Leafcutter John (UK)

John Burton aka Leafcutter John designs, builds, and develops his own light controlled musical interfaces which are music performance systems comprising a light sensitive controller and specialised software that is played gesturally using handheld lights and other light sources. The sounds produced are strongly related to the performer’s actions and are all produced in real-time to create an immersive audiovisual experience. John has performed throughout Europe using the system and given talks and workshops with it at various Music and Art Schools. In 2012 he took this system to Vietnam at the invitation of the British Council and in 2014 played it to a sold-out Roundhouse in London supporting Imogen Heap. In 2015 the interface won the Quartz Award for Innovation.

John’s early explorations in the possibilities of recording and manipulating sound using an old computer reached the offices of Planet Mu Records in 1999 where its founder and Aphex Twin collaborator Mike Paradinas encouraged John’s experimental efforts. Working with Planet Mu, John released three critically acclaimed albums which culminated in the release of The Housebound Spirit, an album which combined elements of music-concrete and electro-acoustic music with voice and guitar work more commonly found in folk music (Honorary Mention 2004 Ars Electronica Awards, The Wire Magazine’s Top 50 records of 2003). His fourth album The Forest and the Sea was nominated for Best Album (Quartz Award 2007) and was toured extensively throughout Europe and Australasia performing alongside Beck, Thurston Moore, Matmos, Nick Cave, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Jarvis Cocker, Yo La Tengo, Grace Jones, Beth Orton, Otomo Yoshihide, Aki Onda, Phillip Jeck, Carsten Nicolai, and Tujiko Noriko. John is also a key member of Polar Bear, a twice Mercury Music Prize-nominated band based in London.

“Alongside Aphex Twin and Bogdan Raczynski – he’s one of the UK’s most fearlessly inventive electronicists” (Time Out London)

“A musician who combines acoustic and electronic music with an irresistible compulsion to build Heath Robinson- like inventions” (The Guardian)

“One of the bourgeoning stars of post-electronica” (The Wire)

“He has used the power available to him to push boundaries and concepts” (Future Music)

Leafcutter John

Filed as: cafe otoartistaudiovisualperformancecompositional constructsartist built instruments

Published on 28 Jul 2017