We Are Electronic present
INSTRA:MENTAL[Boddika & Jon Convex] (Nonplus, UK)
Barry Redsettaz (POGO)
Quarter Inch Collective
Saturday, 3rd December 2011
The Twisted Pepper/ 54 Middle Abbey St, 1, Dublin
Fact Instra:Mental FACT Mix
Machine love: Tommy Four Seven
Logic and field recorder: We discover the way in which the UK producer has made limited tools work to his advantage.
No producer wants to sound like another. Or so they would say. So why is it that so many do? It’s something that the UK-born, Berlin-based Tommy Four Seven has considered a great deal. The difference here, though, is that he took affirmative action. Faced with recording an album for Chris Liebing’s recently rejuvenated CLR, Tommy challenged himself to produce using only found sounds and vocal recordings. The results were fascinating. Yes, Primate is very evidently a techno record—an unmitigated one at that—but this is the genre cut from a different cloth. As we met at his Berlin studio, in a suitably industrial corner of the city, it quickly became clear that the idea of restricting oneself—for whatever reason—has enabled this young producer to find his voice.
You’ve said before that you’ve been messing around with music programs since you were 12—what were these specifically?
The first music software I ever messed around with was a game called Music 2000. I was around 12 years old and found myself totally addicted. It wasn’t technical, but you could write your own riffs and sample about 20 seconds. Although I thought of it just as a game, I think people like Leftfield and Grooverider even released tracks using the program. The first slightly more serious program I experimented with was Reason when it first came out and then another program called Orion Platinum. By the time I hit university I had enough funds to buy a new G5 Mac and Logic 7 (thanks to student loans) and I’ve stayed with Logic ever since.
Many people have said that they didn’t find formal music tech training overly helpful. What is your take on it?
I think it really depends on the course you take. It totally broadened my perspective on music technology. I found interests in topics I never really thought about, such as Foley and sound design and working with live recordings. Soon I began to apply these new techniques to my production process in techno.
And you applied a very specific process to Primate. Could you explain the concept behind the album?
The concept really came about from both boredom and frustration with the techno scene. Hearing the same sounds, the same hats, synths. It isn’t everyone, but a large majority of producers aren’t willing to take risks. It just seems we are going in circles sometimes and I think it’s time we all pushed ourselves to take things forward. I find it almost impossible to finish a track if I use the same sounds in previous tracks—I lose all motivation. So I needed a concept of no generic sounds, such as claps, hi-hat, and synths to keep me excited and interested.
It also created a box which allowed me to focus. There’s nothing worse than having too many options as you get distracted more easily. You need some kind of rules, you need some kind of direction, otherwise you’re going in all kinds of places.
Have you struggled with an overabundance of options in the past?
Well, I think I’ve totally restrained myself anyway. I’m not someone who’s like a plug-in whore. I’m not searching for plug-ins all the time. Everyone’s like, “Oh, what plug-ins do you use?” I just use what I’ve got and make the most of it.
So what are you using?
They’re all native to Logic. I don’t use any fancy plug-ins like Waves; it’s a little bit out of the budget at the moment. I’m actually happy with Logic’s plug-ins. I love Logic for the functionality, the interface, it works. I’ve not found a reason to change yet.
Tell me how you generated the percussion sounds on your album.
Most of them came from just grabbing the mic and recording anything that was in the studio, anything that was outside—some field recordings, anything that works.
What would one of these field trips entail?
Like going to the tube station for example, getting the haunting ambience of a train. Or when the cars drive over the bridge, you can hear this haunting ambience that’s kind of like screeching. It’s really, really surreal. So quite often I made a note of sounds like that and then came back and recorded it.
There’s a track called “Armed 3” [on the album] that the percussion was made out of tin foil. You just scrunch it up and then there’s a great metallic sound and then that’s heavily processed and distorted. Most sounds have been processed probably like ten times—bounced, distorted, crunched, pitched, reverbed, bounced again. And each time you’re bouncing it, it kind of inspires you to do something else and that’s kind of why I find using recordings really helpful because they’re like the catalyst, they’re kind of leading the way. They’re showing me a direction and I’m just going with it. It’s like you’ve got two people almost working together—you capture something and then it’s the two of you and the computer. It definitely helps when you’re stuck for ideas just to get the microphone out.
