Interview with Kevin Doherty of Sleep Research Facility


1 Jul 2010, 1:48

Exclusively for the The Real Dark Ambient Group

So why Sleep Research Facility? Does it have to do something with your
geography and local climate? What is the idea behind the name?

Not really geography or climate, more a desire to give people an
upfront clue as to the nature of the music. You might think of a
sleep lab as a place to explore aspects of unconsciousness and SRF is
noise you could possibly go to sleep to, so the name has the
connotation of setting the listener up for audio with possible ambient
or sedative qualities before it's even been heard.

When did you start to make your own music? How did you get into the
experimental dark ambient scene?

I'd sort of screwed with music from a non-musician's point of view
since I was in my late teens but it was during the nineties when I was
over in Britain that there was suddenly potential for me to put
together a very basic studio in the house and really start tinkering
with things. There were a few years where I messed around with
different types of sounds I was into but it was probably around 2000,
when I'd mixed a couple of personal sleeping-pieces I liked, that I
decided to make an album's worth of material in a similar vein and
demo it off to see what people thought. Those tracks were the basis of
the "Nostromo" project, which was eventually released on the Cold
Spring label as the first SRF album. I guess that sort of marked my
foray into producing this style of music seriously.

What instruments do you play and do you have any musical education?

I have no musical training outside of a two month period during
gradeschool when I was put into band class and given a clarinet to
play, today I honestly couldn't even tell you how to properly hold one though.
I can't read sheet music and I'm nowhere near (even remotely)
technically skilled, but I've always loved keyboards and sometimes can
sort freestyle (badly) on a piano. Ironically it was this which I
used to pass my audition into the only muiscal "education" I've
recieved, which was from a four year music business administration and
artist performance course, run at a college in Scotland. SRF is more
production than playing though, so I can pretend I'm a great musician
whilst still being completely oblivious to requirements of technicality.

What are you major influences and sources of inspiration?
Do you work by inspiration? is it a structured regular process or
something you do just when the mood is right?

When the mood is right, definetely. Though sometimes I can engage in
activities that sort of PUT me in the mood, so perhaps it's not always
as spontaneous as I think. It's cerainly not stuctured, but I seem to
go through periods of working feverishly on things on a daily basis,
to periods of not working at all. Maybe I'm always in the mood, and
it's just occasionally that I overcome my lazyness enough to act on my
ideas ;) As for inspiration, lots of things really... interesting
natural or man-made noises, points where nature and urbanization
collide, guerilla artwork like graffiti, great works of archtecture,
really anything that brings s bit of chaos or pushes boundaries.

It is interesting that you have worked on very contrast themes –
freeze and heat, is it intentional? Listeners are naturally curious
about the process - what comes first, concept or the sound? Do you
need to find a mood, a theme to get started or do you start with
recording sounds and then see where it might take you?

Themes are definetly important. A good concept not only seems to give
me a framework to think along, it also appears to set the stage for
the listener as well. I like good inccidental music, so in a way
producing an SRF project is a bit like scoring the soundtrack to an
idea (as opposed to scoring an actual film or stage event). At the
same time I think I'm having most fun when the two aspects of
production (concept and sound construction) happen more sort of
simultaneously and ammorphously. All the SRF albums thus far could
definetly be considered "concept" works, but I don't think I had a
clear idea of what any of them were really going to be like (sonically
or conceptually) until well into their creation. When you're
screwing around with random noises and ideas there's a point where
things gel, the vibes all float together into something that sort of
fits nicely around the subject matter and that's where it starts,
that's the point of origin. Ultimately the more material which is
laid down for any given project from this point, the more the concept
solidifies, which in turn gives rise to further similar sounding
material. This seems to fuel the process and keep things organic and
interesting for me.

Is there a balance in your music between analog/field recordings and
digital processing? What do you lean to most? What are your thoughts
of pure electronica?

I don't really differentiate so much anymore. I think by the very
nature of the recording medium, the instant a "field recording" is
made it actually becomes electronica. It becomes a piece of maleable,
repeatable information, and as such (at least by some peoples'
definitions) IS a piece of recorded music in a very basic form. For me
"analog/field recordings and digital processing" are all just the same
thing now. I think a lot of the audio for SRF projects consists of
mutating what you might consider field recordings, INTO something
which resembles what might be referred to as "pure electronica", so
it's not even that they're interdependant diciplines existing in
balance, they're actually more like the component methodologies which
comprise the whole production process for me.

