Propellerhead have announced the release date of the recently Announced Reason 7: the 30th of April 2013. In this interesting piece of PR, they’ve decided to go with a Birmingham grime vet Preditah interview/beat walkthrough. Casting grime as dubstep’s ‘lesser known cousin’, as Propellerhead do, is probably right in many respects; it’s not just a smart move to pick an ‘authentic’ genre to align with, it’s cool to see too.
We’ve been fans of Livid for a while, we reviewed Block last year and were quite taken with its aesthetic – and its usefulness, of course. Livid have some modular controls in development that we got to take a quick look at, and I’ll write about them soon, but the star of their stand at this year’s NAMM show was the CNTRL-R, which has been designed in conjunction with Techno legend Richie Hawtin. I think Livid are going for the CNTRL-R live performance crowd with CNTRL-R, but we really think that it’s got a future in the studio too, as workflows become more fluid and less stuck in the mud.
We had a chat with Jay, Livid’s CEO, about how they make their controllers, and the process by which they try to make instruments rather than MIDI controllers that don’t have much of a vision. There’s a bunch of interesting stuff in here! We also got to watch Gabe take us through some of the workflow with CNTRL-R and Ableton Live along with the custom Max 4 Live patch that powers the step sequencer control. Enjoy!
Just before we went away to NAMM we put out our review of the Teenage Engineering OP-1, and sure enough the team were at NAMM showing off their new operating system with, coincidentally, a bunch of stuff that we said we wished was in the version we reviewed. Typical. At least NAMM meant we didn’t have time to get the video review done, though, so I’ll be putting together a review of the OP-1 with its brand new operating system in the next couple of days and it’ll be nice and fresh! In the meantime here’s a chat I had with David on how Teenage Engineering think about the instrument creation process, with a really interesting insight into the way the team try to make sure their instruments technically powerful and yet still facilitate a fun way to make music. Watch on, and let us know what you think!
Over at NAMM we decided that we’d leave product demonstrations and the like to the million other sites that do them – especially seeing as we like to do our reviews in house where we can really get the best quality and a truly objective opinion (trade shows are loud!) – so instead I decided to interview a few of who we consider the key players in the electronic music manufacturing industry. Dave Smith is definitely one of those guys, so we had a chat with him about all things Tempest – the new drum machine from Dave Smith Instruments and Roger Linn Design. Take a look!
Phaeleh (pronounced Fella, for those of you not in the know) is a Bristol, UK based artist whose cinematic, orchestral sound goes against the grain of the increasingly homogenous dubstep schema and has earned him worldwide acclaim in the process. It’s perhaps not a surprise to hear that he has years of musical experience behind him, so we had an interesting chat about musical theory tips, as well as getting a worldwide fan base, his equipment, and more…
“I’ve got quite a global following which I feel quite lucky to have”
Oh Drat: Hi Phaeleh – so you’re off on tour?
Phaeleh: Yeah off tomorrow actually, a couple of weeks in New Zealand, couple of weeks in Australia…
OD: Wow… so I guess that’s just about as far from home as you can go; would you say you have a truly international following?
P: Yeah definitely; I think it’s only in the past year that my popularity in the UK’s matched some other places, I mean I was playing gigs in Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, places like that before I was getting London bookings, for example. I’d definitely say I’ve got quite a global following which I feel quite lucky to have.
OD: It’s interesting, with dubstep being a bought and paid for ‘UK sound’ that things were happening for you outside the UK before they were on home turf… what do you think?
P: Yeah, I think it’s all been done a bit backwards, I’ve had help with things along the way but certainly initially it’s all been off my own back, there were no magazines or blogs or anything, it wasn’t until I’d had a few releases out that UK people like Electronic Explorations hosting a couple of mixes, a mix for Skream, and Chemical Records did a big promo with a big mix CD as well, which has pushed it at a faster rate. Initially though it was done off my own back and that’s what led to people around the globe picking up the tunes and I think they had that thing where they took ownership of finding the musician, you know when you’re a teenager and you find a band that no-one else likes? I think a lot of people got into it because they found the music themselves rather than a hypey blog telling them they should listen to it.
