1. How long have you been making music?
When I was 17 I discovered the drums. All my friends were playing guitar at the time so to get a 3 piece grunge band going someone had to sacrifice their dream of being the next Kurt Cobain and jump behind a kit, it turned out that I had a natural flair for drumming and a life long passion began. Over the next 10 years I was in and out of local bands as a drummer but eventually life took over and music had to take a break. When I was 31 I could’t stay away any longer, it was time to get back into music, but this time I wanted to take control of the process and write and produce all the music myself. It was not only the best way to fit it into the timeframes I had available but I really wanted to push myself and the creative process and see what I could do alone. Needless to say it is a huge learning process, particularly the production side of things but I really enjoy the challenge.
2. When did you start using electronics in your music making?
When I got back into writing music I knew it was going to be heavily electronic, I already had a Mac so it was the logical place to start exploring how I could make music. I invested in some new audio gear to cover the basics I would need and started to teach myself how all this crazy electronic stuff worked together. I wanted to achieve a sound something in-between Massive Attack and Nine Inch Nails who both make great use of electronic equipment. I am fortunate enough to be able to pick up most instruments fairly quickly so getting into synthesizers was a fairly easy transition and something I am now really passionate about. My goal is to fuse electronic and live instruments together as much as possible.
3. Are you an electronic purist?
I am all for experimentation using whatever medium achieves an interesting result, whether it be acoustic, electronic, digital or analog – everything has it’s place in making something truly creative.
4. What is your current favorite piece of hardware? Software?
I really dig the Native Instruments Maschine but my current favourite is the Novation Ultranova analog modelling synthesiser. It’s a highly functional beast and bridges the gap between analog and digital nicely, It can be a little temperamental but the more I use it the more I appreciate it’s rich sound and capabilities. It has been a great learning tool and helped me understand basic synthesis principals in a more direct way, there is definitely something wonderful about the “hands on” nature of hardware over software. I also recently discovered Izotope iris which I think will become an important part of the Fake Empire sound, the way you can layer and morph samples to create something very unique has some interesting potential.
5. Do you use canned loops or samples? Why/Why not?
Samples – yes, but only sampled instruments. There is no way that I could assemble an orchestra and record the resulting music, I don’t have that kind of hardware or the budget to make it happen! But I can purchase a piece of software that has professionally sampled orchestral sounds, which is essentially the next best thing. And because these samples are the real deal, actual orchestral instruments recorded live you can barely tell the difference from the real thing. I am not a fan of using other peoples loops and tend to create my own if I need glitch effects or beats, using canned loops takes away the fun.
6. Do you use iPad/iPhone or other mobile computing devices in your music making?
I use an iPad as a midi controller for my DAW. It’s a great way to keep the process rolling without having to spend to much time stopping to click tiny icons on a screen. I have played around with a few iPad synths like the Korg iMS-20 app but I haven’t used them on any tracks yet.
7. Was there a moment of inspiration… a certain track or artist, that ignited your passion for electronic music?
I have always been a huge fan of Trent Reznor. His “Year Zero” album was a big influence on me and his work on the social network soundtrack was definitely inspirational. Another group I love and take great inspiration from is Massive Attack (and 3Ds side projects), their album “Mezzanine” blew me away and is still one of my favourite albums of all time. More recently I have become obsessed with Apparat and the way he fuses live and electronic instruments together to create this amazingly emotive sound.
8. How does visual art/photography inform your music making?
I have been a graphic designer for over a decade and am currently the Creative Director at a web development company, so the visual arts definitely have an impact on my music and process. I create all my own album artwork which tends to happen as the tracks are being made so they definitely inspire each other, sometimes one medium may influence the other and vice versa. I am also starting to explore video which has some great creative potential, I really want to create a project that will fuse music and video together in an original way so hopefully that will happen sometime soon.
9. Has the internet/Social Media changed the way you make music?
It has definitely made it a lot easier to connect to other musicians and collaborate regardless of location. I recently worked with File Transfer Protocol on a cover of the song “Mad World” and we are creating a short film about working together on opposite sides of the world – there have been several moments during this process that I have been thankful for the existence of the internet. It really is amazing to be able to share what you create with the world independently.
10. What is your favorite artist or track of all time?
Such a big question! to narrow it down to a single artist or song seems impossible. I have fairly eclectic tastes, anything from Elliott Smith to 16 Volt and everything in-between. I think Nine Inch Nails and Massive Attack are probably my 2 favourite artists of all time as I mentioned earlier, they hold a very sentimental place in my mind as they wrote some of the songs that influenced me at a younger age. I am always getting obsessed with new bands and artists and these days people who are working independently and releasing their own music are much more inspirational and rapidly becoming my favourite artists – people like The Ghost of 3:13 and TraisKin amaze me.