Let’s begin with the recent Tellus activity… We see you have joined forces with Akuratyde and Monika to make music collectively under. – “3VS”. Firstly, how did this all come about?
I think it might have been Dan Akuratyde who kicked things off initially. He suggested the two of us collaborate on a track. This ended up being Tides which was on his One Hundred Steps EP on Blu Mar Ten Music. We started a few more tracks together and this time Maxwell Monika joined in, those two had previously collaborated a number of times. The three of us knocked out a bunch of tracks in quick succession and then it only made sense to start an alias. Our first release as 3VS has just come out on none60 actually.
How about in regards to collabs, is this something you enjoy being involved in?
I’ve only ever collaborated with Akuratyde and Monika so far and I’ve enjoyed it. Bouncing stems to send back and fourth can be a bit tedious but it’s always worth it when you get to the end result. There’s such an amazing flow of creativity when you work with other people, it’s a great way to keep things fresh. I’d love to have a crack at writing music with other artists down the line as well.
So the name “Tellus”, Latin for Earth right?
Yeah it does. I don’t actually know any other Latin words though. I just came about it by Googling words like chilled and relaxed in different languages. Eventually Tellus came up and I liked the sound of it.
Continuing with you as a solo artist… with a string of strong releases on “Locked Concept”, you’ve managed to get all the right attention which must feel great! Can you give us some info on where this all started for you as a producer?
Around the end of 2013 or the start of 2014 a mate of mine gave me a cracked version of Ableton (I’ve bought it since!) and a few basic sample packs. I’d fallen down the rabbit hole of d&b years before and had been doing the old bedroom DJing thing so producing was the next logical step. I spent about 7 months in Berlin in 2015 and that’s when I really got the ball rolling on my music production. I had so much free time to fiddle around with Ableton and my mate Louis, who produces as Lockjaw, was living there at the time too. He’s a wealth of knowledge and gave amazing advice and feedback. My music actually wouldn’t be where it’s at today without him.
Seems like Lockjaw played a big part in the producer you’ve become! You are lucky to have a friend with the technical knowledge to lean on…
Yeah I really am, he’s a wealth of knowledge and has such a depth of understanding for the technical side of things. He’s also just so honest with feedback which I really appreciate. It’s not easy to give a mate critical feedback on something they’ve been working on.
Must of really helped accelerate you as a producer post Berlin right?
It sure did. I have to give mention to Obeisant, Crematorium, Akuratyde and Monika as well. I built these relationships post my time in Berlin and they’ve all contributed to where my music is at now. I share my tunes with these guys regularly and they can always offer unique perspectives in their feedback which I really appreciate. And like Louis they’re open with the constructive criticism which is so helpful.
I think it’s fair to say that a lot of your productions sit nicely within the “autonomic dnb” category. what is it that draws you to that vibe of 170bpm when you are producing?
It’s such deep, weird, emotive and interesting music, I just love it. I try to make some full-time d&b every now and then but always end up being drawn back to autonomic and jungle territory. I also feel all half-time stuff seems to have a bit more variety when it comes to beat structures. It’s less conventional than the modern dance floor d&b drum patterns and there’s so much space to experiment with.
Have you always been strictly a producer of autonomic /jungle vibes? And any aspiration to make other styles (if you aren’t already!)
Yeah, I have so far only ever produced jungle/autonomic stuff.. I’ve played around in the 120 to 130 bpm range a few times and came up with some interesting results but I’ve rarely ever followed through and finished something. I’ve always planned on making a few 140 bpm tunes f as well but never gotten around to it. I’ll often start something that’s not 170 but then switch it back before too long. I need to really commit to not doing that at some point!
We touched on your love of autonomic… Can you give us an insight into some of your personal faves of this style of dnb?
Oh man there’s so many good tunes. One autonomic track that always comes to mind first has to be ‘Empathy Reboot’ by Heart Drive (Kid Drama and dBridge) .If someone says autonomic it starts playing in my head. ‘In Mind’ by Kid Drama, ‘Zerone’ by dBridge, and Watching You by Instra:mental are also some of my all time favourites. I have to give mention to the album ‘Threads’ by Om Unit too. It’s not autonomic but I think you can hear the influences in there and it’s one of my all time favourite albums.
While we are at it… How about any inspirations in general with music?
I think the type of music I listen to most is all that UK bass, techno and dubstep sort of stuff. I’m always listening to recordings of radio shows from J:Kenzo, Swamp 81, Hypercolour and Hessel Audio on Rinse FM and Madam X on NTS. Plus all sorts of shows from Balamii and Subtle FM. Outside of that I hear all sorts of music. The Australian radio station Triple J plays a wide range of stuff. I’m not into a lot of it but there’s plenty of gems on there. They recently did a top 100 of the past decade and there was all this fantastic music I’d just forgotten about in that.