Tell us about Kevin Doherty - who is he? what makes him happy? what
irritates him?
What does he like to do for fun when he is not working or making music?

Sunshine, drum 'n bass, brussel sprouts. (you may assign those answers
in whichever way you think fits best). Other than that I prefer to
remain "the enigma" :)

This question i am asking in every interview - piracy and file
sharing. What are your views and feelings about this? Should we look
for ways to stop it or is it something inevitable that artists just
should deal with?

I think people will always share music. One of the motivating factors
behind this is obviously a love for the music and desire to facilitate
others' enjoyment of it as well. This is nothing new. It's the same
philosophy which would drive people to copy onto cassette a record
or tape a friend had bought, so they could enjoy it at leisure as
well. The Internet just makes it so much more of an indepth game.
People typically don't throw music around the web because they dislike
it, they usually do it because they think the music is great and want
other people to experience it as well. I shouldn't really say this as
it might be constrewed as encouragement, but sometimes when I see SRF
being swapped on peer-to-peer networks or posted as a download from a
music blog I'm actually kind of flattered that people think it's even
worthy of the bandwidth required to shift the files about. At the
same time there's probably a demographic of the file sharing community
who propagate media just for the sake of gaining dubuious credit in
piracy circles, among other questionable reasons, without an
appreciation of what they're actually circulating (which kind of bugs
me). At the end of the day though, I try not to get overly worked up
about it. It's like, I'd be making music anyway (for myself to listen
to at least), so whatever people see fit to do with it after it's
released is up to them. It's certainly nice for artists to get paid
for their work of course. It's encouraging. I once saw a thread
where someone had posted some SRF material and tagged the upload "buy
if you can :)" which I thought was kind of cool and quite appropriate
for the current file-sharing climate. For underground artists file
sharing might also prove to be an inadvertant but very useful
promotional tool to spread their sound to new uninitiated listeners.
At the far end of the scale there will be download sites which charge
for tracks and login access, and don't give artists a penny, which is
utterly parasitcal in my opinion and not to be supported by anyone.
Honestly, I'd rather people downloaded SRF on a peer-to-peer network
for free than give money to these mafia-thugs.

Do you think CDs will have to go eventually and we will have only
digital releases in the future, does it bother you?

People love to collect things, it's human nature to want to posess
artifacts that define us as individuals. I've seen lots of impressive
record collections, however I've yet to feel as impressed by the size
of someone's mp3 library. That being said though, I myself have been
bitten by reading ebooks as opposed to printed copy, and don't really
care about having a library of trees lining my wall any more, having
realized that it's ultimately the experience the media provides as
opposed to the medium it's conveyed in, which is the important thing
to me as the end user. Maybe as we move even further into the digital
age these paradigms will shift more and at some point people WILL say
"wow, that's a lot of files you've collected, impressive!", but I
don't think we're quite there yet. At the end of the day it's people's
love for music which will perpetuate it, and not the format it's
presented in. Am I bothered by the notion of digital only? No, I don't
think so. I'm more bothered by notion of people ceasing to release
good music altogether, and since that really isn't a concern I don't
think I have to worry. Still, at the end of they day, even though the
internet is certainly a very effective way to collect music, owning a
carefully chosen cd/album/cassette collection still has a particular
allure (maybe time to make some room on that shelf for a new rack of
hard-drives as well).

Do you play live ? Any shows, tours planned in the near future?

I actually spent a lot of 2008 playing a series of gigs in Toronto. It
was a real learning experience. Seeing as the last while has been
spent on finishing the next album it's probably a good time to start
messing around with the idea of live presentation again. Mixing up the
methodology behind both these opposing aspects of music production
seems to help keep the ideas flowing.

What are you working on right now? Any new releases planned we should
look out for?

