Head-to-head: Marcus Campbell

The man behind Acid House Therapy is headlining our first ever event at Kongs Bristol. We caught up with him about the night ahead.

Marcus Campbell aka Acid House Therapy is headlining our first ever event at Kongs Bristol and will be playing a deep analogue 4/4 live set. We grabbed a few moments of his time to chat about what we can expect from his performance along with what makes him tick as a producer.

Hi Marcus! So you won our Facebook competition to play at one of our events. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I came to Bristol to make music years ago. Since coming to Bristol, I’ve played as a guitarist with UK dub pioneers Zion Train, started and ended my own project Dubrovnik, played with dubstep producer Guido, plus various other projects live and studio based. I have been producing again while recently working live with analogue real time instruments, a mixing desk and FX.

How would you describe your sound to people who haven’t heard your music before?

I like a nice bass line. I like the music to take a journey with troughs and peaks which I create with live desk and manipulation. I’m a big fan of Basic Channel, Moritz Von Oswald, Mathew Herbert and Mr G.

I’m also a big disco fan (I even have my own band), plus 70s electronica gods like Vangellis Jean Michele Jarre and Tangerine Dream. You will hear all of these elements in my set at Kongs.

How long have you been producing?

Since 1993 I think! I cant remember exactly as it was a bit of a haze and several brain cells were lost en route, so to speak.

How has your sound evolved since becoming a producer?

I’m making music now more akin to how I stared in the 90s with hardware and a desk. I’ve always loved live mixing as it presents me with new sounds, arrangements, new happy accidents, mishaps and impromptu soundscapes each time I do it. I’m a big fan of improvising this way.

This was how I started and the resurgence of cheap, well-designed, affordable analogue technology has allowed a new way of working for many musicians. I think this new analogue trend is really shaping how people are re-approaching music; its a fresh departure from making music with a screen and a mouse-the most unmusical process!

If we could wave our magic wand, what equipment would you wish for?

A massive sound system that rigs itself up where ever and whenever I want, has its own storage and team to rig it.

I’m a big fan of sound systems and the communities they speak to, create, and the cultures around them; there was a time when soundsystems in Bristol were doing regular nights indoors and outdoors, legal and illegal. They were important for this city’s music culture. Soundsystem culture has been levelled by laws imposed by governments over the decades, some got impounded, some locked away in garages for ever. I’m glad though that the dub system culture seems to be still at large. They are such impossible, impractical things to look after, to house and build, I tip my hat to the sound man and the box man – we owe them a lot. It’s a labour of love and they have influenced and inspired so much over the decades. 

What equipment will you be using at Kongs?

A desk, some synths, some FX – I might even blow the dust off a few bits of vintage gear. If you hear any crackles in the mix from dusty faders and pots you’ll know what it is.

What can we expect from your set at Kongs?

Layers of rhythmic analogue sequences very heavily verb’d and spaced out, around 110-120 bpm.

What does the future have in store for you and your music?

More live shows at venues and festivals around the UK. With my project Acid House Therapy I intend to continue using my daytime job skills (music therapist) alongside mixing and sound mixing to bring joy to people’s lives in auditory and physical forms. I have sets coming up in the future at Blue Mountain and some festivals tbc.

I love mixing my tunes live, been doing it for years on and off and I’m really happy to be booked by the legendary CHK One!

Catch Marcus headlining our CHK One v dBs Takeover on Thursday 27 May 2017 at Kongs, Bristol. Advance tickets are available here.

Head-to-head: Playhead

We spoke to the fellas that make up Playhead, who are flying the flag for dBs Music in Kongs on 27 April

With the Kongs event imminent, CHK One spoke to the fellas that make up Playhead, who are flying the flag for dBs Music.

Hey! How is 2017 going for you so far?

Full of good things already – we signed some music at the very start of the year which was put together at the end of 2016 and we got the contracts in the first week of January.

It was a nice way to begin. We have been beavering away at the new live set up and working on new bits of material. We often find these first few months of the year are always the build up to spring/summer when things start to get more exciting with gigs and festival season.

Who makes up Playhead?

The main core is Bruce Turner, Jon Savage and newly recruited Kristian Sharpe. But there is a larger Playhead family, including some phenomenal vocalists, musicians, lighting designers, and other producers.

