If you have been into House music for a while, you probably noticed that nowadays there is a lot of stuff called House which frankly isn’t very good at all. This week on Studio Talk, we have been blessed with a few thoughts from – as I see it, one of the main guys to watch in a new wave of GOOD House music creators. Not that you can tie this man down to one particular genre…welcome Greymatter
We have been fan’s of your music ever since we first heard it, in fact you are one of the artist who in my mind, started to re ignite the fires of good house music in recent years. Which is especially cool, because your background isn’t with house music is it? Can you tell us a bit about where you came from, what inspires you, and how you feel you have developed in recent years?
Thank you. Well, my musical background is wildly varied. I started out on dance music in its broadest sense with pop crossover dance music that I could get hold of from high street shops on compilations. All of my mates were into indie pop rock shite like Ocean Colour Scene and Blur which never grabbed me. Kent was rife with pirate radio because of the rave scene (but I was too young to go) and as soon as I found them I got heavily into hardcore and jungle. I remember the day I realised that a CD “mix” (United Dance 1 / clue in the title) was made by playing two records at the same time and that was it, mind blown, broke my dads old turntable pitch control and mixed my 3 x 12″ vinyl collection to the radio badly. A few years later I got some Gemini gear, then eventually 1200s.
Around about then I got more into main room/funky house and trance (that was Maidstone’s influence on me at the time), then big beat, then hip hop, then funk/breaks, then soul, then jazz, then weirder jazz, then ‘world’ (I hate that term) particularly African and Brazilian. Then along came ‘broken beat’ (I also hate that term), which made me want to produce. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago I got into the sort of house boogie disco beat down etc I spin now.
I don’t think I will ever fit that well into a ‘scene’. I think I sit on the fringes of different styles of dance music and dip in and out of what I feel at that time. I doubt that will change.
For me, hearing and referencing the actual sound of something is much more important than knowing what which label it was on, who played it first at which club in which city or what its called even.
The music scene as a whole now is full of new people making music for better or worse, what’s your view on the average quality of the music being put out nowadays compared to how it has been in years past?, and what do you think is most important for new producers to keep in mind when the time comes to release their own music?
Without getting too cerebral about it, I think that the more people that can create for themselves, the better. I don’t think that facility should be restricted by money. If it was I would never have touched a sequencer. The result of increased access is of course more music and subsequently that is going to mean more chaff. But it also means more wheat. Personally I think the technical standard of music production is the best it has ever been. On a slight tangent, access to primitive cheap technology with limits creates its own aesthetic which I love – look at bmore, baile funk, kuduro – Sony Acid from the late 90’s on a PC that barely turns on.
Rule #A1 for me in production is – do what you feel. If you genuinely feel it then run with it. But be as hard as you can on yourself at the same time; compare against the best out there and if it doesn’t stand up then work harder until it does.
Are you in the box, or out of the box? or a mix of both? What do you find are the most important considerations in getting a great sound out of your tools? What kind of elements are you listening for?
A mixture of both. I need hands-on to get the feel. All my tracks these days are written as parts then triggered and recorded live and the overall arrangement tidied up. I usually only do the “arrangement run” once then work from there. Then do the automation runs when its nearly finished.
Can you tell us a little bit about your working environment, which sequencer, which plugins are your “go to” plugins and why?
The beef of the setup is:
Ableton Live 8.x
KRK Rokit 8’s on an Mbox2
Rob Papen Sub Boom Bass
U-He soft synths
Novation Drum Station 2
Space Echo pedal + Kaoss Pad mini FX loop
CDJ + turntable on a Rane mixer
I was always impressed by the coherency and gel your music has, often really big kicks that fit nicely into the whole track, could you tell us a little bit about how you mix down, do you use busses and compression, or drive into a desk?
Thanks…. That is surprising! In all honesty, I don’t really mix down much. I am a terrible engineer if you pitch me against the big guns. I just make sure that the sounds I put in are tight and I think that is the key to it – if it sounds shit before you mix it, it will sound shit after you mix it. That’s why I regularly use sound sets such as yours because they don’t need tweaking or compressing, they sound dope when you put them in.
What are your views on mastering? A lot of youngsters today are jumping head on and mastering there own, partly down to the expense and cost of professional mastering, and party down to a burgeoning group of home producers working on home pcs and not in studios or around other music people. Would you master you own work? How important do you consider mastering in the big picture of creating a record?
Mastering is essential. If you want to play tracks on decent systems or want to cut them properly then master it. No debate. I don’t play un-mastered tracks anymore, not even my own. Mastering is an artform, I have a lot of respect for it. It can also add cohesion to your ‘sound’ if you use the same person.
As a Dj you probably hear a lot of music, If there was one bit of advice, that you could give to improve most of the music you hear nowadays, what would that tip be? And what would you say is an important element you find the great tracks always get right?
Dynamics. I hate super pushed tracks with no headroom. Let it breathe a bit. And do not get me started on MP3 on club systems.
Good tracks… well… vibe and energy. Hard to pin down what that is. But those two are the key.
What’s next for you? Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming releases, and any notable points in there production? how do you see your sound developing in the future?
I was working on an album but we – Stu and Matt WOLF and myself – decided EP’s and singles were the best route. So, one new EP end of April which include San Soda, Session Victim and Casino Times remixes of Give It To Me Slow on 12″ and digital plus a new one called ‘TIEF’. Then another EP end of June featuring 4 original tracks on the wax and 6 in total on the digi. I’ve got quite a few spare beat down tracks that would make another nice little EP so ill punt those around at some point in the summer.
Sound wise I am torn between beat down, 90s US garage, Ame style deep main room business and cosmic/balaeric at the moment. Who knows what that will sound like or where it will go next.
What is inspiring you right now? Any particular artists you are enjoying more than most?
Sonically a real mixture of sounds, basically anything I haven’t heard before always gets me going.
Artist wise, John Talabot and Gerry Read are on fire. I think Gerry is my favourite producer at the moment. Everything he releases I buy without listening to, and he sent me some of his side project stuff recently. Its like psychedelic afro rock mixed with techno and dub = next level, never heard anything like it, not sure where or when its coming out though.
Also: James Welsch, Medlar, KRL, Tom Flynn, Kevin McPhee, Saine, Kid Sublime is back on the house tip which is good news, anything on Workshop, Claro Intelecto, Tale Of Us, Throwing Snow, Lapalux, A Made Up Sound, Darling Farah, Tornado Wallace…. too many to name.
Any closing words?
…I’ll just leave you with this –
For more Greymatter check out his…