Digging into the creative process, Byta speaks with artists, musicians, producers, DJs and anyone involved with music creation. A conversation about how they create, collaborate and share music. From studio setups to routines, and the first person to hear about the next 'big' work.
Where are you based?
I’m currently based in a small town just outside Brighton called Lewes.
How, when and where did you start making music? Are you primarily a musician or a producer, or do something else?
I started making music at about age 13(ish) out of curiosity. I grew up playing classical piano, with little to no exposure to electronic music. Discovering electronic music made me very curious, it was a whole new world of sound and in order to try and understand what i was hearing, I started making my own.
I got a crap daw on an old laptop and started making a mess with it. For the longest time, the stuff I was making just didn’t have any coherent sense to it. It was all just a bunch of noises. Over time, they kinda organised.
My obsession has always been trying to find ways of making electronic music feel human…while still being synthetic, adventurous and explorative. It didn’t take long to get bored of making music by genre/conventions though, I guess that’s how the whole idm-y vibe came about… getting bored of feeling obliged to produce formulaically.
Who would you consider some of your biggest influences when it comes to your “sound”?
There’s a lot of good influences out there, I’ve been collecting music for a long time, and records for as long as I could afford it.
The variety in listening is infinitely more valuable than pinning a small handful of influences to your sound. However, I will have to confess that Aphex is a big influence, his tracks are so creative. Other than that, anything classic Warp, Rephlex, Skam, Brainfeeder… There’s so much great music around.
Generally though, I find a lot more fresh inspiration coming from finding white labels in bargain bins than most of anything else. Even if it’s a terrible track there’s bound to be something weird and interesting on there.
Explain your creative process? Do you have a routine?
It always varies, I don’t like doing the same thing too much, the adventure dies quickly that way. Generally, a lot of what I do is based on rhythm, I often start with a break or a drum machine, then use that as a skeleton to build melodic stuff on top of. But it always varies a lot from track to track.
Most of the time I’ll work on a single track exclusively until it’s done, leave it for a week and come back to mix it instead of juggling multiple projects at once. I find that, sometimes, projects die if I try to spread the writing over too many sessions.
What is your “studio” setup?
I’m a huge nerd for gear, my setup is a bit janky though. I dont have the space or the funds to make anything elaborate. I buy a lot of older gear, cheap(ish) stuff, just cause I can’t afford (or justify) the new things.
I’m currently using a Minilogue, ms101, Roland r8, Roland tr707, Novation Bass Station 2, tt303 Bassbot, Modded td3 and a lell UDS (usually triggered using the 707) through a Behringer 12 channel mixer I bought from a church.
I studied music tech at uni, they had some cool gear and setups there so i did use that sometimes but i prefer working at home, i do miss using their setups for mixing though…
In terms of favourite gear, the minilogue has been a firm favourite since I got it, it’s a good all rounder. Been used on pretty much everything I’ve made since I bought it. Currently, I’m working on a project that’s almost exclusively minilogue, trying to squeeze out the most I can from it.
Same with the 303, the acid sound is just irresistible and I’m always trying to include it everywhere I can. although at the moment it needs a service..producing the XOR ep put the 303 through its paces and its not doing so good these days. Currently, I’m using the Bass station 2 as a filter to avoid gritty pot sounds…
Over the last few years, I’ve been really trying to focus on as much outboard work as possible, a lot of my recent stuff at time of writing has been outboard recordings and as live as possible but it’s hard to do with such a cobbled together setup.
What is your process when working with other people? How is collaboration different in the studio vs working remotely?
I find working with others to be fun but a bit difficult. I’m a micromanager when it comes to music, but it is fun to work with others.
Remixes are usually the closest I come to collaboration. Sending a project file or stems out to another musician is always kinda fun, seeing what they do with it is an adventure. Same goes for the other way round, receiving stems or something is fun.
I just like to be tucked away, doing my own little thing, so collaboration isn’t something I’m too accustomed to.
At what point(s) are you comfortable letting other people hear what you are working on?
When it’s worth hearing, near completion, and not a waste of their time.
Do you share your work in progress (streams or downloads)? Any technical frustrations?
Sometimes I’ll chuck a WIP over to some friends, see what they think of it but usually I like to keep things to myself when I can.
I’ll often send bits to a small group of producer friends, nerd out with them for a bit about it but I try not to dish out bigger files, only because it feels a bit cheeky asking for 4 or 5 mins of someone’s time like that.
How do you know when a track/album is finished?
When I get bored of doing it. There’s always more to do on a track or project. Getting frustrated or bored with something is a good sign you should probably stop. You can always come back to it later.
Once you get tired of making it/hearing it, you’ll start making more and more bad decisions.
How do you listen to the final mixes/mastered work?
I run them through a bunch of different things, speakers, good headphones, bad headphones, mono, stereo… to get a good feel for the track in other contexts than just the same cans I used when making them.
How important is pre-release security when sharing new work?
No horror stories yet, guess I’m overdue for one…
I try not to worry about it, it’s the kind of thing that can really get worrying if you focus on it too much. I try to keep releases to myself and a small group of friends that I know I can trust.
Generally, not plastering files all over the internet before they’re released is a good idea.
Who on your team gets to hear the final versions first and why, what formats do they each need?
I wish I had a team. That’d be fun.
I often sling over finals to close friends, musicians that I trust, people I respect. But I don’t have a “team”.
To be honest, music is a bit too much of a personal thing for me to be considering that kind of thing… maybe one day, who knows!
Outside of your inner circle who are the people that will need to hear the new tracks next?
When possible, the people on SoundCloud. I wouldn’t be anywhere at all without SoundCloud and the community of people on that site. There are people following me who have been listening to my stuff since day one and that is where the majority of people hear what I do so I make sure (if possible) that the music can hit that site.
It also seems like a lot of the people who run labels, A&R and promotions use that website so it’s a good central hub to have your tunes on if that’s something you’re thinking about.
Other than that, I’ll hit up DJs and people in the community whenever I can. It’s always a great feeling knowing something you made is getting played to new ears on a radio show or something. Regardless if they like it or hate it, it’s just nice to spread music around.
Anything you are working on, anyone you are working with and want to share?
I’ve got a load of stuff in the works, prepping a few shows, finishing off some records..always looking for new projects to explore. Been getting really into making big mixes on tracks, getting everything sounding outrageously juicy and warm. Hopefully, I’ll have a record of that stuff out soon, it’s pretty much done, I just need to finalise everything and actually get on sorting the release out.
Other than that, there’s not much more I can say. I’m always making stuff, writing more music, so there’s bound to be plenty of things coming in the future.
Also, post covid era, I’m looking forward to more opportunities to collaborate. It’s something I haven’t really explored too much, did a nice collab/split with Fxbip on x4 records a while back and that was a really fun experience but defo interested in trying more of that sort of thing.