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NAMM 2012 Interview: Teenage Engineering on New OP-1 OS

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!

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NAMM 2012: Interview with Dave Smith on Tempest

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

Phaeleh

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..!

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Cappo

Interview: Cappo

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…

 

Oh Drat: Hi Cappo, so how’s things – how’re things going with the new release?

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.

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Lostribe

Interview: Lostribe

Lostribe is the collaboration between Agustus ThElefant and JusLuv, and we liked their recent LP Sophie (reviewed here) – so we thought we’d have a chat.

Oh Drat: We found there was a nice breadth of styles on the LP, but the album as a whole still felt contingent. Tell me a little about where you get your style from and what ‘places’ you go to to bring it all together.

JustLuv: Yeah, obviously we’re super heavily influenced by the evolution of conscious hip hop over the last 10-15 years, but we’ve also been somewhat immersed – I guess this is more myself – in the electronic music scene so we try to incorporate some of those influences and work on melding ‘modern music’, you know? If it has a break beat and it makes people wanna dance, then that’s where we wanna go, as much as possible from all different genres.

OD: And when it comes to equipment do you have a variety of different equipment you bring together to make that happen too, or…?

JL: Yeah – I produce mostly on software I’m not willing to disclose, it’s one of my secret weapons, but we use a bunch of different plugins, VSTs I use like Omnisphere, the Effectrix plugin, Izotope Stutter Edit -

“I produce mostly on software I’m not willing to disclose, it’s one of my secret weapons” – JustLuv

Augustus ThElefant: MIDI keyboards

JL:  - MIDI keyboards, everything was pretty much produced on software, there was very little actual analogue work done, it was all recorded at Nate Da Gr8’s studio, he engineered and mixed everything down and it was recorded on Cubase, but there’s definitely some secrets we’ve gotta keep under wraps a little bit about how we actually got that sound.

OD: Okay, so do you think that as production gets increasingly into the digital age, and increasingly computers are powerful enough to power software that sounds as good as a hardware synth, that it gets more and more important to have those secrets and keep things under wraps?

JL: Yeah, it seems like the software that’s being created now is creating avenues and the ability for producers to explore sound in ways that was never possible before, and the music in many ways is a product of the technology, in many ways, it seems. There’s a lot of software and DAWs coming out that anybody with no talent can jump on and sound good on, because the technology adds so much to the creative process at this point.

OD: So when it comes to writing tracks, as you say talent plays a big part in creating something that’s memorable, but getting that initial ‘bang’ is something that’s getting increasingly easy to do from a beginning stage, how do you guys combine when it comes to lyric writing and music writing process to make sure you get these ‘tight’ songs?

ATE: Well, you know with this project JustLuv was creating enough music for us to create an entire album, and I basically look at the beat and emotionally how I respond to it entails the direction of the writing, where it’s going to go.

OD: Do you feel your emotional response to the beat is an important factor in the fact that you two are a group?

JL: Yeah, I mean the thing about the music we make is that we hope to, whatever it may be, touch on some emotional theme. Whether it be a breakup, reminiscing about old times, getting over bad times.

ATE: There’s always a conceptual thought to the music, you know, but for me particularly as a writer – and I know this is different for different writers – it’s important to get inspiration and influence out of the emotion I get from the track. There are plenty of tracks on this album that had a concept, and I knew when I heard the track what needed to be covered.

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Boonie Mayfield

Interview: Boonie Mayfield

Boonie Mayfield, aka Boon Doc, came to prominence through his YouTube videos; considering most beatmaking clips are lucky to break a four figure view count, the fact that one of Boonie’s is approaching a million views is indicative of something special. Despite years of putting in work (and putting out videos) he’s only  just released his debut LP, but as you’ll see from our review we were relieved to find it was worth it. We caught up with Boonie for a chat on production style, advice, perseverence, and a whole lot more…

 

Oh Drat: Was creating something that more than ‘just’ a beat tape something that was important to you?

Boonie Mayfield: Yeah, it was really important. Basically, I’ve been on the YouTube scene and everything like that for the past four years, and people have been waiting forever for an album.

“a lot of the stuff I was hearing I thought I could recreate and it would sound like something I would sample”

I’d started using Ableton to do live sets and originally Black Koolaid was gonna be an instrumental album but it was gonna be ‘normal’, you know, and what ended up happening was I was practicing one of my sets I was gonna do for a show, and I burned it on CD just to ride to and see how it sounded, and I was like “you know what? This is gonna be Black Koolaid. A listening experience where everything flows”… I was more excited about the album once I decided that.

