7 Questions with Cygnus

1. For those unfamiliar with your work, tell us a bit about yourself and your music.

My name’s Phillip Washington and I am from Dallas, TX. I make electro-funk (real electro), techno, hip hop and futuristic techno. As you can see I haven’t got just one genre locked down, although my first release on ICASEA is almost all detroit-style electro. When you hear a song my influences might be pretty obvious but a lot of avenues are really converging at once, it’s never just one source per song. But I dunno, I made a Dubstep EP this weekend and I really was just messing around, and all I thought about was what I think that music  sounds like in my head. I called it “Ronny Raegan – Party at Ronny’s House” and I think it’s hilarious. I made it as a joke. My friend came up with the name.

2. Your track “Tis Thine The Kingdom” was included on Autechre’s 12 hour broadcast. Were you aware that they were going to use your track for the broadcast beforehand?

No. I’d emailed them that track probably a year or two before. I was browsing a forum when I noticed the broadcast had just gone up, and by coincidence (or was it) that track was playing. I thought I’d just opened up the mp3 on my hard drive but I heard the Psi-Onyx remix coming in and realized they were jamming one of my tracks. They also played another too near the end but it’s not listed in that tracklist that’s availible online…

3. You kind of cut your teeth at the Laptop Deathmatch in Dallas, playing along side Convextion, Blixaboy and that whole scene. How would say this influenced your work?

That is a really good question. When Blixaboy (Mwanz Dover) first started Laptop Deathmatch it was a monthly thing, and I was only working part-time. The rule was that you had 3 minutes to show what you had, so I took pretty much all of my free time and used it to make material for the battles, and I had so much free time it was kind of awesome. That era was a lot of fun. 

A very big influence doing the battles had on my work (I think there were something like 15 over 3 years, not including the ones in Austin and Seattle I went to) was that it was a total crunch in learning and using Ableton Live and a slew of software synths. As a result of that I can work insanely fast on that platform now – the process of using a mouse and midi controller to write most of a track was birthed. It’s now this complete monster that I can summon at will… my right arm does that transformer sound, becomes self aware and can just blast out really good music. I like working with ableton because it’s so fast but I fear I may be missing out on some fertile ground elsewhere. That is the influence doing Laptop Deathmatch had on me. I also got to meet a lot of cool people engaged in the electronic music scene. One downside from Laptop Deathmatch was I developed a super fucked up image of what it means to be a successful musician, and that is because I was so focused on winning all the time. 

4. Are there any plans to tour?

I am really focused on making some more tracks right now, and that’s it. I’m about to travel to Los Angeles to record some music with my best friend of 20+ years. He goes by the name Cav3, and let me tell you man he’s a fucking fantastic rapper. I’d like to tour with him once we get enough material laid out. It’ll be some awfully great electro-funk hip hop/rap fusion shit, like never heard in a long time.  As for a solo thing as just “cygnus” I will definitely keep playing shows whenever I get the chance. To be honest I am really bad at managing myself and getting booked and all that. I really need to hire a manager, hahaha. I’d love to tour Europe, Germany, Japan, and South America and see how they feel about my hard, thumpin’ electro. “Wrowreck” was released last year on ICASEA – maybe I’ll do an official, year-late tour for that… 

5. What’s in the works for you right now?

I just got done working on Def Jam Rapstar so I have a lot of free time on my hands. Going from working on a major karaoke video game to having nothing but free-time is very disorienting to say the least. I’m just working on tracks every day, coming up with new, hard hitting material and expanding on some older ideas I’ll probably just send to my friend Tom Knapp (Skeksi/Icasea). I hope that on my next solo release you’ll have tracks that you can chill in your bedroom and enjoy, or be played in a club. It’s going to be a lot more distinguished than my last release “Wrowreck” (Released on Icasea). I got a 12″ coming out on a label called Recondite in a month or two. I really just am focusing on putting out more records right now, writing material with my freetime, and calming my anxious ass down. You know what? I would love it if I could release like 3 records on vinyl this year and sell all those mothafuckers. The recondite release should be availible on the major vinyl distribution sites when it drops. If nothing in that avenue works out yet I still have the opportunity to trade tracks with homeboys, get a job in the video games industry once again I would be fine with that too. 

6. What’s your top 10 right now? 

The Other People Place
S>>D – 33 EP
LTJ Bukem – Progression Sessions 
Propoganda – Murder of Love
Model 500 – I Wanna Be There M34 (Dave Angel Remix)
Donald Fagen – True Companion

7. Where can people find out more information about you?