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Bassnectar Extended Interview

We are going to introduce a new feature where I talk to a professional digital dj about his techniques and personal way of using dj technology. This month I interviewed Dj Lorin for my Remix magazine column. The printed version was only a part of the full interview bellow. Some of you may be familiar with Lorin’s sets and some of you may not. Here is a clip from the article which describes his sound:

“DJ Lorin’s (aka Bassnectar) sets are a mind-blowing affair for everyone. The constant barrage of tempo changes, intestine-rattling bass and wide swath of genres keep your interest without sounding too A-D-D. Lorin explains, “I tend to refer to Bassnectar as ‘omnitempo maximalism,’ which means any or all speeds, time signatures, rhythms and every sound source possible. I seem to gravitate toward really heavy tempos, lots of play with double time and half time and using electronic methods to embellish and reinforce other styles of music — maybe ragtime or punk rock or the blues or batucada or polka or salsa or film scores or gangsta rap or beatboxing or Balkan gypsy music or ska.” His genre-defying mixes are a highly personalized blend of beats, edits and remixes that few other DJs can offer, easily separating him from the pack without the normal bucket-load of PR hype. I sat down with Lorin to find out how he gets such a bombastically personal sound”

How long have you been performing?

I began performing with Bob Rincinni’s Wild And Imaginary Circus Freakshow at the tender age of 7. Originally I was hired as errand boy to the Bearded Lady, but once i learned how to moonwalk with 20 foot stilts while gargling acid, everything else just fell into place. That was all back in 1932 though, so the details are of course a bit of a blur…

Are there any really exciting new ideas emerging in underground dance music today?

I am really excited about combinations of existing forms of sound. The more fearlessly we explore these combinations, the more wild and imaginary our results. Strict rules bother me and bore me. Although i tend to refer to Bassnectar as “omnitempo maximalism” which means any or all speeds, time signatures, and rhythms, and every sound source possible, i seem to gravitate towards really heavy tempos, lots of play with double time and half time, and using electronic methods to embellish and reinforce other styles of music (maybe ragtime or punk rock or the blues or batucada or polka or salsa or film scores or gangsta rap or beatboxing or balkan gypsy music or ska).

Who is a dj you admire?

Si Begg. I begged him for YEARS to come out to SF, and when he finally did he made my JAW DROP.
But i admire him even more as a producer. I am pretty bored with DJs, i must say.

Also i admire FreQ Nasty, not only for being an ambassador of style, but for staying committed to using music as a magnification glass for social change.

Z Trip is the shit too!

(and dear good god some of these dubstep producers are SO rocking me…Reso, Rusko, UGNH!!!)

I would like to see Mr Oizo or Mr Scruff.

Coldcut is a genius operation.

Come to think of it, there are probably zillions of pure genius acts slaying it right now, but i am on tour full time so i don’t really see shows. So i don’t know what im even talking about!
What do you think of digital dj technology?

Its awesome. In some senses, it changes the “sport”…whereas one of the GOALS used to be beatmatching, that is now pretty irrelevant. And its sad, if your sport was showing off how wonderfully you can beat match, because that has really become obsolete. Although i can beat match as instantaneously as the next DJ, i don’t give an at’s rasss about doing it and making people watch me do it. I’m rather much more interested in creating and collecting awesome sounds, and layering, combining and broadcasting them as a means to conjur up an energetically cathartic experience for other humans.

I gotta give mad, endless props to Ableton LIVE, may God bless her soul.
Would you say you are now a recognized dj in the “mainstream” club world or do you still mainly pull a devoted burning man-esq crowd?

If i am recognized in the mainstream club world it would probably be as that overly talkative faggy long hair who doesn’t really fit in anywhere. And i like that. Not only do i not feel any interest in the mainstream club world, but i honestly have no idea if it regards me, and if so how. Of course, like any human i would rather be loved that hated though, i’m not made of stone. (although i WOULD rather hang out with Stephen Colbert than Tiesto).

I would have to say that the typical bassnectar crowd throughout North America is as eclectic as the music, in terms of gender, style, and musical preference. I was really deep into burningman in 1998, 2001, etc. (in the sound camp hey day) but these days its fuckin’ diverse. Lots of repeat offenders too… 🙂

One standout development has been this huge ‘festival scene” which just loves good “music.” They are just as likely to catch Jurassic 5 as The Flaming Lips as Primus as STS9 as Evol Intent as Shpongle as Bassnectar as Beastie Boys as Kid Beyond as Annie Defranco, etc. (i mean, not that they are as likely to catch me as Beastie Boys, im just generally saying it’s an eclectic regard to musical tastes).
Just good music, and good creativity.

To the Force of Inauthentic, Mass-Marketed, Uninventive Clear-Channel-Humping Music, i say unto thee – “we will smite you!”


