Friday, 29 April 2011

Feature Friday: detnator

detnator aka Dawi (Baidawi Assing) is a dear friend of mine - we go way back. Needless to say I am totally biased, not that honey badger gives a shit. I've had the pleasure of collaborating with him on a couple occasions and we do have other plans in the making.

An amazing musician, producer, sound engineer among other things, detnator has great energy as well as the right idea when it comes to collaborations and creative work. detnator after all is a collective  of wonderfully creative minds, Baidawi, Quincy and Spanna. The studio (the Bomb Shelter) is small and cosy and can hold a staggering number of people (personal experience!). Great things have come out of it and your proof is below. You may have to rinse and repeat.



This is the final track which has a totally different vibe. Very sexy. Again with the rinsing and repeating.


It is an honour to have him give us all an in depth peek into the creation of this music. I don't really need to blabber on anymore.

The Music

Rule of Thumb basically started as a jam session. Did you have a basic outline then went from there? Was that (youtube) video the first take?
We were working on ideas all day long. Basically, I would just go through my archive of music and pick out something that I thought we could all work on together and then we would jam to it. I put on the Rule Of Thumb track late in the evening at a point where we were winding down and somehow that track just ignited a spark within the jam session. I was in awe of what was happening but I managed to contain it on camera… if you look at the video @1:55 I turn to Quincy and make a stupid face… at that point I was thinking “MADDDDD!!!!!” The youtube video is the first and only take, it was purely spontaneous, unrehearsed and unscripted.


You have a good history of collaborating with fantastic folks. Tell me a little about these folks.
Quincy (Ross - a fellow friend,collaborator/creative) has been friends with Mark Dopson for many years now. Mark was abroad for quite some time and upon his return to T&T he contacted Quincy to let him know so we could organize to meet up and just vibes. We bounced into Anderson Mitchell and Scott Homer outside Casa De Ibiza one night having a conversation about music, girls and starcraft. Anderson introduced us to Scott and as you could well imagine, that was a very easy lime to fit into. We stood there for a while then Nikolai Salcedo showed up and joined the lime, then Mark showed up. The conversation progressed into musicians coming together to collaborate and I immediately took the opportunity to invite them all to pass through the studio over the coming weekend to which they agreed with much enthusiasm.

Alright so spill about the transformation from the jam sesh to the final piece. I'm not a technical music person so you have to break it down a little bit.
So after the jam session I had this 15 – 20 minute recording of pure musical madness. I recorded each instrument into its own audio channel simultaneously. That means that Nikolai, Scott & Mark had their own individual audio channels after the session. That would allow me to go in and have total control over each performance. That night I listened to it about 20 times before going to sleep. I wanted to start arranging it at once but I learned that its good to give the ears a rest especially after hearing the same piece of music all day long.
I opened Abelton Live the following day just looking at the wavforms laid out in the sequencer like it was a massive piece of graffiti on a sprawling wall. The challenge was to now take all of this and arrange it in a way that would take the listener on a journey.

Any issues creating it? If so explain how you got past them.
One of the major issues was being able to listen to the piece in its entirety while taking mental snapshots of clips that could be pulled out and chopped and looped. I was literally holding down CTRL and clicking and dragging the mouse on parts that I felt were the most useful while the song was playing. This was the most tedious part of the process because I had to do this for each instrument while listening to the entire performance and tuning specifically to each track. At the end of that part of the process I had a bunch of clips laid out in no particular order. The next challenge was to start arranging the clips which included my parts as well. Honestly, I didn’t have a vision for the end product; I was just going with the flow. I didn’t know how long the track was going to be how long the intro should be, if was going to establish a verse, chorus and bridge… I just went with what was sounding good and what felt good. I was happy with the outcome.

Both songs stand on their own as brilliant pieces with their own vibe. What do you like about each one and do you have a personal favourite (because I can't choose)?
The jam session is a snapshot, it captures musical talent in a raw form and showcases one of the things I love most about doing what I do which is collaborating. There is no better feeling for me than to watch ideas flourish in a pure creative environment right before my eyes (or ears).
The “finished” or arranged version kinda highlights my capabilities as a producer and sound engineer. I was quite proud of myself when I was done with it. Even my father commented on it… he said “wha boy yuh make it sound like they perform it so! It sound like something foreign!!”
Honestly I can’t say that I have a personal favorite. I love them both and listen to them equally as much. When I’m in a mood for rawness I soak in the video, when I want a more polished experience I listen to the other version. I would admit though that I am totally in love with 2:36 - 2:48 of the arranged version.

How'd you come up with the title?
This was an old piece of music I created a few years ago. I named it Rule Of Thumb because the bell synth, when filtered out, sounded to me like I was lightly tapping my fingers on a desk. It’s the kind of melody that I would tap with my fingers and hum in my head while listening to a drum and bass loop.

What are you listening to lately?
These days I’m listening to anything Nicholas Haskell posts on my wall on facebook and any music I get from Sean Gonzales. It’s a lot of dubstep, chillstep and other forms of electronic music.

What's your next on your agenda? Any plans? Projects anything you can reveal?
The studio machine is down right now (fried motherboard) so its hard to say. I’m going through serious withdrawal symptoms. I don’t have anything planned per se. I’m working with James Hackett & Lab 206 on a project… well actually they’re doing the work I’m just offering an opinion here and there if anyone asks. Can’t say too much more about that! You’ll have to wait and see.

On Creativity

As a creative how do you handle down time/burn out? What techniques do you use to get through it ? 
I have no set way of handling it really. Sometimes I spend time on the internet researching stuff. Whether it be the latest gear or software or some techniques that would help in recording/producing or video editing. Sometimes I lime, sometimes I just play Free Cell and listen to music.

How do you overcome creative blocks?
I’m learning to let them take their course. A creative block means most times that my brain either needs a rest or needs to focus on whatever its focusing on and get it out of the way.

What do you like to do otherwise to stay motivated?
These days the art movement e.g. We Does Draw is a great source of motivation. We helped (James) Hackett pull off the last one and it felt really good to be part of that process. I also recently decided to get back into drawing… I used to be good at it now I suck. I bought a sketch book and I’m practicing. That is helping me a lot. It keeps my brain in a certain space that is good for creativity.


Anything last thoughts?
I’m seeing more and more these days, people getting involved in creative things for all the wrong reasons. Creativity is not a fad, not a hair style, a way of dressing or a particular type of shoe to wear or type of music to listen to. It’s just a brain function. There is nothing to be gained by doing anything creative for the wrong reason. If you’re doing music or art, fashion or film for the wrong reasons, sooner or later it will be exposed for what it is. Always stay true and stay grounded.

Thanks Dawi and the detnator crew! You're amazin'! Find detnator on facebook and YouTube for more fabulous music and videos.

4 comments:

Hackett said...

Was a nice read man, for all the years I have worked with detnator they have always been creative and progressive.

the kicker said...

thanks for the feature Tracey. I love it!

WillDaTrill said...

Awesome Blog Tracey. Like I always say, "Keep Detnating"...

Maria-Victoria 'vICkA' MALELA said...

wow! this is so inspiring,thank you !!

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