If you had to describe your sound to someone who doesn’t know you, how would you?

Forward thinking, retrospective, breaks inspired bass music.

Rumour has it you have an EP on the way, can you tell us more about it?

We have a 4 track EP coming out very soon on Flex Industries – we are really pleased to be working with a label with real roots in the Jungle/DnB movement. The EP features two tracks So Much So, which was featured on BBC introducing last year, and Moments which can be found on our Soundcloud, along with two new remixes of a couple of our tracks.

The tracks are quite varied but our sound is carried through the EP and is all about clean and crisp production with strong vocal driven songs. We have had the pleasure of working with some great vocalist and songwriters. We are just finalising the artwork and looking forward to getting it out there!

How has your sound evolved since your first track?

Music is a constantly evolving process – our production and songwriting was not as good when we first started but every time you make a new track it is a continual learning process and you use new techniques, combine ideas, new processes etc. It is part of being an artist you are never quite happy with your work!

The live set up has evolved also, many changes have been made and it has now become something really cool which we are looking forward to testing this year and then making a real push in 2018.

You also lecture – how do you find the time to produce?

It is a challenge. We aren’t doing nearly as much as we would like to. We also all do other industry work as well, such as TV, music, session work and some other technical and creative roles – it is often a bit mental. One blessing is the fact we are thinking about producing each and every day – so when it comes to the creative part, the ideas roll out very neatly.

What are the highlights for you about teaching at dBs?

It is a really buzzing environment. We (Kris and Bruce) are very lucky. The staff are great and there are some very future-thinking, creative students. Our students thrive on having industry active teachers, which reflects well and aids creativity both ways and the students help keep us up-to-date. Jon actually works at Bath Spa University, but the same goes.

What equipment will you be using at the Kong’s event?

Kris has an awesome drum set up, 2 x Roland SPDs – the foot triggers into the beast and a sound card driven by Ableton. Kris tracks the breaks, chops them up and uses Instrument Racks to play them back via the triggers. Bruce plays MIDI guitar running sample instruments, phat Bass sounds, alongside the real guitar sound. Jon has a laptop with Ableton and various synth and gadgets but mostly playback sample from the tracks using Kontakt.

Have you got any surprises in your set?

We are surprising ourselves all the time! If you haven’t seen our set before it should be full of surprises. If you have seen it then you will be surprised at the progression since the last gig – in the live electronic performance world we haven’t seen many people doing the things that we are doing.

What else can we expect from Playhead this year?

So we are filming a set for Native Instruments in about a months time. Also, it has just been confirmed we will be seeing out Glastonbury Festival with a late night set closing the Rumshack in the Common on the Sunday: we really want to concentrate on getting more shows with the live act. Finally, as we have already spoken about, we are excited about the EP release and making some new music and trying out our live set up.

You can catch Playhead at our CHK One x dBs Takeover at Kongs on the 27 April – don’t miss out! Tickets here.

Head-to-head: Elevator Sound

We spoke to Ben Chilton from Bristol store, Elevator Sound, about their recent move into the old home of Idle Hands

We spoke to Ben Chilton aka one of the guys at Elevator Sound about their recent move into the old home of Idle Hands and asked what you need to do for a cheeky discount.

You opened your doors in the old Idle Hands space on Stokes Croft about a month ago now: how’s it going in your new living space?

It’s been great! Took a while to get everything sorted but we’re all up and going now. It was important for us to put our own stamp on the space, so we stripped all the nice paint and flooring they’d put in and took it back to industrial bones and scaffolding.

Has there been more interest with customers since the move?

Certainly! A lot more people are popping their heads in for a jam or even to get some advice whereas before it got cramped with any more than four!

What has having the new space meant for you? Is there more room to show off shiny new equipment?

Way more room for shiny machines and flashing lights, that’s the most important thing. Also having a space where we can run demos and events where people can just come to hang out in the daytime has been really important for me and now we’re finally able to do that without everyone crawling all over each other.

What equipment should CHK One readers should be excited about?

