Interviewed in March of 2016 by Forrest James
Hometown: Falkirk, Scotland
Current town: Rockport, MA
Website: Click Here
1. So I've been lucky enough to work with you for years but for those who are new to Radio Skotvoid can you give them an idea of how you got into music from an early age?
My parents had a huge vinyl collection of Motown and as a child I could identify songs before I could read, I loved the cover and label art. At my high school dance, “We Call It Acid” was in the Top 10 - I grew up in the 90s rave culture in Scotland. As I got older, my uncle taught me the bass and I played in a punk band when I was in college studying Graphic Design. I listened to a lot of radio and recordings of DJ's mixing techno and jungle - that’s when I got into sampling, hip-hop, and DJ culture more. Which lead me to collect funk 45s and we now go full circle.
2. I've known you as an eclectic DJ, beat wrangler, noise artist, record producer, event organizer, and label owner. How do you balance all of these roles?
It’s pretty hard to balance these roles, however, I am a DJ first and a producer second. Curating and creating kind of come naturally to me, so although it does seem like a lot of work, it isn’t really if you prioritize and give yourself a deadline. I practice every night and record everything I do.
3. You organize an amazing electronic festival called SCENE every year that has had many great performers and is a unique offering for the North Shore. Can you fill us in on what this is?
We are in our sixth year, SCENE stands for Salem’s Chiptune, Electronica and Noise Extravaganza. I was invited through Salem’s Heritage Days, they offered me the half-shell performing space on Salem Willows to close out the Summer Festival. It lands on Beverly’s Homecoming, usually the Sunday before the Salem Jazz & Soul Festival. We usually go all-day, it’s family friendly and we invite new electronic musicians to play in a beautiful environment. The best part is when the sun sets over Beverly/Salem bridge and everyone's just hanging out listening to the music.
4. Let's talk about your labels, Rhythmus Records, and RSVP tapes - how did they get started and what can we expect next from them?
RSVP Tapes started when I had to come up with a demo tape for my first basement show as My brother Daniel. We now have had 12 tapes released and we are celebrating our 5 year anniversary with a tour around Boston and the North Shore. The label esthetic focuses more on improvisational, noise and experimental home recording styles.
Rhythmus Records started just a year a ago. It’s focus is more on the sounds made from retrofitted Gameboys or hand-held devices. We released a compilation tape and ten EP’s within the first eight months, showcasing the artists on the compilation. We have artists from Boston and from Europe on the roster. We have a nice release in the works from Robotsexmusic. Some of which was recorded from SCENE when he performed with a Gameboy and a keytar.
5. What's the secret to your incredible output?
Record everything! Ha! When I graduated college and had to learn to live in the real world I used to set myself mini projects and goals to work towards to keep my creativity flowing. I felt that by giving myself deadlines I began to get to know my own threshold. I break this process up into stages and work on things separately. I can then tie different parts together to create a final product.
6. Let's talk about your solo 7” vinyl releases, Ikea Crimejazz Vol 1 & 2 - what was your inspiration behind creating those and can you share some techniques you deployed while making those records?
My inspiration for these four songs came from my love affair with the genre named skweee. It’s Scandinavian, electronic, synthesizer funk. I went through the whole process from composing, producing, pre-mastering and pressing. Nothing like playing your own vinyl in a mix.
7. Like most of our crew the studio is immensely important and inspirational - what tools are you using the most these days and how?
I record everything I do. I use a lot of recorded audio in my recordings and use audio processing techniques from say an app on an iPad or routed thru some guitar FX pedals. I like to experiment which has its disadvantages when you are trying to create a certain sound for yourself. When I perform Ableton Live is triggered by the iPad from an app called touchABLE. I then sequence and trigger 3 synths using midi notes. My favorite synth being the Alesis Micron, its great for bass. I also have a Korg Sampler for real-time drum manipulation and also various video game consoles and toys to sample. It’s always a work in progress.
8. Talk to me about live performance and how you approach it under your different monikers?
Well, the “My brother Daniel” moniker is the only live work I perform as of now. I have only ever taken my “Radio Skotvoid” original music out live with a band format a few years back, so I haven't performed solo yet. After 10 years of writing in the “studio,” I am finally going to be able to bring my music to the live arena. Using Ableton Live’s Audio to Midi feature, I am rebuilding my discography song by song into separate midi tracks, so I can then control my collection of synths.
9. Part of your brilliance has always been to expose your audiences to new styles of music. I remember seeing you opening for Mouse On Mars a few years back and you spun a lot of Skweee on vinyl. Who/what genres are you digging on these days?
Detroit techno & acid house. So nothing's changed much there. If it’s funky then I dig it. Skweee and Game-Boy dub interests me, also the hybrid juke and jungle genre which is fun.
10. What does the future hold for you and your listeners?
I’m a daddy now, so time for my musical endeavors is concentrated into smaller chunks of time, which helps keep me more focused. There are six new 2hr radio shows I just recorded, that's 12hrs of good music to check. I have more collaboration work being released soon in France and there will be more LIVE performances. Keep an eye out for our mini-tour around the North Shore and Boston as part of the 5 year anniversary of RSVP Tapes and SCENE in late August for the all vinyl, all DJ line-up. But right now I am just enjoying being a dad.