VIP Client Story: BT Interview
Given his enviable resume and illustrious fifteen+ year career, it is difficult to imagine that platinum-selling artist, visionary producer, film composer and technologist BT may only now be beginning to create the best work of his career. An internationally-renowned recording artist himself, he is trusted by superstars such as Sting, Britney Spears, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Madonna, Seal and Peter Gabriel to produce modernist and memorable hits, with a bleeding-edge electronic flair. He has composed unforgettable scores for films The Fast and the Furious, Partysaurus Rex, Go, Stealth and Oscar-award winning Monster. With his latest two-hour, double-disk opus, These Hopeful Machines, BT definitively weaves both the technical prowess and compositional mastery that reminds us all why he’s the composer that all other composers and producers study. On his last full-length LP, This Binary Universe, he created an entirely new genre of evocative electro-acoustic music. As Keyboard Magazine wrote in their review of the album, “In a hundred years, it could well be studied as the first major work of the new millennium. It’s that good.” Throughout his illustrious career, BT has been able to seamlessly weave together complex, groundbreaking musical elements into compositions that resonate with listeners of all types without seeming academic and incomprehensible. BT joined the Armada music label in May 2012.
Throughout the years your work has always seemed to take inspiration from ideologically pure places. In a world where material with "dark" themes has repeatedly been "trending" over the years and many artists and producers easily succumb to the temptation to "people please" by making such things, you seem to always have found a way to take the road less traveled and insert a positive implicit messages into your work. You do it in a humble way which has never been ostentatious or preachy, but rather in a graceful manner which is extremely effective, powerful, and ultimately just simply "cool". In our estimation, your legacy is indeed "additive" as you say, and we give you deep respect for that. The question that follows is: is this a conscious decision and something you think about regularly, or is this just your nature?
Well first, a very deep and humble thank you. Secondly it is a very conscious decision and I truly appreciate your observation.
As a followup, what advice would you give young producers who would like to walk a similar path of being "additive"? How can they best maximize their exposure while remaining true to their own core beliefs and personal message?
I think there is so much happening right now that is exciting. There are also pitfalls to all of these exciting opportunities which in my estimation need to be weighed in relation to the relative potential output of the opportunity. For example, anything can be made "loud" now. But it this good? It may sound "exciting" but does it serve a compositional purpose above catching someones attention? My belief is that in order to make something substantive and lasting, no stone should be left unturned, no effort left un-taken and not path left unexplored. My practical advice is to pick a DAW and learn it thoroughly. Watch tutorials. Listen to music you love and copy all you can. In that, eventually you will find your own voice. Next is constantly go outside your comfort zone. If you enjoy EDM, study Jazz, your music and you as a person will benefit greatly for it. Finally be about something other than music. Have a motivating purpose and make decisions with that as your source.
What's more fun, cave diving, or shark diving?
That's a super tough one but I will go with Shark Diving. Cave diving is serene and otherworldly but being with sharks is to be with one of the most elegant creations amongst us. They are awesome creatures. I hope we stop finning and supporting industry and governments that sanction it. If people reading this if they don't know what that is, I hope this peaks their interest. We are down to 10% of the earths shark population. Being with them is an extraordinary honor. I love sharks.
Urth Cafe or Umami Burger?
Literally for the ketchup alone, Umami Burger. It's the best food I've ever tasted, full stop.
Gojji Berries or Chia Seeds. Pick one. Only one!
Now your trying to stump me. I'm impressed. I'll go with Gojii Berries because they are delicious.
Any cool upcoming projects coming up that you care to share with our readers?
Well I've just finished a pilot for ABC that has been picked up. It's directed by my good friend Patty Jenkins so I am in the process of figuring out if I can score the full series. I love working with her we did Monster together. My new album is coming late summer on Armada Records. It's my first record with them and I am very excited about it. Armin runs a first class operation. This year will be lots of touring and we are in stage 3 development of a new (and truly unreal) technology with iZotope. I'd be hard to be more excited about next NAMM. So hope we are done!
Any young and up-and-coming artists or producers you are really excited about these days?
Top of my list are Fractal and Au5. I've been mentoring these two for about 2 years. We have pretty much weekly roundtables (at my kitchen table, lol). They are awesome people and jaw-droping talented. Big things for those two. Huge. Another would have to be Savant. Loving Ilan Bluestone, Maor Levi, The Damn Bell Doors, Pegboard Nerds an Xilent too. Music is incredible right now.
What hardware, OS, and host application(s) are you using with our software?
Primarily Logic, with OSX 10.8.3 however I've been migrating a lot of things to FL studio. That program is insane. You can modulate anything. It's the closest thing I've ever seen to a modular in DAW form. I'm taking learning that platform really seriously atm so I will be using all the 2CAudio stuff there as well.
How important is having access to a quality reverb to your work and production style?
Vital. I was raised in the 80's I strongly dislike dry records! :)
What are some of your favorite hardware reverbs, that you have used throughout your long career? Do you still use any of these?
Oh for sure yes. I use a Lexicon 224 all the time. It is literally like the heavens opening on a Prophet-5. Also have a soft spot for the Roland RSS boxes. Although not the best reverb emulations they are awesome at crazy, out of phase, swimming in sound type effects. The 480 is another favorite as is the EMT plate. I use that whenever I can with drums particularly snare. A Distressor and that are like peanut butter and chocolate on a live kit. Finally, I'm a huge fan of acoustic spaces. Love recording in caves, tunnels, gyms etc.
Any general tips for younger producers on effective reverb use or secret recipes you care to share?
I'd say don't be afraid of Reverb! So many productions these days are so dry sounding. Especially hip-hop and club music. Reverb sets music in a space and that in my estimation aids the composer in setting a memorable environment. Yes my one reverb secret for you to try is learn the old school way of gating reverb and try pattern gating it. Especially on bass, it's AWESOME.
B2 And Aether
What do you find most unique or inspiring about B2 and Aether as compared to other competitive products?
I must say there is nothing like your reverbs for strings. I'm blown away by the quality of the tails. They sound dynamic, artistic and vibrant. Love them. There realism makes them unique to me. They don't have the ring-y-ness of convolution reverbs and just sound elegant and expensive.
Do you tend to use our products for extreme FX oriented presets, or more subtle and traditional reverb needs, or both?
I like them for long hall traditional reverbs. The FX stuff is awesome too.
How many instances per project do you typically use?
Sometimes upwards of 16. I find stacking reverbs really useful. I like to do frequency band specific reverbs as well (like splitting of bass in Dub Step)
What kind of source sounds do you usually use with B2?
STRINGS! Also Orchestral Percussion sounds amazing.
Do you find yourself designing your own presets on a regular basis?
Yes always, although I have some great ones I've made now as starting points.
Could you name some of your works in which you have actively used B2 or Aether?
I used Aether a lot on If the Stars are eternal so are You and I and These Hopeful Machines. I've also used it tons on my new Armada album A Song Across Wires. They really sound expensive and are effortless to work with.