Let’s talk about getting noticed, recently you had music released a full EP on Regression Media, had a tack on the context audio VA as well as your collab release on none60 and I understand there’s more to come off other labels too, how did you go about making the connections for this to happen?
Being involved in Locked Concept helped a lot. When Louis (Lockjaw) and I started the label years ago he already had a pretty large fan base to springboard off. I’m pretty privileged in that I can just release my own music on our platform with a decent audience. I have to give Louis another big thanks for that! Co-owning a label also means that you connect with all sorts of like minded people you can share music and production tips with.
On top of that I try to be pretty consistent in sending my music out to other producers and DJs I’m a fan of. Once I’ve finished a tune I send it out via email and messenger to guys like J:Kenzo, Crypticz and Om Unit. For a while I was too nervous to send my music to people but eventually realised that the worst that can happen is you just don’t get a reply.
Let’s talk about the studio set up, give us a run through on what equipment you use…
It’s pretty sparse on the hardware front, just an old midi keyboard a housemate gave me years ago. I’d love to invest in some bits and pieces in future though. As far as software goes I’m on Ableton for my DAW and Serum as my main synth. I’ve got a pretty extensive sample library as well, packs I’ve bought or been given over the years and plenty of random sounds that have been ripped off Youtube. I’m also a huge fan of the Valhalla reverb and delay plug-ins and love some of the stuff from Soundtoys.
Do you allocate a set amount of time to make music or do you take time when it arises?
I do have to allocate time to make music. I’ve just started working as a teacher so a lot of my free time has evaporated. I usually dedicate around an hour a day to writing music. I find that I work quite well in short periods of time though. If I sit down at my computer with the whole day ahead of me I end up just wasting time watching dumb shit on Youtube, but if I know I’ve only got like 45 minutes to get something done I’m super productive. Working in short periods of time has helped me develop a good work flow too. I get stuff down way quicker than when I first start producing.
I mentioned it earlier but you also co run the label “Locked Concept”, can you give us some background into the label and what you guys are all about?
Louis (Lockjaw) and I kicked it off back in 2014 with the aim of focusing on the less dance floor oriented side of drum and bass, although we’ve certainly released a number of bangers from some talented producers. We eventually started a release series called ‘Periphery’ where we put out the deeper 170bpm music while leaving the dance floor stuff for the main label. Most of my own productions have come out on the Periphery series. Our most recent Periphery was from a very talented duo known as Sorse, it’s a stunning release. We’re also putting out a very cheeky single from Nemy on the main label soon.
We used to run a podcast series which seemed to have some dedicated listeners but I’ve since moved to Hobart, which has made the logistics of running it tricky. We haven’t had a crack at recording it long distance yet but we’d like to get back into it.
The whole reason behind starting the label was really just so we could hear more of the music we love and try to build a platform for us, other like minded producers, and fans of the genre in general.
For anybody who’s not aware you are based in Australia…. what’s the scene like over there?
It’s certainly not as strong as it is in the UK that’s for sure. But there are some serious fans over here. Perth is obviously thriving but it’s all the way over in Western Australia! It’s almost the same price to fly to Europe as it is to Perth.
As far as the East coast goes Melbourne seems to have a strong underground music scene. Sydney and NSW’s music scene has been pretty damaged by those ‘lockout laws’ the state government imposed years ago. I know there’s a strong warehouse party scene going on though. Canberra has some great promoters but it’s a small city and venues have always been limited and the audience small. That being said I have been to some amazing gigs in the ACT over the years, some of the best.
I’ve recently moved to Hobart but I haven’t had much of a chance to check it out. I was really looking forward to sussing out the electronic music scene during the Dark Mofo festival this year but it was canceled (along with just about everything else) due to COVID-19. It’s devastating to see what’s happened to the arts scene around the world due to the pandemic but I’m certain it’ll bounce back once it all blows over. There seems to be so much innovation online currently, I think once the world gets back to normal there will be an explosion in great music, art and events!
Can you give us an insight into what you have in store for 2020?
So far I’ve had a track called ‘Change’ come out on a various artist release on Context Audio, an EP on Dominic Ridgway’s label, Regression Media, plus the 3VS release on none60. I’m chipping away at another Locked Concept EP which is shaping up nicely. You’ve possibly heard the A side for that release ‘Black Swan’ floating around a bit. On top of that I’m working on a few remixes and building towards some potential releases on a few other labels, but I’ll keep that hush for now. There’s also something very special we’ve been trying to assemble for Locked Concept but it’s taking time. Hopefully we can make that happen later in the year but you can’t rush these things. I won’t share anymore about that either but you’ll know it when you see it!