How much of your set is material that you have created in some way?

Sometimes i play sets that are 100% ONLY original tunes (not even mashups) and sometimes i play sets that are 100% ONLY tracks i have touched in some way (originals, remixes, edits, mashups, etc). Usually it is about 50% original, 25% mashup/exclusive edit, and 25% selections from my record collection, but i promise i’m not up there doing the math…

And sometimes i play whatever best fits the night or the mood, and if its something other than my own track, then that’s the way the muffin crumbles.

Then again, with Ableton LIVE, lately, its just been an onslaught of unlimited sampled loops, bit, bobs, drops, vocals, womps, wanks, warmps, buzzers, geezers, and endless snippets….just the Wet Dream Ultimaaaate for sampling, with no regard to “where is this from” or “who is this” literally because sometimes its a ten minute amorphous blob of loops and moments all colliding together… And sometimes i just hit play and let it do its thing, if its thing is uber good.


What was the most popular personal edit or remix that you have made?

Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted Snake” i’m sure you’ve heard it everywhere.
Ministry of Sound is alllll over it. Everyone’s absolutely *caning* it mate.
No.
Just Kidding.
UM….”most” is hard to say.
For one, i like to remix songs that aren’t necessarily meant to be *dancefloor* remixes. So my remix of Spearhead’s ‘Skin On The Drum” and my Perry Farrell mixes were really popular since back in 2000. Around the same time i did a BENDER on ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ but living in SF and being super underground meant i wasn’t pressing and releasing bootleg vinyl, so years later when Freeland did it there was kind of no need to do anything with it.
In terms of what pops the crowd off the most lately…the go-to DEADLY BASSNECTAR WEAPONS, id have to say my remixes of Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bass Tolls” and the Beatle’s “Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds” [check FingaLickin out soon]. But that kind of thing is so easy…i mean, c’mon. if you use music as great as Metallica or the Beatles and you have even a half-ass ear for production its easy to crush.

I just finished work on an old Calypso joint called “Gerard St” and Tru Thoughts will be releasing that for a ‘Me & You” remix project…check that one.

Also, i am suuuuuuuper into brass bands, balkan gypsy, romanian, turn of the century, antique shit…even accordians and polka makes me goofy lately.


Do you think your edits have had a big effect on your success?

Well the fact that i have been editing/touching almost the entire majority of the music i play out is certainly a huge factor (even little things like a reorganzied arrangement or adding a snare). Even though i used to take so much heat from closeminded ass holes in like 1997 and 1998 for DJing with CDs, the fact is, i was editing everything, even in small ways (normalizing, EQ, mastering, cleaning up, making interesting intros, deleting a stupid word or phrase, repeating something really good, adding an extra drum loop, sampling just a good element, etc etc) so my sets were not only unique but also REALLY able to feature the level of quality that my ears needed, and i could use any source material i wanted.

Also, again, with Ableton LIVE, these days the arrangement of a track is almost always different (at least slightly) cuz its on the fly. …is that an edit?
How important do you think it is for new djs to personalize their sets with remixes and edits?

100% essential.
But then again, i do not know how essential new DJs are. And that is a crumby thing to say, especially concerning the fact that i am a very inclusive and community oriented person, AND have taught DJ and Remix classes and workshops for years. I *want* to support anyone do anything and everything they want, ideally. It’s a loaded topic that deserves a lot of explanation in order to clearly establish the point, but i just think there is a level of saturation of both DJs and producers these days that its become very obligatory and unstimulating.

I can think instantly of 5 creative things an individual can do that would blow my mind way harder than spinning a dope DJ set. That’s all im saying.

What program do you prefer to use for your edits and remixes?

i Love SOUND FORGE so fucking much.
I am so sad they don’t make it for Mac. (Please Sony, please make it for MAC, then i don’t need to do this lousy Parrallels bullshit. Thanks, Sony.)

How do you find source material?

I stakeout goat-breeding farms in the Himalayas with a mic, a minidisc, and some black tea. Deep into the sessions, i record the sounds of carnal embrace, and later i pitch it down make b-lines out of it.
I also buy it off of www.SoundsOfTheSource.com/ArrestDickCheney.html

Do you re-master your edits? If so, what plug-ins do you like to use?

i love PSP Vintage Warmer (which i have heard some critiques on lately, but i love it anyways.) And i love Waves L2 Ultramaximizer. I hear L3 is great, and i’m sure L1934 will be even better, but i have L2 and i use it on EVERY SINGLE TRACK.

If your trying to make and older dub track sound more modern and fit in with a new drum and bass instrumental what are few ways you commonly do that?