OD: I see, so because you were self managing did you look at the whole world because of the internet?
P: Erm… I never set out with a plan, I think initially my thing was just to get a few digital releases out myself and do as many gigs as possible. To start with I was paying to get to gigs, you know, there were rarely fees involved, and it’s because I knew the only way to get get anywhere was to get the name out there. I never made the plan ‘let’s go global’, you know, but I just started getting emails in 2007, 2008 sort of time from promoters in France and Lithuania saying “I’ve come across your tunes on Juno” – or something – “would you be up for playing a show?”. I think especially further afield, more east, the fans really appreciate me going to play there and so I’ve earned a bit of respect from them and they spread the word whilst it was kicking off in the UK at the same time.
OD: That’s great. So your musical background is formally classically trained, is that right?
P: Yeah it is, I mean I don’t like that term ‘classically trained’ because it makes me sound like I’ve spent my classroom years locked up in a conservatoire whilst my parents tried to make up for their own failings..! I played classical guitar, that was always my thing, but I’d play Nirvana and Metallica at home and stuff like that, I wasn’t necessarily the most devoted student! But yeah, I do have quite a musical background compared to a lot of producers who are coming up from a DJing background, I’ve come up playing funk bands, jazz bands, metal bands, you name it I’ve generally done it..!
Cappo is a prolific emcee and producer hailing from the UK whose last album, Genghis, was entirely self produced and his latest work introduces a new style and an entire new persona: Gusto Grizwold. We caught up with him to get his thoughts on working as both an emcee and producer, how he feels about diversifying, and some invaluable tips both for emcees and producers working with other artists…
Cappo: It’s good; we had a couple of problems with the CD manufacturing, because the ink on the CDs themselves was changed from the original plan and someone made a mistake at the manufacturers so they’ve gone back… but everyone who’s preordered up to now will be sent one of these CDs that’s not the ‘right’ colours, so although they don’t know it those CDs are super rare – there’s only about 30 of them in existence.
“Before Genghis I was a different artist”
OD: It’s funny how things work out to create these little special limited things.
C: It is yeah, the quirky ways that make things rare; sometimes it’s the tracklistings that change, or slight differences on vinyl or something… hopefully if Gusto goes the way I want it to it’ll be something that’s worth its weight in gold [I’m already treasuring mine – Chris] so to speak.
We did the launch in Notts the other day and had lots of people come out to support and that was a good feeling, because the new music is a new type of sound for me – stories about my life and such – but people seem to have received it well, although it’s not the same as a Learn to be Strong or a Fire With Fire type track, but people who purchased one then will be amongst the 30 or 40 with one of the rare originals, so that’s good.
OD: So as you say, the Gusto Grizwold persona is a little different to what you’ve done previously, and I’ve seen you say the Genghis LP was your ‘opus’… would you say that working on a project like that for so long [2010’s Genghis was the first official solo Cappo LP since his 2003 debut Spaz the World] helped you to turn over a new leaf?
C: Yeah it did, you’ve hit the nail on the head there exactly. Before Genghis I was a different artist. In a lot of ways I was frustrated about how music was going and how things were working out, and I think people who are frustrated haven’t reached that certain point where they’re at ease with themselves because they’re working as hard as they can or they’ve achieved what they want to achieve. Genghis took a long time to make and there was a lot of meaning and a lot of enigmatic flows; it was a lot of my life at the time. When it was finished I saw the matrix of my own music and I achieved something that I didn’t think I was going to achieve, and it was a point in time when I needed to do it for myself, really, nobody else, just to prove I could do it on my own. I learned so much from the album, not just performing it live but the promotion around the release and stuff that gave me a lot of insight into how I wanted to do my music from there.
