MDC Interview#47 " Scheme Boy "

Scheme Boy has been a major part of London’s breakcore and electronica scene for many years now. From humble beginnings as co-founder of Adverse Camber (responsible for the now infamous Awesome Power parties) to internationally recognised artist. Since his initial release on Ninja Columbo Records back in 2007, Scheme Boy has always merged his love of melodic, acid tinged electronica with smashed up hardcore and DnB grooves. Never one for sticking to any one style, a Scheme Boy set could take you through a variety of genres, tempos and sonic tapestries whilst never forgetting to keep the groove solid throughout.

Although the back catalogue of his releases would indicate a hardcore/breakcore artist (albeit a melodic one), its in his sets/mixes that you get to see the full spectrum of his sound, which covers IDM, wonky techno, dubstep, jungle, DnB and of course hardcore.

Scheme Boy has appeared on Industrial Strength, Ninja Columbo, Peace Off/Bang-a-Rang, Anticlone, Sustained Records, Nekrolog1k and Adverse Camber.

Q. Where are you from? In what kind of environment did you grow up and how did you first encounter music?

I am from the south of England, born into a family of five. Although my parents are not musicians, they are music enthusiasts. My siblings and I were brought up on a healthy diet of 60s and 70s rock and Motown. I have strong memories of setting up our kitchen saucepans and beating them like drums along to Black Sabbath’s Volume 4 album when I was a small child. I still have that exact vinyl copy to this day! At some time between my ninth and tenth birthday I started taking drum lessons at school and started to teach myself guitar and bass shortly after. I soon put together a rock covers band and performed my first gig at the age of 12 (1990). I have gigged every year since then and only plan to stop when I am dead.

Q. Who are some of your influences?

Influences (in a rough chronological order) would be; Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Pantera, Ozric Tentacles, Dream Theatre, Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Weather Report, Tower of Power, The Prodigy, Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Autechre, µ-ziq, Boards of Canada, Tipper, Speedy J, Surgeon, Hellfish and The DJ Producer. All of them are in some way responsible for my taste and writing style over the years. That said, the biggest influences in my life have been the people actually in my life. At some point all of the above artists were recommended to me by friends, family or other musicians/producers I worked with. Without people with exceptionally good music taste in my life, I probably wouldn’t have discovered most of the music I love today.

Q. When did you first listen to hardcore techno? What was your first impression?

This all depends on how you define hardcore techno. The term may mean different things to different people. To me, hardcore techno, especially when I first encountered it, was artists like Hellfish, The DJ Producer and The Outside Agency. These artists first came to my attention a few years after I fell in love with electronic music. I was originally a traditional musician, performing in rock, metal, jazz and show bands prior to my electronic music awakening. In my teenage years I was quite anti dance music. I just preferred metal!

It wasn’t until 1998, when some fellow band members introduced me to the music of Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Autechre and Boards of Canada. Discovering those artists literally changed my world view. They made me realize how musical and emotive electronic music could really be. I owe everything that I have achieved in music since to the fact my synth player at the time lent me a copy of Hard Normal Daddy by Squarepusher. The fusion of jazz and eclectic jungle on that album blew my mind. I have been hooked ever since.

As for hardcore techno (as I define it), full credit has to go to the Planet Mu record label. When they released the Hellfish & Producer compilation, Bastard Sonz of Rave, I fell in love with the sound immediately. I guess, coming from a metal background, I was always going to gravitate towards the more extreme ends of electronic music and sound design. To me, that hardcore techno sound wasn’t an extension of the early rave days, like it is for most people, it was the extension of Warp style electronica, the natural place for this synthetic sound design world to go. I am very different to many of my hardcore techno friends and colleagues in that respect. I don’t have the same pedigree of those early rave scenes in the UK. I came to hardcore via metal, jazz and electronica. I’m still just a hardcore techno tourist/imposter.