It’s been a good few months for new kit, personally I’ve been really excited by the Make Noise O-Coast desktop synth, a bunch of modular stuff, specifically the Dreadbox White Lines range and Erica Synths Black series. The one that really gets me gassed though is Cyclone Analogic’s 606 clone, it just bangs so hard when you crank the gain up..

You’re hosting some events in the coming weeks; what’s coming up that we shouldn’t miss?

So we’ve got Dreadbox coming down on the 19th (7-9) for an instore demo of their new white lines range and desktop synths, that’ll give everyone a chance to jam on the new machines and we’ll be selling stuff on the night too. It’s also an excuse to belt out a load of weird bloopy bass on a Wednesday night.

Following that we’ve got Ableton coming down on the 27th for an in-store evening focusing on integrating hardware and Ableton/Max4Live. That’ll be full of tricks and tips – plenty of time for jamming again. When that wraps up the Elevator staff will be rolling down to Kongs on King Street to play, which we’re all excited about!

Anything else new that we should know?

Bigger shop, same small store mentality. Anything you need to ask or anything you want to have a bash on, we’re always here to help. We’re also starting up a monthly radio show alongside the 10Twenty gang every second Friday so you can warm up for your big night out with a load of weird live synth jams and special guest mixes from some of Bristols finest.

Finally, if you want to bribe me for discount, I’ll take a can of rubicon and a samosa from The Best…

Catch Elevator Sound at our CHK One X DBS Takeover at Kongs on 27 April. Advance tickets are available here

Event: CHK One x dBs Music Live at Kongs

Head down to Kongs in Bristol for our next takeover, where we’ll be showcasing the best young talent from dBs music and some fantastic headliners

We’re back for our next event: CHK One meets dBs Music Bristol in our takeover of Kongs, Bristol on 27 April.

This will be our first ever collaborative event, and will be introducing the hottest new players on the scene from Bristol’s leading electronic music school, dBs Music. We’ve also teamed up with much-loved Stokes Croft music store, Elevator Sound, to bring you some of their favourite artists.

Heading the line up will be Marcus Campbell, who will be playing a deep analogue 4×4 live set to all those in need of serious a pre-bank holiday wind down. Down from dBs will be Playhead, a wiley band of electronic musicians formed by Bruce Turner and Jon Savage, who are sure to put on a great show to take you into the long weekend. Liam O’Mullane, aka, The Sound Tutor, will also educate you in the fine art of drum and bass until the early hours. The full line up is below:

Full line up:

Marcus Campbell
Playhead (dBs Music)
Liam O’Mullane (dBs Music)
Myr and Regolith (Elevator Sound)
dBs Music new talent to be announced

Before the event, CHK One will be down at the Ableton Live Users Group – Bristol meet up in store talking all things Ableton. We’ll then be heading down to Kongs to kick off one hell of a party!

Keep your eyes peeled for more news about the artists in coming weeks.

You can get advance tickets for the event at Headfirst for £4 (plus booking fee). Doors open at 8pm.

Review: Pitch Black – The Attic

Charlie Frame gives us the lowdown on the NZ dub duo’s recent gig in Bristol

PITCH BLACK | 5TH SPEAR
The Attic – 24 March 2017

Words: Charlie Frame
Images: Spudd Connor

There is a spiritual resonance connecting the twin poles of Christchurch in New Zealand and Bristol in the west of the UK. Follow the invisible line linking these two cities down through the Earth’s surface, and at the core you will hear the unmistakable rumble of the dub soundsystem. Despite existing on opposite sides of the planet, there is nevertheless a unique affinity between Bristol and Christchurch, each having adopted the mode of dub as its unofficial musical language.

Take a walk down Bristol’s Gloucester Road on a summer’s day and you’ll be guaranteed to hear the unmistakeable sounds of dub and reggae emanating from cars, bars and cafes; ganja smog and bassweight riding heavy on the breeze. Bristol’s affinity with dub music is no accident. The influence of large-scale Jamaican populations immigrating to Bristol in the mid-20th century, and the subsequent cauterisation of areas like St Pauls and Eastville over the following decades, meant that dub culture and music would come to permeate the very fabric of the city, soaking the walls in much the same way as the graffiti that covers them.

