When and how did you discover your passion for music?
– Some of my fondest memories are cruising around America as a kid in an open top with my parents in the early ’90s. I had a cassette tape walkman and I was listening to their collection of music from the ’80s. From an early age, I was exposed to the music of Depeche Mode, U2, Gary Numan, New Order, Joy Division etc. this definitely helped shape what I make today. When I was six, my mum gave me her electric guitar. It was this amazing all-black guitar with an FX pedal and I remember just playing it constantly in my room making noise, experimenting and recording ideas.
How come you ended up making electronic music?
– I’ve always had a big interest in technology and music. Making electronic music perfectly combines these worlds – on one hand I can get really technical through my love of computers, the other I can explore my imagination with musical ideas. I first heard electronic music when I was about twelve. I was in awe of the huge-sounding, emotive symphonies produced by machines. There was something very futuristic about it. At the time I was playing guitars, drums and doing vocals in bands but I was always very restless, not content with settling on one role. Electronic music allowed me to be the entire band. The possibilities it opened up were endless and very exciting. Drum & bass is the perfect vehicle for my ideas as it is such a versatile genre.
How would you describe your style and do you normally draw inspiration from across genres?
– My style is predominantly synth orientated. I draw influence from the ’80s, particularly with my melodies and style of drums. My latest album explores a lot of soul and Japanese pop influences. There’s also a lot of cinematic influences, particularly elements of sci-fi. Overall, my signature sound is all about combining melody, atmosphere and emotion with high energy production values.
What’s the best thing about working as a musician and songwriter?
– The ability to create worlds. There is nothing more exciting than opening up a fresh project and the potential of where it might lead. There are many aspects to it that I love. Hearing all the elements come together as one cohesive piece is hugely satisfying. I am also constantly learning and evolving, trying new plugins, techniques and melodies – my hunger for discovering new things has never diminished.
Is there a typical formula or scenario that keeps repeating itself when you write? Walk us through how you usually go about writing.
– I don’t impose too much of a strict agenda on how I start a track, this way I keep open as as many creative channels as possible. My first instrument is the guitar so an idea can often start on that. I’ve actually got a MIDI guitar so that can be really fun to play as a synth. It can also start from a drum groove. The drums often give a strong sense of rhythm to anchor a melody. Other times I sit at the keyboard and fiddle with melodies. I find this way gives birth to really pure, simple ideas and some of my strongest work has been made this way.
What are you currently working on and what’s next on your agenda?
– After a busy period of touring my album, I’m now taking a couple of months off to get my head down in the studio and start working on new material. My agenda at the moment is to work on new Metrik music as well as some collaborations and remixes.
Name a few career highlights so far.
– Releasing my latest album on Hospital. Playing at Glastonbury. Hosting my new show on BBC Radio 1.
How does Toontrack tie into your songwriting process and what Toontrack products do you regularly use?
– Being someone who never fully mastered playing the piano, EZKeys is an extremely helpful tool to lay down piano parts which I could otherwise not play to an acceptable standard. Often I can start a track with some awesome chords, I can then use the plugin to emulate a person playing those chords on the piano. The results are really convincing and help give the track a “live” feel. Superior Drummer 2 is the best plugin I’ve ever used for drums. I like to have a live element to my drums, this really suits the aesthetic of my tracks. The drum sounds in this plugin are amazingly well recorded and engineered, so they instantly sound good in a track. This is essential when you want to get instant results.