Plasitician will be making his return to Toronto on April 17th, 2015 for an intimate affair at Velvet Underground. He took time out to chat with Off Centre about Rinse FM, his thoughts on DJing & Production, and where electronic music is heading.
OCDJ - Glad to see that Rumpshakers is bringing you to Toronto! Have you been here before? What are your impressions?
PLASTICIAN - Yep been here many times! It's been one of the coldest places I've ever been on my travels, and always a good time. I remember playing at the Hoxton with Skream & Benga, Jackmaster a while back. That was wild. Was one of the best stops on that tour definitely.
OCDJ - What are your thoughts on the current state of electronic music. Where are we taking this ship?
PLASTICIAN - I think it's healthy in terms of the creativity we're hearing. People have lots of freedom to take their music wherever they want it to go now, without the constraints of staying within a genre constraint. At least within the circles of bass music anyhow. Obviously genres like Techno are still very much sticking to their guns and keeping their sound and events pure and true to their roots. But I like evolution, change excites me and I think today we're in a place where you log into your soundcloud stream and really don't know what you're going to hear next.
OCDJ - Your Rinse FM sets are moody and quite eclectic. How different is one performance to the next? Is there something that we can expect from your live performance this week in Toronto?
PLASTICIAN - I differ a lot, always try to change things up. Some weeks I'll play really moody, and others I'll play more club oriented. I think the performance this week will be guided by the audience, I'll normally start off a little slower and then ease into clubbier stuff - by the end it'll be a bit faster paced, and I'd imagine I'll find time to throw a few oldies in there too.
OCDJ - Production wise, is there a favourite piece of gear or software that sits as the centre of your creative process?
PLASTICIAN - I've produced everything I've ever released on FL Studio, in the early days it was Fruityloops of course. I love the simplicity of it. I have an extremely basic grasp of beatmaking, as down the years I've had less and less time to work on tracks so I still use FL pretty much the same way I did back then - mostly with samples and various VST's. I have only a couple of hardware bits in the studio - and one of them is only a controller, so everything is digital for me really. I guess it's more of a workstation than a studio in that sense. Just a workstation with great monitors!
OCDJ - You started off more as a DJ correct? Does this skill set play a large role in your production work?
PLASTICIAN - Yes definitely, I always try to produce things I fit will sit well between two or three styles I'm feeling at the time. Most of my more famed productions bridged the gap between grime and dubstep when I was playing mostly that. Right now it tends to sit somewhere between grime, jersey club and what people would refer to as "cloud rap" although you'd never hear me call it that! I'm always trying to create things I think people won't have heard before, which is why so little gets finished. I think I am such a hard person to please musically, even with my own productions.
OCDJ - As a producer do you think it's important to intimately understand the lineage of the beats your producing?
PLASTICIAN - Not necessarily. I sometimes find the best way to work on things is to just experiment and go crazy. You can always take the good stuff from it and simplify if you feel the need later on.
OCDJ - If electricity ceased to exist would you still be making music?
PLASTICIAN - No, I'd be fucked. I'm not even sure I'd be able to live let alone make music!
OCDJ - Hypothetical question: there are two shows on the same night, both DJs worthy of being called your "favourite". One plays vinyl, the other uses the SYNC button. If you could only choose one show, where would you go?
PLASTICIAN - Absolutely no bother to me. If I was in the mood to dance and have a drink I'd go to the one most likely to achieve that with their selection. Or if I wanted to zone out and experience something different, the same for that. I'm not hung up about the making of the music, or how it is being done. So long as I enjoy it that is really all that matters.
Big thanks to Plastician for taking time out to have a chat with us about all things music and to Rumpshakers for feeding Toronto with some proper electronic music talent.
In Episode 4 of the OCDJ - TV series, Slowpitch along side Circles & Squares have some fun (as usual) breaking down some strategies for how to deal with one of the most important issues for new and/or seasoned DJs & Producers: The Equipment Purchase. It's easy to get pushed in the wrong direction, especially if you're not exactly sure what the best piece of gear may be. Tune in for some interesting and helpful commentary on how to protect your wallet!
