Published: Real Groove, September 2010.
French producer Onra moves beyond the realm of beat tape producer on his first ‘real’ album, Long Distance.
In many ways Paris based producer Onra typifies the crate-digging ethos to the extreme. His brilliant 2007 release, Chinoiseries, was built almost entirely of samples pulled from old Chinese and Vietnamese records dug up on a trip back to his native Vietnam; and while his latest release, Long Distance, doesn’t quite have the same conceptual depth, it’s equally adept at invoking a certain setting through its sample based approach.
Taking its cues from ‘80s funk and r ‘n’ b, Long Distance sits a couple notches above the current crop of electronic producers fixated on programming their beats a little ‘off’ and sending manipulated vocal samples swirling about hazy, synth-laden backdrops. Still, a quick chat with Arnaud Bernard reveals that much like his musical education in general, it was hip hop that turned him on to the sound of ‘80s boogie.
“I wasn’t that open-minded when I was young. I got into other kinds of music because of the producers who used samples. They introduced me, basically, to every kind of music. Now I think I can say my tastes are really, really, really wide-range.”
It was a steady diet of ‘90s hip hop, r ‘n’ b and new jack that introduced him to the world of Bernard Wright and Leroy Burgess, both seemingly reference points for Long Distance. But Bernard’s fifth album is more than just simple pastiche; the guy knows how to program beats, ensuring the washy synths and snatches of r ‘n’ b vocals are underpinned by the most crucial of hip hop foundations – quality drums.
Bernard is also clear this is the first release he considers an album in the true sense of the word. “Well it really makes sense because the two first albums (Tribute with Quetzal and The Big Payback with Byron The Aquarius) are collaborations. Then Chinoiseries is an album in a beat tape format, and 1.0.8. is just a beat tape. Long Distance stands out from all those other projects and also sounds more accomplished, more polished. I have spent quite a lot of time on it, when I haven’t really done that on the other ones.”
Although it’s hard to dismiss Chinoiseries or 1.0.8 as simply beat tapes, Long Distance has a musical depth that supersedes both of his previous solo releases. And with Chinoiseries 2 and a few other collaborative projects in the pipeline, it’s clear Long Distance is just the start for Onra.
6:45 pm • 21 September 2010
Published: 3D World, September 8, 2010.
Dutch rule-breaker Martijn Deykers tells Harry Pearl that he’s more than happy to merge dubstep, techno and house through his work as Martyn from the relative suburban anonymity of Washington, D.C
Considering the company he’s often found in, Martijn Deykers cuts an odd figure in the world of modern electronic music. A self-described ‘loner’ leading a double life on the weekend, the Dutchman beloved for his productions as Martyn is in the peculiar position of being one of the most sought-after electronic producers in the world, yet remains content to be away from all its main centres – happily ensconced within suburban America.
Although a life in Washington DC is something he fell into (his wife is American) it seems it’s also one which he wouldn’t trade, the peripheral status something he prefers. “I mean I didn’t move to DC just for music – or the absence of music – but I did like the environment just because I quite like to be on my own, doing my thing. It’s really nice to go visit London or Berlin, but I’m always really happy to leave again,” Deykers explains, between sips of his morning coffee.
“It’s nice to kind of suck up what type of atmosphere there is, or who’s doing what, or what sort of music is going on there, but at the end of the day I just go home and be here in suburban America where no one has a clue what electronic music is, or what it’s all about, and I can just kind of blend in with the rest of suburbia. And just make my music the way I want to, without having too much interference.”
Since he was ushered within dubstep’s elastic borders a few years ago, the Eindhoven native has proven one of its most genuinely progressive lights – steadily releasing tunes which have run the gamut of house, techno, UK garage and dubstep. Despite the oft-drawn relationship between his genre defying blend of modern bass music and his geographic isolation, most of his releases have exhibited a familiarity and appreciation for the long lineage of electronic producers that have come before him – from Derrick May to El-B – and it’s something he’s always tried to fit into his DJ sets.
“I’ve always been collecting old house music and old techno music and that’s generally quite slow. So that 130 (bpm) mark is just really nice, because you can play new and old at the same time without either one sounding a bit weird, you know? I think especially, I do like to play my classics and you don’t wanna have those sound ridiculous because you pitch it up too much.”
While local audiences will no doubt have their pulse set at around 130bpm when he embarks on his Australian tour in late September, it seems the tempo he’s been DJing at lately has rubbed off on his forthcoming album too, with Martyn admitting it has more of a house and techno vibe than his earlier releases. He also adds that he’s looking to create something that’s a little more stylistically uniform than his debut, Great Lengths.
