Can you tell us about your relationship with Crosstown Rebels and how that originally came about?
After I left composing and producing full time for UNKLE my game plan was to concentrate on the film score/advertising stuff I do under my own name, and also to relaunch my solo music career. One avenue of this was the Dance stuff I had been doing prior to UNKLE and also for the UNKLE ‘Surrender Sounds’ remixes that I was involved in. I wanted to start writing some new tracks that were reflective of what I was into now and what has inspired me around the electronic music front. The Crosstown Rebels camp was the only option I was interested in really. It was as simple as introducing myself and emailing my tracks, and the rest came out of that. It’s funny really as I didn’t have a history with Damian prior to this yet we share countless mutual friends. The relationship has grown out of that.
Can you talk us through the production process involved with creating your second single for the label ‘Get Yourself EP’?
I think it always starts with ideas going on in your head from other stuff you have been listening to. You start building a patchwork of ideas from things you like from other peoples records. You start to write the record and your ideas come from that initial patchwork, and the track grows into its own. I sent the record to Damian and we both agreed that it had the potential to be bigger with vocals, and so I decided to come up with some ideas. I have a classical and singing background from my education so I wanted to develop my own ideas for the first time in that context. On a technical level everything was done on a modest studio in my house.
You’re Dj’ing at the Crosstown Rebels event at The Warehouse Project in Manchester December 15. How would you define your style of Dj’ing? What for you makes a good DJ?
I started collecting vinyl in the early 90’s and that’s when I began Dj’ing, but for me now I personally like the opportunities that technology has provided to get more involved. I’m very much from the camp that believes that a great set is not defined by the technology or equipment, or methods you use, but how the finished product sounds and how the crowd reacts. There is no right or wrong just how it sounds.
Most decent DJ’s would agree I’m sure that being able to beat match is a pretty basic ability that’s far outweighed by the art of track selection and order. I mean, the BPM is staring you in the face on CDJ’s as it is anyway, so turning off a sync button doesn’t really make you a god these days. Richie Hawtin’s sets are synced but the things he does with that are amazing, especially with effects. I had a period where I used Ableton, which I loved for the flexibility, but got a bit stale and seems more suited to an actual live setup. The meet half way for me is Traktor. I am absolutely loving the new Remix Decks. They give me the flexibility to introduce other ideas into the mix in a really creative way.
How would you describe the differences between the music you produced as part of UNKLE and what you are currently involved in producing – what elements are most important to you in making music?
There is not a huge amount of difference to be honest other than that the music I write, and its style, is now in my control. UNKLE had a lot of different things going on under that roof that people might not really be aware of: Advert Pitches, Film Scores, Albums, and Remixes. UNKLE is best known for the sound of its Albums, but that isn’t exactly for instance what James DJ’s as a rule, or how his remixes sound etc. I still do a lot of the same sorts of things just under Aidan Lavelle now.
As far as new projects I’m currently starting a library album for De Wolfe Publishing, writing a score and sound design for a short film, and a feature length film, plus also working on more Dance stuff as well as trying to get my album finished!
When did you begin to DJ and who inspired you to do so?
I actually started producing first and Djing naturally came out of that. I had an Atari based midi setup when I was 8 in the mid eighties!!!!
My main thing when I was younger though was Detroit Techno so: Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Carl Craig, Eddie Flashin Fowlkes, Robin Hood, Stacey Pullen, Kenny Larkin, Blake Baxter, Drexciya, Mad Mike, Red Planet etc. etc.
Do you have any particular favourite pieces of software/ hardware that you like to use in creating music?
My Mac, my Andromeda, and my Moog Voyager are my favourites and the most used but I have lots of other tasty bits too.
From the wide range of music that you have released you must have a very diverse set of influences. Where did these come from and who have you been listening to for inspiration recently?
My first influence for music had to be my Granny and my Dad. My Granny taught me the piano (a concert cellist and pianist herself) and my Dad used to play me a lot of music growing up. He took me to Ronnie Scotts for the first time when I was twelve! He was desperate for me to hear Dizzy Gillespie’s Cuban prodigy Arturo Sandoval. My brother James was also naturally a big influence.
Watch this space 😉