Container (Ren Schofield) is a notable figure in the world or visceral, raw electronics. His music can be called both “noisy techno” or “techno-ish noise” – in either case, a cascade of distorted beats, hissy buzzes and deep growls guarantee quite an outstanding experience. Ahead of Container’s December 9 show in AQB (along with Alley Catss, Sárgany, Primteori, Telesport and Splatter), we had a chat with him about aesthetics, music making, and just stuff in general.

What are you up to nowadays?

Well just last night [Nov 24] I finally finished recording my new album, so that’s pretty exciting and relieving! Feels good to have it out of the way. Aside from that I’m working at a bar a couple nights a week, taking care of my kid during the days, playing shows a few times a month usually. Been making a lot of soups recently as it is now ‘soup season’.

The presence of noise, distortion and clipping is prominent in your music. What drives you to this particular aesthetic?

I think this can be traced back to when I was a kid and getting into music for the first time and I was really into Nirvana (I still am). All the feedback and distortion and sloppiness just ingrained itself into my brain so when I’m working on something it never sounds totally correct until I get it nice and fucked up. There’s loads of music I love to listen to that is super clean and calm and nice, but when it comes to my own music I just don’t feel satisfied until the damaged element is in there. 

Are you happy with today’s audience compared to, say, a decade ago? 

I am, yes. A decade ago I experienced a bit of internet hype from some of the ‘online music publications’ (lol) and so there were a lot of people coming to the shows who were going just because it was ‘cool’ at that moment or whatever. That has long ago died down so now the shows feel more real to me, like the audiences are coming from more of a genuine place and I find that to be much more fulfilling than it was before. 

What do you think about current music trends in general? 

I’ve only been listening to Hall and Oates recently so I’m blissfully unaware of any of them. 

For the gear-nerds out there: what is your current setup? Are you still using your Roland MC-909, or have you retired it for good?

For years I’d been wanting to move on to a different piece of gear but it was challenging because all my songs were written on that and I’d have to go and play shows so there wasn’t really a chance to make the switch to something else until COVID happened. At that point I was ‘ok, now is the time’. It was quite an impractical piece of gear to travel with as well, so big and also so fragile. I think I went through 7 different ones by the time I stopped using them because they’d slowly break down during the touring. The screen would suddenly go blank mid show, crucial buttons would break off and fall into the machine, one channel would suddenly stop outputting sound. It felt great to get rid of it to be honest!

Now I use a Digitakt for all the programming and structures of the songs, in addition to my trusty Tascam cassette 4 track, a Vermona filter lancet, 2 Boss delay pedals, 1 Big Muff clone pedal that my friend made for me, and some songs feature a computer synth called Shepherd that I midi trigger from the Digitakt.

You started out as Container around 2009. What, if any, has changed in your process of making music, or thinking about music since then?

The initial concept of the project was just to make generic techno. The problem was that I hadn’t really heard that much techno before and really didn’t know what it was all about, so instead of the music coming out generic it came out really wonky. I embraced this and followed the same path for quite a while but gradually my interests began to fade away from making anything that might get me invited to play at a proper ‘club’ because I’d been doing that a lot and hating everything about it. So my sound began to shift into something more ‘rock’ oriented. My goals now I guess are to make songs that are quite heavy and relentless, but also fun and downright silly at times even. It’s a hard balance to achieve but when you get there it feels good.

In a 2021 interview, you mentioned that you have moved to London in 2018. Are you still living there? If so, how’s life & the music scene is like in London?

I do still live in London. I go back and forth but overall I like it. The city is too big and expensive for me to really be involved in any music scene as much as I’d like to. Sometimes I’ll hear about a show I’d like to check out, but then when you start adding up the costs of getting there on the train, getting a car back home, drinking at the show, etc.. you realize it’s pretty much impossible financially, so mostly I’m going out when I’m playing or when a friend is in town to play or there’s something happening close to where I live. The positive aspect is that there is a lot of good food in London. 

Was there a time, when you felt like you hit a wall with your musical practices, like having a writer’s block? if so, how did you overcome it?

Many, many times, yes.. I don’t know how I overcame it actually.. I should’ve made a note of that for when it happens again. I guess one day something just finally clicks musically and it opens your mind up to other possibilities and then you’re back in the game.. Or maybe whatever mental fog was obscuring your vision just finally dissipated one day and you could play music again. It’s very confusing. 

Is there a difference for you between working on a live set, vs working on a record?

Not really.. I’m always slowly working on new tracks and as they get done I add them to the live set and bump the older ones out and once I have enough new songs that’s usually what ends up being on the record.

Photo credit: Lucy Venn