How did you come to work with Challan Carmichael?
It was through church about six or seven years ago in Nottingham. He was interested in music and I got introduced to him because I’d made some music and stuff myself. So I thought hey, “Let’s hook up and let’s put something together”, and so we started writing, actually that’s probably where one of our first tracks was worked on, when we met. It probably wasn’t until things got more serious with Challans music again, 2 or 3 years later, that we went at it again. I think we revised the track a bit, kept doing touch ups and kept coming up with ideas and things.
How many tracks have you created with Challan?
I think it’s possibly 2 or 3 tracks that he’s working with; that’s just for the album. We’ve got a couple of other ideas that we’ve kept in the bank, perhaps something for a future album.
What are your thoughts on Challan and his music?
I think it’s good, I like what he’s trying to do and that he’s trying to create music which gives out positive messages and build people up. I think there’s a lot of negative music in terms of the lyrics, or being sexually suggestive; which probably isn’t quite appropriate to some young children. So I like what he’s trying to do, and bringing out the positive things for people. They can say, “Hey, this is actually good music and it’s helping me to have a more positive attitude”.
How did the songs with Challan come about?
For the first one, he had a little bit of a melody for the beginning of the chorus, then I came up with the structure of the piece; the chords. He would play around with the melody and fills in the song, and we just kept going over and over it again until we both felt comfortable with the melody, feel and beat. Essentially that’s how it came around for that one. I had a piano idea for one of the pieces; the rhythm and pattern. As I played it to Challan, he started playing around with some styles, to see what he could come up with and we recorded it. After the session he took it back with him and worked on it some more in his own time. We then met back up together to get the more complete feel for the track.
How did you get started as a producer?
I studied Audio Music Technology at Anglia Ruskin University, so that’s how I got into it but I always like making music. To be honest a lot of my music before was for more orchestral arrangements and that kind of thing, but I definitely liked pop music as well; modern pop-rock and that kind of thing. I play in a covers band as well so I get involved that way as well. But it’s through the University that I’ve been able to do a little bit of work here and there, producing things and making tracks.
How long have you been producing music for?
It’s been on and off but I’ve probably been doing it properly for the last three or four years; I didn’t produce before University.
What genres of music do you have the most passion for and why?
I listen to a lot of pop-rock, and I’m always listening to see what’s new out there and what kind of sounds and beats that are used. Honestly my biggest passion is for film soundtrack music. I can produce pop and rock music but I like the challenge of doing film soundtracks. It’s very different to what I’ve done before or what I’m doing. I like the way that all of the sounds come together, the different instrument and different melodies. I find it challenging to do. Producing is about finding the right ‘catchy’ melodies and choruses, and mixing the beats to come up with those sounds; which is good and a different kind of challenge. But it’s definitely got to be film soundtracks.
What gives you inspiration to create music?
[For the film soundtrack music] at the moment it is just a hobby that I’ve set myself really, I haven’t put it out there, not yet. Challan has spoken with me about it a couple times, and maybe it’s something to look at in the future, I don’t know. Inspiration for this is pretty much from the challenge and interest I have in it. I like listening to film soundtracks a lot, so I do have some particular composers and styles that I like. I don’t really think of any motion or particular style that I want to try to do; I just start working at it.
Do you work solo or in a team?
I work alone, so yeah it is just myself.
What do you consider your finest skill of production to be, or do you have more than one?
For me it’s definitely got to be the melodies and putting them together; making something sound nice and pleasant to listen to. I’m very critical of myself, so if I don’t think it’s suited out there, then I just won’t go on; ill change it or something. So I have to be happy with how something sounds.
What is your favourite track or tracks that you have produced?
It has probably got to be one of my first ones, which is a piece I’ve done called ‘Overture To You’. Another which I like is called ‘July’; they’re both from my own soundtracks. There’s one that I’m in the middle of recording and trying to produce with my band, Juno (I play the keyboard). That’s like a collection of songs, it’s a sort of funky style and consists of Queen ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, Wild Cherry ‘Play that Funky Music’ and Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Don’t Stop’. [My band genre] is probably mostly pop-rock; it is fairly mixed of modern and old numbers. So there’s some Queen in there, Kylie, Gnarls Barkley, Franz Ferdinand, Whites Stripes, Marvin Gaye. So yeah, it’s aimed more at doing functions and weddings, and that kind of thing.
Are there any UK artists that you think you’re music would be suited to?
At the moment I’ve got some music which I’m working on, that would be suited to the rock-pop bands like Twin Atlantic, You Me at Six; along that direction. I wouldn’t say I pigeon hole my music to any particular style; I like to think that I can be fairly flexible. If I’m being quite frank, the R&B side is probably my weakest point in producing music. I’m more suited to pop-rock and dance music.
What are some of the hardware and software resources that you use in your production process?
Sonar is my main production software suite. For hardware I use the Presonus Audiobox, and for a mic I use a Rode K2 at the moment. That is essentially it. [For VSTS’s] I tend to use Dimension Pro and Rapture; their probably the two most popular ones. I use a guitar synth called Real Strat, and for drums, I use Addictive Drums.
What is your take on music today?
On the R&B side I think some of music is probably a bit to suggestive, as well as the music videos. It doesn’t set a good example for young children who are watching because they might think, “My favourite artist is dressing like that with barely anything on, so maybe its ok for me to do it”. I just don’t think its setting a very good example. They have such a huge influence on the kids, because they’re the people who are buying their music. They see it through music video channels, whether it’s MTV or whatever, YouTube or streaming services and things like that.
The artists are out there to gain popularity and people notice it all the time.
Tell us something about yourself that may not be known?
I made the entrance music for my wedding, for my wife. It was for a piano and organ, so I got a couple of friends to play for us, and yeah, that was really nice.