Using the example of the foil, what would you do once you have the audio in Logic?
I would then crunch it with distortion, overdrive—that’s a weapon in Logic that people never use. But you have to, to get the effects I do, you have to manipulate it a lot of times. I’m bouncing it out, crunching it, and each time I’m subtly changing it, so maybe lowering the pitch, or changing the EQ and just driving the fuck out of it with distortion.
Why do you bounce audio as opposed to setting up an effects chain?
It’s quick. Also if you’re committed to something, there’s no going back. Once you’ve got that sound it’s there, whereas if you’ve got a chain it could change slightly depending on the plug-ins. So I like committing and that’s a process that helps to focus it as well, to not leave it open. I mean, I don’t work with MIDI, it’s all audio.
Did you find it hard to stick to your self-imposed rules?
No… I don’t know. At the moment I’m just anti-really typical synth sounds. For that project I had this kind of rebellious, “Ah, fuck it, just do something different.” I was working with vocals to replace the use of synths.
Tell me about the melodic textures on the album.
I was using vocals to replace the melodic elements that synths would bring to a record and it also gave that kind of human element and a bit more soul because with all that distortion and the industrial size of the sounds, it was nice to have a human voice to kind of balance that out.
Did the post-processing differ much for the vocals?
Well sometimes I’d come with some ideas, some lead ideas, and the vocalist would take them and interpret them as they wanted to and give them back to me and then I would further sound design those. So yeah, that was a lot of sound design on the vocals to get them working with the elements, kind of some side-chaining, because with digital distortion to get vocals to sit in this harsh world, you have to unite it with a bit of compression and side-chaining. So it kind of needed to be worked to sit in the world of the track. It just didn’t connect otherwise.
Do you find it at all tiring to work with such heavy, Industrial types of sounds?
Harsh on the ears?
Harsh on the ears, yes, but how do you generally find working with “noise” for an extended period?
Especially because I was using headphones for some of it as well… Yeah, it was harsh but I like that. I don’t know why, I love the crunch, the energy, the aggressiveness, the kind of rebellious sound. It’s a bit more what techno is for me, it’s a bit more raw, it’s a bit more true. Techno now is really fucking clean and it’s not really like it’s played in a warehouse.
Tell me about the process you undertake when starting a track.
First I’m going to go and make a recording. For “Talus,” say, it was a washing machine. So I’ve got like five minutes worth of recordings and I’m just listening to it. I’ve got the whole audio file and then I’m just marking—I’m taking sections out that I like and I’m doing that for a while and it’s getting shorter and shorter (the amount of audio that I think I can work with). And once I’ve got the audio that is quite inspiring to work with, I’m then just jamming, jamming with the audio—taking sounds out, turning that into percussion, turning that into the bassline.
So I’ve got like an eight-bar loop going on, it’s just like a live jam and pulling more sounds in until I’ve got something that I’m happy with. And this whole process of jamming, I’m grabbing distortion here, grabbing pitch here until I’ve got a nice groove and then I stop and reflect on that and build it.
Are you literally using the mouse, rearranging sounds?
Yeah it’s just mouse and audio, dragging it and playing around.
And what sort of stage would you need to get to in which you think “OK, this is going to become a full arrangement now”?
Once there’s a nice groove, a nice bass… it might get to that point but I need a kick so now I’ve got to go and find some other sounds, so I’m just going back with a microphone and getting those things or I’m digging into files of sounds I’ve already created and chucking them in. Maybe think, “Oh, hang on a minute, there’s a really nice sound that I came up with yesterday that I’m going to chuck in.” It’s quite spontaneous.
Taking the example of the kick, how would you generate the sound?