“I guess the only thing I can say about it is, where I think the first album – I was really happy with that, and I really like the sort of mix of styles that’s in the first album – but I think the second one will be a little bit more homogeneous. More one style than a dubstep track, or a techno track, or a house track, or something like that. So I think I’m just trying to kind of mould everything into one thing now and make that my sort of signature sound, you know?”
Despite plenty of eclectic offerings on his first album, and a recent Fabric mix that swerved from the 8-bit funk of Hudson Mowhawke’s ‘Joy Fantastic’ to Roska’s tough, minimal, UK funky track ‘Without It’, Martyn’s always had a distinct sound to his own productions ¬– something which is often most obvious in his consistently superb remix work.
“I usually take quite a lot of time to do remixes… as it turns out it’s usually a completely different song, where sort of a theme touches on the original. I remember way, way back in the early ‘90s when I was buying a lot of IDM sort of music, like early Warp stuff, there was this interview with Autechre and they were touching on this remix thing as well, and they said our goal for remixes is that we take one tiny little element from the original and we build a completely new Autechre song around it. For some reason that stuck in my mind as well and I try not to do a version of a track, but try and make a real new song with an original element.”
With remixes like the wickedly good ‘DCM Remix’ of TRG’s ‘Broken Heart’, and the dreamy ‘Heartbeat Remix’ of Flying Lotus’ ‘Roberta Flack’ filling his discography, it’s no wonder he’s been receiving a couple of remix requests a week as of late. But it’s also a sign he’s well and truly cemented his place at the fore of modern, bass-orientated electronic music, something which has seen him appear at the Red Bull Music Academy as a lecturer and workshop leader recently. It’s reflective of the attention he’s garnered over the last couple of years, seemingly sudden from an outside perspective, but something he’s adamant has been a result of his hard work.
“Well I mean I’ve always been working hard on my thing anyway, I think it’s not really about momentum, but it’s more about what peoples’ reaction is to the music. And yeah I do think when I did the Fabric CD, and when I did some more Red Bull work, and I did my album ¬– you’re just being taken serious a bit more by press and also by other people, and by playing festivals you just open up your music to a lot of people.”
3:43 pm • 10 September 2010 • 1 note
Published: Real Groove, August, 2010.
Long established as one of the country’s finest drum’ n’ bass producers, Bulletproof explores new territory on his latest dubstep-inspired album.
Mid-way through my interview with producer, musician, and label boss Jay ‘Bulletproof’ Monds, he pauses and makes one thing clear: “It’s not like I’ve completely stopped drum’ n’ bass or turned my back on it in anyway whatsoever. It’s still my number one passion – Bulletproof is drum and bass.”
The sentiment is hardly surprising. Even considering a new album of incredibly convincing dubstep in the form of Soundtrack To Forever, Bulletproof has built an indomitable reputation as a producer of dark, neurofunk-style drum’ n’ bass, with a back catalogue that denotes releases on many of the genre’s most recognisable record labels. But talking to him in his Auckland studio it becomes clear that at least part of the reason for his change in tact on Soundtrack To Forever has been the single-minded approach with which he’s pursued his music over the last decade, and a need for creative reinvigoration.
“I basically hit a bit of a dry patch with producing drum’ n’ bass as far as creativity went. Obviously the sound of drum and bass that I’ve been making over the last 10 years, it’s quite a distinct sound, and I didn’t really move too far away from that in those 10 years. Because I’ve built my reputation around making that sound, and doing that for so long, I got lost in it.”
As a result, Bulletproof’s third album leaves his signature drum’ n’ bass sound, drops the BPM and hauls in some of New Zealand’s most talented musicians and producers to craft an album that’s as compelling as it is bass heavy.
The positive reception he received for the dubstep material on Dark Times, Desperate Measures, along with his desire to move beyond the constraints imposed by drum and bass – both in terms of artists he could work with, and commercial radio play – prompted an album that aims to add a new dimension to the Bulletproof sound.
“It’s a transition, but it’s definitely not a step from one genre to another,” states Monds. “The way I try to describe it, it’s all future bass music and that’s what Bulletproof is about – future bass music, and it has been from the start. When a new style of future bass music comes along I’m there, I’m all over it – I love bass, I love sub and I love the vibe that heavy bass music brings.”
6:33 pm • 5 September 2010 • 1 note