The Berlin-based American who, by day, develops software and, by night, kicks out the jams on labels like Icee Hot (check out her Attack studio feature here).
Music’s entire path to the present has been cliffed by technological milestones. From the AM radio changing the structure of pop songs, microphones letting softer vocals compete with a trumpet on stage, over to the dance music examples of tape allowing for re-editing, the 303 for acid, 12″s and turntables for DJs, etc. I suppose a contemporary example is people front-loading the beginning of a track with some sparkly ‘hook’ that intends to grab people in the first 15 seconds, lest it be skipped over in a SoundCloud stream.
I can't think of the last time I was shocked with newness, but I don't place a ton of value on newness for the sake of it.
Personally, my only limits are the level of detail I can perceive with my own ears and my ability to control it, whether that means in Max for Live or in a finishing production studio. At least I don’t have to climb learning curves of 20 separate user interfaces when composing.
The internet, computers, and zero-cost software duplication have brought us into a virtual singularity of possibilities. It’s been that way for as long as I’ve been making music. That obviously doesn’t stop trends from sweeping the ‘underground dance scene’. To be honest, I can’t think of the last time I was shocked with newness, but I don’t place a ton of value on newness for the sake of it. To me, that’s not the point.
It’s a huge challenge to create something in the age of virtual limitlessness. When I’m working on a track, I’m aware of the balancing act I have to walk between exploring happy accidents, and crystallising a cohesive idea. My own personal style lends itself more to sticking to and building out one idea, and not spending too much time on one track. My best stuff I’ve done written in a day or less. Then I can relax and use a different part of my brain for the sound polishing and finishing production.
I’ve used the Ableton Push since I pre-ordered it a couple years ago and it’s allowed me to significantly shorten the time between ‘jamming’, arranging and finishing a track. I’m not a gear-ist, never have been. For the most part I have an idea of what I want to achieve when I start, and work my way in. Though the end result track might be a far branch from that initial trunk.
The idea that happy accidents only come from hardware is a damn farce.
Even incorporating a goofy sample or trying to imitate one of my favorite songs has been creative inspiration for making tracks. Do all of them get to see the light of day? No, but it’s a learning experience and exercise in starting and finishing a track, which is something I always try to improve. The process itself. My proudest tracks are the ones where I have the fewest elements. Pressure has two kick drums and just five other tracks, for instance. For me that’s minimal haha! I think ‘Honest Gangster’ has some of my best mixing work on it. That’s my next bastion of self-improvement and gear shopping: sum-mixing.
My goal this year is to finish building out a solid studio and work space (both physical and digital environments) so I can tighten the loop between idea and end product. For me, machines and software are best when they’re invisible from the perspective of the creator. I have a new remix coming out for XL artist Shamir where I use such a crazily-layered MIDI arpeggiator before an additive synth in Max where I quite frankly have absolutely no idea what’s actually going on there, and I’m sure I could not recreate it. It sounds beautiful though. The idea that happy accidents only come from hardware is a damn farce.
Quietly accomplished English producer of moody deep house on labels like Aus and Secretsundaze who is currently making it in Berlin.
you get the impression that there are endless amounts of synths, effects and plugins, all claiming to be superior to one another
Given enough time, persistence and patience, the creative process can be limitless. The progression of new styles and trends always take influence from the old and the new. When it comes to tools, you get the impression that there are endless amounts of synths, effects and plugins, all claiming to be superior to one another, when, in reality, they essentially do the same thing.
When I’m producing I tend to just jam on the fly and dick about with stuff until I do something by accident and it sounds good. Perhaps the Secretsundaze EP I did was the most sonically interesting thing I’d done up until that point. It’s pretty sparse and textured, and was essentially down to having a bit more experience with the equipment I have as a whole, rather than getting to grips with something specific. Rigging shit up out of the box and getting it to function as efficiently as software is always a struggle. There’s so many other factors to consider, but it’s always rewarding as fuck when you get things ticking.
It’s well known that that accidents in the studio can really bring joy. Like, ‘What the fuck did I just do?’ So yeah, usually for me, every other day or so, interesting ideas come about pretty swiftly after jamming for a bit while hoping for one of these ‘happy accidents’. Then you’re ready to just nail down the foundation of the track there and then.
EDM is just a profit culture for idiots... There's tons of nuts, fresh stuff coming all the time, which is always interesting in its own right.
One bit of advice I took from a Mike Huckaby interview is just to learn one piece of kit at a time, until you’ve exhausted all its possibilities, and then move on. This both helps you learn synthesis and get the most out of what you’ve got. I was once looking into getting a reel-to-reel tape machine but discovered a tape emulator plugin that, providing the source is analogue, sounds the nuts. It’s changed the way I work a lot, and it’s a good example of how combining analogue and digital can be both convenient and fruity.
I wouldn’t say there could be a complete culture revival of something so specific as acid house. It just wouldn’t happen on that scale in the underground house and techno world these days. EDM is just a profit culture for idiots, and is basically bad pop music anyway, so that doesn’t apply. There’s tons of nuts, fresh stuff coming all the time, which is always interesting in its own right.