OD: Gotcha – so when it comes to the way everything flows, what are you using? Did we hear Stutter Edit in there, or is it custom stuff in Live?

BM: Ahaaa! (laughs) A lot of people have been asking that, and I’ve been kinda keeping it a secret! I use a lot of the effects that are in Ableton, but there are a couple of programs… I’ll give one of ‘em away, The Finger from Native Instruments. I set up the automation to the faders and pads and do all that stuff live.

OD: I gather you had a bit of bad luck about 18 months ago when your studio got turned over – it must’ve felt like the end of the world at the time, but what did having to build your set up from the ground up again do for your sound and approach?

BM: I’d just started to dabble in Logic around that time, and at the time I was rebuilding the studio there were just so many VSTs and AUs that were coming out that I was just researching, you know, “what VST has really good sounding horns?” and all that stuff, and I built a pretty good arsenal of a lot of instruments that sound to me really authentic. Although I love sampling I kinda got a little bored for a while, and at the same time learning all this music theory and getting better with keys and all that, so a lot of the stuff I was hearing I thought I could recreate and it would sound like something I would sample – that’s what started happening after I got robbed. After it happened I think a lot of people thought I was was gonna lose my mind, and to tell you the truth I did… for like an hour. Something in me just kept on telling me “this is not over”. Truth be told it was kind of a struggle for a bit, but I wouldn’t take it back at all.

OD: It’s good to hear that it kind of turned into a positive experience, I guess.

BM: Yeah, it definitely did! (laughs)

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Santos

The Questions: Santos

Santos’s style has both evolved and refined since his 2000 breakthrough Camels, with three solo albums, a heap of aliases and a seemingly insatiable desire to keep moving. His latest album, If You Have Meat You Want Fish, out next week (check the album minimix below!), has a refreshing techy feel, with progressive and percussive overtones… we asked him The Questions, and here are the answers.

Name: Santos.

The name of the first song i was really proud of was called: “Camels”- It was a radical music innovation.

Most fun person i’ve ever worked with: My dad, he’s 60 years old and we talk about Villalobos, Prodigy, Giorgio, Moroder, Lemon Jelly etc.

I couldn’t live without: “Spectrum Analyser”

Best musical advice i’ve ever been given: In 1992: “Use control change parameter 74 for filter cut off midi automation!!”

A piece of gear i couldn’t live without: Spectrum analyzer.

A piece of gear i wish i could live without:  Cables :)

My studio environment in three words: Hybrid analog-digital enterprise!!!

A song i wish i’d written:  Carl Graig pres Paper Clip People:  Throw.

If i could do it all again, i’d: Exactly the same.

Santos: Site / Twitter / Facebook

Santos has a new sample pack from Loopmasters too – you can get those tech house sounds yourself with Private Tech House Collection now…

SANTOS IF YOU HAVE MEAT YOU WANT FISH ALBUM MINIMX by santos-italy

Dub FX

The Questions: Dub FX

Dub FX is a hugely successful artist who has made a career from turning his vocal chords into a veritable orchestra. The subject of a recent Native Instruments artist feature (check the video below!) and a recent Loopmasters sample pack (which we reviewed here), we couldn’t think of a better person to kick off our new regular Q&A series The Questions

My studio environment in three words: Rather, be, surfing

Name: Dub FX

The name of the first song I was really proud of was called: I haven’t written it yet..

Most fun person I’ve ever worked with: I have fun with everyone but the flower fairy is the best for me to work with..

Best musical advice I’ve ever been given: Their is no such thing as a mistake! [boom boom! -Ed]

A piece of gear I couldn’t live without: My [Boss] GT-10B

A piece of gear I wish I could live without: Power supplies

My studio environment in three words: Rather, be, surfing

A song I wish I’d written: Ennio Morricone’s Good Bad and the Ugly theme

If I could do it all again, I’d: Do something completely different

Dub FX: Site / Twitter / Facebook

Don’t forget to Like the Oh Drat Facebook page to get more of The Questions!

Mike-L

Interview: Mike-L

Mike L is a talented UK based producer and DMC finalist turntablist whose recent album On a Columbo Tip was released to universal praise, and his background in live performance has enabled him to take a live version of his album to stage. Oh Drat caught up with the man himself to talk about his set up, how he makes the switch from studio to stage, and tips he has for aspiring artists…

Oh Drat: What are you up to at the moment?