Like I said, the last while has been spent on finishing the next SRF
release coming out on the Cold Spring label. It's a project they
handed me ages ago basically consisting of a collection of remixed
noises and textures captured during the downtime maintenance of a B2
Stealth bomber at an airforce base in the UK, along with pilot chatter
recorded during various engagements. There will be a full length
album on cd along with an additional 30 minute mix of further
manipulations digitally released as a free download for curious
listeners to have a listen to WITHOUT having to feel the guilty pangs
of piracy ;)

SRF Official Website
SRF on Myspace
SRF on

If you never listened to Sleep Research Facility - it is a good reason to now!
you can either stream some tracks on SRF Myspace page or download some mp3 samples HERE

Sleep Research Facility Cold Spring
Envíos aceptados
concrete everything, Kranky Records, Why dont you take a cup of drone, Occult Elite, I Still Buy CDs, People with no social lives that listen to more music than is healthy who are…, Extensive Musical Taste, Foobar Users, For those who don't sleep enough due to staying up late at night for no apparent…, i'd die without music, True Listener, People with inconsistent musical taste - who yet prove a certain indy-attitude, Fuck Bush, Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs to, Electronica, FunkySouls, Music Advice Center, Instrumental music that makes you feel, Downtempo, Ambient music fans, Dark Ambient, Noise and Drone, Electronic Music, Forests, New Age and Ambient, Minimal and Ambient Electronic, People who's tastes are so eclectic and diverse it's almost schizophrenic, Open Minded Music Freaks, The Silent Ballet, Space Music, David Lynch, Mindfuck, Music fans and Musicians against the RIAA, Cold Meat Industry, Underground Music, Ambient, The WIRE Magazine, Beautiful Noise, winter, DRONE, Power noise and Post Industrial genres, FreeMusic, ant-zen, europa, Badge, I like nature more than people, Addicted to electronic music, BRAINFEEDER, NO boundaries Music, Group Owners, Subtle Soundfields, fully streamable albums, I Love Legally free downloaded music!, The Real Dark Ambient Group, Free Artists, Troll Reign, Minimalism and Ambience, Mera Luna Festival, Group Ring, Arctic Ambient, Independent Artists, drone doom, Central Point: where artists and listeners meet, Hidden Artists, Sunn O))), Artists who are users, Chez Musinum, Experimental Music, La Avant-Garde, Electroacoustic Improv, • Ambient •, The LastFM FREE DOWNLOADS Group, DIY Musicians, The Music Maker Society, @>- Ambient, Experimental and Electronic Music -<@, Barnaul, FREE DARK MUSIC, Frame Without A Painting (Ambient Music Group), Free mp3 and albums list, Lustmord, Experimentalists, The Mothership of Ambient Music, Soundscapes, Russian Dark Ambient, Free Music from Independent Artists, Hairy Beast, Чёрный квадрат, Head on a stick, Dark Monastery, Acousmonium, Ambient Noise Horror, muzprosvet, Sophisticated Taste, organization of sound, noisebunker, Free For Free


  • Grafmeester

    ah, thanks! SRF is pretty straight forward conceptually in my opinion, but it's still nice to be reassured of how exactly.

    1 Jul 2010, 8:30
  • RickdeGreef

    Enjoying interview, i should listen to this guy some time.

    1 Jul 2010, 10:45
  • Lee7513

    thank you Muhmood for the interview

    1 Jul 2010, 11:15
  • stoneguy28

    Thanks Muhmood! Great interview! I found him on myspace a couple of years back asking him about where I could buy his music and he personally mailed me a copy of Dead weather machine. What a guy! His music is excellent, among the best in the dark ambient scene.

    1 Jul 2010, 14:43
  • v3par

    Thx Muhmood

    1 Jul 2010, 15:59
  • muhmood

    hey guys, don't thank me, but the man who took the time to answer all these questions ;)

    2 Jul 2010, 0:39
  • Tuntury

    Interesting read. He seems like an open-minded fella.

    2 Jul 2010, 15:57
  • boehj

    great interview, cheers. can't wait for 'stealth' to arrive in the post. :)

    30 Mar 2012, 1:12
  • sonofpfunk

    seems like a cool person, not surprisingly

    5 Jul 2012, 7:11
  • GodLord0


    4 Jul 2013, 8:56
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