Next time someone asks me to recommend some non-techno electronic music that still has a groove (I swear it’s more often than you might think!), I’m gonna answer with Heatsick! It’s the moniker Steven Warwick has chosen for his solo material, and through numerous small-scale releases, and now a good handful of “higher profile” vinyl slabs, it’s all out there for you to enjoy. I could see Heatsick getting along well with Americans like Blues Control and Peaking Lights, while still hobnobbing with European slicksters like Sebastian Tellier and Richard Schneider, Jr. His music is both bouncy and broken, pleasant and peculiar, and best of all, I never have the foggiest idea what his next record will do. For best results, open an additional browser, type “Youtube Heatsick” into your Google search bar, and let it rip while you read Mr. Warwick’s thoughts below.

From what I have gathered, you got started making music as Birds of Delay with Luke Younger, who does Helm… what led to you eventually focusing on your solo projects?
Birds of Delay still exist. It’s more difficult to configure, as we live in different countries and also are active with our respective projects. We’re still in regular contact though. When we started, it just happened really… we wanted to do it and we did it. We were self releasing our music and playing a lot, so it was quite immediate, and had a snowball effect. We would improvise a lot together, whether that would be live or at home, and record it all. Not all of it would be released, but I guess we were “learning” on the spot, so to speak.
I always felt that with Birds, there was an intersection between say, Alice Coltrane and Hermann Nitsch. Something very bright and ascending, but with a dark edge to it. I guess that’s the nature of Birds of Delay really. We have strange chemistry, in that we have very different approaches, yet it somehow gels and comes together, which I think is a good thing.

What was it you wanted to do, exactly? Start a noise group? Improvise music? Was there any aesthetic discussion?
When we started, (in the UK) there were no other bands our age (late teens/early 20s) who were doing what we were doing. Everyone else we met had been active from the ’80s and ’90s, so I guess they were excited to see someone young doing something. We didn’t have a manifesto, it was more a result of us knowing each other as friends and that reflected in how we could play music together, intuitively.

What made you want to do what you were doing, then? Were there older artists you looked up to, or people you knew who helped you figure things out at first?
It’s easier for me to talk about my take in Birds, as I dont want to speak for Luke? I grew up listening to all sorts. A chance encounter at sixteen, of this friend of a friend needing a place to crash, got me into modern classical, John Cage, Messiaen and Steve Reich, so I was pretty lucky in that regard, as I had never thought of classical being interesting at that point. Also, making trips to Nottingham and London you’d get cheap reissues of Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman, etc., or hear Masonna or Fushitsusha on John Peel.
You get pretty quickly into Japanese noise, British Industrial, but I guess John Peel was formative, really. There was no distinction between hearing early Warp, drum n’ bass, weird outrock, early rave, acid-house being in the charts, some Earache, Russell Haswell and Aphex Twin, or the guy from Add N To (X) doing a harsh noise night in Soho. When I was growing up, especially in the countryside, one of my best friends would do raves at his parents’ house in a barn. I remember kids coming into school with those multipacks of rave tapes.

So at what point did Heatsick become a thing, something you shared with the public?
Pretty much immediately. I still stand by those releases.

I assume you’re referring to the early CDrs and tapes you released. Were those formats crucial to the development of Heatsick? Looking back, how do you view those early releases?
What I like about the nature of CDrs and tapes is the immediacy. The distinction between a document and a piece collapsed. It was okay to release a live performance as a piece in itself. There was a bleed… also, the fact that you could do them in low runs meant that you didn’t have to be so special about them, in terms of agonizing over its temporality. It happened, and now it’s out. At the same time, due to its low run I could also hand-make and paint the artwork. They functioned for the most part more as presents for friends. I’ve always been equally as interested in the visual aspect as the aural aspect.

Have you considered reissuing any of those early releases in a larger edition? Or are you just looking to move forward?
I did think about it for a while, but then I wondered on its relevance to now. Whilst all the works make sense with each other (which is also why I kept the name), I feel I would rather keep developing my ideas.

In the Heatsick releases I’ve heard, the sounds and instrumentation vary really greatly, which is one thing I’ve enjoyed. Is there any sort of instrument that could NEVER be on a Heatsick track? Is anything off limits?
I’ve not really thought about what I don’t want to use! If it makes sense, I’ll use it…

Are there any visual artists that have influenced the output of Heatsick?
Definitely. I’m interested in visual art often, as well as books, films etc. I’m influenced and interested in people like Dan Graham, Hanne Darboven, Dieter Roth, Sturtevant, Josephine Pryde, Sabine Reitmaier, Gili Tal, Ed Lehan, Georgie Nettell, Isa Genzken, Jack Smith, Ernie Gehr, Katja Novitskova, Hélio Oiticica, Marcel Broodthaers, to name a few,

Where did the name come from? Does it have any particular meaning, or does it just sound good and fitting for the music you make under it?
I guess a bit of both. I wanted a name that sounded liminal, inbetween definitions, and heatstroke, a bit flat or quaint. I thought Heatsick sounded onomatopoeically better. I thought that having sick in a title was also nice; it’s a bit revolting…

I have to say, the song “C’était Un Rendez-vous” was one of my favorite tracks of last year. Who is that singing? Is that you?
Thanks, that’s me singing.

is there any track that you would say is the definitive Heatsick track? If you had to just play one of your songs to a stranger, to get them to understand what it’s all about?
I’m not really bothered about having to pick just one, maybe “Ice Cream On Concrete” or maybe a new song. I’m happy with it all…

Titles like “Pre-Cum Fog Ballet” and “Solipsistic Pillow” seem, at least to a guy like me, to be mostly just beautiful nonsense… is there some sort of meaning that I am missing in the titles of your releases, or are they meant more as colorful introductions to your music?
“Pre-Cum Fog Ballet” was made at the same time as “Total Afternoon Sundae”; they function together as a pre- and post- if you will. With my later releases, there’s a preoccupation with disco and the extended edit drawing out some anticipatory hedonistic impulse that I think is inherent in disco. “Solipsistic Pillow” was a bit of a joke on music being made around the time, where people were referencing sleeping states, and I thought that this solipsism was also a bit dull. Obviously it’s a play on The Jefferson Airplane and their artwork. I think it’s important to have a sense of humour. I think “be realistic, demand the impossible” is still a nicer message then merely “live in your head”.

Can you recall the last time you were laughing so hard you were nearly crying? What was so funny?
It was when I was with my friend Lawrence. We have a similar sense of humour, and we were recounting the absurdity of when we’d shared a bill together at some noise gig years ago and how the promoter and her boyfriend were being really weird with some punks and threw some cake at them backstage, and we were laughing at the absurdity of being annoyed at a guy who was a complete caricature, wearing an anarchy 666 patch over tartan bondage trousers, that we just cracked up so much we couldn’t stop laughing, and then we sent each other off to the point that we fell on the floor crying. I actually found it hard to breathe at one point, and I started laughing about that? It’s not that the story was that funny in itself, more that Lawrence is a genuinely funny person, for me anyway…