“I want to see where I can take things with the same formula and the same ethics as hip hop, but changing up the beats entirely”
At the same time Styly Cee and I were doing the Fallout album, so had that as a ‘backup’ after all the detailed, intricate production and lyrics for Genghis I had The Fallout lyrics to let things go and work out a bit of difference in my music. More and more I’ve been working on being as prolific as I can, and for the new stuff, pattern wise I want to change things up drastically. I’ve done a lot of tracks in a 4/4 signature type of beat, and whenever I hear something like that in that 4/4 style, that’s my heart, where I grew up and what I know – so it’ll always be my homeland in music, that’s me. But what I’m trying to do is expand myself. I’m 32 now and I’m trying to expand on my production and my rhyme flows; my rhyme flows are more important than anything and I need to keep rejeuvenating them and to keep things moving on. It’s like what Styly said when we did The Fallout, he’s ticked all the boxes of things he wants to do with hip hop so now he’s making different decisions about what he wants to make, and I’ll say the same thing. From Spaz the World to Genghis I feel like I’ve achieved a lot, and I want to see where I can take things with the same formula and the same ethics as hip hop, but changing up the beats entirely and working on different soundscapes that will inspire me to bring something different out of myself.
Today’s visit to The Questions is from Lynx, a Drum & Bass producer whose new album Devil’s in the Detail is out on his own label Detail Recordings. The album itself – at least what we’ve heard thus far – is an interesting piece of work both rhythmically and thematically; check out the 6/8 time signature (a rarity in a sea of 4/4) Burn, below, and look out for the interesting half time and leftfield construction of Time Machine and Without Warning. A forthcoming Loopmasters sound pack will allow you to deconstruct Lynx’s thought processes and production style to see what inspiration you can get from him – for now, read on…
The name of the first song I was really proud of was called: Underdogs Revenge…I wrote it back in 1999. I thought it was an absolute dnb hit. It never did get released but still sounds pretty good to me.
Ignorance is bliss…. And im sure it would produce either the most exciting (or bonkers) music out there!
Most fun person I’ve ever worked with: So many cool collaborations. I enjoyed working with Kemo on tracks like Global Enemies and Apocalypse. Also Calibre is a great person to collab with. But for most fun it has to be my old friend Dave (Aphex) who is sadly not with us anymore. It was always great fun writing with him back in the 90′s. He was also the person that hepled me start writing music so it will always have special memories.
Best musical advice I’ve ever been given: Be yourself.
A piece of gear I couldn’t live without: Cubase. Other sequencer are great but im so in tune with Cubase its really at the core of everything i do.
A piece of gear I wish I could live without: Edirol Orchestral VST instrument. Its such a cool piece of kit that emulates Orchestral instruments. I wish i could stop putting it in my tunes but i cant! It has such an instantly pleasing tone to it that it slots in so nicely in the mix on any style of music.
My studio environment in three words: Dark, loud intense.
A song I wish I’d written: Watching You by Instr:umental & dBridge
If I could do it all again, I’d: Lock myself away and never listen to other music, just write what comes out with no preconceived notion if how it ‘should’ sound, or the pressure to follow the latest trends. Ignorance is bliss…. And im sure it would produce either the most exciting (or bonkers) music out there!
London UK’s Jack Dunning, better known as Untold, is a relentlessly brave producer, whose willingness to throw musical curveballs results in exciting and sometimes innovative music (for conclusive proof, check the 2009 scorcher Anaconda at the bottom of the page). In between music, running his own label Hemlock Recordings, and a brand new collaboration in the works, we got Untold to drop some wisdom on The Questions…
The name of the first song i was really proud of was called: “Test Signal” on my first Hessle Audio release in 2008
Most fun person i’ve ever worked with: Samuel Chase - The singer I’m writing with on my side project “Dreadnought” He’s probably the most infuriating person I’ve ever worked with too.
