Edinburgh via Sydney and Melbourne, the transatlantic Jonny Faith is head honcho at Headroom, and both a solid producer and DJ with releases on Civil Music and The Frequency Lab. The talented Scotsman draws on a wide range on influences to conjure up his distinct style of infections beats and rhythms, having made a resounding contribution to the Australian music scene.
An integral part of CDR Melbourne, we are very lucky to have him on board and imparting some great words of wisdom with us for My First CDR…
When and where did you first attend CDR? What do you recall?
My first CDR was in Sydney at the Hermans Bar at the Uni there, in about 2008 or so. I can’t honestly say I have clear memories of the exact first one I went to but I remember the early ones being really laid back and sociable. There was a BBQ and jugs of beer and lots of excited people chatting about music.
I remember the first time I submitted a track quite well, from memory I went along a few times without submitting at first as I didn’t feel I had anything good enough. Mark Pritchard manned the CDJs back then in Sydney and while it was truly exciting to get something played, it was simultaneously terrifying to have my amateur beats heard and played by such an accomplished producer! That first track I submitted was some bass music, dancehall hybrid thing and had waaay to much bass going on! I remember Mark dropping it and just being shocked how different it sounded on a proper PA rather than on my little monitors at home.
How long have you been making music and how would you describe your journey?
I started tinkering with production almost 9 years ago but I released my first EP (with Civil Music) in 2011 so I feel like I’ve only been fairly serious about since then. I would describe my journey as a long one requiring great patience, both patience with labels and so on, but also patience with myself. Of course everyone’s experience is different but for me I always want to be about 10 steps ahead of where I am, and so learning to be patient with it all was a big deal. After I studied audio at SAE in Sydney I wanted to be a producer like immediately and I can remember talking with guys who’d been doing it for years and them telling me it can take 5+ years to start to feel like your any good! This was frustrating to hear at first but in retrospect it was good advice. Again not everyone’s experience would be like that, some people seem to just pop out of the womb and write great music but it’s never been that easy for me! Patience also came into play when I eventually got to work with an overseas label (Civil) and the whole process from sending them demos, then them requesting various changes, revisions etc to actual release took superhuman amounts of patience and was quite testing.
Any other noteworthy CDR memories?
The various interviews I’ve heard over the years at CDR have always been super interesting and always leave me with at least one lasting tip or idea. Hearing Kode 9 talk about the physical, body shaking nature of bass music sticks in my memory. Also Mark Pritchard talking about dissecting the grooves and swing of classic hip hop drum beats, and most recently Huxley talking about not selling yourself short and aiming high in regards to the labels you want to work with - these are all things that stick with me.
Please give a brief (as you set fit) description of your current production set up.
Like a lot of people these days I’m software based (I’ve never had the access or the money to get into hardware much) so my setup is primarily in the box as it were. I write using Logic, Native Instruments and Spectrasonics stuff. I have a few midi controllers, and a box of hand percussion and a humble SM58 to record with. My only really indispensable hardware is my monitors which I love and have been back and forth to the UK with me so we’re old friends now. When I first began producing I used to try to incorporate turntablism a lot as I got into scratching and Djing from a really young age but these days my trusty decks just serve as a means for sampling my wee vinyl collection.
Any projects or tracks your working on at the moment that you'd like to let us know about?
I have an album ready to go called Sundial which I’m really happy with but haven’t found a good home for label wise yet. In the meantime you can find me at www.jonnyfaith.com and www.soundcloud.com/jonnyfaith etc. Also I’ve started working with City of Melbourne and will be running workshops at the new Docklands community centre/library in music production (amongst other topics). These will be completely free so come down and check it out, there’ll also be a small recording studio there available for a very small fee and Macs to use for producing and learning. Great resource for Melbourne musos!
Finally, have you any advice or words of warning for producers/musicians developing musical works in progress to play at CDR?
Be patient! Yes there is the odd freak who produces a hit record at the age of 4 or whatever but they are not the not the norm and it’s not healthy to compare yourself to those people or hold yourself to those standards. Refining a craft takes time and that journey is something to be enjoyed. Your most important tool is you so use what you’ve got. It’s easy to get lost coveting new gear and plugins and never get anything done, “if I just had such and such my tracks would be good enough” etc. More and more I try to make myself just use what I’ve got right now, limiting yourself to a select few tools will make your music better a lot faster than swamping yourself in terabytes of the “hottest” plug ins. Also listen to your mixes on as many systems and in as many environments as possible. This is what CDR is really great for actually because you get to hear your stuff on a big system and also see the vibe or reaction it creates in a room of people. The more you do that the more you will be able to self critique better as you're writing, rather than constantly thinking "is this track really any good" you’ll be able to visualise the reaction of others based on prior experience.