“Flowers for Bodysnatchers was formed by Duncan Ritchie and has been slowly finding its footing on the cinematic edge of the Dark Ambient genre. Lonely piano movements and brooding cellos set against the intricate textual backdrops of field recordings create a real world sorrow and beauty to the music. Drawing on a person’s state of mind he explores their motivations. Both from afar and close up, studying what it is to be alone in a crowded room. And just how far a person can go before they’ve past the edge unable to return. To see both the beauty and terror they see.” – CRYO CHAMBER
We here had the pleasure of doing an email interview with Flowers For Bodysnatchers’ Duncan Ritchie….
For new fans and readers, could you provide some insight into the name
Flowers for Bodysnatchers and why you chose the name?
Flowers for Bodysnatchers is an amalgam of a Radiohead song and the film Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. I was looking for something rather ambiguous and one day after watching the film it just clicked.
In 2015 you did an album called “Aokigahara” referring to the infamous forest in Japan; the “Suicide Forest.” First, why did you decide to tackle this subject and talk about how you grabbed some of the field recordings?
I found the idea that people would actually undertake a journey to a specific place with the intention of taking their life fascinating. You could easily take your life at home or in the spur of the moment but, to actually prepare provisions, food and water and make that journey from Tokyo to Aokigahara implies something far more profound.
I wanted the field recordings to chronologically follow the journey so there was actually real life audio references to the trip someone would take. The recordings start in Sumida, Tokyo and on to Aokigahara at the base of Mt Fuji.
According to the Cryochamber site, the last album, Love Like Blood is said to be a “companion Piece” to “Aokigahara.” How so? Are the field recordings any different on this release?
With Aokigahra we follow our protagonists journey from afar and up close but, with Love Like Blood we step into their shoes. Love Like Blood is a representation of their mindset. The field recordings here still follow the journey but become more muted and confused, frustrated and angry, almost violent especially on the track The Life I Ruin.
Take us into the Flowers for Bodysnatchers studio. Tells us about the tools of your trade and the process of creating a work as intense as either of the last 2 releases.
Most of my work is built on field recording and I use Zoom gear for that. I have a selection of Korg, Arturia and Yamaha synths. An Arturia Midi Controller, Yamaha Monitors a Focusrite Interface and many other bits and pieces. My studio itself has a very earthy feel. Lots of plants and natural light. A very easy place to chill out. As far as process is concerned I gradually layer my work allowing mood and tempo to come about naturally not by force.
Do you feel that it’s more important for Flowers for Bodysnatchers to convey a particular atmosphere to the listeners and pull them into that based upon your vision or would you prefer them to create their own?
I do like to create a narrative for the listener. I enjoy story telling and of course the listeners own imagination can interpret that as it pleases.
CryoChamber’s artists have largely been described as “cinematic dark ambient.” Has cinema or any other visual medium served as inspiration for Flowers for Bodysnatchers?
Hell I love cinema! I’ve scored short films on and off over the years. Most recently John William Ross’s film, The Thing In The Apartment – Chapter II for Crypt TV. Great horror short you can catch on YouTube!
Speaking of which, your work since joining CryoChamber seems to have taken quite a turn from simply dark ambient to that which is indeed more cinematic. Was this a conscious decision you wanted to do beforehand or were you influenced by the work of the CryoChamber artists?
Flowers for Bodysnatchers has simply evolved over time finding that very hard to find balance that is Neo Classical Dark Ambient. It’s very easy to smother on with the other. Now though what I wanted the project to be is spot on!
Looking back at unreleased FBS work, have you ever tried diving into a subject matter only to be overwhelmed with the gravity and then refused to go further? Let us know if you have any examples.
Oh plenty of ideas get scrapped. Not because it’s to overwhelming, quite the opposite. Some ideas just don’t have the “legs” to go the distance or the concept is to weak.
How important to you are field recordings in regard to creating an atmosphere? Are there any field recordings in particular you have done other than on “Aokigahara?”
Almost all my work is built from the ground up on field recording. Whether it’s obvious or not it’s almost always there. The Fall The Night EP contains some fantastic industrial recordings from graveyards to steel factories.
It’s 2017, a year since the last album. So what’s next for Flowers for Bodysnatchers?
How do you see things developing?
There is a new album in the wings and should be out near the end of this year. But that’s all hush hush as I don’t want to ruin things by saying to much about it.
You are offered a job creating a soundtrack for a restoration of a silent film. The studio says, “We’re not done filming but we want to see what ideas you can come up with based on this protagonist.” How much do you rely on 1.) your imagination and 2.) previous work the studio has done that might be stylistically similar? And do you go by any other guides?
I’d let my imagination run wild. There’s no originality in taking cues from others.
Many many years from now in an old abandoned house, a very distant relative locates an ornate box in the attic. On the box is written “Flowers for Bodysnatchers.” In the box is a collection of your work and something to play it on. The relative sits down and listens. What is it about your work and history that you’d like them to know from simply listening to the music?
I’d need a house with an attic first! Hopefully my work would show my journey through life. If art imitates life I believe my music would be an apt reflection of where I was personally and also where I’ve been in life.