Slackk, Winterlight, Glitch Lich: Electronic Music Producers Panel

The highlight of the live event we ran in London on 6 June this year was the panel discussion between grime producer Paul Lynch (Slackk), ambient producer Tim Ingham (Winterlight), generative noise musician Chad McKinney (Glitch Lich), and ethnomusicologist Luis-Manuel Garcia (click here for Luis’s fascinating talk on club culture, from earlier in the night). After the event wound up, we headed off to Boxed, Slackk’s regular clubnight in Dalston, headlined on that particular occasion by the incredible Spooky Bizzle.

In common with the other talks and performances of the night, the panel was video-recorded; scroll down for a transcript.

Also available from the Open University podcast site.

Listen out for discussion of the importance of place in the digital age (00:52), helping other producers to get heard (03:05), playing to an audience of other musicians (06:40), hustling (08:15), getting a break (09:12), the relative absence of women in electronic music (13:15), and the relationship between liking a person and liking his/her music (16:55). The video was shot in low light conditions, but if you want a clearer idea of how the panel looked, you can check out the brilliant photographs by Jake Davis of HungryVisuals.

Transcript

Daniel Allington

OK. Well, for the last time thanks for being here. We’ve now got the panel. Everybody who’s been performing will now be answering questions from Luis – and from the audience if we can. We’ve strictly got to stick to time and switch everything off at nine thirty, though, so we may not have that luxury. Anyway, Luis.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Thanks Daniel. Just a quick review, names and everything before we get to the questions. So we have here to my left Chad AKA half or a third of Glitch Lich, depending…

Chad McKinney

Correct.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

And the next, Tim – right? – AKA Winterlight, and Paul, AKA Slackk.

Excellent, thanks guys for being part of this. So let’s go straight to the questions because we are tight on time.

Uhm, and this is one for all of you but I think it’ll may be have different resonances for each one of you. And that is – in this digital age, this increasing online social media age, how important is to be from a particular place or to be in a particular place, like a physical spatial place for you guys?

Anybody can jump in.

Paul Lynch

From our perspective it’s weird because obviously like we run a clubnight and it’s kind of based around, the London grime scene theoretically. But the producers that we play, particularly over the last 18 months to two years it’s really opened up. So, you know, we can be playing people like Rabit who’s from Houston in Texas. Or a fellow called Strict Face who we play a lot of and he’s from Adelaide in Australia.

So a couple of years ago, you know, those sorts of avenues wouldn’t have been open for those producers to hear the music that we’re making and in turn sort of make it and influence it and what I suppose was quite a UK-based scene has kind of spread its wings in a sense – from our perspective anyway.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Thanks. Would one of you want to jump in?

Tim Ingham

I don’t think it makes any difference at all where you come from and where you live. So from my point of view I largely exist in a bedroom and that bedroom could be anywhere. I’m signed to a label from Oakland in California and I probably play more gigs in Italy than I do anywhere else. [laughter]

Luis-Manuel Garcia

I like how the bedroom is a kind of nowhere for you. At least the way that you’ve framed it, that’s great. Chad?

Chad McKinney

I probably have the most agnostic response which is the band that I play with is already, like, spread apart very far. Like I live in Brighton and my brother lives in New York City and Cole lives in Shanghai. And yeah, so it matters very little where we are. I mean it’s nice because we get to get all these shows and all these different places, so it’s nice. But I feel like the particular location that we’re at, and it’s changed drastically since we started playing, has meant like – I mean like we started in California – in Oakland actually – and I think that informed our aesthetic but has since meant less.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Following up with the second question again. This is something for everyone and this is sort of more directly connected to the theme of VEM – of this research project – around networking and sort of valuing between artists and so on. Have any of you been – have you ever been in a position to get other people’s music heard or played or, you know, attention brought to someone else’s music, you know, a DJ, or a producer and so on, and what has that meant for you? How were you able to do that?

Paul Lynch

Back to me again? [laughter] I would say in all honesty in terms of my own position because obviously a DJ’s perspective is quite different to yourselves ’cause you’re playing, you know, your own individual music. Whereas there’s kind of an exclusivity in terms of DJing where you’ll only make your name because you’ve got a certain sound that no one else has. If you’re just playing stuff that you can readily get and everyone can, there’s no audience for you because you could be anyone. So in a sense, I kind of made my own name in terms of DJing because I was playing quite unknown people and quite unknown songs – and then you’re booked on the basis of that. Or our club nights in all honesty, and our sound, is based on the idea of sort of tiny cliques of producers pushing all their stuff together and trying to be – I don’t know, a scene within itself. So, yeah. I think I have increased exposure for a lot of people in that sense, but it’s also in turn created exposure for me. It’s like a two-way process in a way. Like I have got people signed through stuff I’ve played. That happens semi-regularly I suppose. So it does occur, definitely, yeah.

