5 Mins For A Quick Chat – Toronto Is Broken
What made you become an electronic musician instead of, let’s say, joining a band or being a producer of bands?
I’ve always been able to play guitar, and tried being in bands in the past whilst in school, but it was always difficult to find like minded people. We’d just end up playing Oasis or Guns ‘n’ Roses covers and I hate those bands. Even when it came to writing original material, because my tastes in music never fitted with anybody else stylistically, they’d always be a clash of opinion and had to heavily compromise. Working on my own means that I can always achieve the end result I’d originally intended, even when those ideas are quite abstract, and narratively driven.
What are some of the questions you ask yourself when writing a track?
The majority of the times, ideas for a track are generated from just coming up with the title, and as I write narratively, what is the story or atmosphere I’m trying to convey? Another big decision to make is what key to write the track in. At the end of the day, these tracks are to be played in a DJ set, so I think about what tracks I’m really enjoying and what keys they are in so I can play them alongside one another. With bass music, the key is very important as there are certain noted that are ideal for bass music. F minor is the most common key for bass music as the low F is the sweet spot on systems, however, it doesn’t leave much room in terms of composition for moving around and keeping the weight in the bassline to be consistent, I wouldn’t ever drop below E, unless I’m trying to achieve a certain effect. My favourite keys to write in right now are G# minor, and D# minor as they’re both related keys and both allow a lot of space for the sub bass to move around melodically.
What are some of the things you do to inject emotion into your tracks?
Definitely thinking about chord structures, and playing around with the inversion of the chord. I’m even finding the just the simple fifth chord, absent of the third note that denoted the major or minor emotion, can be a very powerful tool to work with. Production wise, it definitely has to be from creating deep and detailed atmospheres, and PaulStretch which is available for free is definitely one of my favourite things to work with right now when creating ambience and atmosphere,
Do you enjoy going out to listen to DJ’s? Is hearing music in a club environment important to you?
Whenever I get the chance to then I love it, as I don’t really go out very much at all as where I’m from they only ever play chart music. Whenever I take trip down to London as go to somewhere like Fire, it’s amazing, drum & bass truly comes to life on a club system. I always describe drum and bass differently to other forms of music, it’s more of a physical force when you hear it on a loud system.
Do you think it’s possible to write great dance tracks without being in the club all the time?
I definitely think it is. I rarely go out and I know I’m not amazing but I seem to always get a good response from my productions. At the end of the day it’s about knowing your workstation and how things should sound from being used to your headphones or monitors.
I constantly get asked about “the mix”, do you think there’s too much of an obsession with mixing at the moment? Is the art of composition being lost? Or do you think that the “chin stroking” element is an integral part of the process?
Over the past year, I’ve been focussing a lot more on the composition itself as I felt like it was getting lost. Jon Hopkins has been a massive influence on me compositionally, and I’ve been listening to a lot of soundtrack music from artists such as Cliff Martinez (Solaris) and Mac Quayle (Mr Robot), by really looking into their compositions to work out how they achieved a certain feel in their music.
However, the mixdown is definitely still important. I mix as I go along as something not sitting write can really kill the vibe of the session, but I am definitely focussing more on getting the ideas down first. You can spend as long as you like tweaking knobs and levels, but once the inspiration and vibe of the session is lost, it’s lost.
Tech “nerdism” is major part of music production obviously, So what parts of that aspect give you the most fun? And what parts do you dread?
I’ve been working on my second album over this year, and I’ve really cut down on what plug-ins I’ve been using, so finding new and interesting ways to use the synths and effects I’ve been using is really rewarding; it’s not about what you’ve got, it’s about know what to do with what you have. Still to this day, drums can be a major ballache, but I think that’s the same with any drum & bass producer ha! I’ve made life easier for myself in terms of drums, and I’ve only got about 2 different kicks that I go to that I’ve made, and the same with snares. it also really helps keeps the consistency in my drums from track to track, and it makes it a lot easier when it comes to mixing them in as I know how they work best.
And finally, what does the next 12 months hold for you?
I’ve just released my latest single on Sub Slayers, “The Antidote”, a collaboration with long-time friend and fellow producer Anodyne Industries from California, who’s just recovered from a devastating bicycle accident and is well on his way to a full recovery, so I wish him all the best. On the flipside is “Deep Freeze” of which features vocals from Cianna Blaze, the MC for Maxim from the Prodigy, who smashed it on this! Following this, we’ve got our 50th release on Sub Slayers, an EP of VIP mixes that features “Spirit Song 2016”. The 2012 mix is one of my biggest fame and was picked up by the likes of Sub Focus, Metrik, Paul Oakenfold and the Crystal Method and was used as the main song in the Arcadia Spectacular show of Boomtown festival and Glastonbury. I’ve been meaning to revisit the track for a while and this 50th release was the perfect opportunity to do so!
Over the next year should see the release of my second album which I’m so excited about and the first single will be dropping soon! I can really say much about it right now, or which label it’s being released on so you’ll just have to wait and see. However, the title is set, and the tracklist is 80% there so hopefully it won’t be much longer until it’s finished!
You can check out and buy the new Toronto Is Broken single, The Antidote / Deep Freeze, HERE