Fanu Inside the Mix
Fanu‘s going to be no stranger to those into the darker, deeper, sombre autumnal climes: think permafrost, silent pines, northern lights and lonely cabins whose interiors are stacked full of eclectic music production gear to harness all the surrounding elements and with people like, well, Fanu at the controls, twitching with coffee jitters and kinetic activity.
So. Apart from taking us into his production world – and that of his alias FatGyver – he gave us the full-on Fanu treatment in the form of a fresh mix, you have to check that out asap.
Tell us what you been doing this year Fanu?
My first hip hop venture under my FatGyver alias called Talk To Strangers, an album, came out in Feb on Redef Records, a hip hop label from US East coast that I’ve been a big fan of for a while.
On March 21, my 35th birthday, I put out a bass music album called Strange Lights, which is my seventh full-length album.
June saw the release of a D&B EP, Bristol–Helsinki EP, that I did in collaboration with Bristol’s Coleco: he did the beats, I re-arranged them a bit and did the rest.
In August Redef Records put out another hip hop beat tape of mine, Espresso Addicts Anonymous.
I have just finished writing my next full-length hip hop thing as well as an almost-full-length D&B album for my label Lightless.
Working on some breaksy-techy remix business here as we speak. Just mastering a compilation for Lightless by some absolute killer producers coming up with some heaters, too.
On top of all that, I’ve been busy doing mastering for other producers; I’ve mastered somewhere between 270–300 songs this year, and it’s all gone great, and everybody’s been happy. Stoked.
Add a few DJ gigs to that.
So music-wise it’s been a really busy year; all my time goes into it in a way or another on a daily basis.
How has your attitude to production changed in the last few years?
I’ve never got stale in a way; I’m always looking for new things. I admit that to make music, you’d only need a bread-and-butter synth and some samples to make banging tunes, but I’m always going thru new stuff, with Ableton Live being my main DAW, though.
I guess it’s like a chef trying out different ingredients and tools just to keep it interesting.
I use a lot of software, but also hardware. Sometimes buying stuff, sometimes selling it, but always making music with whatever I have. For example recently bought an MPC 2500 (again), made only one song with it my next hip hop album outro, then decided I don’t like it enough, then sold it.
Just bought an Access Virus (C) again, and made a banger of a bassline with it tune called ‘Devil Chord’ which I’ve put in the mix.
What about other gear you like?
Bought Xfer Serum synth because some presets kicked ass and made a string and pad sound that tie the tune together, the tune called Polar Chord in the mix. Now got my eyes set on Omnisphere 2.
Sure, I don’t “need” any of that but going through a lot of stuff makes me create a lot of music. Some people try out different wines, I go through music stuff.
I want to emphasize, though, that having a lot can be bad for some types who have trouble concentrating on things or who take a lot of time learning, so I cannot recommend that for everybody, but going through a lot of things has always worked to my benefit.
I guess always keeping it moving is my thing in a way.
I have waaaay more samples and breaks I’ll ever need, and I can’t remember a fraction of them, but I’m still sampling more – whenever you hear something great, you gotta snag it, then make a tune with it… for example see the tune Triple X with Coleco; that main break has never been used before, and I’ll say not many cats have that 7”.
Always hungry – I think that’s the thing.
I love oldschool samplers, but at the same I’m super inspired about all latest plug-ins, synths and so forth, and I’m always reading Gearslutz’ music computers forum as well as Computer Music.
I make future music whose roots are in the nineties.
Just keeping the hunger going, never stopping… I hardly ever get “bored” in terms of making music.
Also now doing two different genres – D&B and hip hop – keeps it fresh.
What’s a production tip you’d share? Could be about layering stuff, deleting stuff, about loudness, about sampling…
I’m not sure if this is a tip but I wish more D&B producers went for more original drum sounds.
It has a huge effect on how interesting it may appear to the listener; there’s a ton of D&B out there using very similar drums, and I think that was one of the reasons why D&B was so fresh in the 90s. I’m appalled by how much generic-sounding shit I hear.
Seriously. I know the music itself has advanced a lot, but what happened to the beats? This used to be breaks-driven music. People use hours on a bassline and mixing but neglect the beats. Shame. You hear way too much of that 2-step fodder with generic drum sounds.