Tim Ingham

Yeah. Well we were talking earlier and I think this is quite a difficult part of being online. There’s a certain sense in which you’re there kind of marketing yourself and pushing yourself on people. And certainly after I signed to n5md which, within the little bit of electronic music that I get involved in, is quite a well known label, people started to turn up in my inbox asking if they could remix tracks and asking if I could pass on a demo to Mike Cadoo, the label boss. And that’s pretty much exactly what I used to do before I was signed to n5md. [laughter]

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Great.

Tim Ingham

And in fact one of the bands that, a band that I absolutely love, port-royal from Italy that I spoke to and eventually pestered my way into a remix, are also now signed to n5md, and it was through that connection that I was introduced to the label. So yeah, there’s a lot of that goes on and people are always trying to see if you can help them. And it’s difficult because sometimes the people who want to see if you can help them are really great and they’re fantastic and they’re – frankly they’re better than me and I’d love them to remix my stuff and sometimes they’re crap. [laughter] And it’s difficult to say no to people.

I find that I’m, I don’t get involved as much in online stuff now because I didn’t really like the sort of person I was becoming. I didn’t really like having to push myself onto other people and I didn’t really like having to make those judgements about people and say, you know, actually I didn’t really like your music. But I can’t bring myself to tell you I didn’t really like your music so I’m just going to ignore your email. [laughter]

Chad McKinney

For me I think, I play some rather, I would argue, esoteric music at times, and I would say most of the people who talk to me and are excited about my music tend to be people who are also themselves musicians or composers or creative in some way, and so they’re often inspired by a particular technique or approach or something that I’ve done, and I would say the vast majority of the crowd for the kind of music that I tend to make also – they themselves tend to be creators and makers. I always find it interesting when there’s someone that approaches me that is not from that background, that’s – they’re not a, you know, performer or something like that. I find that interesting, but for me at least, it seems like the crowd for the kind of music that I make it seems dominated actually by other creative musicians or whatever. So it’s like the norm for me I would say.

Tim Ingham

I think that’s quite true of most small scale electronica stuff, you know. So, for example, even in my genre if a play a gig, you know, half the audience are in bands. And those that aren’t in bands have got a little set up in their bedroom, so it’s exactly the same.

Paul Lynch

To second that, I think a lot, like, certainly in the early days when we were running our particular night, you know, the crowd was producers or it was producers and DJs and it’s people you know from that scene and I think it grows organically from that but a lot of it is just fellow nerds really, I suppose.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Right. And there’s also among fans there’s sometimes the difference between the nerdy fans who are informed, let’s say, in certain ways.

And also really, Tim when we were talking, one thing that also came up as a discussion was how in different scenes and also in different places there’s different levels of, let’s say tolerance or acceptability for hustling for your career, so that, in some scenes in certain places it’s totally OK to be calling people up and really self-promoting and so on, and in other places it’s really looked, looked upon negatively.

Tim Ingham

We were talking about the number of requests you get, I get, I’m sure other people get for, would I like to play a date with somebody because we’re coming over on tour. No, you’re not coming over on tour – you want to come to this country and you want me to organise a gig for you. And you’re probably doing exactly the same thing in 15 other towns across the country with 15 other people.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Great.

Tim Ingham

And it’s kind of flattering, but it’s not really because – I don’t want to be a promoter. Because I can’t afford to lose that much money. [laughter]

Luis-Manuel Garcia

So another question sort of going on the same topic but a little bit more focused, let’s say – is there anyone that you can think of in particular for each one of you who’s played a particularly important role in getting your music heard more widely? So in other words, can you think of anyone, or a set of people for that matter, who’s played an important role – and how, how so?

