Sunday 26 July 2009

Here's a new feature at B365. We ask an artist to select a handful of tracks that have influenced them across their lifetime and put them in a mix. We then talk about those choices, hopefully incorporating a little insight into the selected artist at the same time. Pretty simple really, and something we hope you'll enjoy.

First up is a rising star of the Dubstep scene, Coleco. After the exhilarating rush of Campfire Funk was released on Soul Motive last year, plenty of people started taking a deeper interest in this young producer who's cinematic scope and ear for melody belies his age and experience. Bristol is not short of dynamic or innovative producers in this genre, but Coleco is operating on the very fringes of the sound in a similar fashion to Soul Motive's label boss Forsaken. Through a prolonged online chat we spoke to him about his chosen tracks and what they mean to him.

B: Hiya Coleco, how are you?

C: Fairly ill to be honest, mad headache all weekend, but luckily it's not swine flu! (yet) So I've got time to laze around and write beats...

B: Perfect activity for a rainy sunday! Where are you now?

C: At home, with my feet up.

B: Where does the name Coleco come from? My extensive internet research has revealed only ColecoVision, the early video game console - or that company's earlier incarnation of a leather goods manufacturer - as the only likely contenders. So is it retro video games or a love for leather that inspired the name?

C: Yes, it came from ColecoVision, but being a bit hypocritical on my part, I never actually owned one! Needless to say I was a bit of a retro computer game fiend, but the MegaDrive was my arena. Ever since I started producing, I dropped the whole gaming thing, but writing little midi files for Sonic fangames when I was younger was where I first came across a sequencer. The name actually comes from when I used to skate (yes, fruitboot!) and someone came up with the crew name "ColecoVision Crew", for comedic reasons. Why I hijacked the name, I have no idea. I suppose it is a bit odd, officially standing for Conneticut Leather Company. But, shh, don't tell anyone that!

B: Ha ha! So given that you're a retro games nut, do you have an affinity with the 8-bit sounds other Bristol producers like Joker and Gemmy feature in their music? It doesn't seem to be an overt influence in your own productions.

C: No you're right, the 8-bit sound doesn't appear as much as I might have thought it did. Joker and Gemmy seem to have a talent for a clean, techy, well produced, 8-bit influenced sound. I tend to make things more rustic and organic. In some of my older stuff it featured more, but I would still say it has influenced me a lot, especially when I create a leadline. The other 'retro' sound that fascinates is the recording processes of the 60's-70's, especially on old funk/soul tracks. So I try a combine the two a little, that digital sound, verses rusty, distorted, analogue warmth.

B: There's a definite 'vintage' quality to your sound - something that links in with your first choice of record here - Boards Of Canada Aquarius. Everybody was mad for Music Has The Right To Children when it came out...there's a strong lineage between that warm, natural analogue sound they created and your own work. Where does this track take you back to?

C: To be honest, I probably jumped on the Boards Of Canada bandwagon later than most. But, it was a quite a few years back when, after being into rock, then subsequently introduced to drum n bass, I discovered the whole electronic leftfield, avant-garde, IDM, (or whatever you wanna call it!) thing. The infamously mysterious Boards of Canada are much more repetitive and hypnotic than other Warp or Warp-esque artists like the usually very progressive Squarepusher. However, it made me appreciate that digital, yet warm analogue sound they produced, and the subtleties that come with it. Of course their transcendental melodies and hypnotic grooves, combined with those other factors, are easily enough to take me, and many others to another place.

B: Is that a key factor in making your own music? That you want the listener to feel like they are transcending? That's quite a psychedelic ambition!

C: Ha ha! Well, I don't claim to be a Buddhist zen master, a DMT taking psychonaut, or anything of that nature. I just write what I write, because that's pretty much all I can do at the moment. I have had comments that some of my tracks are progressive but it's probably due to my short attention span when it comes to producing music. Ironically, I got into the whole dubstep thing through it's initial bass driven minimal sound, and appreciation of subtleties... I love that! But I'm no good at it, sometimes I just wanna go a bit epic, or perhaps try combining the two a little bit.

