Monday, 28 November 2011

AudioPhile 021 Interview with CTMS

Posted by: Ashley Brown

Reading your biography it says you started with rock as genre and then slowly moved to electronic, explain this big transformation.

Growing up I was constantly surrounded by music. My mother is a very good pianist as was my grandfather and my father plays a fairly mean guitar.. Growing up I was exposed to all sorts of music from Beethoven to Cream and I was fascinated by how sounds fitted together and everything flowed together. I started playing the piano at age 6 and the flute at eleven both of which I continued until Matric. When I was thirteen I started learning the drums and that was when I realized that all I wanted to do was music. In high school I started playing in the schools Jazz band and that led to garage rock bands and a love for rock music fueled by the solid sounds of the 60's and 70's. I spent years fooling around in garage bands and consuming all the music I could, but I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something else out there that I was meant to do. somewhere around Standard 6(Grade 8) I remember The Prodigy - Experience came out and when I heard it I knew that electronic music was what I wanted to play and make..I was fascinated by the sounds and the rythm. It had everything I was looking for the rawness of rock and metal, with these psychodelic sounds and relentless multilayered beats.. I was hooked.

Many rock lovers don’t like electronic and say electronic artists are just pushing buttons, what would you say to this statement seeing that you came from rock?

I don't think that a lot of people realise the true complexity of electronic music.  It is very easy to judge something if you don't truly understand it. I guess that the same could be said for someone who does not understand rock music watching a band.. At the end of the day music is music and if it affects you in any way then the artist has been succesful in their intention.

You studied at the Cape Audio Collage. Tell us a bit more about your studies and your experiences.

Cape Audio College was a turning point for me. It opened my eyes to the complexity and depth involved in producing music of all genres. Prior to studying at Cape Audio I was at Wits studying Dramatic Arts and although I was already producing my own music I had no idea just how little of the surface I had actually scratched. I was fortunate to be in the same class as both Greg Reve (Triplet of Belville) and Adam Metcalf (Headroom) so it really pushed me to suceed. After Cape Audio College I was doing live sound and programming and I was brought back into the fold at CAC as an instructor and I was responsible for redeveloping their Electronic Music Production Course and DJ Courses. I spent a very happy 6 years there.. I love that place and their main studio was for many years my second home.

In your opinion, is it necessary to study today to make a living in the music industry?

I think it is always important to study full stop. Especially if you are going to venture into such a niche industry like the Music Industry. In order to be truly successful you need to be better than your competition. One of my lecturers at WITS always used to say take a look at the people on your left and right.. They are not your friends they are your competition. It sounds harsh to say, but it is true. The industry is tough and unforgiving and you need all the smarts you can to give you an edge. Also there is a big difference between making tunes in your bedroom and actually working with clients in the industry...

What would you say to someone that wants to become a electronic artist like yourself, what is the first steps to take?

Just start doing it. It is amazing how much information is available to you. These days you have a number of Digital audio Workstations and instruments available to you, you have unlimited resources via the internet and dedicated monthly music publications like Sound on Sound and Computer Music. When you start writing you instinctivly think that what you just wrote is the sh*t, We all thought that, but the real learning comes from having the guts to put your music out there, to have it torn apart and then take all of the criticisms and suggestions and apply them constructively to your next track.. it is an ongoing process.

Why do most electronic artist work on Mac Laptops?

 In my opinion Macs are just absolute work horses. They are stable and reliable and were designed to perform with high intensity operations like music, video and design. My Mac has been everywhere from the studio to Earthdance to Daisies. I look after it and it looks after me.

What has been your most memorable gig thus far and why?

I have two. Oppikoppi this year was mental. I played after Kid Fonque who is one of my favourite DJ's. The stage was sick and the system was off the hook and I got to take Saturday evening into Saturday night. I remember I was so into the set when all of a sudden  Jake Lipman  from Bteam popped up next to me handed me a beer and said look at that Stevie.. It was only then that I realised that the whole Koppie and dance floor were packed and everyone was just losing it!!!
The second was Earthdance also this year. I got to play one of the main sets and straight after SIBOT so I was super nervous.. I remember walking up onto stage just before Si finished playing and starting to set up and just seeing this heaving maelstrom of people.. It was an epic night..

You play a lot at The Assembly, what makes this venue different to others in your opinion?

The Assembly is like home to me. I really enjoy playing there, the sound is always fat and the crowd just loves to party. Also the intentions behind the club are honest and it really is a venue aimed at uplifting the music scene in Cape Town, providing a platform for established artists and  helping to nurture young young talent

How do you go by making new material?

I find the production of new material to be a very organic experience. I often find that I have watched or read something that plants a seed of an idea.. All I know is that I feel the need to write music all the time.. Once I am locked in to a new track I will work on it exclusively until it is finished. I truly believe that everything you start should be finished and to be honest more often than not it turns out very differently from how you originally envisioned it.

How do you feel about mixing your own song from scratch comparing to remixing a international hit?

Mixing my own material is probably the most time consuming part of the creative process. I am super O.C.D when it comes to how my tracks sound and I think that I sometimes over think the mixes. I usually end up with seven or eight versions of the pre master before I am happy with it. The same applies to the mixes I do for clients and for the studio although it is a little harder because you have to combine the client or bands  vision with your own creativity. Remixing for me is my escape, it is a way to keep work(if you can call it that) fun and challenging. I really enjoy taking a track and stripping it down to its bare essentials and then rebuilding it in my own way with my own flavor.

What artists do you love to perform with?

It's a long list.. But I have to say Sibot, he is an incredibly talented musician and his live show is mind blowing. Bteam because they always have so much fun on stage regardless. Mr. Sakitumi and Card On Spokes because they are exceptional multi talented musicians with phenomenal live shows. 7Ft Soundsystem because Yves is such a great producer, and then Haezer and Double Adapter simply for the fact that I always have an amazing time with them.

For those that don’t know AudioPhile 021, where can they get a taste of what to expect at a live show?

Music wise they can simply visit my soundcloud page. There are also videos scattered across the youtube etc. Bbut if you want a discription in a nutshell I guess you could say my sets start off like an episode of Wharehouse 13 and end up like a cross between Jurassic Park and Star Wars.

We know you are a DJ at night, but what is your day job?

I am the head engineer at Red Bull Studio in Cape Town, where I get to work with both established and emerging musicians to create unique cutting edge music. It really is an amazing job and I get to meet and work with some truly incredible people.

Any exciting news you can give us on AudioPhile 021?

I have a couple of cool colab projects on the go at the moment and I am also in the process of completing a number of remixes for various artists. However, the most exciting thing for me at the moment is not even music related. I am getting married in December and I am super excited.

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