MDC Interview#45 "2methyl "
Ever-changing and ever progressing, 2Methyl (formerly known as 2methylbulbe1ol) has developed an intricate, intense and particularly sharp sound and is equally at home within the dubstep, DnB or IDM sub-cultures.
He started to play the guitar when he was young and surrounded himself by the sounds of post-hardcore, grindcore and noise rock. His love for these genres is still evident in his electronic music as he translates the raw power and energy of these styles into his own sonic experiments. However, it was upon the discovery of artists like Venetian Snares and Xanopticon that new boundaries were opened up for him to push; where crushing bass meets heavy complex beats and intricate melodies on a bed of industrial soundscapes. A sound was born, the sound of 2Methyl.
His releases to date include 2 EP’s (one a split with Niveau Zero, the other solo) on Rotator’s Ruff Recordings label, another EP on Komod.O Dragon records, remixes for Tympanik Audio, Jarring Effect and an EP on OverclockHeadz, which includes a remix by the legendary Hecq (Ben Lukas Boysen).
2014 was the year which saw his graduation to the incredible Ad Noiseam imprint, with the powerful Orb EP bringing his twisted visions of DnB and dubstep to life. 2015 will see him release his first full length album and going by the previews we’ve heard so far, it’s going to be one a hell of a monster release! You’ve been warned.
Aside from his recorded output, 2Methyl has gained a fierce reputation as a live performer, putting together evolving sets that take the listener on a journey through his sonic world of heavy, twisted bass and avalanche inducing drums. These live performances have seen him share the stage with many electronica heavyweights, such as Eight Frozen Module, Niveau Zero, Sinister Souls, Counterstrike, Reso, Dope D.O.D, Luke Vibert, Shitmat, Igorrr, Stazma, Rotator and many other legends of alternative electronica.
Q. How long have you been interested in music? What kind of music scene was there in your home town?
I grew up in a small village in the countryside of Burgundy. There’s not that many activities to do when you’re a kid. Basically, it’s playing soccer or playing a musical instrument. I picked guitar because my mother had one at home. I started learning classical guitar at 10 years old, switched to electric guitar when, I was a teenager.
Due to my work I ended up in Besançon 10 years ago. It’s a small city in the east of France. A small city but with a lot of good rock/metal bands and also an active electronic music scene, (Nao, Horskh and Tetra hydro k to name a few).
Q. How long have you been making music? What was your first opportunity?
I started producing electronic music in 2006. I bought a second-hand Korg Electribe Es-1. It’s a small groove-box with a sampler. To begin with I wrote drum beats as a backing track to playing guitar over.
I then added basslines and I started searching on the Internet how to incorporate other pieces of hardware. And this is how I discovered electronic music, in a sort of reverse process. By the learning gears. It’s how I started 2methyl.
I worked for two years with only hardware before finally switching to a computer. I found it more convenient and less expensive. I still have good nostalgic memories of this era, when midi cables were running everywhere and 10 minutes were necessary to load files from floppy disks before setting my current track up.
Q. You are a really great composer, how did you develop that writing skill?
I think it’s basically hard work. I’m not really good at playing instruments, so I focus more about learning how things work, music theory, synthesis, structure etc. I’ve spent 25 years writing music, so I assume you get better if you practice with discipline and if you keep your attention on details.
Q. You released a record from Ruff in 2010.(with Niveau Zero) How did you meet Peace Off? Did you listen to their releases?
At this time, I was really into Breakcore and Peace-off is a reference. I sent a tune to a friend, R-ictus(from the Speedcore project Mechakucha) he said it was good and sent it to friend of his: Rotator. I met Rotator couple of years after the release.
Q. You mainly created Dubstep from 2010 to 2013. What attracted you to Dubstep? What was the situation in the French Dubstep scene at that time?
In 2010 Dubstep was quite new, I was really attracted to this abnormally slow music with lot of bass. It was a fresh genre where you incorporate what you like, Metal influences, Industrial sounds, Drum & Bass sound design, a new territory to explore. In regard to the Dubstep scene, I don’t really know. I’m not a DJ and not a big fan of all Electronic music, I just know guys who produced music in the same vein of mine, like Niveau Zero and Zeller.
Q. About music production. What do you start with when you make a song? What equipment are you currently using?
I’m using Renoise as my main software. It’s the tracker I started with when I stopped using hardware and switched to a computer. I guess the interface could be… ‘Disturbing’ but it’s a really powerful tool. I like seeing the names of keys and notes and I hate spending my time zooming in and out.
As for speakers, I owned a pair of Eve Audio SC208. I don’t really use headphone for production. It can trick you easily, but I sometime use an old broken HD-25 to check certain things, you need to switch to headphones to focus on stuff you haven’t really paid attention to, Such as: too much bass, bad stereo imaging, unpleasant resonance for example. In therms of plug-ins, I use a lot Ohmnicide (distortion plugin), Massive and Serum.