Likewise, New Zealand, an enclave country cut off by miles of surrounding ocean, has always had to do things differently, and on its own terms. NZ musicians are less interested in what’s trending in the rest of the world and more concerned with their own business, making for some interesting musical sounds that only sometimes make it across the shore.

This is a country where you get off the plane and get greeted by the ‘BBQ reggae’ strains of Fat Freddy’s Drop playing over the airport Tannoy. Dub isn’t just big in New Zealand, it’s part of the furniture. It’s everywhere. When Bob Marley came to play at Western Springs Stadium in 1979, his message of hope and liberation had a massive impact on the country, especially on the indigenous Māori population.

This is a country where you get off the plane and get greeted by the ‘BBQ reggae’ strains of Fat Freddy’s Drop playing over the airport Tannoy

Which leads us to this evening’s show. Today’s headliners, Pitch Black, could be classed as part of NZ dub royalty. It has, however, been some time since we last heard from this electronic duo, who after an extended hiatus have only recently released their first studio album in ten years.

But first let’s talk about tonight’s opening act, 5th Spear. No stranger to the CHK One stage, Cardiff’s Philip Blake mixes electronic sounds with live virtuosic drumming. The performance is enhanced by on-stage video artist, Matthew Creed, who joins Blake in creating a captivating live performance.

One of the key complaints about live electronica is that it can often end up being little more than a bunch of people watching another bunch of people watching a couple of laptops. Not only is Blake’s performance fun to watch as he expertly juggles drumming and electronic duties, but the augmentation of live projections adds something just a little bit special.

A 16-bit Starfox spaceship docks in to land; a tribe of Lemmings dance the can-can; a kaleidoscopic display of satellite dishes merge in and out of each other in time with the music. 5th Spear as a musical project seems firmly entrenched in the more melodic and breaks-influenced end of classic electronic labels like Warp and Ninja Tune. Think: Plaid, Flying Lotus, Bonobo and Prefuse73. It’s lush, luxuriant and unshackled by the usual limitations of electronic music thanks to the live drumming.

Finally Pitch Black take to the stage. They may now be middle-aged veterans living on opposite sides of the world from each other, but tonight sees Michael Hodgson and Paddy Free grinning like Cheshire Cats and displaying all the energy and enthusiasm of a couple of school kids. Pitch Black’s style of psychedelic, tech-influenced dub manages to somehow be deep, heavy and airy. There’s an opulence to the production worthy of the latest pop hits. Indeed, the employment of pop-style vocal samples work as the perfect foil for the swirling atmospheres that ride over marching dub grooves in great washes.

A 16-bit Starfox spaceship docks in to land; a tribe of Lemmings dance the can-can; a kaleidoscopic display of satellite dishes merge in and out of each other in time with the music

Those expecting to be challenged, or for the dub/electronica landscape to be moved in any significant way by tonight’s performance will be missing the point. Tonight is less about experimentalism than about feeling, emotion and having a great time. As the dubby swirls shift-up several gears throughout tonight’s set, we soon find ourselves grooving away to another Bristolian mainstay as the duo end on a smashing drum’n’bass tip.

As far as the global zeitgeist is concerned, dub music cyclically goes in and out of fashion every couple of years. Either it’s the absolute flavour of the month (cf: dubstep in the 2000s) or it’s deemed desperately uncool and to be avoided at all costs by the majority of tastemakers. It’s been a little while since a clear, dub-based genre made an impact on the world, but in Bristol and New Zealand it is alive and well, and it’s only a matter of time before the twin cities bounce back to show the world once more that dub will always reign supreme.

Review: Sound Industry – Colston Hall

SOUND INDUSTRY
Colston Hall – 30 March 2017

Words: Hannah Ryan

Sound Industry is a brand-new music conference looking to challenge and inspire people across the UK by deconstructing all aspects of the industry. The conference was held in Bristol’s Colston Hall on 30 March and took place across the whole day, inviting all creatives to join. Naturally, CHK One was one of them.

Hosted by Bristol Women in Music (BWiM), the aim of the day was to touch on topics surrounding equality and diversity; openly discussing and providing a platform for open debates between panel and the audience. In addition to examining the business side of careers in music, Sound Industry also looked at the profession from a human perspective, covering broader issues of musical diversity, equality, well-being and politics.