Paul

I would say for myself, in a strange way because it’s a while back now and I wouldn’t necessarily think that the release reflects what I sound like now or anything like that. But I got signed a long time ago when I was, you know, quite a nascent producer, I guess, to a label called Numbers and to be honest at that point I was absolutely no one. And I just kind of sent a couple of tunes and they happened to, oh yeah this is great, this is great, and it turned up on a vinyl. And at that point no one even knew who I was. I didn’t know who I was, to be frank. [laughter] You can tell it by the music, you know. But if it wasn’t for them I would have been struggling, and it kind of gave me an elevation that I would say I wasn’t deserving of it at the time in terms of my own production cycle or whatever. But I think that’s just the way it works. I mean certainly from, you know, a Dance Music DJ perspective, you are always elevated by someone. Its like the bring in, you know, someone plays you and then they hear you and its like, wow, that tune that someone played! But from our perspective it’s always going to be the DJ who brings someone in. You know, as much as the SoundCloud and all that sort of stuff. You might have a tune that gets played on SoundCloud but unless you’re given an – an endorsement within a scene by that sort of producer, I don’t personally think that anyone will make it in like a DJ based field unless you’re getting an endorsement from a DJ or whoever, label or whatever.

Tim Ingham

Yeah, no, no – I would – I’m not involved in SoundCloud really at all. I have a SoundCloud but I don’t do anything with it. But I was very involved before I got signed and then decided I wanted to withdraw from all that stuff with MySpace. Good old MySpace: much maligned, but actually it was really quite a pleasant community for a very short period of time.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Whenabouts was that? Can you guess or can you give us an idea of when that time was when it was nice?

Tim Ingham

When that time was? I think it was 2006.

Audience member (off-camera)

2006.

Tim Ingham

Early! For a short period of time. No, there were a bunch of people making similarish music to the sort of music I’d decided I wanted to make and I inveigled my way into conversations with them in the appalling way that you do or did on MySpace before it got particularly sort of like, I really love your music can you buy my album on iTunes, you actually listened and stuff. And there were a bunch of people, people like Attilio from port-royal and most importantly Mike Cadoo from Bitcrush who runs the label n5md. And I had the odd, very short conversation with him and to be honest I thought he was a bit too cool for me. He wasn’t that interested in me. And when, uhm, port-royal got signed to n5md ,they told me to send a demo off to him. And I sent it off to him. And he said, I’ve been listening to your music for ages, yeah, love to.

Uhm, so I would say those people there, there was a number of people, people that a lot of them ended up signing for the same label which is quite interesting. I can name five, five acts that were all unsigned that I was all pretty friendly with on MySpace. And we were, we did a lot of exchanging remixes and stuff like that which is where I originally got noticed in that particular scene. And we’re all now signed to the same label. Which – I’m quite cynical about online stuff but probably I shouldn’t be, I think, maybe. [laughter]

Chad McKinney

I have a very particular person who is someone named Alex McLean. And he does a lot for promoting this kind of work, this kind of generative electronic music or live coding. So if you’re at all interested in that kind of stuff and you don’t know who Alex McLean is I would certainly go look him up – or Slub which is the band that he’s in.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Just to follow up. What sort of things did he do for you to help promote your music?

Chad

Well he’s certainly invited me in to a lot of shows, but also, as a researcher, he’s done a lot of research that I’ve found very interesting and it’s like opened up my mind, you know, I would say to the kind of things that I’m interested in.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Great. So a quick question to the organisers. How are we doing for time?

Josh McNorton (off-camera)

Five. Five.

Byron Dueck (off-camera)

Five minutes, maybe? Are there questions from the audience or – ?

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Audience, how are we for questions? Does anybody have a burning desire to ask a qu- oh yes! You over there – yell loudly please.

Audience member (off-camera)

I was just wondering about how you – I was going to ask about gender, whether you felt that there was, and how you felt about why there is an overwhelming dominance of men in production and [inaudible].

Chad McKinney

I think it’s a terrible problem and we need to fix it. I think certainly for the shows that I help organise it’s something that we always think about. It’s difficult. We had an open call for [comic emphasis] the July 4th algorave in Brighton, at the Loft, starting at seven. [laughter] But, you know, we had an open call and we had only two women, actually one even replied to it. And so, it’s one of those things like I want to do a lot more but I feel like it’s such a big problem it needs like kind of a larger-scale effort starting with like education. And starting with like cultural differences. Starting with the attitudes that people have towards people getting in technology. It’s a big problem but you know I think we need to start addressing it.

Paul Lynch

I’ll pipe in. I would say that it’s strange because, you know, the type of music we make is grime I suppose. It’s traditionally been quite a male dominated genre. But, you know, there are a couple of producers coming through now. There’s Flava D, I guess and on the DJ side like Barely Legal and Madam X. And they’re actually, really big names at the moment, and Flava D I would say, you know, is one of the bigger producers in our scene and certainly one of the most talented, but it has always been quite a male dominated genre in a sense. So it’s quite heartening I think that that’s the case, you know. There are a couple of producers I will play who, you know, are female. And it is something that is happening but, I don’t know, it puzzles me why there’s so – so many males and so many – or so few women involved in that sort thing – or at the very least send to me music, I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense to me at all.

