DLR: ‘Seeing Sounds’ Interview + Competition
DLR’s imagination tends to fire on all cylinders… hell, there was even a DLR release from 2014 called ‘Your Mind’, implying he’s constantly thinking about thinking.
That’s what we think anyway.
Next? Well, no doubts that the new Seeing Sounds album is full of great D&B. And to take us up to the official release on March 9 we’ve got a huge competition in conjunction with Dispatch at the end of the feature, check it!
When did the concept for ‘Seeing Sounds’ come about? And – pardon the indirect pun – were you visualising an album as such, rather that a ‘compilation of tunes’?
It was just a collection of tracks meant for an EP on Dispatch, until Ant TC1 decided to mention the idea of a possible album, which surprisingly is something I actually like about him: sometimes he can have good ideas!
This set me off thinking, and I started to visualise and understand the direction I wanted the album to take which is to focus more on the simple ideas, minimising the over-complicated nature of my past work, and getting back to the more rootical soundscapes and vibes that D&B has put across for the past 25 years.
Charlie Break actually mentioned the name ‘Seeing Sounds’ to me when he heard a snippet of the intro track from the album, when he popped over and I was working on that track with Hydro, he just through the name out there and I grabbed it and went with it, so big ups to him!
The theme lends itself great to D&B and the use of vocals and streetsounds too, such as the tunes ‘Los Angeles’, the title tune and ‘The Grip’. Are you into setting the scene as it were, to evoke a certain space, time and vibe? (Check link to album mix on Friction’s show to hear more)
Thanks for noticing, I was actually touring at the time in the US and passing through a good friend’s place, Alex who is one of the directors at Audeze, which are now pretty much the world’s leading brand of headphones.
I actually made the whole of the track on a pair of the closed back phones, he had some lying around the house, and I had a week to kill, with not much money to spend, as per usual, and so I sat for a few days creating a track that captured my feelings and ideas at the time, the vocal kinda summing up in a crude way what I think a lot of the LA inhabitants feel life is all about… not ALL of them of course! But more aimed towards the generalisation of the LA attitude.
Knowing the direction and name of the album by then meant I knew I could focus in more on pushing more ideas with soundscapes, instead of melodic patters etc…
You mention Break, how did you work him and was it excellent? He is demolishing it left right and centre.
We’re good friends, and have been for a few years, it all started with working with him in Bristol on ‘Murmur’ for the album with Octane, and we felt we had a really good time working on the track and so made a few more tracks after that, including ‘Power Down’ and ‘New Design’, and so it only felt natural to keep pushing the ideas with him and try and get something wrapped for my solo album.
I would’ve worked on something with Mako also, but we have so much stuff together and a new project on Metalheadz which we are currently working on as I type. These guys are close to me now, we’re good friends as well as people who work on music together, although most of our life, time together and conversations involve music.
Anyways ‘Human Error’ was just something that had to happen: it definitely felt essential to me that I work on something with him for the album, I knew it would be good, it’s slightly different to our other ones, but most of them are different to each other so it was good to keep this theme going and try hit people with a sound for the dance floor but still deep and original enough to open peoples’ minds a little bit.
And when you do collab do you learn stuff? Or do you just go in, but with company?
Always learning, it’s a constant learning process.
I learn from others, they learn from me, we inspire each other and really enjoy that process of spending time together working towards a goal together.
Break loves to go in on production a lot and so do I, but it’s nice when we work together as it means we hold back a little bit and put the ideas that we’ve learnt over the months into practice instead of chopping and changing about and never getting to the end of the track.
Best bit of collaborating is spending good time with like-minds, working together, enjoying time together and enjoying the end result which can be highly unpredictable at times, throwing up new ideas and ways of working when getting back to the solo missions.
There’s more on the collab front, there’s Ant too… how did you decide who you wanted to work with here? Must’ve been a busy one, don’t know how you find the time!
