Thursday, September 10, 2009
One of the many things about doing a radio show is that it forces you to seek out and listen to new music. Over the last two years we've come across some great producers I didn't previously know and one of them is Desto. His productions have be consistenly great since "Disapearing Reapearing Ink" turned our heads, so it seemed only right to ask the guy for a few beats and words of his own.
**Desto mix for Blackdown**
Download it HERE.
Desto "Broken Memory" (forthcoming Ramp Recordings)
Jtreole "The Loot [Sully remix]" (forthcoming Keysound Recordings)
Asylum Seekas "Magic Words [TMU remix]" (dub)
Tes La Rok "Mandem" (dub)
Desto "Ice Cold" (dub)
Desto "20/20 Hindsight" (dub)
Sully "In Some Pattern" (forthcoming Keysound Recordings)
Desto "Disappearing Reappearing Ink" (forthcoming Ramp Recordings)
TRG "Strobe Lick" (dub)
Tes La Rok "Inta" (dub)
Desto "Dark Matter" (forthcoming Noppa Recordings)
- "Wizard Of Wor" tease-
Khid "Emptying The Ghost Of Her" (dub)
Desto "Can't Take It" (dub)
Desto "Overkrookd" (dub)
Computer Jay "Maintain [Ikonika remix]" (forthcoming Ramp Recordings)
Clouds "Napalm" (dub)
Desto "Stay Strong" (dub)
Desto "Gremlinz" (forthcoming Noppa Recordings)
Desto "Cold [refix]" (forthcoming Noppa Recordings)
Blackdown: So Desto, tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you currently based?
Desto: I'm 28 years old, based in Helsinki, Finland. I started dabbling with music production in '93 with a 386 PC and tracker software which was the only cheap option for sample based music production for a kid at the time. The sound quality was much worse than the samplers back then so it was by no means going anywhere but it was a lot of fun. Sample size was very limited and to work around that took some creativity. Sometimes we'd make tunes of all styles that were called chiptunes that were less than 10kb in size, some of them sounded decent still. This taught me things like how to construct a variety of sounds from a single cycle of a sine wave.
The sound at the time was on the hardcore tip and me and my friends were crazy for it. In '94 I met the fella later known as Tes La Rok. I remember we bumped into this record store in '94 with a Moving Shadow compilation playing and walked out with a copy each. We were mad for the Metalheadz, Photek and the Bristol guys. Tes lived in the east and i lived in the west 1.5h away so we just talked about music a lot and exchanged tunes trying to produce jungle. This was in the days of no internet but there was a vibrant tracker scene supported by guys running BBSs on their home computers. What it meant was kids had files hosted on their computers and you could access them by using an extra slow dial-up connection. People were sharing their tunes of different styles uploading and downloading stuff one at a time and making up what could be described as tracker music labels. It was all good fun.
The music making started getting a bit more serious and around '98 Tes got his first release while i was falling off producing as I couldn't really afford any studio gear and felt DnB was getting boring with everyone jumping for the roller beats instead of the complex rhythms and aesthetics of the early days. The next years went by with me buying soul & funk breaks and hiphop, playing them at b-boy (breaking) events and actually breaking and eventually travelling the world with it which i've been doing for 12 years now.
Dubstep was really the first genre of electronic music that awakened my interest again in '06. I'd kept producing on a dated platform and at a slow pace but hearing the new sounds i started getting back into it. I had a lot of injury time from breaking and had to think of something to do. I called up Tes who i'd not had too much contact with for the past years and he told me he'd already been whipping up dubstep rhythms for a while. My studio was very dated so it took some time for me to get my hands on a new laptop and Cubase in late '07 which was a big step forward. I 'launched' the Desto project then. I felt i'd made music for long enough without making anything out of it apart from a couple of small releases and i thought i'd give it a go. Early inspirations include Youngsta & Tasks sets on Rinse. The tunes Youngsta used to play still make the hairs on my arm stand up. The people behind these tunes get my utmost respect.
B: In the last year or so your productions have been consistently great, starting with "Disapearing Reapearing Ink", can you tell me a bit about your sound and where you're going?
D: My sound is really a mixture of all the influences I've had since I started listening to Kraftwerk at the age of three. It ranges from the hiphop of the 90s to Warp sounds of the same era to jungle to soul. I go back to my old records for inspiration. I feel it took me a while to get used to Cubase and not being too concerned by genre definitions which at the time I got into dubstep were somewhat more vague than the 'recipe' that seems to be popular nowadays. Back then it felt like dubstep was welcoming producers to come in and bring their own influence with them. For a while I tried forcing myself to the halfstep style but I later realized there were enough clones around (and they were doing a better job than me as well) so I decided to go with what ever I felt like doing. I just get up in the morning, down a pint of strong coffee and see what happens.
B: You're played by dubstep-affiliated Rinse DJs like myself, Dusk and Oneman but to me your sound is more like grime or w*nky, more HyperGrime than Hyperdub: is grime an inspiration at all?
D: Grime is definitely one of my inspirations. I'm not the biggest grime connoisseur at all but I have a little section of old Alias, Black Ops & Eski stuff in my record shelf. I've actually bought my best grime records long after it was originally released, a lot of it from Dead-O and the other heads out here who were into grime in it's golden days but I heard it back when I started getting into dubstep. I just recently listened to some of my earliest '06 productions and found one of the tunes having the exact same drum pattern as Ice Cold which is one of my recent more grimey tunes so the influence has been there all along. Then again I'd say hiphop has had a much greater influence on my sound so it's hard for me to pinpoint where it all comes from. The biggest part of my record collection is still soul, funk, jazz and hiphop.
