Wade Clarke / Aeriae
Mad keyboard licks kick off Sydney-based producer Aeriae’s second album, Victris. Somehow fittingly described as “hypersequenced excitation” in the Clan Analogue PR, opener ‘Revered Daughter’ is a gateway to ten tracks that explore musical possibilities from dancefloor volition (‘Nurse 2 Alyssa Type’) to sub bass scale (‘Sword of State’), classic counterpoint (‘The Book of Peace’) to sculpted beats (‘Heiress’).
Aeriae is Sydney-based electronic composer and producer Wade Clarke. His grandfather was an engineer and almost-concert pianist, and Wade grew up playing the piano by ear. Aeriae’s novel aesthetic is informed as much by Warp figureheads like Autechre as by classical music and 80s electronic film scores like Tron and Escape From New York. Wade’s other involvements include writing, reviewing, Interactive Fiction, illustration and the Apple II.
Which member of your family influenced you the most?
Wade Clarke: Probably my dad, by taking me to lots of movies when I was a kid, getting me started in programming the Apple II computer, and also through his ornery political behaviour.
How do your values differ from those of your family?
Wade: They find it easy to hold to party political lines in a black and white sense. I think about things so much that my ultimate positions on them can come really slowly, or never settle. This is a strength for writing fiction, as I can imagine anyone’s point of view. It can be a liability in day to day life, when you meet less thoughtful people who bark out ill-considered views loudly, and are heard over yourself.
What do you think is your main purpose in life?
Wade: My purpose is to create things. I hope what I compose or write or draw can take others to a higher state, whether that’s having fun or something more exalted. I’ve realised I’m also good at helping other people to get where they’re going in creative work, so I try to do that when I can.
Do you think its ok to lie?
Wade: Per se, it’s definitely OK. I’m a big fan of psychiatrists, and they tell me we’re all lying frequently, and that this is fine within typical ranges.
What does freedom mean to you?
Wade: To go to philosophy, a fave writer of mine, Colin Wilson, criticised the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau for his famous statement, ‘Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.’ Wilson didn’t think we are born free, and his books persuaded me of the same. I think humans created the conditions for our freedom through a lot of work over time, and that we all have a responsibility to maintain those conditions. We’ve got a good degree of freedom in Australia, but freedom doesn’t come for free. The Abbott government is scraping parts off our freedom at the moment.
What do you think are the most important social issues today?
Wade: The increasing gap between the richest and poorest is the big one for me. I can’t stand that the government funds rich private schools. Education is the cornerstone of a healthy society. If you do the best job in education for everyone when they’re young, you minimise an infinite number of problems later. Money for private schools is money drained directly from the core education resources flagged for everyone.
Do you think things happen for a reason?
Wade: Definitely not!
What beliefs do you have that you think will never change?
Wade: My general atheism. That we shouldn’t sell human nature short. That art and fiction are truth.
Do you believe in the supernatural?
Wade: No. I love horror movies, but soon as I stop watching one, the ghosties in it vanish.
What do you like the best about your body?
Wade: My hands. I think they look OK, or sufficiently ‘tapering’ as writers like to say, and they’re the vessels for everything I can make.
What do you think would be the best thing about being the opposite gender?
Wade: Do you mean opposite sex? To quote Steve Martin in the film L.A. Story, “I could never be a woman, ‘cause I’d just stay home and play with my breasts all day.” If you mean gender, I believe or fantasise that females have more freedom to express themselves emotionally. That’s why I prefer to write female characters in fiction and games. The track names on my album Victris have a feminine bent, too. So if I was a woman, I figure the best thing would be the increased acceptance of my emotional range. But it’d probably be gained at the expense of freedoms I have now, which women don’t.
Who is the best teacher you have ever had?
Wade: I had an English teacher in high school, Ms Fretze, who encouraged me to follow my passions, even though I was pretty unknowable. And my English and French teacher Mr Sheehan had high expectations of me, which made me try to live up to them. Plus he was unapologetically novel and eccentric.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Wade: Probably any and all of those little Peanuts comic paperbacks. I enjoyed those more than any one book.
If I asked a good friend of yours what you were good at, what would they say?
Wade: Without false modesty, it would depend which friend you ask. If you’re good at a lot of things, not everyone who knows you sees all of them. Some know me by my music, some by illustration, some by my writing or criticism, some by my games. At my age, I can make an honest assessment that I’ve done some good work in all these areas. I know that I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunities to develop these abilities as far as I have already, but predictably I feel like each one will never get as much time as I’d like.
What stays the same in your life, no matter how much other things change?
Wade: Apart from pub trivia, I don’t know that I’ve found many whole new activities that I like since I was little. I liked films, music, drawing, computers and stories back then, and I like all the same things now.
What is stopping you?
Wade: My nature isn’t conducive to doing something like touring other countries. I think I could play more often and to more people if I lived in Europe, for instance, but I’d just never do that. There was a time when I had such anxiety that I could barely function or leave the house. That extremity is well in the past now, thanks to much help and treatment, but I’m a homebody at heart. A lot of social events are onerous for me and I have no interest in travelling or moving. So, my nature probably stops me in some things, but I’ve interrogated myself and at least I know my nature. On a day to to day basis, I’m more concerned that I still don’t say what I’m thinking often enough. That is a hangover of anxiety, and fearing that I will be negatively assessed by others, and it’s kind of always there.
Victris is available through MGM Distribution in CD and non-physical formats from usual sources. Witness Aeriae’s controllerism live in action at performances in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. A thirteen-page booklet by Wade with notes on each of Victris’s tracks can be downloaded at aeriae.com/victris.pdf
APRIL/MAY 2019 COVER: Richard NGUYEN, All mixed up (detail) 2018, digital video, duration 1:57 min. Canning Vale College. Pulse Perspectives, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth (WA), 6 April – 22 July 2019 – artgallery.wa.gov.au
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