I would just hit the chair. I could hit that and then just EQ it. It’s really simple. But I have to say that to stand up in a club sometimes you need that electronic richness to give it more body. That’s one thing I find sometimes with my tracks, some songs don’t sound that rich. The only elements that are really electronic [on the album] were layering under the kicks to boost up, to kind of give it more density. It’s a really cheap plug-in called BassIsm and you can play around with the frequencies and the decay and tune the kick to your kick, just give it that weight. And that’s actually what we did at Chris Liebing’s studio, we took the tracks there and listened to it because he’s got like a massive fucking sub, which I don’t have, and so we were just listening to the bass to make sure it stands out in the club and really just focusing on the kick and the bass to give it enough weight.
“I don’t want to recognize
what people are using.
I want to be like, ‘Wicked,
I’ve never heard that before!'”
Do you find the mixing process easier when you take this kind of sound design approach to production?
Yeah, it’s funny because sometimes what you’ve got works and however you’ve come to that point, it’s got soul, and sometimes when you pull the faders down and start again, you lose that vibe; that original kind of jam that just happens. So I always bounce it down, save that session. I will pull the faders down and bring it back up because sometimes you do get a nicer mix-down like that—it’s balanced. But generally I do have a point where I put the faders down, it’s not done as I go along and such. I think for most people it will probably work like that, but I’m more about not losing my interest in it and going with the flow. I’m going until I’ve got a track that excites me and then I’m worrying about the exact sonics and, “OK, how is this going to sound, how does that sit?” I’m more concerned about the energy of the record, the soul of it— is it alive? Because you can kill it if you have a shit mix-down.
Would you say you’re someone who works quickly?
It could be two hours and I’ve come up with an idea, it’s not a finished track, but an idea. Sometimes it can take a week. It really depends on the track. Sometimes I get fed up and I move on and I work on something else, but I’m not the fastest worker too. I’m really self-critical, I don’t tend to believe in a lot of the stuff that I’m doing, so I’m often pretty slow.
The best tracks usually come within six hours max. They’re usually the best tracks and I usually finish them within two days, but sometimes you need to distance yourself because you can get really carried away and the next day you walk into the studio and it sounds shit. So sometimes I like to give myself five days and you’re not so emotionally attached to it and I think that’s another important thing for mixing, is if you’re trying to mix it down too soon, you’re emotionally attached to some sounds and sometimes it’s not the best for them. It’s hard, coming back after, say, a week, sometimes I just know instantly where to put the faders—”No, that’s not right, that’s not sitting there.”
You’ve obviously got a specific way of doing things so I was wondered if you could see yourself moving away from that in the future? Or do you feel wedded to your process?
No, I mean, that’s why I’ve got some empty rack space because I plan to get some modular synths and just play around.
Do you see modular synths as a way of breaking away from what you were talking about before: sounding like everyone else?
Yeah I think you can get some great sounds from that. It’s more of a personal goal just to know more about that and to play around with that because it’s not something that I’ve delved into much and I feel like I’m missing out on some options of finding sounds. The whole [not using] synths thing was mainly people using presets… I don’t like a synth when it sounds like a synth, when you can recognize what it is, that’s kind of what the whole point was—I don’t want to recognize what people are using. I want to be like, “Oh, what the fuck is that sound? What’s that texture? Wicked, I’ve never heard that before,” and that’s what I’m trying to do with the albums is give people textures that they’re not that familiar with or can’t put their finger on what it is.
Solipsism Live at Tronic – A nicely crafted live dub and ambient techno live set written and performed by solipsism (Craig Murphy)
No track list as this is an original live performance.
The concept of Ben Sims and Kirk Degiorgio’s Machine night is to play only new music, not relying on familiar classics to move the crowd. This Surgeon set achieves this in spades. Enjoy.