The programme was curated by both the BWiM and industry experts to offer a series of panels, workshops and live music through the day. Due to the time restrictions, we couldn’t make it to all the workshops and panels, but below is a run down of the highlights we did catch:

Panel #1: ‘Striving, Surviving, Sustaining’ – Unique journeys in music
Hosted by Louise Orchard, the first panel of the day discussed how to persevere and persist in the music industry due to its competitiveness and, perhaps, stigma of it being a ‘dog eat dog’ world. The panel consisted of artists Hodge, Javeon and Lady Nade as well Maxie Gedge from the PRS Foundation and Nick Harris from NRK/NERD Label Services.

The key point that came out of this panel was understanding the industry and its instability, particularly, if you’re on the rise it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll stay on top. “Be nice to people on the way up because you’ll most probably meet them on the way down” was a very important message that everyone should remember.

If you’re working with the right team, big steps can seem smaller – Maxie Gedge, Communications Co-ordinator, PRS Foundation

Panel #2: ‘A Woman’s Place Is…’
Hosted by Emily Cooper from Everything Counts PR, this panel explored women’s place in the music industry. Even though there are obviously women working in the industry there is a big lack in females across senior management, according to Keira Sinclair from POLY.artists, echoed by Danielle Wade of BMG Publishing.

An interesting subject raised by artist Eva Lazarus was about the lack of effort put into ensuring female performers feel secure, from no locks on the dressing room doors to intimidating bouncers. From the music journalism perspective, Antonia Odunlami, Editor at Gal-dem and Sammy Maine, Editor at Bristol Live Magazine, both talked about how they felt they needed to work extra hard to be taken seriously in the industry. These insights help remind us that, even if you haven’t experienced these inequalities, they do exist and need to be discussed.

Women holding each other up and supporting each other is really key. Women empowering women – Eva Lazarus, artist

Panel #3: ‘Music & Mind’ – Resilience in a creative industry
Hosted by Duncan Harrison, Digital Editor at Crack Magazine this panel delved into the importance of looking after yourself in such a fast paced and busy music industry. The panel touched on the importanceof nurturing creative individuals who may have mental health problems as often, according to Artist Coach Claire Scivier, a lot of the most creative minds are also the ones struggling.  

A key note that I took away from this panel was the importance of having a strong support network behind you. Whether it be friends, family or professionals, you must have a team you can trust and can turn to. This was emphasised a lot throughout the day both on panels and the interviews. Artists Crazy P, Solomon O.B and BIMM lecturer were also a part of the panel.  

It’s encouraging to see a new generation of artists who are more aware of looking after their bodies and their minds – Claire Scivier, Artist Coach

Panel #4: ‘Creative Privilege’ – Opportunities for all?
Hosted by Antonia Odunlami from Gal-dem, this panel looked at privilege in the creative sector and whether your background slows you down on the way to achieving your goal.

In my eyes this is always the toughest topic to cover and, as in this case, there is usually no direct answer or conclusion, with the central message being only to continue striving. Most of the discussion centred around the artists’ personal journeys, rather than any direct advice, but seeking out a mentor was certainly reported to be a very helpful step. Nonetheless, there was great chat from MTV talent director Arfa Butt, Annie Menter Director of Afrika Eye, Rider Shafique, artist, and Young Echo and Dave Harvey from Team Love.

I kind of like being the underdog. It lets me prove to people that I can do it! – Rider Shafique, artist, Young Echo

Throughout the day there were also interviews with Producers Eats Everything and Jamz Supernova (BBC Radio 1Xtra). I caught most of Jamz Supernova’s interview and what struck me as particularly inspiring about her story was her persistence; she was turned down for a show at the BBC many times before finally securing her slot. Her advice was to keep pursuing your passion whether it be in your bedroom or at local radio show – as long as you’re doing it that’s the main thing.

A common theme throughout the day was to take every opportunity as it comes but never step back and expect it to come your way. Seek opportunity, work hard and continue to keep your passion alive, build a strong support network and know that it is okay to ask for help when needed.

Thank you to Bristol Woman in Music for hosting such a fantastic conference and to everyone involved. We look forward to hopefully many more!

