CDR's Mark Stangroom talked to one of the underground electronic scenes nicest, and funniest people about music, jokes, and crime fighting.
When and where did you first attend CDR? What did you make of the session?
I'd been hoping to reach CDR for aaaaages and finally the stars aligned and I reached the event at Dance Tunnel back in July with Auntie Flo & Esa. I was already a fan of the music I'd heard via the Highlife World Series but honestly didn't know much about the background of it so hearing some of the stories behind the tracks creation was really interesting. Impossible not to mention Makadem's live performance too. So so good.
The Open CDR session blew me away. I'd been debating whether to bring a CD for pretty much my whole 2 hour train journey up to London but ended up wimping out. I deeply regretted that the minute things kicked off! It was so good to hear such a wide variety of styles, genres and tempos especially all in the context of each other. I walked away more inspired from those 2 hours than I have from a lot of 'standard' club nights.
When and how did you get in to making music? Any particular influences or inspirations you’d like to share?
Fell in love with Drum & Bass at about 13, that turned into Djing and that turned into producing. So yeah, my earliest influences were people like Optical, Bad Company, Photek and Krust. I'm not sure that particularly shows in my music now but I guess it was more just being intrigued by the things you can do with sound and wanting to experiment with it myself.
Please describe your work life/creative life tussle. Any tips or tricks for managing to keep making music?
My life's changed a lot over the last year or so, from living, studying and then working in Brighton for maybe 5 years, and I'm now in a sleepy little village in the South West looking after my Gran who's got severe dementia. It's a different set of challenges to my former 9-5/creative stuff balancing act, but definitely in a positive way overall.
In terms of productivity I think the key thing is to do everything you can when you're not actually making music in order to make the time count when you've got it. A couple of tips...
- Listen to as much music as you can in as many different genres.
- Keep a notebook (phone/whatever) handy. I.e if you hear a nice horn stab sound note the song and time or if you hear some dope drum pattern or if you come up with some weird effect chain idea, or listening back to a rough bounce of your tune note anything that jumps out as wrong etc..
- Listen to lots of music (again)
Have you a favourite club and/or soundsystem?
Hmmmm, Fabric's soundsystem will always have a special place in my heart/chest as it was the first club I ever went to. Got snuck in there aged 16 and saw Photek play. At points I felt I couldn't breathe due to the bass weight. A proper starry-eyed moment finally hearing tracks as they're meant to be heard. Favourite club is probably Corsica Studios - wicked variety of line ups, great sound, great atmosphere and run by really nice people... on the smaller capacity side of things, Rye Wax for pretty much the same reasons.
Can you describe your current studio production set up for us? What takes centre place? Do you have a ‘go-to’ piece of kit to get ideas started?
Since I moved house to look after my Gran my 'studio' consists of me sat on a sofa with a laptop running Ableton 9, and a pair of AKG K271 headphones. Everything I released last year was written like that. I've also got a Zoom H4n field recorder which comes in handy for capturing random nice sounds when I'm out and about.So yeah, all super basic and computer/Ableton focused currently though hoping to have a little more space soon so will get my monitors and synths/midi controllers set up again.
What projects or tracks are working on at the moment that you’d like to let us know about?
In terms of releases, I've got EPs for Love Sick Recordings and Sounds Of Sumo due out in the next month or two. Both are very much club music but pretty distinct from each other and everything else I've done previously so really looking forward to seeing how they're received.
Other than that I'm working on a couple of tracks with Titeknots and hoping to co-produce some vocal stuff with Maddie Ellerby who I worked with on the EP for Sounds Of Sumo. A fair amount of remixes due out soon too, first of which is of a real nice track by Ahadadream ft. Olivia-Louise & Scrufizzer.
You're getting a reputation as a remixer extraordinaire. Whats your favourite remix you’ve worked on, and who would be your dream artist to do a remix of?
Arrrrgh, that's tough... I think my remix of Jennifer Left – Black Dog is always going to be special to me just because it was the first thing I ever had officially released and the first thing to get on national radio. Dream artist to remix is again a really tough one! Today I'm going to say Wiley but ask me tomorrow and I'd come with a totally different answer.
Now, we know that you have a reputation for being funny, so what's your best joke at the moment?
Here's an EXCLUSIVE I've created especially for this interview - why did the song get arrested.......?
Because it was a hit, man.
Where can we see/hear you DJing in the next couple of months?
I've got a couple of gigs incoming that aren't 100% confirmed just yet, but as of right now:
26/09/15 – Berlin, TBA
10/10/15 – The Forum, London w/ Todd Terry, Marshall Jefferson, Josey Rebelle & Ossie
17/10/15 – Timbuk2, Bristol
Finally, have you any advice or words of warning for producers/music-makers developing works in progress to play at CDR?
Umm, I guess my main advice is to be brave and actually bring something to play in the first place! There's nothing more valuable than hearing your music out in the context of real people (also hearing stuff on a decent club system is always going to be fun). So yeah, do it.