school?
I only started 3D a few years ago. I’m self taught in 3D but studied graphics at the Glasgow School of Art. I got to make what I wanted for years, it was great being encouraged to research John Cage and Nam June Paik.

When did you start Display Copy?
Last year when I put out Optimo Tracks.

Your work is always oscillating between an artificial, colorful Eden and some creepier nightmarish places. What do you have in mind when you start doing an animation?
That’s a tough one… It’s hard trying to remember the spark that starts something. I even forget the process sometimes. I only really like looking at the final outcome, the rest is a blur.

AV/Live Jam Video (2011)

Your recent AV/Live Jam video looks like a reference to Crash by J.G. Ballard…
Really… Cool! I don’t read enough..

‘Konx-Om-Pax’ refers to Egyptian occultism and seems to point to Aleister Crowley’s ceremonial magic. The sense of ritual seems to be quite important for you. Can you tell us more about this name?
It comes from a classical piece of music by Scelsi, not Crowley. It means “light in extension.”

Do you feel connected to this whole “hypnagogic” and synth music trend that flows through the web nowadays?
Not really, I’m just friends with some of them through design work.

Your music is even more abstract than your video design. Are you using both analog and digital tools? How did you compose the latest tracks?
A real mix of processes—granular synth stuff to cassette recordings, digital soft synths mixed with analogue samples. Loads of various things sculpted together really methodically over long periods of time. Some pieces took years, adding bits here and there, playing around with pitch and texture until it felt right. Sometimes I can finish tracks over a weekend… it just depends.

Can you tell us about your collaboration with Laurel Halo and Mogwai?
It’s just a jam I did with Laurel when I was on holiday in NY. Then I asked Stuart [of Mogwai] to make some guitar noise for it. He just laid some guitar feedback down in his house one afternoon and mailed me the results!

Any chance to see you performing live?
Not yet, it’s a big job for me creating something worthwhile that does everything justice. It’s coming… I need to learn more stuff.

How do you envision the future of art and design?
Hopefully everything will look like Blade Runner. : )

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