Interview with Sonny O'Brien
Sonny is an interdisciplinary artist. He has a fascination with experimenting in digital and analog mediums, spawning a growing portfolio of music, animations, photography, collage, film and video and generative art.
Extinction Album cover
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work
I’m an interdisciplinary artist living in Australia. My academic background is in Sound Design. I’ve worked across genres in music, animation, photography, collage, film/video and generative art. I have an obsession with intensity of colour and mingling weird, anachronistic imagery
Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work
The problem of climate change features prominently in my work and an integral issue explored in the Helioscene project. I’m also interested in advertising/consumerism and a digital future of global surveillance.
What are you inspired by?
Colour; Images that are visceral and articulate, brutal and simple; Jon Rafman, Francis Bacon. Trees. There are many things that inspire me but sometimes it’s a matter of taking a break and letting ideas incubate.
Please explain your creative process
It’s a game of problem solving. The solutions to visual or sound puzzles evolve through emersion in a process of constant destruction, rearrangement and chance. Sometimes I will have prearranged ideas in my mind before I start creating, but I prefer an organic process led through emergence.
What technique do you use to create your music?
For the music of Helioscene, a lot of the production process is driven by the use of counterpoint, phasing and Euclidian rhythms. Other music I create uses sampling. I’m a multi-instrumentalist and now more focused on using my own instrumentation as the basis of sampling/chopping/transposing.
What’s an average day like for you?
Work is killing me at the moment so my average days are spent bringing money in from my public transport job. In the evenings I spend the remaining energy on creating music or working on a video/collage.
Tell us how you organise, plan, and prioritise your work
The last big project I did was BIGSOUND festival in Brisbane. It taught me I tend to do little organising or planning and a lot of work when it comes to a new project or body of work. I produced a lot of animations by applying myself.
Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?
Once I return to part time work in April, I am looking forward to producing new work and organising a group exhibition. I am also hoping to release a new EP for Helioscene.