Meet Circles And Ellipses’ Electronica Composer Chris Whitten

Circles and Ellipses is the moniker of British composer and producer Chris Whitten. He is set to release “Burn: Cycle Reworks” on 22nd February via Here & Now Recordings as a follow-up EP to the original soundtrack of the 1994 video game “Burn:Cycle”. Originally produced by both Whitten and Simon Boswell, “Burn:Cycle” was famed for being the first video game soundtrack to feature orchestral music.  The rework will consist of four reimagined electronic compositions.

Whitten studied classical music and contributed to an array of different musical acts. He played drums on the Waterboy’s hit single “The Whole Of The Moon” and gained a shining reputation as a prolific freelance studio drummer for artists such as Swing Out Sister and The PretendersChrissie Hynde.

His passion for synthesizers shines through on “Burn: Cycle Reworks” and what started off as an offer to revisit some of the original scores, turned into a complete reimagining of four of the tracks, employing modern recording techniques and new sounds created using modular synthesizers and music software.

We caught up with him to chat about his creative process.

Tell us about you, how long have you been producing music? What inspired you to start?

For most of my career, I have been primarily a drummer playing other people’s music. When I was 16 I left school and went to music college for four years. I studied all aspects of music and wrote my own music for student bands etc. When I turned professional I spent 12 years just playing drums. Then I kind of got burned out just playing drums and a friend suggested I try writing music for film and tv. So that was my first attempt at writing music professionally. I got deeply interested in electronic music. I ended up creating some electronic music scores for television that I was really proud of, but most of the time directors wanted more conventional acoustic music which I found less fun to do. So I stopped writing film scores and went back to drumming again. Now I’m combining drumming gigs with creating music for myself that is Electronic based.

The music industry is super competitive these days, was there a moment in your life that you wanted to give up on music?  How did you manage to stay focused and achieve what you want?
Not really. I turned professional in 1980 and have never wanted to do anything else. You have to evolve though. I started out just playing drums for a living. Now I have three or four creative jobs, which is what most people need to do to keep in the game.

How would you describe your creative processes? Who writes the lyrics to the songs? Are the music and lyrics written in conjunction, or separately?
My music is instrumental, so no vocals or lyrics. I start with a simple musical idea, maybe something abstract, and just build up a new track that way. Throwing multiple ideas at the page and gradually editing out the parts I don’t like and honing in on the ideas I think are interesting.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Any short burst of sound. It can be a couple of chords, or a short drum beat, or an abstract sound from my modular synthesizer.

What’s your favourite track from the upcoming album and what other bands/artists are you listening to right now?  
Probably ‘Meltdown’ as it’s the last track I finished for the ‘Burn:Cycle’ EP. You always like your latest work best. I always want to evolve and improve, so hopefully, each new piece will represent a more complete vision of where I’d like to be musically.
Artists I currently like and follow are: Lone, Surgeon, Kirk DeGiorgio, John Beltran and  Stephen Lopkin’

What’s next for you?
Currently working on new songs for a second EP.

Pre-order “Burn:Cycle Reworks” EP HERE.