Q. What was the first rave you ever went to? What impressed you the most at that time?

I am not sure I remember much about it other than it was in the late 90s and a cross between techno, drum and bass and psy-trance, somewhere in North London. I remember having a lot of fun and strangely, I can also remember exactly what my girlfriend at the time was wearing, mainly because her trousers were mental! The rest is a wonderful blur of crowds, lasers and bass.

Q. When did you start music activities? What did you do first?

I started out as a drummer sometime in the 1987/88 school year. I spent my childhood and teenage years playing in rock and metal bands. It wasn’t until I went to music college in 1995 that I fully embraced jazz and funk. I then went on to play in jazz quartets, big bands and show bands, doing musical theatre and small jazz sessions. By the time the year 2000 came around I was fully submerged in electronic music and that was the year I bought my first ever music-making computer, my trusted G3 400MHz PowerBook! I loved that machine. I wrote and performed live on it for many years. It’s crazy to think that was all possible on a 400MHz processor. You can’t even run a phone on processing power that low these days! Until the purchase of that Powerbook, my entire recorded music work had all been on tape. Four and eight track tape machines for home demos and 16 or 24 track tape in the professional studios I have been lucky enough to work in over the years. I am grateful I didn’t start writing electronic music until we could use computers as samplers, rather than the old hardware units. I appreciate their place in history and I have lots of respect for those producers that made pioneering records using them, but if I had to deal with only a few seconds sampling time and editing on a tiny lcd screen, I probably would have just stuck to metal and jazz!

Q. In which cities was hardcore techno popular in the UK at that time?

I can’t really say much about the years prior to the late 90s as I wasn’t part of any electronic or dance music scene during that time. I just wasn’t involved in that world. From the 2000s onwards some cities have had some preferences for types of dance music, but as the UK is quite small, most styles have eventually permeated all across the country.

London and Bristol were definitely the front runners for jungle and drum and bass; London and Manchester for dubstep. Techno, being one of the older genres, has been popular across most of the UK for some time, but London and Birmingham have been its strongholds for many years now. Hardcore techno had its roots largely in the north of England, North Wales and Scotland, with events like Steam, North and Species leading the way with that style. As for breakcore, despite its very early UK origins in London and its brief takeover in Brighton due to Wrong Music, Bristol was its true UK home and remains so to this day.

Q. When did you start "Scheme Boy"? What were you doing before that?

I officially changed my artist name to Scheme Boy sometime in late 2004. I started out in electronic music in 2000 under the name of Boep, which was a duo of myself and Rory Randomoidz during our learning years. I loved the Boep years. I look back on them very fondly. It was a very free time. Electronic music hadn’t been as fragmented into the large number of genres we see today and everything was still new to me. Rory and I didn’t really know what we were doing or even what we wanted to do. It was just four years of pure experimentation. No genre rules, no production rules, just us being us, with a cracked copy of Logic 4 on OS9. Bliss! We made some very strange music and you couldn’t really classify any of it. It had breakcore elements and definitely a breakcore attitude, but it was mainly influenced by early Warp records, which ensured it was all laden with acid and electro. A couple of years after Rory and I disbanded the Boep project, we got together and wrote one more tune. That tune, Tequila Mockingbird, came out on your 2009 Murder Channel compilation. I am still very proud of that tune. It still sounds unique. A true one-off!

I also used the name Barry Von Weedhousen for solo gigs during those early Boep years. At that time Scheme Boy was just my display name on the Planet Mu forum. It was a joke name given to me by Rory! It eventually became my main artist name once I decided Barry Von Weedhousen was just too long and too silly for the sort of music I was making. I still use the Barry name to this day, but only for my side project of pop mashups. You can hear that silly nonsense on the BVWHTV YouTube channel if you’re curious.