Tim Ingham

I think the same thing. My music is not particularly masculine kind of music and I get lots of contact from people who buy it and like it who are female. But interestingly enough I don’t see many female faces at gigs.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Interesting.

Tim Ingham

Gigs tend to be lots of male other producers of music.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Interesting. So from the online perspective it’s more gender balanced, you’re saying?

Tim Ingham

Yeah, yeah. And production-wise, you know, again the label n5md we’ve only got one – one woman on the label which [inaudible] who now lives in London.

Paul Lynch

From our perspective I’d say that’s quite opposite. All the people I would say online engaging with us in terms of this music, I’d say it’s 90% male. Whereas our raves, our club nights, you know, maybe it does swing slightly more male but you know 60/40% in terms of male to female ratio, whereas any sort of online interaction on Twitter or SoundCloud, certainly with myself, it’s all fellows, every single one of them – fellow, fellow, fellow.

Maybe that says more about me than the club night, I’m not sure. [laughter] But that is the case.

Josh McNorton (off-camera)

One more?

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Do we have time for one more? Great.

In that case then I have a sort of a very short question to ask all of your guys specifically with regards to social media, let’s say SoundCloud, also Facebook, whatever. And that is when you support somebody’s track, somebody’s recording, let’s say, through a like or through a re-posting or whatever ,do you imagine yourself also supporting the person or is it just the music? I’m interested in how much personality and music sort of intersect or not for you guys when it comes to things like promoting somebody’s, somebody else’s music or supporting them, supporting a track or what have you?

Paul Lynch

I would say from my perspective as much as SoundCloud is kind of the basis for, obviously you’re uploading the music and all that sort of stuff. A lot of the interactions within producers and DJ’s within our scene are certainly more Twitter based than anything else. So it’s like from there.

So I guess in a sense or certainly with the people who are overly sharing on social media which tends to be a lot of people these days, you kind of get to know the person indirectly anyway. I wouldn’t say that I’m sitting here thinking, well he’s a really nice fella but his tunes are terrible so I’ll support him – but equally, if someone will send you a great tune and you think, yeah but they’re a complete prick on Twitter, then strangely I will be less likely, you know, to promote their record when it’s coming out. Because you’re an arsehole, I don’t care. [laughter] I don’t know.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Thanks. Do you guys have any comments on that?

Chad McKinney

There are some people who I have to divorce what I know about them from their music, like say Wagner or something like that. [laughter]

Luis-Manuel Garcia

The classic example. [laughter]

Chad McKinney

Yeah, let’s just go straight to it. But for the most part, you know, the people whose music I tend to like a lot, especially if I know them personally, I tend to also like their personality. So I would say if I get to know them it tends to get pretty mixed up pretty quickly. And there are maybe times that I’m more interested in a particular track that they’ve made than maybe I would have been if I didn’t know them personally.

Tim Ingham

I think an issue with fans in that with Twitter, you’re talking about Twitter. I’ve almost asked for my album back from some of my fans because I find their political opinions so hideously reprehensible. [laughter]

Chad McKinney

I don’t have any fans. [laughter]

Tim Ingham

When I say fans, I mean fans in inverted commas.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

That solves the problem.

Tim Ingham

[inaudible] But other producers – exactly the same thing – if they make music and you know, you see them on Twitter and they talk rubbish – you’re less likely to even listen to the track in the first place.

Paul Lynch

It’s strange because it does almost lessen their art, even though – there are producers who I know who make magnificent music but – I just can’t stand them. I’m repelled by the name when I see it in my inbox. [laughter] I don’t know.

Luis-Manuel Garcia

Well thank you all three of you for your contributions, this was great. And I guess do we have a last closing address from the organisers, or shall I just cut things off right here?

Chad McKinney

Thank you. [applause]

Luis-Manuel Garcia

First off, can we have applause for our panellists. [applause]

Byron Dueck

OK first of all yes. Thanks especially to our musicians – to Slackk, Winterlight, Glitch Lich. [applause] Thanks to our special speaker, all the way from Berlin, Germany – Luis-Manuel Garcia. [applause] And thanks to Anna Jordanous and to our organiser and sort of principle investigator, Daniel. [applause] And thanks to all of you for coming out and please keep in touch with us via our website and we’ll be posting things regularly. So keep an eye out for what we’re doing.

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