45hz012 – DFRNT
November 13, 2010 § Leave a comment
I’ve looked up to this guy for quite a while as he takes the DIY approach to both his own musical work and with the output of his label and is pushing some of the most sublime music you’ll hear.
Easy Alex mate! Can you tell people a little about what you do? As I gather, it isn’t just music you’re a dab hand with?
By day, I’m lead designer for a small web agency based in Edinburgh, and in the evenings I DJ and produce music as DFRNT, I run the Echodub collective and label, I manage the Sitting Ovation blog, and I’m editor for Modus magazine! Sometimes I find some time to eat, sleep and very occasionally I get to have a social life! Also, I’m told my Thai green curry is to die for.
When you’re in the process of writing tunes, do you follow a set routine of how you begin to lay things out, or is it more of a chaotic process? Do you find that your work flow for tunes is similar to that of your design work?
My design work is influenced and driven by research, content, briefs and audience during the day, and I let the design work I do out of hours have more influence from popular culture and creativity. Not to say that my design work during working hours doesn’t have creativity – but it’s important to follow a process, because when it’s your job you have to be able to back up every design decision, and justify all your actions.
Musically it’s completely different. Music is entirely emotional. It’s a feeling, a desire to produce a sound or type of track. Everybody has different approaches, and I don’t think mine is too different to lots of others. I’ll either start with a sound or style in mind, and build up layers towards that, or I’ll be browsing through sounds or patches, and something will catch my ear, maybe a chord or two – and I’ll build it up and out from there.
You’re most well known for making beautiful, ambient dubstep, when did you discover the genre as a whole and what made you lean more towards the melodic side?
The genre as a whole is something I’ve been aware of for a good 3 or 4 years now. I’ve always been keen to produce since I discovered the sound, although my first few productions were much heavier than what I’m known for. The melodic influence actually came from two places. Firstly – I used to produce ambient/IDM type stuff before I discovered dubstep – but it took a while for that to filter through in my productions, and secondly – I felt compelled to work towards deeper tracks after hearing some fine examples of producers doing that sort of thing already. One particular release that sticks in my mind is DJ Madd’s “Numbers” on Vista’s BoomBap label. It blew me away – still does. I quite often play it in my DJ sets even now, 2 or 3 years later.
Do you dabble with any other genres when producing?
Initially I didn’t. When I produced the first album, it was quite strict in terms of my sound. I’ve since (and we’re talking over the past 2 years now) developed in different directions. I’ve just finished a nice drum and bass track, I’ve done a couple of hip hop things, I’ve got really in to techno, both minimal and dub-techno and even recently done a deep house track, down at 109 bpm. In fact, my forthcoming EP on Nu Directions even has a solo piano piece on it.
As someone who plays out in all manner of places, how does your home scene compare to say that of somewhere like London? Do your sets consist solely of your own material, or do you keep it half and half?
Interestingly enough, I’ve not played in London, and have only played in my hometown, Edinburgh a couple of times. Believe it or not, I’ve played more gigs on the East coast of the USA, than I have in UK, if we’re talking about dubstep DJing. Not that I’m complaining about being booked, but I think promoters really shy away from booking me, worried that they’ll get a set that’s too deep, or too obscure. Thing is, I’ve amped my sound up a bit now anway – I can play to a packed dancefloor at peak-time, just as easily as an empty bar at 7pm. My sets are about 60/70% other people’s material. I tend to keep it dancable and often switch between half-tempo deep weighty stuff (tasteful mind!) and the more 4-4 style up-tempo deep-techy stuff. Provided it’s melodic, unique and isn’t going to send people to sleep, then it fits.
As I read in another interview, you had looked up to Synkro for a while before did that remix, but who do you look up to now in terms of established producers and up and comers?
Right now, I love what Dave Huisman’s doing with both 2562 and A Made Up Sound. I like what Paul Rose is doing with both Scuba and SCB. I love what Jack Sparrow is doing too, and I’m very keen to hear more from the Sepalcure boys. Their stuff is amazing.
How did the Echodub project come about, what’s been happening with it over the past year and what should we expect over the next year?
Echodub came about because I realised that if I could put my own tracks out online through a store – I could probably do that for other people. Not only that, but I wanted to create a collective of musicians who could work together, and towards common goals. I saw lots of talent on the forums and blogs being missed, and I wanted to see if I could use Echodub as an opportunity to help people get where they want to be. I’m still proud of the fact that Echodub has had the likes of Indigo and xxxy on board, and that many of our current artists like Jack Dixon, Asa, king slaFF, Muteqx, Roof Light and others are getting solid recognition for their efforts. I’m not saying it’s all Echodub, but I’d like to think that I’ve helped forster some of that, or at least presented opportunities for people to take advantage of.
Future plans are looking pretty good. We’re close to releasing our first vinyl and I’m going to be starting the promotion for that very soon. We’re looking at doing some more digital releases, and I’m considering a 3rd “Echodub Loves” but going for the dub-techno angle this time. I’m not sure yet on that one. Now that Anechoic Remixed is out of the way, I can see a little clearer!
I honestly think we’ve covered everything there Alex, is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap this up proper?
To be honest, I don’t have much to say that I won’t be saying on Sittingovation, in Modus magazine or with my music.
My most recent stuff can be heard on my Soundcloud – DFRNT SoundCloud