Starting life as Scheme Boy didn’t really affect what I was doing musically. It was just a new name to show a more serious intent to my electronic music productions. Boep and Barry were my learning years and Scheme Boy was meant to be my professional years. As it turned out, the learning never stopped and I have still never settled on one style of music composition or DJ set. I often think that maybe I should have used more aliases for each of the styles I like to perform, but ultimately, I decided all those styles make up what is me. So, other than the pop mashups under the Barry Von Weedhousen name, I’ve kept all my solo work under the Scheme Boy moniker. I always saw myself as just making heavy electronica. That was as specific as I felt any sort of genre tag could be for me. At times other people have categorized me as breakcore and then obviously hardcore techno, but in reality, neither felt particularly accurate. If you were to go through all my online DJ sets and performances you would find a consistent attitude but not necessarily a consistent tempo and timbre. Just give me kicks, breaks, acid and bass in all its glorious forms. I don’t care what it’s called! However, I am probably happier with the breakcore tag above all others, just because the breakcore attitude and its ethos of pulling in strands from all genres and mashing them up together is very much me. That much is undeniable.

Q. What do you remember about the Planet-Mu forums? What was going on in that forum?

The old Planet Mu forum was an extremely important platform for me and many of my peers. It brought so many like-minded people together and forged friendships that have lasted to this day.
In terms of its content, well that varied significantly from day to day, but it was mainly us nerdy types that liked heavy electronica, very underground rave and IDM, swapping news on releases, gigs and tech stuff like equipment and software tricks. The beauty of it was so many of Planet Mu’s artists were also regular posters. We were all in the melting pot together, established artists, upcoming artists and a loyal fan base all swapping ideas and chatting absolute nonsense together. It really was wonderful and one of the best places the internet has ever provided for me.
During its latter years, as it got bigger, it became infested with moronic trolls. Some of which were funny for a while, but some were just awful specimens trying to ruin everyone else’s day. Myself and a couple of other regulars were eventually made moderators of the board in an effort to get rid of these shit-posters. This worked for a while but ultimately the forum got too big and it became too much work to keep the space pleasant and enjoyable for the large majority of its users. Like all good things, it came to an end and we all had to move on with our lives.

Q. Please tell me about your encounter with The Teknoist / Ninja Columbo.

Unlike my first rave in the 90s, I remember the first time I met Mike Teknoist very clearly. We already knew each other prior to our first meeting, as we were both long time contributors to the Planet Mu forum, but it was at the now infamous Kraked Squat Party (held in West London in June 2003) that we first met in person. I was due to play as Boep with Rory. It was our first gig with such a big international line-up. Whilst we were waiting for the rave to start, sat on a giant crate of toys in a disused warehouse, we ended up chatting to a mad Northerner named Mike. After a bit of polite chat and some impolite jokes, Mike and I realized we knew each other from the Planet Mu forum. After that rave Mike came back to my house and stayed for a few days. We’ve been inseparable ever since.

I feel that just casually mentioning the Kraked Squat Party does not do the event justice. I cannot emphasize just how important that one night was. Not just for Mike and I, but for the world of underground heavy electronica, specifically breakcore and its related genres. That one event brought so many artists from around the world together for the first time and most of us have remained dear friends ever since. Just look at the line-up: Hellfish; Kid 606; The Bug; Shitmat; Chevron; dDamage; Knifehandchop: DJ 100000000; DJ Donna Summer; Adadaat, and so many more. I’ll never forget all the Japanese crew getting totally naked in the upstairs room. That party was total chaos but it was beautiful chaos, and because of the people it brought together for the first time, it was one of the most important nights of my life.
Fast-forward a few months and Mike takes me to my first Oblivion event, which was my first taste of the proper hardcore techno scene in the North of England. It was there that I met Greg Dolphin for the first time. Just as with Mike at the Kraked Squat Party, Greg and I became instant friends. We bonded over our love of music outside of the genres we were supposed to represent. We both had a strong desire to hear more styles crossover with each other, especially the world of orchestral soundtracks crashing into hard rave.

