Wreckless not only has a unique touch when it comes to production, he’s also a unique personality: one of a kind. Rarely does the whole amalgum – personality, diligence and maverick spirit – shine through (without sounding like a Whitney crack anthem) so luminously when music’s discussed. He even gave us images to illustrate what went on in the Wreckless process – he teaches music you know – not least his collab with Deficit…
You’re synonymous with output on some really interesting labels sir and this is definitely the case for the 2014 I feel?
Got a few exciting singles coming out on a few different labels, feeling very blessed.
Can you curate us through ‘Alchemy’?? Imagine we’re in a gallery and we’re standing in front of something playing the tune…
‘Alchemy’ is a collaboration between Deficit and I that was created very intensely in January this year: we aimed to do the whole track in two sessions but I think this doubled in the end. It was written in Essex and during the writing and mixing I think we finished off about 8 packs of crumpets, George ate close to half a pot of Marmite and we made a pizza look like pac-man.
The idea was to try and take these brass samples and make them fit into the intro of the track. It took quite a lot of work to get all of the horn sounds working together, a bit like trying to turn the brass into gold that could be used in the track. The second idea was about loving moments in electronic music that only happen once or twice in a track, like golden moments almost.
I picture the intro to be creating the landscape, the background of the painting. In the breakdown and outro you can hear scrapes, knocks and brass that puts you in mind of a master craftsman working at the smelting pot. I picture the drop and the basses to be the sounds you would hear inside the cauldron and a glimpse of the process of alchemy.
If you imagine this being played by an object – that the sound is emanating from it… what’s the object?
The unit playing the tune would be like the sound was emanating from a furnace or a blacksmiths forge. The image would be something like this:
And imagine it’s in a gallery of installation space… what would that be like?
If you would indulge me for just a minute I would imagine the gallery to be dark, claustrophobic and intense. There would be horse-mounted guards at the door, wielding flaming torches, guarding the entrance. The space would be the workshop of a blacksmith, built like a Viking, crazed by the dreams of alchemy and glory.
Does the title ‘Hard Light’ imply an awareness of colour, texture, shade? Etc?
‘Hard Light’ was originally released as the flip side to ‘Deadly Contagion’. Both tracks had a theme of being infected by the D&B bug as it were. ‘Hard Light’ is about being a studio vampire and not being able to go out in the sun, which basically means it is a track about my mate Philth. Deficit did an excellent job on the remix though.
Tell me about Deficit and the way you collab?
The collab worked really well with George because we worked at my studio but he brought a bucket load of sounds and samples. Then because I work on Logic I was able to control the micro and it allowed George to look at the bigger picture. Also George has a great ear for detail and I can sometimes be too focused on the bigger picture so it was a weird blend of complimenting styles but contrasting workflow. I think you can hear that in the track it sounds like a Deficit AND Wreckless tune.
George and Esion are head honchos at Automate and great DJs if you’re into D&B.
Back to the talk of labels at the beginning, are there more Wreckless tunes abounding? Can you give us a sneaky peeky?
Yes, there is an EP on Peer Pressure coming out soon; it’s called ‘Deeper Water’ and I have a track on there called ‘Street Lights’.
I’m also really excited about signing a track to Flexout called ‘Dreaming’.
I feel like both of those two tracks are really showing another side of my tracks, deeper and rolling. So I am happy that I can do a range of varied styles and they be recognised.
On the production front, it occurred to me recently when I heard some new tunes from another person just how ‘great’ the sound was. It was amazing. And crucially, it retained the vibe of the creator. But is it too easy to simply ‘get’ great sound… ie with presets, youtube, software, sample packs?
I have been speaking about this to a lot of people recently. I love talking about this subject and I sometimes fear that I can’t my point across eloquently enough.
To be brief, I think it’s really good that anyone can have access to writing music and instant help from the web if they get stuck. I also think sample packs can help people starting out to see the quality they should be aiming for.
Yet it doesn’t take too long before you start to realise that sample packs and presets are an expression of another person’s voice and not your own ideas and concepts. When producers and artists can tell stories and transport the listeners mind; only using sounds you have crafted personally.
That is something really special.
Does music production just keep advancing? Does it keep simply getting more polished and perfect as time necessarily ‘advances’? Isn’t there something to be said for the ‘primitive’ nature of filthy old bass sounds from mid 90s for eg, and the sometimes harsh jungle vibes of old?
To be put simply, Yes. Production values are always improving, but the really important question is, what is your definition of perfect?
I think that a little bit of grit, dust and crackle really adds character to a track. I think the track is perfect when it communicates a message to the listener. The mix always has and always will be a means to an end in my opinion.
Deficit and I were at the LEME and during a seminar one guy was talking about adding weird ambient recordings to his mixes. Both me and George both wrote on the our notes at the same time MUST BUY A ZOOM RECORDER.
So I would say the ’98 sound is definitely a big part of D&B still but it just makes its appearance in different ways now.
I love the way that people like Dub Phizix add little jungle breaks and bass rips that nod to the old vibes but at the same time the tracks are wonderfully polished. I have a really good friend called Necrobia who has some amazing tracks in the pipeline. The stuff he writes is a brilliant example of being incredibly well mixed but never compromising on character or grit if that’s what the idea needs.
What’s a small, bitesize bit of production or a live DJing tip that is solid gold. Anything. Just something small, random and invaluable.
Never underestimate the power of subtly changing the groove and position of drums to add or remove urgency from a section. We used this technique in ‘Alchemy’ and it works well.
What is another exclusive about you, maybe a Guilty Pleasure?
One of my very embarrassing guilty pleasure tracks is ‘Falling Into You’ by Celine Dion.
Got some shouts?
Big shout to Necrobia, look out for his tracks coming in the near future: they are going to be breathtaking! Philth and Hyroglifics have a track out now called the Forest, which is awesome. You can also support Hyroglifics’ by dontating £10 here and bagging an exclusive vinyl.
Also big up to Flexout Audio warming up for Soul in Motion more info and a free mix here
Big up Damian.