This is a massive, massive LP and one that managed to stay pretty much under the radar until fairly recently. How long have you been working on it and was all the secrecy part of the master plan?
Well, firstly thanks for the kind words, it wasn't a conscious thing to keep the project secret it just came to together very quickly so the tunes didn't have time to touch the ground so to speak, which I think is a nice thing for the masses, so they actually feel like they're not getting tunes that have been rinsed for months, even though that kind of is a thing of the past with the amount of music being made nowadays.
Was your approach to this project any different? I imagine that even on your third LP there's always going to be a learning curve that helps make it a unique process from start to finish.
Absolutely, my first album was made in Reason and my second was 60% Reason while this album was made entirely in Studio One, so my sound hopefully is bigger, wider, deeper, heavier, etc. In terms of the creative side, I just love writing tunes so it's always a pleasure, until the closing stages of picking tunes and then I hate it and lose all faith in what I've done, but that just my little battle I have with tunes , I'm sure all artists in whatever field have similar feelings.
Let's flashback to 'Genesis Device' - you'd already made a proper name for yourself as an artist before this LP, but dropping it on Virus and just blowing minds across the board elevated you to a whole new level. In many ways it seemed as if the project gave you permission to evolve as an artist, is that true?
Again that is right, I will always be appreciative to Dylan and Mark [Tech Itch] for having faith in my music and releasing my first LP, but for me 'Genesis Device' was the an opportunity to actually write the music that I always wanted to, my production level had improved greatly and being asked to write an LP for the label and artists that inspired me to start my musical path, I found the inspiration and ideas flowed freely.
That evolution seems to continue here, on 'Soulmagnet', as I imagine the feedback you received on the last LP applied some pressure to come up with something huge. Did that affect your quality control process? Were there any tunes or ideas that didn't make the cut?
There were a few but I'm not really a producer that has hundreds and hundreds of loops in the studio. I try finishing most things and if I'm not feeling inspired I'll do prep work for the next days' work. In terms of pushing in the same direction, the feedback from 'Genesis Device' really gave me a lot of confidence to continue to push things in various directions, which was great and just what I wanted hear.
What's interesting about this LP is the way in which you take that classic Virus sound and then tweak it your own way. Is that an intentional part of the musical conversation you're having with the label and its' history? I'm thinking especially of bits like 'Recluse' that seem to reference and yet update that old Wormhole vibe in a massive way.
That's just the influence Ed Rush & Optical and the Virus imprint have had on me. I really am doing what I'm doing now due to these guys and their music. So yeah, that 'Virus sound' is just built in now. When I released 'Genesis Device' I said that I wanted my tunes to fit into that legendary back catalogue like a natural progression of the sound ten years on and that's something I still feel now.
One thing many people often wonder about, when you're signed to a label like Virus and working on an album project, how much input or guidance are you receiving in terms of the final product? At what stage do you let the label heads stop in to have a listen and see what you've been up to?
From when the first track is written to the last, their involvement is key, to be honest. A prime example is 'Stratosphere' from Genesis Device that nearly didn't make it. I had two versions and we were at the mastering session, and Ed Rush just wouldn't let go of the first version, even when I had lost all faith in it. So we ran with version one which now turns out to be one of the highlights from the LP, and I'm so glad we listened to him.
Talk a bit about the title of the LP: Soulmagnet. It's definitely one of the standout tunes of the LP but I imagine the title also has a larger significance for you in terms of the themes you're working with in the project itself and even reflective of who you are or were during the creation of this as an artist?
Wow, we're going deep, buckle up! It does have a deeper meaning to myself in that now that I'm getting older with my second child on the way, my outlook on life is very different from what it was a few years ago. What I look for in music has changed too, it has to have that thing that grabs you, a groove, a rhythm, something that gets your soul, not just mindless noise for the sake of trying to impress other producers. Soulmagnet seemed to sum this up.
Your mixdowns are magical - what's one key piece of advice you had when you were just starting it out that would have saved you a grip of time in finding that sweet spot in your sound?
Don't be too focused on 'loudness.' If I'm honest there are a lot of big producers that just push their stuff too much and it doesn't sound nice. The trouble with that is aspiring producers will use that as the level they need to be at, where in fact, they're way off a well-balanced mix with good dynamics.
Speaking of which, what's your studio looking like these days?
i7, 8 GB ram laptop, Adam a77x monitors, a far cry from what I used to have in the studio. I have a dedicated studio space on an industrial estate that's fully acoustically treated. It's amazing to have somewhere you can go and make as much noise as you want.
Now, you and Optical recently put out a production tutorial on YouTube where you break down the way in which 'Headroom' was put together. The video has received a tremendous amount of attention and we're all hoping there's more to come?
It was [Optical]'s idea and I didn't want to do it to be honest. I hated the thought of talking about what I do in the studio but as it went on I enjoyed it more and more and can't wait to do it again.
Last but not least, what should we be looking out for in the near future?
The next big project in my second child! My wife is about to drop any day now, so I'm just glad I got this LP done in time. In terms of music there's a few remixes I've done for some peeps that will be touching down soon...
Audio's 'Soulmagnet' LP hits the streets via Virus Recordings October 29th worldwide.
Words: Chris Muniz
Still hungry for more? Be sure to download the exclusive mix for Kmag readers Audio was kind enough to drop on us.
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