Mike and Greg had already written tunes together at this point (one of the reasons Mike was at the Kraked party was to meet Hellfish and get copies of his first ever Deathchant release with Dolphin - DC49). They were starting to get a new label idea off the ground, so I can’t claim too much credit for the conception of Ninja Columbo, but I was there from its early days and I like to think that I helped shape its sound direction along the way. We were all united in one aim: to fuse elements of hardcore techno, breakcore, epic soundtracks and rich electronica into a new style of rave music. For me, the three of us meeting was a eureka moment. We’ve each done a lot of things differently since 2003, but we have remained consistent with our musical values. We’ve kept the desire for our respective brands of rave music to be melodic and beautiful, whilst also remaining brutal and heavy. That has always been the very essence of Ninja Columbo.

Q. About "Section 20". This song is a masterpiece of the history of 2000s UK hardcore. Why did you decide to make melodious hardcore? I think this song is a mix of Braindance and hardcore. Please tell me the background for this song.

That is very generous of you to say so. I am not sure I totally agree about it being a masterpiece but I am glad it is still thought of so fondly. I am one of the few people involved in the modern UK hardcore techno scene that didn’t come from an early rave background. As I have already mentioned, I discovered hardcore techno after I had already fallen in love with IDM/electronica, mainly the artists from Warp, Rephlex and Planet Mu. That love of electronica, plus my metal background, is what has always inspired me to make music that is sonically extreme, yet emotive and musical. I have never been able to separate musicality, be it melody or harmony, from sound design and beat creation. It has always been intrinsically linked to me. In some ways this has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because it has helped keep my compositions musical, rather than just sound design driven. But it has also held me back from creating a lot of dance-floor friendly productions that other DJs could play at clubs. I couldn’t help myself from being too driven by melody and traditional song formation. I still maintain that I write songs rather than dance tunes. I think that comes from my metal and jazz origins, rather than having roots in the early UK rave scene.

Section 20 was my first attempt at writing a hardcore techno influenced song. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to make traditional hardcore techno. I wanted it to come from my heart, not from what the scene expected a hardcore techno song to sound like. Yes, the scene influenced me, but I didn’t want it to dictate my style. When I began to write Section 20 my personal life was hard. I was going through a lot of problems and was quite depressed. The main melody in the song is very much a “call and response” or “question and answer” to my feelings at the time. It was an outlet that I badly needed. Like most of my songs, it is not a happy one!

Q. You and The Teknoist are also linked to the breakcore scene. When did that start? Why did you guys connect with the breakcore scene?

To me, breakcore is just an extension of heavy electronica and its fusion with elements of jungle. In my world, breakcore came before hardcore techno. For Mike it was the other way around. His roots are well founded in the early days of UK rave. Somehow, we met in the middle of it all, which was breakcore. I regard myself more of a breakcore artist than a hardcore techno artist, but in reality, I struggle to identify as either of those labels. Genre names are useful for shops to sell records but I don’t think they help when forced upon an artist. They can dictate, and therefore stifle, creativity. I am the sum of all the styles I have ever loved and I will always play multi-genre sets. At some shows I just play bass and breaks, some are just techno and acid/IDM, some are straight-up hardcore techno and some are just breakcore through and through. Playing one style of music for an entire set, let alone a career, seems really boring to me. It is my attitude that is consistent, not the genres. I play hard, heavy, melodic and sonically rich at all tempos. Gabber can be beautiful and ambient can be banging! It is about attitude and delivery, not labels and scenes. That said, the new mix I have made for you guys at Murder Channel is very much a hardcore techno mix with just a smattering of melodic breakcore as the icing.

Q. You made many collaboration tracks with Teknoist. How do you make a collaboration track with him?

Every tune Mike and I wrote together was made side-by-side in the studio. We have occasionally emailed each other little ideas, but all the main writing has been done together in the same room. Around the time I wrote the original demo for Section 20 (late 2003), I was still using Logic as my DAW. It was Mike who showed me that the workflow for our styles was much quicker in Cubase. Once I switched to Cubase, Mike and I started writing together whenever we could. 2004 to 2007 was a particularly prolific period for the both of us. We taught each other a lot in that time and shaped each other’s sound a great deal.