I could be busier, but I try keep myself busy. Ant and my lady are the busiest people I know: they have incredible work ethics, so speak to them about hard work! I’m slack in comparison!
I don’t like to plan much out: it’s the floaty world of being an ‘artiste’ and embracing the floatyness which leads to interesting projects with interesting people, instead of thinking ‘I need to do this, this and this so I can become big time and smash the PR game… ‘
That’s just not really me.
What inspired ‘Empyreal’?
Hydro is a badman in general, but especially when it comes to sampling, he’s got so much freshness, not loopmasters packs, or generic sample packs, but more that he hears sounds everywhere, and then cuts them up, stores them in a logical order and brings them to the sessions for pure inspirational vibes.
In this case it was the main piano riff, which he’d already chopped, we then arranged it, processed, etc etc and combined with some drums I had made, then thought Let’s put an old Matrix flip on here – pre-Viper days – where the bass doesn’t follow the progression of the piano but hits the listener with a different idea, or angle.
It was a quick process, thanks to pre-preparations, and that vibe that we had going in the studio which just made it easy for me really.
So on the topic of working with sound, how does the process of ‘seeing’ sounds occur in your life?
To be honest man, I’m a deep person, but quite ‘real’ with my thoughts… well so I like to think! Ha ha. In all honesty I’ve never really ‘visualised’ sound in this traditional way that people speak of. Instead I feel emotion and enjoy the sound of good music on my ears, and love the way that sounds in good music can offer up similarities in real life, but apart from cymatics where the vibrations are translated into a visual format, I’ve never really sat and felt like I was visualising the sounds I was hearing.
I just wanted to place the emphasis and importance of my album on this idea of ‘sounds’ and how they can combine to put the music in a place and combine to create something more subtle than obvious melodical patterns..
With sound design in general, is it more organic, involved and spiritual than D&B used to be, say, a decade or so back?
I think obviously with what you can do with sound these days, and how easily accessible this is people who wouldn’t have had the chance to experiment with this in the past are grabbing hold of the opportunity.. a lot of the time, for my personal taste it can go too far.
It’s easy to lose the direction and vibe in the music when getting carried away with the sound design in a project and it’s good to remind myself that the important part is creating a good song with an interesting idea, because it doesn’t matter how many sounds you put in, if the idea is no good then who really cares about the sound design? Very very few people who may be in tuned to sound design.
My personal taste is based on what I believe to be good music.
What’s a studio aspect you couldn’t live without, or achieve great results if wasn’t there? Monitors, fast HD… even a nice vibe! Eno couldn’t work in a studio that didn’t smell right for example. Little things.
Vibe is all the matters, nothing else matters at all, doesn’t matter what you are using, or doing, or where you are, as long as you can understand the limitations, and understand that this will inevitably change the end result, then you can have an enjoyable vibe with anyone, in any location creating music with two sticks and a frying pan, as long as the understanding is there that with these limitations it’s not like you are going to create the next Noisia masterpiece, but yet something totally different.
Of course, there is a limit to this, when getting more and more equipment, and my personal belief is that with a laptop and good headphones you should be able to create something incredible!
Anything else is a luxury that must be earned and understood, else it just becomes an obsession and you never finish any music or appreciate that people made some of the best music on some of the worst equipment, or computers known to man… A Guy Called Gerald probably always wished he had a laptop in the early 90s because it would have been a lot easier than the missions of linking together CVs and sequencing live, mistakes, crackles, timing errors included.
Seeing Sounds album sampler is out February 23 via Dispatch, pre order here
We have a Dispatch bundle to give away, closing date March 9: the full release of Seeing Sounds.
The bundle is
5 x Octane & DLR Method In The Madness CDs
1 x DIS077 vinyl (Safire / Safire & DLR – Homeland / Hurdles)
1 x DIS079 vinyl (DLR, Nymfo, Need For Mirrors & HLZ / DLR – Totem / Novate)
Enter your name below to be in the running to win the bundle!