Head-to-head: Claire Northey

We grabbed the French loop-master for a five minute chat about her experience of recording a live album

As we ramp up to Claire Northey‘s debut album release on 22 April, we stole her away from her busy schedule to ask her a few questions about her upcoming release, the experience of recording live and what we can expect from the album’s launch party.

Hi Claire! How’s your 2017 going so far?

2017 is going as well as I expected it to go! We recorded my debut album in September 2016 and it’s been really exciting to go through all the different stages involved in making an album. I am impatient now! Signing with a label as a solo artist is a first for me and it has been a really interesting and exciting journey.

So, obviously, big news – you have your album launch coming up this month. How are you feeling? Nervous? Excited?

I have been waiting for this for a long time. I’m not nervous, but definitely excited, and just happy to finally be able to share my music. This project is a personal milestone in the way I experience and compose music. It’s the first time I’ve recorded an album of my work, although I’ve been composing for the last 10 years. Some of the songs, like Casablanca, are eight years old! They have evolved of course, but I really had a strong desire to record them well.

I’m also excited to officially present the live sound we have created with Nick Oakley, who plays trumpet or flugelhorn on four tracks of the album, and holds an important musical space in the live show.

When I started composing for this project, I always imagined the sound of brass with the violin and I was fortunate enough to meet Nick in Manchester. He found a very natural way of improvising and integrating his sound into the music.

Can you give us a bit of background as to how the album came about (I know we’re involved somehow)?

I had been performing my music live for three years when I met Jae [Task, MD of CHK One]. I had released an EP and had all the material for an album, so when CHK One approached me and offered to sign me as their first artist and release my first album, I didn’t hesitate for a second; I felt ready. It was exactly what I needed at that point, someone to invest and believe in this project as much as I do.

Was this your first experience recording or have you done it before?

I have made several records with bands before, both self-produced and released on labels – I recorded my first album of progressive gothic rock when I was 16! I also recorded music for very different projects: totally improvised ones, which challenge you creatively the most I find, and projects with written parts that have to be perfectly executed, and challenge you on a technical execution aspect.

Recording is a very particular step in the making and composing of music. Each recording is a unique experience, but I always enjoy it. It’s also something (like anything else) that you get better at with time.

Can you tell us about the album’s recording process? For example, who made the choice to record each track as a live recording and did that make a huge difference to the sound?

Jae suggested live recording and I wasn’t convinced at the beginning. Recording live is quite challenging in terms of energy and performance. But that is what actually gave the album the organic and dynamic sound we would never have achieved otherwise. So I’m glad that was the way we went!

I had just come back from touring in Germany so I was very comfortable with my set at the time and it was just amazing to record those ten songs in two days, and think: “Ok, I just did it.” Listening back to it, I’m very happy because it sounds exactly like what you experience live.

I think it was possible for me to do because of all the prior recording experience I had, which enabled me to not waste time and energy on details, and be very focused.

I hear there’s a story behind the album title, ‘Mavromati’ – could you tell us about it?

I started performing and composing with my loop pedal ten years ago writing soundtracks for the theatre, and it has shaped the way I write.

One of the plays I composed for was from the novel of a Romanian author called Panait Istrati. It was about a young Romanian boy trying to go to France on foot. At one point he is in Greece, and meets an old captain called Mavromati, who just sits there and tells stories about his life, his travels and about Greece.

I wrote the song ‘Mavromati’ for this character, and I thought that it would be a good title for the album since I see this album as a narrative made of a collection of soundtracks rather than a succession of songs.

My favourite song is ‘Look, it’s sleeping’. One of the reasons is that I think the mix of the flugelhorn and the violin on this track is the best. Also, I think it’s the most cinematic piece. I have a special connection with all my instrumental songs as I hope that I can convey as much emotion as possible without using any words.

What can we expect from the launch party event?

You can expect to hear me perform my album performed live on violin/loop pedal and with Nick Oakley on brass. The rest is a surprise!

Have you got anything else in the pipeline this year that we can look forward to?

Yes, there will be another launch party in Manchester on 5 May. Manchester is where it all started for me so I’m thrilled to present my album there. I have a few festivals in the pipeline too; Kendal Calling and Standon Calling are confirmed for now.

You can pre-order Claire’s album Mavromati (2017) on Bandcamp, due for release on 22 April.