B: There's definitely an epic feel to your production, I think its the juxtaposition of those beautiful, ethereal melodies and driving, cinematic drumwork. Speaking of which, drums are in abundance on the next track by Imperial Breed - Roberto Kien's band. I recall being blown away by the percussion on Campfire Funk and here we have an equally crazy beat throwdown...

C: Yes! It's all about the snare on this one, and of course the drummers tight funky groove. This track was released in 2006, but along with the rest of these new, retro sounding funk acts, it sounds as if it could be straight from the 60s! I picked this more because it represents a warm, crusty, distorted sound that I love. Admittedly the recording engineers go a bit futher than I would, and bands like Lefties Soul Connection go even futher, but it totally suits the sound. I find there's something, that I can only describe as ghostly, about the instruments on this one. Michael Stavrou tells in his book Mixing With Your Mind about creating "ghosts between the speakers". That hits the nail on the head for me, as disgustingly dirty as it is, it sounds as if the band is, almost unrealistically floating between the speakers.

B: Intricate drumwork seems to be a vital factor in most of your production, for example on Influence, and there's a definite reluctance it seems to generate repetitive beats, but more organic, free-flowing, ever-changing. Is that something you pick up from an artist like Squarepusher? Tetrasync is a track which encapsulates that flow perfectly.

C: Yes, Squarepusher was one of the artists that showed me exactly how far you can push things. In my opinion, someone like Boxcutter (aka Barry Lynn) has been the best in translating that into a more ridged dubstep formula. Let's face it, in terms of my own productions I can only admire Squarepusher as a more or less untouchable genius. However, the real hard edged, crazy as f**k, digital, glitch-core thing is something I haven't wanted to put across entirely. I try at the moment to mostly leave that to the people who are good at it, and go a bit more organic and cinematic myself, whilst at the same time drawing a progressive influence from the aforementioned artists. If we're talking about transcendental, then Squarepusher is a man who can shoot your brain into out of space.

B: Both Boxcutter and Paradox are represented here too, both take the basic formula of their musical genre and pretty much dismantle it. Is that something you aspire to do with your own music? Although you're seen as a 'dubstep' artist, there's much more to your sound than that.

C: It's hard to analyse myself and say whether I write like that, because I'm intending to, or because that's just what comes out naturally. I hope that I can write some stuff that's different, and get attention for that that, but at the same time it's just what I do. Whether or not I'm any good at it is a listeners' personal opinion.

B: Taking a step back let's talk about Shpongle, not an artist I'm familiar with, but the intro to this track sounds suspiciously like something Forsaken would write. Are you subliminally trying to tell us Forsaken is bang into his psy-trance?

C: Haha, well I can't personally vouch for Forsaken's personal influences, but he's been bigging me up from the beginning (thanks Pete!), so there must have been something he liked there. Our music is very different in my opinion, but Forsaken obviously has a strong melodic influences that I share in some places, and a he's brilliant producer all round.

I know Shpongle have been related to psy-trance quite a lot, but it's like Squarepusher relating to D&B. There's definite influences there, but their music is completely something of it's own nature. Shpongle puts more a melodic, world music influenced take on the whole progressive thing. It probably stems back to my Dad playing a lot of random world music around me when I was younger, I've always loved the sound of world music instruments, and their scales, especially eastern ones. Shpongle takes me on a psychedelic journey to the esoteric and mysterious. Recommended listening!

B: So your dad was a big influence on your musical experience growing up?

C: It's hard to say how big, but the world music influenced side of things, he is definitely is at least partially responsible for.

B: And what about your experiences with listening to rock music, was that a formative part of your growing up? The Mars Volta and Deftones are two of the more experimental edge of that spectrum...

C: Rock music was the first music I really got into. I played trumpet from a young age, and did a few grades, that gave me my 'music theory' understanding. I also used to like listening to the music from old computer games (the whole 8-bit thing again). But other than that it took me along time to start buying and listening to commercial music. Dubstep is the first thing I have managed to jump onto closer to when it arrived, everything else I'm a real latecommer.