I am afraid of sounding kind of obvious here….but:
1. isolate parts of the original that sound ‘clean’ (or bypass parts that are cluttered, or perhaps are kind of ‘off’ because they were played live and something went haywire)
2. Maybe warp the parts i like in Ableton Live, so its SPOT-on.
3. EQ out the bass (subs definitely, kick most likely).
4. Bug my friends to find me the accapella.
5. Offer lapdances, favors, or even threats if they do not deliver.
6. Write my own ‘muscle beat’ (consisting of BRIGHT sharp hats, a swatting snare, a knocking kick, and a ridiculous sub) or sometimes use a loop from a sadly uninventive ‘modern’ song with an undeniably DOPE b-line or beat, but no character.
7. Wait until the original sample is in heat, then stimulate the remix elements, and lock them in a cage together during the full moon. Place bets, drink a smoothie, get pissed off about how fucked up our government is and how apathetic, uneducated, and criminally indulgent the average citizen is, and then open up the cage and see what’s gone down

Which of the following formulas have you found more effective
A + a little bit of track b equals an improved track A

OR

A+B+C+lots of production= a new song entirely.

i am sad to say you wild horses could not drag the answer out of me. (Unless of course it is my old Stallion, Henrietta. Henrietta, we all miss you, do come home soon….or at least write).

What do you think of guys that sell these types of edits and remixes also known as the now dirty word “mash-up”? Do they deserve some credit and a little cash or is this something that should stay for personal use only.

I dont know if the deserve cash, but hell anyone deserves credit for anything they do (and with that credit, and $1 they can buy a cup of coffee. Of course in 5,000 years that credit won’t get them a fuckin Q-tip, so its really a crap shoot). It’s definitely cheesy to release a MIX or CD full of other people’s work and pretend it’s only you. But of course credits can get crazy on their own. As a completely addicted collaborator sometimes a song i work on had input from 5 or 6 of my buddies/cohorts and samples from 10 different sources. At that point its more about fun and magic than running around writing credits all over the curtains. But i admit, when i work on a piece of music for 2 months, and it literally has melodies i first heard inside of a dream, and maybe it has even made me cry, i like to get credit too!

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  • sorry

    if any of you people took the fucking time to even remotely look into “your idol”, you would clearly see that the key to his ableton setup…..is actually ILL GATES. and for all of you hacks that dont know who he is, i feel sorry.

  • FuNgUy

    wish this got more technical….

    • forSErious

      why? so you can try to replicate someone elses sound? I think he mentioned something about that

  • clinthammer

    Dude has mad skills with the knobs. Very inspirational piece.-ch

  • Hes not made of stone haha but your brain does turn my ass into a caveman. It is truly inspiring jus ta hear about the begging of ur music carrer and that fact that u faced adversity and it jus really shows in ur music that u jus know wtf u like. Youve really managed to sum up past generations and crowd mentality that some how creates an archaic sesne of being.. and being cool as shit . haha Thank u for goin there keep being a fukin rockstar like i know u wil aint no rest fo the wicked

  • Anthony Rodriguez

    Awesome interview!!! I recently purchased a controller and i have ableton. This interview gave me a new perspective on where to begin.

  • Ben dorrell

    Yea ableton is a full production suite man….. Anything is possible!

  • Coleby

    [quote comment=”5213″]

    Sweet interview. Bassnectar is awesome, would love to see how his ableton setup works! My style / direction is somewhat in his direction.

    Agreed. Cool interview. Bassnectar is the shit. So beyond the realm of the mass marketed top 40 (dj list) popularity contest out there! I’d also like to know more about his Ableton setup. Does he run stricly Ableton Live or does he generally run any Dj decks/host app alongside?I’m craving some more technical dirt.[/quote]

    Yea dude. i was thinking of buying Ableton! can u like make ur own shit or just edit shit? there are a lot of programs where u just edit stuff but i want something where i can throw my own beats down! how do i go about this?

  • Very informative. The Chancellor on my planet will be most pleased. ****(((((****mind erasing flash*****)))))*****

  • Alex

    [quote comment=”5206″]…would love to see how his ableton setup works!…[/quote]

    I run sound at a club where bassnectar plays and i got to take a peek under the hood at his live set. i didn’t actually get to play with it 🙁 but i watched his sound guy set it up and check monitors with it.
    He runs two laptops running ableton into a dj mixer. the sets have the main track “backbone” (about four channels if i remember right) in the center with channels out to either side for “extra” sounds. he has a trigger finger mapped to play clips within the currently selected scene (song?) and the knobs mapped to various effects (one knob just took a kick drum from off, to whole notes, and then 1/2 note triplets, 1/2 notes, 1/4 note triplet etc., another seemed to change the lfo amount and sync rate (wobble) for a filter on the bass ). he had a slider mapped to the tempo. that’s all i was able to discern from the sound check, i’ll have to pick his brain more next time he comes through.

    That said i saw ableton set, and stiff have no idea how he gets those amazing sounds. i guess just time, love, and attention to detail.