Event: Claire Northey ‘Mavromati’ album launch party

Claire Northey’s debut album launches on 22 April in Avery’s Wine Cellar

On 22 April, CHK One’s first signed artist, Claire Northey, launches her fantastic debut album Mavromati (2017) and you’re all invited to join the party.

Tickets are available now for £15.00 (plus booking fee), which includes a copy of the album on CD and complimentary drink on arrival. Gig only tickets are available for £7.00 (plus booking fee).

Held in Avery’s Wine Cellars, a beautiful and intimate venue in central Bristol, you’ll be treated to a live performance of the whole stunning album from start to finish. You will also receive a copy of Claire’s album, which was recorded live, reproducing the rawness of her unique sounds on CD for the first time.

This album was recorded as a live performance with close to no editing which was a first for me. Working with Scott MacKenzie (New Cut Studio) was great, he captured the sound of my live set-up perfectly and we tried to really convey a performance rather than a perfect track – Claire Northey

Read more about Claire Northey here.

Very limited capacity, so make sure you get your tickets early. Doors open at 8.30pm.

 

Review: NOISIA – Motion

While NOISIA was smashing it at Motion on their Outer Edges tour, CHK One was there to witness the kings rule the stage

NOISIA
Motion – 18 March 2017

Words and images: Harriet Stouraitis

Seven years after their outstanding success with Split the Atom (2010), NOISIA hit back with their album Outer Edges (2017) last summer. The Dutch mega-group have a reputation for pushing the boundaries with their sound and epic visuals, and their performance at Motion in Bristol did just that.

If you were in the crowd this gig I’m sure, like me, it’s something you will remember for a long time. Their show went on heavier and harder than ever with a bassline so dark I could feel the air around me vibrating and the floor jolting with every jump of the crowd.

With sounds from Nervous Horizon and Critical Sound, the line-up was stacked with talent from beginning to end. No surprise here as the venue has hosted the likes of Stanton Warriors, Andy C and DJ Premier. Motion is an outstanding venue with a dirty sound system, filled with the rave atmosphere only found in Bristol’s music scene.

The nightclub filled to capacity with eager ravers of all ages anticipating the arrival of Noisia on stage. As the lights dimmed in preparation for the show, a slow rhythmic clap spread across the whole venue and got faster as the trio took the stage. The crowd erupted and Noisia got down to business. They sported rhythmic flashing black hoods which illuminated to orange and blue in time with the music.

Their show went on heavier and harder than ever with a bassline so dark I could feel the air around me vibrating and the floor jolting with every jump of the crowd

The visuals spread across two screens that stretched the length of the stage. One hung above the back of the trio and the other lay in front creating the impression that they were part of the image. As always, the so appropriately named ‘kings of drum and bass’ created a multi-sensual experience for every person in the crowd.

As the show came to an end Noisia payed tribute to the group they take much inspiration from, The Prodigy, by covering their globally known hit ‘Smack My B*tch Up’. As expected, the surprise went down as a massive success as the crowd showed their appreciation with a thumping circle pit.

The night was fantastic experience, carrying on until the early hours of Sunday morning, with great sound, lighting and visuals and friendliest door staff I’ve met in a long while!

Noisia are definitely ones to put on your live acts bucket list. If you missed them, or want another go, be sure to catch them at Parklife this summer.

Tech talk: Paddy Free of Pitch Black

Pitch Black’s Paddy Free talks to us about all things tech, software and what it’s like performing electronic music

We caught up with one half of the incredible New Zealand duo Pitch Black: Salmonella Dub producer Paddy Free.

He talks to us about all things tech, software and what it’s like performing electronic music live ahead of their show at the Attic Bar in Bristol on the 23 March 2017.

What kit did you use when you first started making electronic music?

I bought a second-hand Roland SH-101 in 1985, a month after leaving high school and getting my first real job. The next thing was a delay pedal and with the 100-step mono sequencer in the 101 I would play back three-note riffs endlessly while tweaking the knobs and sliders going into the delay. Believe it or not, I still have a couple of cassettes labeled something like ‘synth march 17 1985’ or something like that – I thought I was Tangerine Dream!

Did you teach yourself to play or did you have guidance from anyone?

