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"The human desire to conquer nature, the unknown, and things outside of our control instead of finding a harmony and coexistence with things that are greater than ourselves: that thought was knocking around in my brain a lot while composing." – Reid Willis, a music producer, a classically trained pianist and a sound designer based in New Orleans, has found the universal balance he's talking about in the shape of his forthcoming album Mother Of... A masterfully glued up collage of womb-deep beats and heart-pulling chord progressions, Mother Of is playing with both, creation and destruction, as to represent a real Home In The Void, and to express "every emotion within the emotion"... Just like the one hour mix Reid Willis has stitched up together here... or to put in his own words: "It was sunset when the eye (of the hurricane Zeta) was over us, and everything was still and bright orange for a brief moment... the brief calmness of the eye before the second wall hit."...



The most important thing in Reid Willis' world is...?

As a person, the people in my life. My partner, my family, and my close friends. And of course music, and sound in general.

As a musician, probably mood, texture, and melody. Each piece needs to be its own world that the listener can inhabit. I want to express every emotion in music, and every emotion within the emotion. Happiness without a little sadness and sadness without a little bittersweet happiness feels empty and incomplete. I want to feel everything, therefore I want to evoke every feeling when I create something. I love an unexpected chord progression or a melodic phrase that surprises and satisfies at the same time.


What's the story of Mother Of? Why this title precisely?

When starting a project, I generally don't have an endgame or overarching theme in place. I write with what is inspiring me at the moment, then when I have a handful of tracks written, I can take a step back and try and piece together what the collection means to me as a whole. The current state of the world and the destructive impact we've had on the environment has played a subconscious role in the writing of this album. The human desire to conquer nature, the unknown, and things outside of our control instead of finding a harmony and coexistence with things that are greater than ourselves: that thought was knocking around in my brain a lot while composing.

I kept coming back to the idea of a universal maternal figure, and the womb-like qualities of the universe, and how it can evoke both comfort and fear. I love the idea of sitting with something that is vastly unknowable, and trying to figure out your own individual emotional response to that. It is confusing, terrifying, and unendingly intriguing to me. Sometimes when you sit with the unknowable and figure out how to be comfortable in that state, you're able to hold on to some of the magic that's a part of the mystery.



So, what really Mother Nature means to you?

Mother Nature is a force we should treat with utmost respect. We are at her mercy, and are merely borrowing from her, so we should be thankful and humble. Mother Nature is also a symbol of both comfort and destruction. There's always a balance, and we have to figure out how to coexist and live within that balance.


Favorite track from Mother Of? What's the story behind it?

That's a tough one, as my favorite is forever changing. I believe my current favorite is Memory Ribbons. I wanted to create a track that embodied pure blissful nostalgia. A big part of that for me is late 90s, early 2000s IDM music that provided total escapism from my angsty highschool misery, haha. So I wanted to write something that harkens back to that playfully energetic style. I've included this track in the mix I've put together.



You're a classically trained pianist... what's the setup that suits you best when it comes to creating music? Analog vs Software?

I'm a bit of an extreme minimalist when it comes to my studio setup. Clutter and too many options will easily overwhelm me and cloud my creative intuitions. I'm a software type of guy and my main instrument is my electric midi piano that I play all of my piano and synth parts on. I then like to carefully dissect and manipulate everything afterward.


Who created the artwork for your album? Could you elaborate more on the process, pls?

I created the artwork for this album. I made it by manipulating and layering different photographs. I was inspired by a beautiful photograph of the anatomy of the blood vessels of a heart, and how root-like it all looked. I took various photographs of trees branches and roots to mimic the shape of the human heart and its vessels. I then merged that with more celestial and planetary images.



Why you've chosen Mesh to release Mother Of?

Mesh actually got in touch with me after I'd released my last album, The Longing Device, and asked if I'd be interested in teaming up for my next release, to which I said "absolutely."


The binaural headphone surround sound you've been experimenting with on 3D Reworks EP – a new frequency... is it a way to change our perception of the world, really?

Mesh asked me if I'd be interested in creating a 3D Reworks installment for them like Max Cooper had done earlier this year. This was the first time I'd explored this type of mixing, and it's definitely opened up a bunch of new possibilities with sound and spatial mixing. Music is a structural and environment building creation for me, so the ability to mix in a more 3D setting helps to even push that practice even further. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's world changing, but it's definitely an incredibly immersive experience for the music obsessed!


What's the path to an inner peace in these pandemic times?

Find what keeps your mind stimulated. Stay mindful and present, and try to keep the voices that are constantly shouting at you through your screen at arms length. Also, be respectful and careful to everyone around you and don't put your "discomforts" above others' health.


3 albums/ or pieces of art that shaped you as an artist..?

The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer – This book series captures the idea of the human response to the unknowable in the most beautiful and profound way I'd yet experienced. The series is dreamlike, baffling, terrifying, and compelling in its study of how connected humans actually are to the world around us.

Evangelion – I'm showing my nerd right out of the gates. This show and story encompasses and communicates existential crises and the human condition in such a mind blowing way. I've been so moved by this series and world that it's permeated into my life and most of my creative output.

Björk | Vespertine – I will admit, it feels a bit simplistic to name one album by one artist, when there has been endless musical inspirations. This one always finds its way back though. Björk created such a fascinating and singular world with Vespertine. The textures, tones, and compositions are so labored over and beautiful, while being incredibly surprising and hard to pin down.



Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?

This mix is a collection of pieces that I find very compelling and emotionally engaging. They each have a very specific sonic world, and have all been very inspiring to me in my own creative output. I've also included a few of my own tracks that I thought fit well into the lineup.

We were just hit directly by a hurricane, so I wanted to take that experience and structure my mix in a way that mimics it. The intensity is a slow burn, which increases and climaxes in the center. It was sunset when the eye was over us, and everything was still and bright orange for a brief moment. My track We Become Dust represents the brief calmness of the eye before the second wall hit.


As a producer and sound designer, could you point out the sound that hits most emotionally the Human?

Sounds and our human connections are definitely personal and individual. I think no matter the sound, a wide dynamic range is always important. I personally like to merge the recognizable with the alien. It's really difficult to mimic the emotional complexity and warmth of a real instrument when working with electronics, but I think the two compliment and elevate each other so well. I think it's interesting to start with a familiar sound, to anchor the listener, then throw them into an unfamiliar environment to explore. I want to challenge, but not completely alienate.


What are you up to next?

I'm currently focusing on this album rollout and trying to put all my energy into getting it heard. I'd also love to collaborate with some of my label mates. I'm also always writing new material and trying to expand my sound palette and technique.


Finally, a party credo/slogan you follow? Or a concept for life you follow?

I'm always attempting to follow (and failing at often) Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings of living mindfully. If one can find enjoyment in the mundane, then that's total contentment.



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