Q. Are you working at Varispeed? Why did you start a booking agency?

I started working as a booking agent for some of my artist friends back in 2008. I had been with NG-NG prior to this (as an artist) and I really disliked the way that agency was run. Instead, I wanted to create something that genuinely put the artists first. In particular, I felt breakcore artists were not getting decent representation and were constantly being screwed over by bad agencies and amateur promoters. I was fed up seeing my friends being financially ripped off over and over again. I believed I had a distinct advantage in being a decent and fair agent as I was both an artist and a promoter (I used to run the Adverse Camber/Awesome Power events in London and still promote events to this day as Varispeed). I understood the business from both perspectives. As an artist, I have dealt with bad agencies and bad promoters; as a promoter, I understood how difficult it was to make the economics of underground events work. With this dual understanding I was in a unique position to create a fairer environment for all and ensure nobody got ripped off. That was certainly my aim at the time and still is to this day.

During my time as an agent, I have worked for The Centrifuge, which was more focused on the IDM side of the scene. A few years later, I co-created MethLab with Tommy Broken Note and our colleague Jef. I brought the breakcore/hardcore to both agencies! After my experiences with NG-NG (as an artist) and The Centrifuge and MethLab (as an agent) it became clear to me that the only way to ensure my artists were looked after in fair and decent way was to setup my own company rather than work with other people whose issues and sense of business direction were incompatible with mine. I am proud of the fact most of the artists who I initially started to represent and took with me to The Centrifuge and to MethLab, artists like Enduser and Rotator, followed me through all those different businesses and have remained a part of Varispeed and my life to this day. I am very lucky to have such loyal artists, ones that I consider to be some of my closest friends, as well as trusted business clients. NG-NG, The Centrifuge and MethLab have all come and gone, but I am still here, still continuing to look after my friends’ and peers’ business interests as Varispeed and I have no plans to quit.

I love the current Varispeed artist roster. It has changed a fair amount over the years but right now it is the most diverse it has ever been. It isn’t just breakcore/hardcore artists anymore and I love that. There is so much more to life than one style of music. I want to be in a position to help all my friends whose work I believe in, regardless of style. If you check out the current line-up  - you’ll find all kinds of breakcore and hardcore techno artists as you would expect (Hellfish, Stazma and Gore Tech for example), but also jungle in the forms of Algorithmic and S.Murk; bassline from Kanji Kinetic; modular techno and electronica from Somatic Responses and Return Code Zero; huge slabs of bass from the Slugwife crew of Kursa, Seppa and FFINN. Varispeed is really just a showcase of artists and styles I personally love; I’m honoured that such talented people put their faith in me to represent them.

Q. How do you feel about the current situation of breakcore? What do you think will happen in the future?

I am not sure how productive or accurate any predictions I could make would be. The last few years have seen a decline in breakcore within certain geographic areas. Kick drums took over for a while and everything went really straight bam bam bam for a while, but I am seeing the tide turn and breakcore in its most fucked up and broken forms starting to get popular again. I think it’s one of those styles that will never get truly popular and will always rise and fall in small amounts within the underground scene. But it is here to stay, if for no other reason than its artists and fan base are usually the nicest and most loyal and dedicated people you could ever hope to encounter. Every scene and genre has its share of egos and arseholes, but generally, breakcore is made by nerds and listened to by nerds. As a consequence, it rarely has to deal with the sort of business sharks and macho behaviour you find in the drum and bass world, for example. Although that’s probably because there is no money in breakcore; things would probably change if breakcore suddenly became mainstream!