Mike L: Today I’ve been setting up my equipment again, I was working quite heavily on one particular track for a video and now I’m rearranging things to get more done.

OD: So, is your live set all tracks from your recent album?

ML: So far it is, yeah…

My live stuff isn’t like a routine where I try and show how quick I can do stuff or whatever

OD: Okay, and what’s your process for taking things from studio to stage?

ML: Erm… good question! My live stuff isn’t like a routine where I try and show how quick I can do stuff or whatever, so the songs are kinda made bit by bit, layer by layer and I just have to try and work out how I’m going to do that in a live format. The first thing I do is reimport all the sampled elements back into the MPC – as I’m putting a track together I’ll start off with hundreds of sounds in the MPC and as I go on some of the sounds will get discarded so I prune all that stuff out and make sure that everything’s EQ’d and compressed nicely so that the song sounds ‘together’…

OD: So you mention that you think about things slightly differently to when you’re doing your turntablism routines, is there any crossover?

ML: I suppose there’s a crossover in the sense that… well I think with a lot of live MPC stuff you sort of get the impression that it’s about the skills and not the song, and what I’m keen to do is keep the integrity of the songs there, not just using some of the sounds and then going crazy for the sake of it. I have to spend a lot of time scratching my head figuring out how to make four or five things happen at the same time as opposed to layering.

OD: Do you have a defacto preset for where you place the sounds on your pads?

ML: There’s definitely common features in most of my programs when it comes to playing live, when I’m making the track the sounds can be anywhere, just where ever the next free pad is! When it comes to playing live I’ll usually have kicks and snares on the right side of the middle, hats on the left, and other sounds get sort of pieced around them.

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Kadija Kamara

Interview: Kadija Kamara

Kadija Kamara is a singer, songwriter and producer based in London who has featured on a variety of club tracks as well as working on her own brand of what she calls Alternative Soul, recently releasing her debut EP Changes, which I reviewed here. I caught up with Kadija for a chat about the reactions to her EP, her production process and studio setup and the piece of gear she couldn’t live without…

Oh Drat: It’s been a month since Changes came out – what’s been the best thing that’s come out of getting the EP actually out there?

Kadija Kamara: It’s just the relief at first, there was a lot of apprehension and stuff, last year I was supposed to drop an EP and that never happened, so when it dropped I was really relieved! I’ve had a lot of positive feedback too, a lot of people have said that it sounds quite fresh, which is good, because I feel like a lot of music that’s on the radio at the moment sounds kinda the same – when a song starts it’s difficult to know whether it’s going to be a singer on the track or a rapper or just a dance track… but I’ve had people hit me up to say it sounds fresh, and they’d love me to perform and so on, so it’s had a positive knock on effect.

I feel like a lot of music that’s on the radio at the moment sounds kinda the same

OD: Excellent. It’s interesting that you spoke about the sameyness of a lot of music, because you can definitely hear a variety of influences in your music, and then you have this ‘alternative soul’ moniker. Is that just about the way that you’ve taken influences from various types of sources?

KK: Yes, very much so, I’d say. Going through listings on iTunes or whatever you see Alternative Pop, Alternative Rock, and I noticed there wasn’t an Alternative Soul and I just thought why, because there are so many different types of soul. I love soul but I didn’t want to just put myself in one category, so I thought Alternative Soul best describes my music  – and a lot of people say to me ‘so what’s alternative soul, then?’ because nothing’s been categorised as it before. I listen to Jazz, Rock, I like my pop,  country, folk, and I love it. The way I see it, great music is great music, and there’s something that draws me to all those styles. Just being thrown in as ‘soul’ kinda limits your target audience, and I don’t want to be limited. And so… alternative soul!

OD: Now in your introductory video you were down at a record fair… does getting your fingers dusty looking through vinyls give you inspiration?

KK: Vinyl? Oh, definitely. I’ve got loads of vinyl at home, and lots I’ve inherited from my parents as well, and… well vinyl represents vintage as well, and vintage represents quality. I want people to think quality when they hear my music and I would love to have my own vinyl, but vinyl is SO expensive! I think it’s making a comeback, I’ve had a few people at shows ask me if my EP is coming out on vinyl – it doesn’t sell as deeply as CD and MP3 though, so I think if I do I’d probably do a limited edition.

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