Q. How do you make Bass Sound?
Most of the time by synthesis. I usually work with multiple layers of sounds, each layer has dedicated effect chains. I’m not a big fan of doing a lot of automation because it’s really painful to tweak. I like to blend my basses with samples to add more texture. You can really throw in whatever you want and find interesting sounds. Bass is important in the kind of music I produce, but I usually spend a lot of time on atmosphere and FX.
I try to have a good balance between frontal bass sounds and other stuff to react with. It’s more about having a kind of system with calls and responses, more than a really ‘in-your-face’ bass sounds.
Q. What is the most fun part of music production?
When you start a new tune and you get real nice, real quick. Usually if I struggle to do a draft I enjoy, I delete everything and open a new blank project. The second most fun part is when everything is done and I can really fine tune everything and spend time on the editing.
Great moments are also when a happy accident emerges, with synth or various part of the tune.
Q. How much politics and thoughts are reflected in your music?
I never really thought about that. If I can establish a comparison with books, I try to make Sci-Fi music. It’s usually a bit dystopic, oppressive and broken. I’m not sure if there is a message behind all this noise, it’s more descriptive and everyone can interpret their own mental images.
I’m not someone really involved in politics and causes, quite a cynical guy. All theses dark landscapes could be interpreted as a warning before a great collapse, I hope people are aware of this. But in my case I will be more willing to grab some popcorn and watch the end of the world.
Q. Do you have any advice for the young creator?
Nowadays you have access to tons of tutorial videos and VST’s are really great and enable you to produce music on any sort of device. It’s a perfect time for you to start making music.
My best advice is trying to finish your tunes. Even if the mix down is bad or whatever. Don’t get stuck in one great loop or a killing intro. You learn so much by developing an idea and concluding what you’ve already done.
Q. What is the theme or concept of "Drowned Landscapes"?
The main theme is the sea. A phantasmagoric vision of the sea. Each tune referred to a location that I tried to describe. I live far away from the sea, so it’s more a kind of vision that represents passage, hazards and hope.
Q. How did you make the Drum for Drowned Landscapes?
All drums parts were programmed with Ez drummer except for the more ‘natural sounding’ drums that were mixed textures to kicks and snares. Most of the tunes are written in 7/4 time signature with shuffle, which is a bit challenging for me.
I tried to get a more ‘human feel’ on the drum parts to keep it entertaining. The tunes are still mainly drum driven but I had to compose with lot more instruments this time around. In fact, it was easier for me than writing a standard Drum & Bass tunes where really strong elements are needed to carry the track.
Q. Why did you cover Tom Waits ‘Just The Right Bullets’?
Tom Waits is such an amazing artist. All the albums are great, sometimes catchy, sometimes experimental, but always full of feeling and excitement. ‘Rain Dogs’ and ‘Swordfish Trombone’ albums were big influence for this album, especially in the choice of instruments used (organ, marimba, glass piano etc) ‘Just The Rights Bullet’ is an awesome track from ‘The Black Rider’ album, originally it’s a play written by Robert Wilson and William Burroughs (what a dream team). I took inspiration from the album version and an extract from the play I found on Youtube.
I tried my best to blend the original with the aesthetics of the other tunes. I wanted to pay homage to a really important artist to me, and not ruin the original.
Q. What is the most crazy Live memories you have ever had?
A lot of crazy stuff happened, for sure. The recent craziest thing was the venue I played in last year in London at a ‘not-authorised rave’ which was set up in an unoccupied building in the financial district. They were empty and within 4 hours there was a bar and 2 dance floors were ongoing over 3 floors of the building.
Q. Now the world is changing with corona. What do you think the future of the music industry will be? Also, does it have any effect on your music?
I really don’t know. Currently, it’s a nightmare for gigs and club culture, everything seems to be being postponed, but I don’t know if all the venues can hold back with no income during these months. Lockdown has seen a rise of livestreaming shows, Which is cool. It introduced a brand new dynamic with live chat for listeners. These times are also an opportunity to focus on producing music, so I think great tunes will be created and released during this historial global event.
On my side, I was still working remotely during the French lockdown, so it didn’t really change that much. I turned my home studio into personnel office. I finally could blast grindcore without annoying my co-workers.
Q. Please tell me the release schedule for the future. Do you have any new challenges or targets you'd like to achieve?
I started working on techno tunes. It's still a industrial but less ‘packed’ as my usual tunes. It’s not that easy to work with minimal material. I tried several times in creating Flashcore tunes but I never really end up with something ‘OK’ I hope, one day to achieve a decent EP with super fast beats and atmospheric landscapes.