Q. Varispeed made a Peace Off Takeover @ Bang Face. What did it turn out to be?

You’re talking about the 2019 Bang Face Weekender, which for me was a very special one. I have been a regular performer at Bang Face since its early days in the basement of the Traffik club (London), way before they moved to Electrowerks and before the weekenders could even be conceived. I have been privileged to play at the large majority of their events since. But, 2019 was one of the most special. Not only was I asked to close the main room on the opening night alongside The Teknoist (catch that set on my Soundcloud page), which was my first ever main stage appearance at a weekender, but also because I was asked to curate the late Friday night schedule in the Queen Vic to celebrate 20 years of Peace Off Records. It was amazing and intense having all those Peace Off artists fire their way through seven hours of insane 45-minute sets. It was relentless and the crowd went mental for it all the way through. It was a magical moment watching it all unfold after months of planning and a very fitting tribute to a label everyone in breakcore owes a great debt to.

Q. What do you think of the current hardcore scene in the UK?

This is difficult to answer. I think any problems facing hardcore techno are also facing other underground scenes, like breakcore, as well. The main issue we are all facing is losing viable venues to capitalist property ventures. We are losing all the smaller and more affordable venues, which means only mainstream music events are able to take place. I think this is having a detrimental effect all across the UK and across all styles of underground music.
This may cause an increase and resurgence of the free/illegal party scene. This might be good for the audience, temporarily, but it will not be good for the artists. Without a decent supply of gigs in which they are fairly paid, artists will not be able to afford to keep working within their chosen music scene. Doing it for the love of music is great and full of well-meaning, good intentions, but it doesn’t help artists to feed their children or pay their rent. Only professional gigs and tours can do that. Professional shows and tours can only happen with suitable, affordable venues being available to underground promoters.

Whilst all UK towns are facing a decline of smaller venues, Bristol is currently my primary focus and is to my mind, the rave capital of the UK. In an effort to keep smaller parties and the breakcore/multi genre scene alive, I am starting a monthly Varispeed event from August 2021 onwards. These smaller, more intimate events will be to showcase the UK’s upcoming and/or unrecognised talent, as well as occasional appearances from more established Varispeed artists.

Q. How do you feel about the secret raves and parties held during the lockdown last year? How do you think Rave/Festival will change in the future due to Corona's self-restraint? Do you think that online DJs/parties will make people less interested in actual raves/festivals?

From a UK perspective, I did not agree with people hosting large scale events whilst the pandemic was ongoing. There were two issues to consider. Firstly, people’s health. Was it responsible to put on events whilst people in the thousands were dying each day? No, I don’t think it was. Secondly, this reckless behaviour damaged our scene and industry. It did not make the UK rave scene look good in the eyes of outsiders. I don’t believe that the damage done to our collective reputation is good for anyone in the long run. These events may have also contributed towards extending how long both the pandemic and the restrictions we’ve had to live with have lasted. That has real world implications on an artist’s ability to earn, survive and sustain themselves. I understand people’s desire to put on a rave, especially when it seemed like the whole world was going to absolute shit, but ultimately it was a short-sighted decision with potentially very serious consequences. I saw lots of videos of people at those raves dancing to tunes made by the artists who were stuck at home, obeying lockdown restrictions and unable to earn any money due to the lack of legal events. That didn’t seem right to me. I found it both irresponsible and disrespectful to the situation that has affected all of us, across all parts of the world.

I don’t make that criticism lightly. The UK free party scene has been extremely valuable to me and my community over the years. Most of us got our first gigs at these raves. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of both the punters and the sound system crews from the UK free party scene that believed in us. I just think that some crews should have been more patient in 2020 and thought of the bigger picture. But it’s done now. It’s time to look forward to whatever the new normal is going to be in 2021 and beyond.

I think the desire to experience music live will never go away. The online events are great and have been especially useful to us all during the Covid pandemic. I am sure online gigs will continue now that people are used to them, but they will never replace live in-the-flesh performances. You just can’t get away from the fact you need a big sound system and lots of friendly faces to make a proper rave. That will never change.

Q. Weird question.Would you rather listen to the best sound (sound system) alone (there can only be one person in that space), or in an environment with poor sound but with many people? In other words, do you think that the way we hear and feel music changes depending on the environment and the person?

