A bit about me, why I’m here. I’m a fan of music, art, photography and film. I like a lot of different genres of music and I’m trying to create music of the genres that interested me.
It all started I guess when I was a kid, my Dad brought home a cassette recorder one day which came with a microphone. It came with it’s own carry case as well, a kind of leather effect cover. I started to record, myself, TV theme tunes, me playing with my dog and friends. When I played it back I remember thinking is that really me?
I started experimenting with the record function to get different effects, mainly by holding down the record and play buttons halfway and varying between them to change the record speed slightly. The recordings would sound distorted in some way.
I did the same a bit later with another tape deck, a kind of freestyle speed editing of radio commentary on a twin tape machine, again manipulating the record button and other functions. I did this for comedy value but it did open up a new creative interest in audio editing. I’d rewind, forward and record the same sound or speech a few times at random points to get a whole new conversation.
A bit later I got my first home computer, a Commodore C64, which at the time was pretty much the best home computer available. I did get a Sinclair ZX Spectrum a few years earlier but it was limited creatively, aside from being able to write short stories with it.
The Commodore C64 was a whole new ball game, aside from games: Emlyn Hughes International Soccer, Rambo, Green Beret, Commando – with their own memorable SID chip tunes – I picked up a drum machine emulator on cassette, like the games.
It had a few decent drum and bass sounds and I spent a bit of time programming the beat and bass part and recorded it to cassette by holding a dictations machine at this point next to the TV speaker. I was trying to recreate a piece of music from the Terminator movie, the police station scene, and I think it came out okay. It inspired me anyway to seek out more ways to make electronic music.
A few years later I upgraded to an Amiga 1200. It was a big leap forward graphically and could do a lot more in terms of music making, playing around with samples and audio effects. I bought a mini sampler cartridge that plugged into the back of the Amiga and used a sample sequencer program called OctaMED to make the tracks. It seemed like pretty advanced software at the time – no Cubase yet.
I remember the first track I made using samples grabbed from a TV documentary. The audio set up was now better than the C64, recording direct via cable from a VHS recorder to the Amiga, so sound quality was much better. This rekindled an interest and opened up a new world of creative audio possibilities.
I was listening to more music, electronic music like Orbital, The Prodigy, new electric artists on Future Music mag CD’s, movie soundtracks, like Escape from New York, and I wanted to have a go at creating that kind of music.
The Amiga 1200 and sampler was capable of quite a lot considering the cost of gear and RAM needed to record and process audio now.
I was able to record and add effects like reverb, delay, flange, which all sounded great, the Amiga was able to handle short samples with no problem. Processing audio, such as adding reverb to around 60 seconds of audio took a few minutes, today computers will do that instantly.
I found ads in computer mags and sent off for new audio samples on floppy discs, mostly pre-composed songs, a few complete cover songs, cool computer artwork, new music for OctaMED, then played around with them to make my own tracks.
I wasn’t taking music making too seriously, it was and still is a pass time when I feel creative or inspired by something I’ve seen or heard on TV, a film or documentary.
The first track I made with the ‘Technosound Turbo‘ sampled speech and a short piece of music from a documentary about Russia. For some reason Russia was in the news at the time, it was around 1995, Russia was still in the process of opening itself up to the world.
In the intro there was a compilation of short soundbites from street interviews with Russian people expressing their views on a more open relationship with the rest of the world, while being being patriotic. It was interesting to see this culturally rich nation, seemingly full of well educated people, beautiful architecture, palatial theatres, classical art and music from a bygone era now opening itself up to the world.
I sampled some of the dialogue. The main sample was a group of young Russian women standing in Red Square exuberantly saying “I love Russia”. It was endearing and fitted the moody soundtrack. The track was more of a collage of audio that went well together. I played it to a few friends and family who liked it.
A few years later I bought an electric guitar (Encore Strat) and some guitar tablature books: Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Roses.
Around the same time I bought a Korg Workstation keyboard and digital 8 track recorder. I met up with a friend quite regularly for a jam, neither of us could play well, I’d play simple, mostly one string improvised solo’s over his strummed acoustic and it sounded okay in parts. Looking back that particular sound probably had more potential than we gave it credit for.
We didn’t have rehearsal space, playing at home was a a bit of a problem with a few complaints from neighbours and I think that is a make or break point for any would-be band. If you’re lucky enough to have a garage or somewhere to rehears it makes a difference and is the kind of luck you need.