Instra:Mental – Tramma
Nil – Kazuya Kawakami remix
Blawan – Vibe Decorium
Skudge – Ontic (Rolando Understands remix)
Surgeon – Transparent Radiation
Surgeon – untitled
Hiroaki Iizuka – Bluebox
Inigo Kennedy – Scatter
Bas Mooy – Warsaw (Walker FSG remix)
Emmanuel Jal – Kuar (Olof Dreijer remix)
Instra:Mental – Thomp
Shutter – Natterjack B1
Barricade – Aleko
Blawan – What You Do With What You Have
Skudge – Overture (Substance remix)
Paul Woolford – Let It Go (Kommonazmuk & Appleblim remix)
Inigo Kennedy – Revenge
Emptyset – All Together Lost (Ben Klock’s Glowing Clap mix)
Xhin – Teeth (Surgeon remix)
Tomohiko Sagae – Deburring (Paul Damage + Makaton Wasps mix)
Insta:Mental – Vicodin (Skduge Warehouse mix)
Reeko – Thick Matter
Matador – Blond Slackers (Rebekah remix)
Paul Woolford & Psycatron – Stolen
Skudge – Convolution Instrumental
Blawan – Lavender
Insta:Mental – Pyramid
Raiders Of The Lost Arp – Night Theme
Exium – Synchro
Greenmoney – Get Into You (Paul Mac edit)
Lone – Explorers
Great Interview and very forward looking mix from stroboscopic artefacts label boss Lucy.
The interview between Chris Liebing and Lucy lasts a good 50 minutes and covers earthing from label inception, artistic direction and being your self right through to sequencers and other tech geekery. Very intersesting and a gives one a solid idea of why Stroboscopic Artefacts is such a forward looking label.
Xhin “Insides” [Stroboscopic Artefacts – from upcoming album]
Go Hiyama “” [Stroboscopic Artefacts – Monad VII ]
Biblio “Chancylvania” [Warp]
Anstam “Albert” [50 Weapons]
The Black Dog “Floods v3.2” (Surgeon Remix) [Soma]
AOKI takamasa “mnd-sng04” [Stroboscopic Artefacts – Monad IX]
Tommy Four Seven “Talus” (Lucy Remix) [CLR]
Moby “Go” (Woodtick Mix) [Instinct]
Grischa Lichtenberger “0406_01_RS_!” [Raster Noton]
Deuce “Twerp Wiz” [Ostgut Ton]
Marcel Fengler “Thwack” (Mike Parker Remix) [Mote Evolver]
Marcelus “Shape” [Deeply Rooted House]
Dadub “Amnion” [Stroboscopic Artefacts – Monad VIII]
Lucy “Tetrad” [Stroboscopic Artefacts – Monad X]
Zomby “Mozaik” [4AD]
Robert Hood “Minus” [Tresor]
Kode 9 & The Spaceape feat. Cha Cha “Love Is The Drug” [Hyperdub]
Mike Dehnert “Klartext” [Delsin]
Syncom Data “Beyond The Stars” (Speedy J Remix) [SD]
Lucy “Decad” [Stroboscopic Artefacts – Monad X]
Great video on the Detroit Techno Scene well worth checking out. Via Resident Advisor.
You can’t talk about electronic music without mentioning Detroit. The city’s DJs and producers birthed the genre we now call techno. Detroit, however, has always had a creative streak, due in large part to the boom and subsequent bust of the auto industry. Quite simply, Detroit is a city of extremes, and its music reflects that. Detroit’s importance in the global electronic music scenes is often referred to in the past tense. With the recent emergence of Kyle Hall and other young Detroit producers, however, it’s clear that a spark remains. When we visited, we found a number of artists with their eyes (and ears) firmly set towards the future. After our time there, it’s clear that Detroit will endure and innovate for years to come.
Just saw this today and had to share. The live set stage setup for Amon Tobins new album ‘ISAM’ looks incredible.
Has anyone seen this live? Is it as impressive as it looks on video? Commet below please.
A rather odd little bit of film, involving an elderly couple, potatoes and a synth…..we found it amusing though.
EDLX SPOTLIGHT #08 CHRIS FINKE
[EDLX] What can we expect from you in 2011? What have you been up to recently?
[FINKE] 2011 has been pretty good so far, gigs are strong and i’ve got some great little tours planned for Asia, Canada and South America for summer and the end of the year so very happy. We have just launched the long awaited “Chris Finke presents Atomic-Jam” podcast series which has been really well received. Releases I have on the way include 2 EP’s for Trapez (including some wicked remixes from Valmay, Justin Berkovi & DJ3000), and 3 other EP’s i’ve just literally finished which i have just found homes for so really excited about those. I’ve got remixes about to hit the shops for Orlando Voorn, DJ 3000, Mark Broom and Steve Mac, plus some newer artists on various labels as well, so keeping really busy in the studio!