That would totally depend on which artist was performing. For most artists I would probably choose the poor sound system but enjoying it with friends and fellow ravers. However, over the years there have been several performances that I have not wanted to miss a single note of and would love to have had the entire venue to myself. I have had to tell some of my dear friends to shut the fuck up and leave me alone whilst I tried to immerse myself in an Autechre set. Sometimes I am there for the social and sometimes I am there for the art. A good rule is, if I am dancing with my eyes closed, stay away from me until after the set has finished. I do not want to hear your mundane shit whilst enjoying music, no matter how close friends we are.

Q. What's the craziest thing you've experienced at a rave/party?

In over 20 years of raves, I have seen some very bizarre and strange things happen. Most of which are probably not suitable for being published. If I had to pick just one, I would say the meat room at the Kraked Squat Party. It was one of the most disgusting things I have seen in my life and still haunts me to this day. As previously mentioned, that party was held in a disused warehouse in West London. The building was full of old stock. They seemed to have every household item you could think of, from crates of plastic toys to boxes of cleaning products. However, in one room they had clearly been using it to store meat and other food products. When the business closed down, they did not take the meat with them. They left it there to rot, and rot it certainly did! At some point during the rave the room was found and word got around to everyone at the party that there was a mysterious room full of rotten meat, so much so that the walls themselves were covered in rotting blue and green slime. Obviously, curiosity took hold and I had to check it out. Big mistake! Disgusting doesn’t come close to describing that room. It was like a scene from Hellraiser!

Q. What are the top 3 tracks you played the most as a DJ set?

I am not too sure of the accurate answer, but I think the following three have been rinsed to death by myself over the years…

1. Theme from Fuck Daddy – Hellfish & Producer
2. Wet (Bent Grannies) – Scheme Boy & The Teknoist
3. Block Control VIP - Noisia

Q. Please tell me about your future release plan. And what is the goal of your music activity?

One positive thing lockdown has done for me is that it has allowed me time to rethink my approaches and processes when it comes to sound design and song creation. Cubase, along with Ableton Live rewired into it, had been my main production setup since the early 2000s. I have also used Ableton as my main performance tool at gigs for most of my career. But it has only really been over the last 12 months that I started to really learn Ableton as a sound design and production tool, rather than a performance tool. I now approach it as if it is a kind of modular synth setup. That, coupled with now owning a Roland TB-03 and Arturia MicroFreak, has moved me towards a more hands-on performance-based style, utilising a lot generative audio and midi processes that I have been discovering through Ableton and Max4Live patches.

Up until this point I had always approached my electronic music projects like I used to when I was in bands playing instruments. I’d have the initial ideas and I’d start laying them out in a linear way, very traditional. I used my studio tools to realise the ideas in my head, to the best of my ability. Music first, sound design later. I now have my studio setup in such a way that it feels like my studio and I jam together and inspire each other. I have given it parameters to work in, rather than strict instruction. My studio has become another band mate to jam with, rather than pieces of equipment. As a consequence, the sound design process is now much more integrated into the composition stage. This is obviously affecting my overall sound, and I think for the better. I am finding this new approach a lot more fun and it has really invigorated my love of being in the studio and creating noise just for the sake of it.

I know the last year has been horrific for so many people around the world and it saw my industry collapse almost overnight, but creatively, it has done me a lot of good to have this time and freedom to rip up my own rulebook and rethink my entire production process. I don’t know exactly what that means for my future records, but the new processes and potential they bring feels more exciting now than it has done in many years. I recently put a track out on my Bandcamp page called Acid-19; it is just one of the many generative projects I have been experimenting with recently. I am sure there will be plenty more to come soon. I have some remix projects underway for other artists and a new acid project with Kursa to launch later in 2021. My only long-term objectives are to keep learning and keep trying to be better. The rest I will just make up as I go along!


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