Best musical advice i’ve ever been given: You’re only as good as your last record.
A piece of gear i couldn’t live without: SSL Duende plugins
A piece of gear i wish i could live without: My K701 headphones when I have to turn the volume down late at night.
My studio environment in three words: Standard nerd cave
A song i wish i’d written: Dillinja – Silver Blade
If i could do it all again, I’d: Do less remixes
Check out the highly individual Anaconda below, and those of you who want to get inside the sounds of Untold can do just that if you own NI’s Massive, with his new DnB/Dubstep Presets Loopmasters pack.
We’re just about back to normal over in Oh Drat HQ now, so thanks to everyone that’s stuck with us during the transition! The Questions is back once again, this time with Brighton UK based My Digital Enemy. The house duo’s hoover-happy work has crossed swords with fellow producers Prok and Fitch, and being the dot joining types we are, we’re happy to bring forth their responses to our Questions. You know the drill by now…
The name of the first song I was really proud of was called: ‘Falling Stars’ we did under the pseudonym Sunset Strippers
Most fun person I’ve ever worked with: Prok and Fitch [catch our Prok and Fitch interview here – Ed]
Best musical advice I’ve ever been given: Keep on going
A piece of gear I couldn’t live without: VXT 4 KRK Speakers
A piece of gear I wish I could live without: Mackie’s Big Knob
My studio environment in three words: Assault on-the senses!
Prok and Fitchs’ star has been rising steadily over the past few years, as DJing has turned into a knack for production and the pair juggle between stage and studio. Their style changes from techy to melodic and much inbetween depending on their moods, and their latest single is a re-version of Chemical Brothers’ Star Guitar. Find it at the end of the interview!
We chatted to the English duo about what it’s like to work in a pair, the importance of not being precious when it comes to making music, and of course got a few tips for you guys too.
“We both have very different ideas, so we kinda just make music in the way we’re feeling at the moment” – James Fitch
Oh Drat: To start off, when it comes to your style how do you go about getting different moods when creating music, and what inspires you to make music that fits into certain places?
James Fitch: We both have very different ideas, so we kinda just make music in the way we’re feeling at the moment. For example six, seven months ago a lot of our tracks weren’t quite peak time enough in our DJ set so we started making some more banging stuff, and at the moment we’re trying to make a little bit more melodic… it’s just whatever we feel like doing to be honest.
OD: I see; does the two of you together having different ideas mean that without a partnership your music would come out very differently?
Ben Prok: Yeah, I think that there being two of us means that we compromise on things, you know, we both have different ideas in the pot so to speak. I think it works really well because we’ve both got quite different tastes in music and they complement each other in the studio with the way that we come out with something that’s fairly unique every time.
OD: So when you say you have different tastes in music, do you listen to very different styles outside of house?
BP: I’d say fairly…
BP: I mean, we both appreciate what the other person listens to. I get subjected to a lot of shit that my wife listens to (laughs) – Rihanna, stuff like that…
OD: Okay, so you can’t see yourself doing a Rihanna remix in the near future then?!
BP: Er…! We wouldn’t say no to doing one, I don’t knock that music, but personally it’s not my taste; a bit too poppy for me really. I can appreciate that it’s popular, but I think the fact that it’s on the radio all the time makes me dislike it a little bit, I think.
OD: I see. Do you think in general there’s an aspect of that with all types of music, and perhaps genres of music are affected by it in different ways. Take perhaps the most obvious example and look at how homogenous the pop interpretation of dubstep has become…
BP: I think there’s this music around that I call ‘bandwagon music’. David Guetta comes along and then everyone tries to make records that sound like that, you know. That’s where I think things lose their individuality, whereas dubstep’s still quite new and fresh I think. It’s going down that route, but it’s still relatively quirky compared to everyone trying to sound like David Guetta – or Swedish House Mafia, every track has to have a big trancy breakdown now.