Can you tell a bit about yourself, how and why you got into music, a bit about your history and how you became successful ?
I’ve been doing music in some form as long as I can remember. My mum’s a music teacher so at the age of 6 she glued me to the piano stool and it all stemmed from there. I went through a few different instruments in my childhood, but the piano was the main one. At the age of about twelve I discovered “rave” music with it’s bleeps, buzzes and electronic drums. I picked up a copy of my first sequencer (Music-x) and started making my own and driving my poor parents insane! For years, I was making music on super-budget gear but obviously technology has come a long way since then and in recent years, it’s been possible to achieve professional results on a much more affordable budget!
I moved to Nottingham to go to university in ’99 and ended up staying there and getting heavily involved in the club scene; helping friends with their club nights, DJing, producing etc. It was there that I started my first serious musical collaboration, with Max Cooper (now releasing melodic techno records on Traum) and Mr Seavers (who became a resident of a legendary Nottingham underground techno event called Pure Filth). The rest is history, in recent years I’ve lived in Budapest and now Berlin, met a lot of likeminded people, developed my sound, travelled a lot with my work and gradually got more and more involved with the industry. I started releasing music on friends’ labels and then I had my first record signed to the German label Trapez earlier this year; since then I’ve been featured on their Trapez 100 compilation – a release celebrating 100 vinyl releases for the label.
How did you discover JazzMutant’s controllers?
I was a very early adopter of the Lemur, having bought one about 4 years ago. I’d seen it talked about on the internet, and somehow found myself on their website. I also heard that some artists such as Mathew Herbert and Richie Hawtin were using it. I was convinced that I needed one, and seeing as I didn’t have SO much cash back then (being fresh out of university) I made the wholly responsible decision of using a cheap bank loan to update my studio. In fact, the first Lemur I ever saw “in the flesh” was mine, when it arrived in a van to my door!
Why did you choose to use it above other products on the market?
Well, I’d been doing live sets with Ableton Live for a while and controlling it all with a Kenton Control Freak MIDI controller. This controller was great, it was build like a tank and really reliable but it simply didn’t have enough controls for me. It had 16 faders and 16 buttons and that was it. Once I’d assigned a volume fader and two filter controls to each of my channels I was out of faders. Also I am a control addict when I perform! I like to have access to countless plugins and most of their parameters on one single tiny fx return – this can make for a great performance but simply isn’t economical! Each Control Freak fader could be multifunctional if you switched to a new program but this just taxes the brain on stage too much and simply didn’t cut it for me.
With the Lemur I was able to have a whole screen of controls in front of me and if I needed more I could simply switch to a new screen. Suddenly I could be as extravagant (/wasteful) as I wanted. If I wanted a whole screen of controls for a section of my live set that lasts only two minutes (or two seconds!), I could!
How has using the controller changed the way you work?
It’s definitely changed the way I perform live as there are certain things it allows you to do that traditional knobs and faders don’t – such as live drum-programming using a step sequencer. However, I’ve also found it wriggling it’s way into my productions. I love using the Lemur objects’ physical properties to automate sounds in a really live and organic way. It’s possible to control many parameters at one time and due to their behaviour being modelled on real world physics the results sound musical, rather than purely random. I really like to build an “audio machine” consisting of a synth/sampler and some effects and a corresponding Lemur interface and hit record and play that part over my track. It gives a very different feel to programming that same part – and certainly takes a lot less time than painstakingly drawing in automation curves! It even sounds different to doing something similar with a standard MIDI controller, as when using objects such as the Multiball the relationships between the parameters are very different to the relationships between two knobs/faders when you move them by hand.