"Man, that music is old!" .....really?
In this edition of OCDJ - TV we dive deep into ideas and definitions of old vs. new music. What exactly do either of those words really mean? And how do perspectives of old and new affect our production, sampling sensibilities, and feelings about how good or bad a track is.
Direct drive turntables vs belt driven, making money as a DJ and more questions are answered in episode 2 of OCDJ - TV. Do you have questions? Email: email@example.com
We recently met up with former student Will Bokan aka Ninja Bokan for a quick chat about his recent success, signing, release, experience at Off Centre and all around Ninja lifestyle!
OC1. So, what's it like being a ninja!?
NB1. Being a full time Ninja is the best thing I could ever imagine in my life. Ever since I was as young as I could remember I just wanted to be the Green Power Ranger when I grew up. Backflip kicks and other insane martial arts stunts were life necessities to me in late highschool and on into university.
OC2. Does your active lifestyle have an influence on your style of music or vice versa?
NB2. For me it is everything. Electronic music alone inspires all of my movement. I started gaining interest in learning how to make my own music for my martial arts. The interesting thing about this was once I started learning and becoming involved in production, it very quickly became all about the music. I’m way too obsessed with learning more about production and even just having great new music to listen to while I do Ninja activities or any activities in my life really.
OC3. What kind of music do you listen to (when you're not fighting Luigi!)? Mario's Street Challenge Are there any specific music influences that you can site?
NB3. Haha, this is a tricky one. I love all genres of music (except country). If it is good music I do like it. Typically I listen to the music suitable for the mood.When I am doing office work or monotonous tasks on the computer I like to listen to chill out music like Pretty Lights and Griz. I’m really falling in love with Shaun Frank’s new Deep House also. Deadmau5 is the best for so many things. Every now and then I love listening to Headhunterz and hardstyle. But once it is something that requires movement, high energy, or I’m feeling upbeat, I’m all over the Electro House. Dylan Francis, Nom De Strip, stuff like that.Actually right now at the very moment Nom De Strip makes me have a mental meltdown, definitely my favourite artist for today.
OC4. Congrats on your recently released a track "The Crew from 602" on BugEyed Records. Tell us a little about how all that went down. How did you find them or them find you? Any future plans with that label?
NB4. Well, The Crew from 602 was actually kind of an accident experiment track. Design wise it was inspired a little from hardstyle and at the time I was listening to some of Headhunterz new Big Room/hardstyle experimental tracks. So I figured “meh” I’ll fool around with that in mind, and then a track popped out. The overall inspiration for the track came from my stunt crew that hung out at after practices at this terrible junky house numbered 602. Everyone had the best time. I’m glad the house sucked, because it made it an amazing place to hang out with the right people for the right reasons.
I sent my demo over to BugEyed, they said they’d love to sign it after listening. It was that simple really. I’d love to provide them with more tracks.
I have some beauties in the hopper right now that I am super excited about. My current track is coming along a little slower than I'd like, but the quality is just epic for my expectations. I'v very happy with the results so far, I cannot wait to finish this gem, and I can't wait to send your way to have a listen when it comes out.
Maybe this track could also possibly end up on another label or maybe it stays with BugEyed? I can’t predict these things. I like to be a leaf in the wind; whatever works out best for everyone makes me really happy.
OC5. Is there anything in particular that sticks out in your experiences at Off Centre that has helped with your music (or just in general)?
NB5. Well, everything haha. I’m sure it is different for everyone, but for me specifically Off Centre was the turn key enabler that opened the opportunity for me to start and understand how to make electronic music. Before I started at off centre I knew I wanted to start making music but I had no idea how. Taking a look at ableton on my own wasn’t all that intuitive.
I took the offcentre course, everything started making sense and I learned how to make a track from beginning to end with confidence. I learned all the necessary tools and more to get a producer going on their own. Not only that, the environment and the positivity from the instructors was so inspiring and unreal. I really felt like they believed in me and enjoyed teaching me because they wanted to.