I had a couple of years of classical piano lessons as a kid but never got very far with it. I got to Grade 4 or something. After getting the synth, I went over to the dark side… I can still bust out a few ten-fingered party pieces though!

What do you use now?

A Mac laptop, Ableton Live and Logic Pro 9 mostly, with a bunch of controllers: Ableton Push 2, Novation SL61 and 25 Mk2, Novation Launch Control XL. I still have a few oldies – the SH101 (never sell it), an Ensoniq TS-12 workstation and a Weltmeister Combo Bass (below), which a weird thing from 1960s East Germany that’s like a Rhodes Bass — in keytar form!

Has kit changed as technology has advanced?

Has it ever! Getting into music technology in the 80s was a great time, there were so many breakthroughs. In 1979 a sampler cost $100K, by 1989 it cost 2K, and sounded better! Keyboards gradually became computers, then computers became recording studios, and I became a sound engineer and producer by default, learning as I went.

How does the kit you use influence the unique sound of Pitch Black?

We’re a dub act, and we use two Doepfer Drehbank MIDI controllers – 128 knobs total – set up in the classic 16 channel mixing console format: 3 band EQ, 3 FX sends + volume, except now it’s all manipulating a virtual mixer in Ableton. But this classic layout lets Mike set up cross-patches and feedback loops in an authentic dub style. Every control single-purpose and no ‘banking’ over – he can grab whatever he wants instantly.

What software do you use to produce on?

Ableton Live and Logic Pro 9. I’ve used Logic since ’95 and I got into Live early on in about 2002. I think Live is the most exciting music software in the last 20 years – it lets you do with a laptop, on stage, what used to take us lugging a 24 channel mixing desk, 2 Akai samplers, 6 rack-units of outboard effects, and endless patch cables. I got heavily into the Ableton user forum early on and in 2006 I was invited along with about a dozen other guys to Ableton Camp in Berlin at Abe’s HQ. So I’m a bit of an evangelist for it really. I participate in alpha testing for them, and do clinics and demos about the place.

How much of your set is live, and what effect do you think that has on your performances?

Very, very live. Each song is broken up into probably 10 to 20 ‘scenes’ in Live which I can call up at any time play live keys over the top. That goes into Mike’s dub-mixing structure on the Drehbanks, so he has control over the arrangement to with what he dubs up and turns on and off. We can stay in any scene for as long as we want, adding intensity with the dub until the crowd and us feel its time to move on.

Playing electronic equipment live can sometimes be a bit of a risk – have you ever had any major disasters and how did you deal with it?

I can think of only two show-stoppers in the last 20 years! One, about 15 years ago, I knocked my giant 76-note weighted-action TS-12 off the keyboard stand – it was MIDI sequencing the whole show, which died… My fault! For some reason that night I hadn’t gaffer taped it to the keyboard stand, and I always do.

The other only show-stopper was just last month, oddly. At a festival we played at, our power got knocked out by a careless roadie just as we rolled on to stage. After it came back I thought everything – MIDI and audio interfaces – had reacquired properly to the Mac, but there were issues that didn’t become apparent until halfway through the show. We actually had to stop for five minutes while we rebooted and power-cycled everything completely. In hindsight, I should have made the call to delay our start and power-cycle everything properly before we went on, but you know… adrenaline and all that.

What advice would you give to budding producers and musicians who don’t really know where to start with the kit they buy?

If you want to make electronic music, I think the Akai APC-Key Mini with Live Light is an incredible package for like 200 bucks. It’s really easy to start with and you can actually do a hell of a lot with it. If you’re a more traditional muso, and you’re on a Mac, you can’t go past Garage Band. Its ‘free’ and again, what you can actually achieve with it is incredible.

What’s the one bit of kit you’d buy if money were no option?

Haha! A malletKAT. It’s a MIDI controller with pads that you play with mallets like a xylophone/marimba. I’m a frustrated percussionist really (keys aren’t physical enough!) and this is nirvana to me. Its like the best of both worlds – you can do super-fast physical triggering/drumming – with the infinite sound-set of MIDI. That or a grand piano.

Catch Pitch Black at the Attic Bar in Bristol on 23 March. Advance tickets are available here.