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.
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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.
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?
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
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!