-Hi Ka§par! Let’s start with the most important question: how you doing?
- I’m good thanks, working a lot on many endeavours, trying to get projects off the ground… the usual!
-There’s a lot of anticipation for this LP; what’s going on in your mind ahead of this really important release? Tell us what it means for you to put out such a dense and variegated body of work on a label like Percebes.
- Well, first of all this antecipation is news to me. I don’t care as much as I perhaps should with my status or the public adherence to my releases. So, I thank you for your optimism, it’s humbling. It is indeed an important release, it speaks very sharply about who I am musically and what I went through to become the music maker and DJ I am now. My previous LPs and EPs were a bit more straight-forward - often much more than my actual taste and personal experiences might suggest. So this is perhaps the widest and most honest record I’ve made to date. So much so that, in response to the latter part of your question, I felt like I had to release it on my own label. It didn’t feel right that I ought to look for options in labels that would probably want to chop the album in ways that wouldn’t feel right… Percebes is not a P&D label, this record was fully funded by our past sales and my own hard work, it’s truly a work made by me with the help of all those who supported the label from the start.
-We’ve been lucky enough to listen to ‘Gestures Of Release’ before the release date and we loved it. The record is cohesive, with a great perceivable energy throughout the ten tracks. Tell us how much time did it take to assemble such a complex work and, if you want, some meaningful anecdote about the creative process behind it.
- Again, I’m very thankful for your appreciation as I am for anyone who spends time actively listening to my music. Indeed, there is an effort to display coherence in variety of form, perhaps with all it’s eclecticism, there must also be a clear identity to it that goes beyond conventional music labeling, and becomes only about the author’s mark than with the supposed specific name of the genre for the album as a whole. That was one of the ideas behind it, and it took anywhere from 15 years to a few days, depending on the track. I have tracks that have been made in 2007 on it, others that up until early this year I was still putting their finishing touches on the mixdown. Another idea that is very important to me is “truth”, as in eternal validity. Something not losing any of it’s traits over time (or if anything, improving over time). All my releases from day one have had this concern in mind. That I ought to go back to any of them and find something I could be proud of, despite my personal evolution as a musician, producer and sound engineer. I used to suck at engineering, then life lead me down experiences where I worked professionally as one for a few years and learned how to tweak stuff on Pro Tools and use all manner of crazy plug ins in professional, proper top-40 tracks. That truly helps you as an artist to make better music. I can tell you something funny, I often do remixes for friends and local bands who work with me on my productions, here in Lisbon. I always keep the stems from all these past tracks (if played by great musicians, which is usually the case), and later I use these recordings on other productions I’m doing! They can hardly ever tell they were remixes and then sampled again! But I never use sample banks, pre-made loops, midi phrases from keyboard players assembly line, etc. All my composition is made playing and feeling along, be it on an MPC, a Drum Rack, a General Midi piano sound (usually sound on most XG banks 001). Then at a later stage I might add some of these extra bits on top from stems I kept. The track “Feelin Something”, has the drums from one band, the electric keys from another project and a vocal from an old classic. The only thing I wrote for it was the bubbly arpegiated bass line and the FX synth sounds on the background. I love to recicle old samples, stuff I haven’t touched for years. Use my memories as a starting point for new things.
-Let’s get a little bit technical: have you got a standard production workflow when writing music or is it always different? Can you mention a couple of gear you used to produce the LP?
- I would love to give you an insightful set of instructions, but there is no clear path for creating original and new ideas. There are two important processes for me: sampling and synthesis creation. I love to sample shit and make little sound banks, completely organised sounds with their nomenclature perfectly perceivable by date, sort, use, bpm, etc… and then load them onto a sampler (I used the Pioneer DJ Toraiz a lot for this work, it’s not the most complete tool, but it’s blunt and fast to squeeze good ideas out of - with all it’s limitations when compared to an MPC for example). An then there is synthesis. I got a strong monophonic Moog for basses and leads (I love the simple exercise of tweaking and tuning waves on oscillators, finding the right space for my timbre before I even start mixing). One good tip I got from working with older professional engineers and producers was that a good mix starts with a good arrangement, so when I synthesise or filter or pre amp a recording I’m always after that idea - if it goes in perfectly, you hardly have to tweak it in the box. I used most of all an old 2011 Mac with Reaper and Ableton Live 9, lots of great plug ins for post productions and processing but also a lot of instruments (I highly recommend the Arturia V Collection and their compressors EQst and FX, superb stuff). Hardware, I used the Roland System-1, the 303, for many stabs and pads, the old “valved” Electribes (blue synth and pink sampler), the DSI T3tr4, the Waldorf Blofeld and many other things that sound great and aren’t super expensive. I love to read about some guys who go on the greatest diatribes about their amazing studio setup and how much it cost, the crazy modular, the incredible PRE-AMP they welded together from original SSL blue prints and the like… only to listen to their music and realise it’s merely a pretty bland, empty and funkless exercise in aesthetics. Real music comes from within, comes from personal experiences and a message that needs to be conveyed. More than a sense of self affirmation or a willingness to show off and flash your toys, it’s what you do with the simplest tools that makes a great artist. In my modest opinion and personal experience.