[EDLX] What have been your best shows of the last 12 months?
[FINKE] Personally my favourite gig of the last year has to be my October at Fabric which was off the hook! That was the first time i really felt I “got it” in that place and got some serious love back from the crowd. The 3 dates I did in Japan were crazy as well, I really cant wait to go back later this year. Other than that, the 15th birthday of Atomic Jam was off the hook!
[EDLX] For people who don’t know you can you give them an idea of your production style?
[FINKE] I try not to to be too one-dimensional and make stuff that I want to play in my DJ sets and that I know will work on the dance floor. I tend not to follow patterns and make tracks that sound the same as I would get bored and that’s a pattern I follow with my DJ sets as well.
[EDLX] Do you have non-productive moments in the studio? Do you get writer’s block?
[FINKE] Haha yeah quite a lot. I tend to have bursts of inspiration where i get stuff done, and then periods where nothing happens. I’ve tried to do the 9-5 thing with production which works now and then, but I tend to do my best stuff when its not forced or i’m making it “because I have to”. I’m getting a lot better with it though and am working to a bit of a schedule which is new for me 😉
[EDLX] What are your favourite albums of all time?
[FINKE] Impossible to answer as I have soooo many favourites, but these just came into my head:
The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses & Second Coming
Led Zeppellin – Led Zepellin IV
The Beatles – The Best Of The Beatles (haha!)
Super Furry Animals – Fuzzy Logic & Radiator
The Libertines – The Libertines & Up The Bracket
Spiritulized – Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
[EDLX] What Track is your secret dance floor weapon?
[FINKE] Ive got so many edits and versions of tracks i’ve done that kill it that I keep for myself. I’d say one at the moment is a pumped up version of DVS1 “Running” which just never fails to do the job!
[EDLX] Who surprises you the most when you play with them? Who is pulling out records that you don’t know?
[FINKE] I find that I get surprised so very little these days, you tend to know what you are going to get a lot more then you used to as people stick to “their sound” so much which is a shame. There are so many copycat DJs and producers out there who need to start doing their own thing. Each and every time i hear Speedy J and James Ruskin play they both nail it without question so i guess i’d have to say they are the boys! A few weeks ago I played after Jeff Mills who really really surprised me, he was so on it with track selection compared to the last few times I saw him, it was great to see!!
[EDLX] What music do you listen to when you are not in a club?
[FINKE] I tend to not listen to much modern dance music too much out of a club or studio situation, i’m really into rock, indie, old pop, classics and that sort of thing.
[EDLX] Can you give us your electric deluxe top five tracks?
[FINKE] (In no order)
Tommy Four Seven – Surma
Speedy J & Chris Liebing – Maggie
Terrence Fixmer – Drastik (Planetary Assault Systems Remix)
Audio Injection – Operation A – (Speedy J Remix)
Echologist – Connect EP
[EDLX] What can everyone expect from your DJ sets?
[FINKE] I try and approach things from a slightly different way to a lot of DJs. I really like to surprise people (and myself) and dont stick to one sound the whole set. Along with new material I play lots of my own edits of old techno stuff that 99% people just wont know is old or have hear before and mix it up with. I try and play with a sense of humour make it fun. I can rave it up or play deep and moody, its all the same to me. At the end of the day your job is to make people move, react and above all have fun so that what i try and do….
[EDLX] Can you tell us a bit about your mix for the Electric Deluxe podcast
[FINKE] This is a mix i have been wanting to do for a long time in some form or another so the ED podcast series is the perfect platform for it. Its a mix of some of my favourite DJ tracks and covers ambient, classical, deep house, techno, electro, disco, broken beats, house, nu wave, acid house, dub and more. I really wanted to mix it up and make do proper DJ set that would make people smile and listen to again and again and not get bored. It could have been a lot longer but 2 hours is about right for the first part 😉
Electric Deluxe Podcast 046 Chris Finke by electric deluxe
Reposted from electricdeluxe.net