I liked rock music back then (and still now), probably for the same reasons as all the other kids at school did. It's hard distorted edge, it's aggression, and the huge sonic size that electric guitars give you. But bands like Deftones, The Mars Volta, and Tool are more than that to me. They used melodies and rhythms that were totally new and exciting to me at the time, as you could say yes, experimental. Rock music is probably responsible for the part of me that likes hard, raw, distorted sounds, and bands like these combined that with a whole progressive edge. Of course bands like Pink Floyd had been doing the psychedelic rock thing much earlier, but I wasn't introduced to that until later.

B: Any bands from that realm of music that you're still feeling?

C: I'm still feeling most of them to be honest, I've been out of touch with rock/metal for a while, but I recently saw The Mars Volta in concert. You know it was funny, someone said to me "I would like to see The Mars Volta, but I heard that it just turns into some kind of live jamming session"... live jamming session? That's what's so good about it! Amazing freestyle improvisation, and a drummer that I swear was on steroids.

I couldn't name you any up and coming bands now, as I'm too busy listening to up and coming dubstep artists.

B: It's intriguing that you have influences from the raw edges of sounds like metal and D&B such as Kryptic Minds but your own distillation of those experiences is quite haunting and ethereal in your own music. Is the raw, heavy, metallic sound on the other extreme side of dubstep something that would interest you in making?

C: I have a track called President Tune which is supposedly due for vinyl release soon that will reveal all, it's hard, techy and dirty.

B: Is it a style you hope to explore more or just an experiment to see if you could write in that style? What label is it due out on?

C: Yeah, I want to write more darker, harder tunes in parallel with the more ethereal stuff. I'm hoping it will be out on Destructive soon. You can hear President Tune on my myspace at the moment.

B: Destructive is a big look! Congratulations. Talking about releases, Campfire Funk on Soul Motive got a huge amount of critical praise when it was put out, and was embraced by the dubstep community - even though it sounds nothing like atypical dubstep. Did the response take you by surprise somewhat?

C: To be honest, I didn't know what to expect, Neil Kymatik used to say to me "Don't worry, people WILL play this track" and I just trusted him. My only concern is that some people might think I don't make a style closer to halfstep dubstep until I have a few more releases of that nature. Hopefully more will come in the future, and it'll end up a good thing I started that way.

B: I remember when I was passed an unmastered wav of it a year or so back, it sounded so energising and I knew it would be a big track...I think it sits perfectly with the ethos of a record label like Soul Motive. Are you looking to work with those guys again?

C: If they want to release something else, of course I'd be happy to. On the flipside, I think they want to promote, and put out a wide variety of artists and styles.

B: So what's next for you aside from Destructive? Any more releases lined up beyond that?

C: I have no idea really, there's talking going on here and there but nothing confirmed yet.

B: Ha ha that's how it goes, keep at it...OK, I think that just about does it. Anything you'd like to add?

C: Thanks for Diccon (DJ Thinking) for introducing me to Manchego Cheese and Basil Steak rolls, they're possibly the nicest thing I've ever eaten.

B: LOL! Big ups to Diccon, repping cuisine as well as good music! Nice one Coleco thanks for chatting to me!

C: God that was long, I feel sorry for you for having to listen to me talk about myself for what, 4 hours, so sorry if I rambled on!

Lifetracks #01 : Coleco

Boards of Canada - Aquarius
Imperial Breed - On The Run
Squarepusher - TetraSync
Shpongle - Divine Moments of Truth
Paradox - Play Twice Before Listening
The Mars Volta - Roulette Dares
Boxcutter - Brood VIP
Kryptic Minds - The Truth
Toasty - No Prisoners
Deftones - Pink Maggit

DOWNLOAD: Lifetracks #01 : Coleco

Bonus Download

Coleco: Deepest Dubstep Mix

Coleco - Influence
Burial - Unite
Fanu - You May Fall But Don't Hide Your Face
Eleven Tigers - Prosthesis
Toasty - Reflect
Coleco - Moonlight
Burial - Ghost Hardware
Fanu - Burning The Bridge
Coleco - Breathwork
Toasty - Splash
Eleven Tigers - Shanty
Roqqert - Give It
Kontext - Aeromonarch Attacks
Coleco - Deep Red Sun
Toasty - Angel
Jamie Vex'd - Radient Industry
Coleco - Smokey

DOWNLOAD : Coleco - Deepest Dubstep Mix

Ffi : Coleco Website