Thursday, 4 December 2008

An interview with Elite Force

Firstly thanks for taking the time out to answer some of our questions.

Mon plaisir.

As someone who's widely regarded as being one of the pioneers of the tech-funk sound, what music do you think influenced you growing up and what inspired you to begin DJing/Producing?

A whole wealth of musical styles really - I've always been a magpie when it comes to music, and that's probably influenced my complete reluctance to be too purist about what I now do. So many different styles offer differing things at different moments, whether it be an air of complete suspension & serenity in a piece by Arvo Part, a monged out slice of tracky dancefloor bliss like Beltram's Energy Flash, a vigorous & challenging musical interplay like Miles Davis, an infectious slice of low-fi nursery rhyme simplicity from someone like Pavement, political polemic with a gritty sonic backfrop from Consolidated or Public Enemy, the visceral thrill of stage-diving to Metallica's 'Whiplash' .... and so the list goes on!

How would you describe your sound to someone who's never heard it before and how would you make it clear to them that it's blatantly one of the best forms of dance music?

Ha. Well, in my experience it's always difficult to explain one medium's qualities through another, but from a DJ perspective, the main 'ethos' or philosophy behind tech-funk is that it is a loose amalgamation of the very best components of electro, house, techno and breaks, thrown together with intense enthusiasm and joie de vivre :)

The genre of Breaks has moved from the original "nu skool" of the late 90's, to the massive plethora of sub genres that we see today. In terms of creativity and musical development, where do you see it moving in the next few years?

Well I hope that it will continue to move forward if nothing else. In the past couple of years I think it's suffered a little from an overly analytical approach to it's own shortcomings, and many producers seem to have moved away into throwing cheap breaks under classic house tracks as a shortcut to the floor. I've always like the eclecticism that 'breaks' brought to the floor, and particularly the open-mindedness of the audiences in a way that couldnt' always be attributed to the 'house set' or whoever, and it seems odd that a lot of the more purist-minded amongst the scene, seem intent on removing that great asset.

Tayo recently debuted 'Dark & Deep', a brand-new, and particularly kick-ass, collaborative effort between yourself and Meat Katie on Radio 1 - can we expect a release any time soon and are there any more collaborations in the works that we can look forward to?

Yep, this is coming out on U&A (my label) in January, with a proper belter of a remix from Hyperion, a shit-hot up & coming duo from Brisbane, Australia.

Now that consumers have a number of viable options for purchasing and downloading music legally from the internet (through channels such as iTunes etc), how do you feel about the state of the (less mainstream) music industry at the moment? Are things getting better or is a combination of Torrents and the Credit Crunch going to bring things crashing down?

I can't pretend it's not been a massive issue. Record sales used to be a significant chunk of one's annual income, and that's rapidly been eroded over the past couple of years. The industry only has itself to blame though to be honest - they were far too slow & reactive when it came to the digital domain, and they've been paying the price as a result. Part of the problem we have now is that when people start perceiving it as their right to own something for nothing, it's very hard to then win the argument as to why they should pay for it - and ultimately it comes down to a matter of conscience really. I'd like to see a model whereby ISP's are much more involved in tracking individual file movements and automatically billing people a small amount per download - that way file sharing would overnight become the artist's best friend.

As the battle of CD vs Vinyl vs MP3 rages on (often to the point of boredom, these days) and as someone who's renowned for his technical mastery of the art of DJing, where do you stand on incorporating different mediums into your sets?

I'm not sure it does rage on any more to be honest. I know you'll see the odd tired old thread trotted out on a forum here & there, but what most people want when they go clubbing is a some passion from their DJ, regardless of what medium they're using. I'd rather not use a laptop in any way because I find it interferes too much with what's going on in the booth - the other day I had a guy spend the last 25 minutes of my set elbowing me out of the way and plugging things in & out of the mixer to get himself set up, and I think that looks amateurish and is a massive nuisance ... just start with a CD & then sort yourselves out if you have to use a laptop!

You've been responsible for some fantastic remixes over the years, your re-rub of "Dopamine - Ah Baby" being a personal favourite of mine. How do you approach a remix project such as this?

Well with that one, I had very very little to work with so I spent a lot of time creating new parts from the few things I was given and then working them into my own rhythmic framework for the mix. Normally I listen to the original once when I'm agreeing the mix, and after that, I tend not to listen to it at all so I can be completely focused on the raw materials and hopefully come up with something that's very much got my own hallmark sound to it.

Finally, what does 2009 hold for Elite Force?

2008's been a great year for me .... insanely busy running my label and doing all sorts of other side projects as well as DJaying all over the place, and I suspect next year will be no different!

Thanks for your time...

Questions posed by Phil Buckland. Elite Force plays Plug & Play in Reading 12/Dec with 30Hz & others.

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