When you’re younger you don’t take a lot of things seriously, I didn’t. You have to be committed though to get a band together and roll with minor set backs.
I took a few guitar lessons but didn’t think the tuition was worth it considering I could buy two guitar tablature books for the price of a one hour guitar lesson.
I did get together with a few friends and there was interest in starting a band but I think these things either happen or they don’t. Starting a band and aiming for any kind of success you will face obstacles but most are overcome with the right attitude and luck on your side. If there is a will (which in our case there wasn’t a serious commitment) so it didn’t go further.
My feeling about the music industry and that lifestyle feels negative to me now. I think when you’re younger you can absorb a lot of negativity from commercial artists without realising it. There are sincere artists out there as well and I try and support them.
In the beginning it was just me with an interest in making music and enjoying the creative process. It was something I came back to now and then along with going to audio engineering college. I shared the idea with a friend who joined the same recording studio audio engineering course as well as getting together for jams.
At the time, around 2000, I put an ad in the music press (either RockSound or Melody Maker) and we met up with a Korean guy studying in the UK (New Cross, London) who turned out to be a great guitarist and cool dude.
Our sound, or the sound we potentially would have had, influenced by bands we liked and if we’d taken it seriously, were bands like Mogwai, Sonic Youth, Six By Seven, early Manic Street Preachers – although none of us could sing.
We set up a meet with a potential vocalist, again in New Cross, but discovered we weren’t right for each other.
We loved QuickSpace, Radiohead, I loved The Stone Roses, a bit of Nu-Metal, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Joy Division, The Fall, and music I continued to listen to into the 2000’s: Nine Inch Nails. I was beginning to lose interest in music generally by this time.
The early 2000’s took a nose dive in terms of the quality of music in my opinion. There was a lot of copying of similar sounding bands from the mid 90’s, and as I’ve heard said by others, the music industry became saturated with a lot of similar sounding bands that harked back to that mid 90’s sound.
Like any market, the most profitable commodity is what people are interested in and will try to emulate that winning formula. When everyone sounds the same, like music that was popular a few summers before, music lovers will inevitably lose interest.
The music scene seemed to collapse under the weight of copycat bands. A few popular bands came through that weren’t my cup of tea, Coldplay being one. They’ve made some nice music, it’s just not my thing. Music that tries too hard to appeal on an emotional level usually has a short life.
1996 to 1999 felt like a long summer. It was a great time for British indie music, Brit pop in particular, but when the summer eventually came to an end I think many people looked back and preferred not to be reminded of them. It seemed that every popular Brit Pop / Indie song had been played to death.
This colourful new scene seemed like a new kind of carry on comedy that wasn’t limited to the music scene. It included celebrity footballers, the Prime Minister, actors, girl bands and more, melding together into something that was very commercial and didn’t appeal to me.
The music sounded like someone waking me up in the morning trying to sing a second rate version of a song I’ve heard a billon times already but any love for that vibe had long passed. The positive feeling I might have had the first few times of hearing a song turned to negativity. The vibe being promoted started to sound very pretentious and annoying.
Woozy, drunken songs like “Your Gorgeous”, fairground favourites “Born Slippy”, “Setting Sun” and other summer “bangers” were played to death at parties where people were getting wasted and I suppose that’s what I associate them with, not a positive feeling.
After a few rough summers, miserable winters (98, 99, 2000), a couple of attempts at getting a band together plus the cost of audio gear that never quite sounded how I want along with expensive software, I put my interest in music aside and decided to see a bit more of the world. I travelled to Scandinavia, Brazil, India, and other places. I’m glad I did, the experience revitalised my soul. I felt reborn, in fact I got baptised in India. I practically forgot about music for a long time until recently. I almost forgot I had guitars.
Bandcamp has opened my eyes and ears to the amount of good music out there. The variety and quality is as good as ever. There are a lot of very talented, genuine people making great music.
My own aim is to try and make whatever music inspires me to the best of my ability, enjoy what I’m doing and hope someone else likes it.
Genres I’m interested in at the moment are retro soundtracks, analogue bass, synth, obscure, lo-fi sounds, a bit of guitar. I’ve not added vocals but might try something in the ‘brutalist’ genre.