Also, sampling drum sounds into an old sampler such as an Akai or EMU ESI-32 – just got the latter for free and it’s banging – makes them sound the way you’d want them to sound but can’t do with plugins. They cost peanuts yet sound killer. They sound ‘D&B’ / ‘hip hop’. Protip!
In the end, however, do whatever that comes naturally – that’s doing you, being you. Don’t think about what might sell or be accepted – all that is secondary, and after all, you can only the best you, not the next Noisia or whatever. Be you.
Bring your own influences into the music. Listen to music outside your main genre; it’ll affect you subconsciously. Let the music come out, don’t force it, and definitely don’t force it into any format.
Just let it happen.
So what’s your absolute fave thing in your studio world? DAW, ornament, the view…
In visual terms, I like the vibe that looking at hardware gear gives me. They have soul in them. In other respects, just realizing the fact that I can sit down and create something that has never been before and which will probably make me stoked is still the most magical thing to me. Oh, and coffee.
Espresso + cream. That’s why I’m fat.
Do you still skate? If you had to do a compilation for skating what tunes would be on there?
I definitely do and have been doing it this year, but haven’t done much of that for two months due to seriously straining my achilles tendon; in general I suck at resting in terms of anything sometimes. Mind you, I started pushing outside around April when it was dry, even pushing uphill on my cruiser board, going switch and all, just for exercise and to be in shape in the summer.
Come summer, I skate as much as I can. In mid July, my old strain injury in achilles tendon started acting up and ever since I’ve just been cruising around (going as fast as I possibly can… that’s the shit!) but no actual skating in terms of working on tricks. Hoping to get some indoors skating in in the wintertime, though!
Any nineties-style hip hop would make the perfect soundtrack. Grab anything off Redef Records catalogue and it’ll work. Some FatGyver shit has already been used in skateboarding clips, so I suppose it works, too.
You mentioned the mix. Tell us about the brand new tune of yours in there too?
I suppose you mean ‘Polar Chord’? I just finished that and just posted a clip for the hell of it. The name: I was messing around with this Virus C I recently bought, and happened to create a chord that somehow reminded me of old Polar stuff: big ups to Kjetil!… so I named the project after that.
I wanted to create something that sounds cold and dark.
Think old Subtitles. And Teebee… when are you going to make some of that deep BSL stuff again?
Plus Polar, old Headz. Something that gives your body something just as dance music should – but also makes you think and feel and makes your imagination run at the same time. The tune just happened. I’m happy with how it turned out. I’ll probably put it out on Lightless, fittingly.
What tune from the past really altered how you see things, how you perceive D&B?
Early Metalheadz, Good Looking, Source Direct, Photek, Teebee, Polar, Certificate 18, Tek 9, etc…those guys showed the world that D&B can be really f*cking great music AND have damn awesome mind-blowing beats; something for the body AND mind. The D&B from that era was a game-changer for me.
If I had got into it after 2000, I’d sound different.
I still get inspired by new stuff, too, though; I’ve been feeling some recent material of course, so it’s not just about the old. So I’m always keeping my ears open.
Seba just sent me some new unreleased shit which is fire… and he goddamn used a break there I had just planned on using.
What material has gone into this mix of yours?
Mostly just pretty new material. 14 tunes, and most of it is from 2015, two tunes from 2014.
I didn’t want to put any old stuff in there. There’s unreleased bits, too. Those tunes will come out some day, some way.
Doing a mix of your own recent tunes is great because you – the listener – get a nice impression of what the producer has been up to and where he is musically. I’ve been going towards my roots once again; not that I ever departed very far from them anyways.
Any shouts Fanu?
Anybody doing their own thing and pushing the envelope. So many guys doing great things, some established, some new… Om Unit, SB81, Mako, Out Of Fuel, Somejerk, SDS, Moresounds, Mister Shifter, Wish, Recue, Seba, Paradox, Rupture kru, Glyphic, Ilk, Etch, Graphs, Sonis… and so many more.
Just in general anybody who isn’t conforming to anything, because that is lame. D&B is renegade music, underground music. Dope beats by the true renegades of the underground: never forget that.
All-Fanu Mix for Drum&BassArena