Who are you influenced by, from past days musicians to present day or legendary DJs:
Wow there’s a lot! Jimi Hendrix. The Doors. Oscar Peterson. In the electronic realm guys like Trentemoller, Dave Clarke, Carl Craig… I could go on and on, but the list would be longer then this article for sure. But I can tell you what I look for in music: timeless elements. I get inspired by music that could have been written today or 40 years ago or played around a fire 2000 years ago for that matter. It’s all about music that invokes and transmits feelings! As well as music that has been created by musicians – someone who studied hard to understand his craft, his instrument(s), the importance of arrangement, rhythm and melodies. When you understand that this is the essential part of what makes music timeless then you realize that there is not much of it around in the EDM world today.
What has helped shape your sound when you produce? When you DJ?
I started playing and creating music when I was around 13 – if I don’t count my forced piano classes when I was 6! And I have been all over the map musically. Blues, funk, soul, metal, triphop and jazz. I remember playing Erykah Badu songs with a band when I was around 18. I also played bass in a Joe Satriani jam band. I really love playing with a band but eventually my focus shifted towards composing and producing music in my studio. I think that my very diverse musical background has given me a much more eclectic sound then most of the DJs I hear. Timeless elements, as I mentioned earlier, are the main driving force in my music selection. Music that makes people feel something is what gives my techno sets a soulful vibe. When people ask me what I play, I tell them SoulTech.
You use a lot of analog equipment in your productions – why is that?
I try to infuse my music with warmth from equipment that has soul, for example using my Moog Little Phatty for creating fat round bass lines. Another example is my 18 year old Juno60 or my ’78 Music Man StingRay bass. These instruments have characteristics that are hard, if not impossible, to emulate with software. I also love to use percussion instruments from all over the world. The odder the better. I have been using NYU Clappers (that they use during their graduation celebrations), wooden frogs, rainsticks, a kaolimba, my trashcan and a ton of other random stuff. Whatever makes a different and analog sound makes me happy.
A lot of the electronic music out there today has a tendency to sound cold and sterile. Due to the very inexpensive production tools that are out there – many producers produce all their music inside the box (aka computer). I am not saying that you cannot make warm music with a 100% digital workstation, but using analog instruments or equipment with analog circuits, in my humble opinion, brings more character to the music.
How would you describe your production or mixing process?
I rarely start with anything – not even a melody or an idea. I typically just start programming some basic beats to get my inspiration kick-started. The funny thing is the final version is rarely even close to what I start with. I get so many ideas along they way that I can take one track in several directions. I never know what I am going to end up with when I get started. I often work on a song longer than what some outsiders might deem necessary, I feel there is always something that can be improved. I am also my own worst critic and it’s hard for me to let a song go and say OK, this one is complete. Quality rather then quantity is my philosophy.
What made you decide to get into music? To DJ? To produce?
I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life since I was around 13 years old. That’s when I begged my parents to buy me a keyboard and a computer to run Cubase on. My piano teacher at that time had an Atari running Cubase and a studio full of exciting sound modules, samplers and effect units. I knew that was my calling quite early in life. The DJing came later – when I was around 18 I started playing school and private parties and 2 years later I had my first residency at a small RnB venue in Copenhagen. From there it has quickly grown into an international career, and I am so thankful for that. Music is and will always be my passion in life.
Where that passion came from is hard to say, but I had a small revelation in 2008 when I had the chance to meet Geoff Emerick, who engineered, in my opinion, the best albums for The Beatles (e.g., Revolver). I heard him speak at a conference in New York City. I ended up at this conference by pure coincidence, but I suddenly realized that he had a tremendous influence on my life. When I heard the Revolver album, with songs like “Taxman” and “Tomorrow Never Comes”, I was blown away. I didn’t know how big an impact he had on my life before I sat there next to him – and revisited my childhood years by the stereo listening to his virtuous productions again and again.
You’re involved with Futurebound- what is that about?
It’s a platform for working with talented people. I have been in New York City for almost 4 years now, and I can’t really say that the scene is flooded with talent, cause it ain’t. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been inspired by a great many artists and musicians in this great city – this is why I moved here in the first place. But there seems to be too many kids with computers that end up behind the decks – inexperienced and not understanding the thought process of connecting with the dancefloor or building the right set at the right time.
Futurebound is an aspiration in finding and connecting unique talent in the EDM world with venues that appreciate quality sound and real artists that care about their craft. Even if they don’t know how to play an instrument, the best DJs are artists in their hearts. They feel and connect with the people on the floor – while linking their feelings to their musical knowledge, thereby finding the balance between pleasing and educating the crowd.
It’s also about having an open mindset. Without it there wouldn’t be room for experimenting and trying out new things. Futurebound is a playground for artists who are not afraid of going all the way – because they rely on many years of experience to bring people back – in case they roll over the edge. The fun lies in the challenge!
How do you see the house scene changing/evolving?
It’s hard to say. I think it’s more that my perception of the world has changed, and my perception of music and what it should be has changed. Music in itself keeps evolving, and yet at the same time I feel there hasn’t been anything revolutionary going on lately. Perhaps Grime is the last big trend coming out of the EDM scene, but Grime is not completely new, it stems from UK garage, dancehall, and hiphop. Genres diverge and then reconnect with different genres with the help of new technology and emerging artists whose perception of music and the world around them has changed.
I have also noticed that it has become harder to find EDM that can satisfy my needs. The EDM world today is flooded with mediocre music, due to the easy accessibility of music production software. It is easier for just about anyone with a computer to “produce” music. I have been developing a new subgenre, if you will, called Soultech, that is evident in my productions and my selections when I DJ. I am trying to reinforce a sense of warmth and positive feeling into music that I feel is sometimes more cold and sterile. I believe that having a musical background, and an ability to play an instrument, is a requirement for making Soultech.
However, in terms of the industry as a whole, there is a change happening in the way people engage with music today. I recently came across an article by Bill Drummond from The KLF that spurred some ideas about the future of music, specifically the future of recorded music. The future concept of music will be connected with time, place and occasion (as it was before 1877 when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph). I see this as a positive trend, that will dilute the Major labels power over the music industry and put the power back in the hands of artists, as well as the fans. And more importantly, it could put an end to the closed, self-preserving system that has evolved since the birth of the major labels, which has led the majority of our society to lose interest in music by losing the emotional connection with the music.
People want a choice in what they listen to, how they listen to it, and when. This new found freedom of accessibility will give rise to a liberated and more diverse music culture. File sharing has increased people’s access to the music they want. I think a variety of music is a great thing to have and the people are making their demands heard. The occasion, meaning the gig, will have more significance in future since recorded music will be ubiquitous. Fans and artists will seek a more personal engagement to feel the music and each other via the live arena. As a DJ, this is exciting news, this is where we hone our skills in creating a memorable and meaningful experience for the people that come see us live.