It's fair to say my sonic travels have taken me rather far from the 'core dubstep sound'. I think it gets more interesting when there's less boundaries. I like to keep it around 140bpm though as I'm still very much attracted to the DMZ nights type of dubstep aesthetic although my tracks might not directly imply this. I feel the possibilities with this sound are still endless. It might just take some coffee to realize it.
B: A lot of dubstep is trying to be dark now, almost comically so (except the joke isn't funnny). Your tunes, like lots of synthy, grimey, w*nky stuff is full of melodic light and colour: do you see music in this way too?
D: When a sound gets popular and more producers get into it the clichés are bound to get emphasis - indeed even to a comical extent. After EZ Rollers and the others pushing the effective straight roller beat in the late 90s DnB was never the same again. When every producer and DJ went for it the effect was gone. Being dark for the sake of dark in dubstep works in a similar pattern. But there's still great dark dubstep around.
I love the aesthetic of - for example - Mala and Loefah... I'm really glad these guys are back into their production after a bit of a break. With my music I always try to bring something of interest to the table (with varying results obviously) and lately it has been a lot of the synths i've finally afforded and dry sounds instead of dub echoes and dark atmospheres. Like you mentioned above dubstep has plenty of that. I've been trained as a classical pianist for 10 years when I was a kid so I guess to an extent the melody comes from there. And Kraftwerk. The 'wonkiness' (or post-Dilla sound as I see it) comes from the hiphop. I'm not that great at doing spacious tracks either so I've played with melodies instead as it comes naturally. I've been experimenting with space a lot more just lately though so we'll see what comes out of that. As for visual arts I draw inspiration from anything from Style Wars to old PC CGA graphics to Dali to Commodore 64. I try to approach music differently each time to keep it interesting, it can be drawn from visual arts to dance to just audio.
B: You're based in Finland, right? Can you tell me about the scene where you live, what nights go on, what DJs and producers should we know about...
D: Firstly, Helsinki inspires me. I love the city. It's streets and dwellers are a big part of my music and my part of the city, Vallila is just sheer inspiration. I could write a book on this but moving on...
I'm lucky to live here. The scene here is vibrant and Helsinki was one of the first places that for example N-Type, Chef and Pinch played outside the UK. This is due to Tes La Rok, Dead-O, RPK, Sire and others pushing the sound at an early stage. Nights like Slam It and Alas have been pushing the sound forward and doing the groundwork when the turnout for the parties wasn't that big. They've always made sure the soundsystem is weighty and provided the Helsinki dubsteppers with the full spectrum of the dubstep styles from eyes down vibes to the dubby to the techy to the ravey to whatnot. Due to this the artists they bring over can genuinely do their own thing during their sets without having to worry about playing the biggest bangers. Unless of course playing bangers is their thing.
A guy called Didier (of the Soul Investigators fame) bought dub cutting equipment from Jason at transition a few years back and at the beginning of 2009 opened Timmion Cutting Laboratory here in Helsinki. It's been great for the dubstep scene here, we can get direct feedback on the tracks and cut fresh dubs on the day we have a set. It's like having our own little Transition studios over here which is just a lot of fun. I cut all the music I play out so not having to order from the UK has been a big help. The smell of fresh plates before a good night is priceless.
There's a lot of good producers out here. I included tracks from Tes, Clouds, TMU and Khid in my mix, other producers include Non Person, Late, RPK, Teeth... The list goes on and I'm happy to say more and more producers are stepping up. It's lively out here I tell you.
B: What music (producers, DJs, scenes) are inspiring you right now?
D: All my old records, special mention to RZAs production on Tical which I keep going back to. The positive vibes of the finnish dubstep scene. As for dubstep producers there's too many to mention... Guys like Tes, Clouds and the rest of the local fellas, Mala, Kode9, Loefah, Coki, El-B, Benny Ill, Cyrus, Sully, Untold, Skream, Benga, Peverelist, Fantastic Mr. Fox & Rich Reason, Zomby, Joker, Silkie, TRG... The list goes on. As for DJs, seeing and hearing Oneman mix out here was a big inspiration. The whole thing him, Brackles, Shortstuff and them got going on is interesting. ASE in general and the Transition show is always a pleasure to listen to on Rinse. One of the most important inspirations has been the trips to London for DMZ and Forward. The trips have been very inspirational. I got a lot of love for London streets as well.
B: You've got a release forthcoming on Ramp ("Disapearing Reapearing Ink"/"Broken Memory") and had a release on Argon and BoomBap. What imprints inspire you?
The ones coming out very soon are a 12" on Ramp and a double pack EP on Noppa. There's more to come from Argon hopefully and others but more on that later. As for labels I'm feeling apart from the ones mentioned, Hyperdub, Deep Medi, Wireblock (for releasing Rustie, bless them!), One Handed Music, Lucky Me, Hemlock and Keysound definitely. And no, you didn't have to extort me with dirty gossip for that one, Keysound has been a buy on sight label for me for a while. There would be so much more but an endless list of music would be pointless.
Photos by Anssi Räisänen http://www.chiefgarage.com/.