  • beatfreak919

    [quote comment=”16831″]BEAT MATCHING IS an aesthetic value added to music. It’s not the fucking gasoline that makes a dj run.

    Get it right, be an artist and understand the difference.[/quote]

    too bad beatmatching is easily done now digitally man.

  • Cobo

    Demf and Lolla! Fucking rocked my socks. Can’t wait for november

  • Will

    Seen bassnectar twice, both were very mind expanding experiences

  • Rachel

    [quote comment=””]Saw Lorin spin just a few nights ago. His music takes over everything when he gets going. I’ve never seen crowds so into a set as with Bassnectar. Sweeeet visuals too![/quote]

    I was at the Santa Cruz show over the weekend and it was something else. I’d seen him 3 times before that, but this show was insane! Like he said, it literally felt like swimming in bass, maybe because the venue was so small compared to where I usually catch him. It was fucking magic. All his music is so lush and layered perfectly, perfect flow and mixing.

  • Saw Lorin spin just a few nights ago. His music takes over everything when he gets going. I’ve never seen crowds so into a set as with Bassnectar. Sweeeet visuals too!

  • hello kittymon

    I don’t get why he says the world doesn’t need more d.j.s, I think we are all d.j.s nowadays, and perhaps from where he sits there is something going wrong and it makes him sad to see so many hopefuls, but lets not forget one things, for all the people that work on their must, the world is very stimulationvigorouslymonobeam

    Its the kids like 17, they are where its always at because they see a mountain in front full of fairy tales, kind of like Kurt Cobain, he killed himself when he saw over the mountain.

    • echo

      you answered your own question on line 1. : >

  • BEAT MATCHING IS an aesthetic value added to music. It's not the fucking gasoline that makes a dj run.

    Get it right, be an artist and understand the difference.

  • Anonymous

    [quote comment="5329"]I've seen Bassnectar three times now, and each time Lorin blew my mind, especially when he played before STS9 at Langerado this year. It's really some of the most original music I've heard in a long time, not to mention and amazing live set. Huge props to Videolicious too, and djtechtools.com for a great interview.

    Peace[/quote]

    First Beastie Boys, then BassNectar, then STS9… most ridiculous night of my life

  • I saw Lorin in Charleston this last spring, and he was running Ableton on two different laptops with two midi controllers, a standard DJ mixer, two CDJs, and Videolicious was doing his insane video mix. I'm pretty sure he was only using the one laptop and the other was back up, and he used the sampler/midi controller to operate entirely in live. Although I can't be too sure, I was in another world the entire night. Unbelievable WOMP of a show. Can't wait to experience it again.

  • Anonymous

    I've seen Bassnectar three times now, and each time Lorin blew my mind, especially when he played before STS9 at Langerado this year. It's really some of the most original music I've heard in a long time, not to mention and amazing live set. Huge props to Videolicious too, and djtechtools.com for a great interview.

    Peace

  • tfon

    I've seen Bassnectar three times now, and each time Lorin blew my mind, especially when he played before STS9 at Langerado this year. It's really some of the most original music I've heard in a long time, not to mention and amazing live set. Huge props to Videolicious too, and djtechtools.com for a great interview.

    Peace

  • jasonj

    I was able to catch a show with Lorin in Kelowna BC, where he played alongside a local (Antipop), as well a Toronto based Dj "The Phat Conductor".

    Let me tell you if you have not been able to see any of these Djs especially Lorin. Then there is a piece of life you may be missing. All three talents that night here in Kelowna performed a full Ableton set that rocked all three levels of the club.

    To a shoulder to shoulder packed club the sounds that came from those speakers are still rining in my head months after.

    I am for sure looking foward to making it to Shambahla in Nelson, BC to see Lorin once again.

    Great inteview!!

  • music is more important than wine corks under a laptop 🙂

  • Excellent interview! Loved every bit of it.

    Particularly his… interesting sense of humor!

  • I didn't know him, but I'm already enjoying Underground Communication 😉

  • Cool interview!

  • N2

    agreed! great interview. hopefully he will make it to denver sometime. i would appreciate more tech info on his setup as well…shweet.

  • Huff

    Sweet interview. Bassnectar is awesome, would love to see how his ableton setup works! My style / direction is somewhat in his direction.

    Agreed. Cool interview. Bassnectar is the shit. So beyond the realm of the mass marketed top 40 (dj list) popularity contest out there! I'd also like to know more about his Ableton setup. Does he run stricly Ableton Live or does he generally run any Dj decks/host app alongside?I'm craving some more technical dirt.

  • midian

    Sweet interview. Bassnectar is awesome, would love to see how his ableton setup works! My style / direction is somewhat in his direction.

  • I really enjoyed that interview. He is a great producer would like to see him live one day