A whole new world opened for me. The way I heard songs and the audio pallet that opened up for me was insane. Probably one of the coolest milestones in my life; truly discovering what music really was.
Thank you so much Off Centre.
OC6. In a short time your beats have really developed and evolved nicely into some high quality production. Is there any advice you could give to producers and beat makers that are in the early stages?
NB6. Oh man so much advice. I could write a massive report at this point, and still have limited knowledge as I am just “starting” my journey. The most important to me is to keep learning new things. I know it sounds really obvious but really focus on growth and new production tactics that lead to a “cleaner” track. Every time I finish a track I am already disappointed with it due to new things I have learned to make the next track better. It’s okay to have high standards and put pressure on yourself as long as you are having fun.
The 4 actual production points I found the most important right away after I finished Off Centre are the following:
1) Sidechain Compression.
I now use Nicky Romero’s Kickstart. Highly recommend. Sidechain Compression is the most important part to getting that rock solid clean kick and overall mix out there. Make sure you never miss getting this right.
Layer your snares, layer your synths, layer everything that needs to be layered. You get way more control over your sounds. You pick the parts you like form them, remove the parts you don’t and then glue them together. Really separate your bass and your mids and highs.
3) Pick a professional track to compare yours to.
Listen back and forth. See where yours is missing pieces and sounds that the other track has locked down. Are your samples just too weak? Is your mixing levels off? It could be many things, a reference track similar to yours is great.
4) Take breaks.
For me, I found once I started going too long that my ears would start becoming too used to the track and unable to be effective in focusing on making the right changes. If they are getting tired, just take a break for half an hour and then come back. You’ll be surprised at how “fresh” the track and canvas sounds to work with again.
To find out more about will and his evolving body of work, checkout:
Hang out with Off Centre's SlowPitch and Circles & Squares as they talk DJ culture, music, Toronto life and more. They will also be answering your questions regarding the art form of DJing. Do you have questions? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Level 1 Intro to DJing student and very talented young beat maker Talal Al-Saymaree aka CHi4NS4W never stops amazing us with his moody hypnotic musical stylings. We picked his extra terrestrial brain for a bit to find out what inspires his sound.
OC - When did you start making beats?
CS - I started making music when I was around 14-15, I fell in love with music since I was a kid my mom got me this wonky Casio keyboard and it used to be my favourite. The country I grew up in (Kuwait) mostly played Arabic music and the English radio stations only played tops 40s for example there was a lot of Michael Jackson at the time. Then when I was like 13 the song "One More Time" by Daft Punk played on TV and I was mesmerized. Then my cousin introduced me to the world of music online and also how to use a dial up connection. From then on I wanted to learn how to develop these type of sounds that had captured my heart and ears.
OC - Who or what are some of your early influences?
CS - Some of the early influences were Daft Punk, Mix Master Mike, and The Chemical Brothers, I know you would view them as nothing but mainstream music but you have got to understand, where I grew up it was kinda hard to find that sort of music.
OC - Where is your favourite place to get inspired in the city?
CS - My favourite place to get inspired would have to be my balcony, the view from the balcony of my apartment is incredible and always helps me make the best of my music.
OC - Do you like producing by day or by night and why?
CS - I prefer to produce at night because no one interrupts my creativity. I can continuously work on my music until I feel it is done.
OC - Where would you like to see your music placed in the future?
CS - I would love to see my music used in video games. That way it would combine two of my favourite things, and I feel it adds another dimension to the gaming experience. But mostly I would like it to get out there so that everyone would be able to appreciate it. It's not a matter of getting everyone to like it, just appreciate the music for what it is.
OC - Any shout outs?
CS - Shout out to kalibrplus(K+), Emojicult, Skywayz, Ghostship of Suburbia, SlowPitch, baddaynamik, my mom, Heather Louisa and Syro. I would like to thank Off Centre DJ for making this happen. It's a wonderful place, run by wonderful artists that helps anyone explore sound in depth and aspire to be better artists. Thank you for keeping me in mind and giving me this wonderful opportunity.