Discovering London-based producer Settles’ tunes on Soundcloud, we hit him up for a quick interview and download of his dark, 127BPM roller ‘Plateau’. We’ve since learnt all the below, and that he has an EP in the pipeline on a label we’re very fond of, tip!
– Settles please start by telling us a bit about yourself and your music.
Well, my actual name is Cameron, and I’m a student in London in my final year. I make percussion driven dance music between 120 and 130bpm as Settles.
– When did you start producing and what were you making then?
I started messing around with production software a little over a year ago, around winter 2011, so I came to it pretty late I guess. I’d had a go at playing in bands at the kind of thing before, and I’d always been into writing music as a teenager, but it had never translated that well into a group thing – partly because of my total lack of any formal training or knowledge of theory. Like a lot of people part of the initial appeal of producing electronic music for me was the total control you can have over a project, without having to relate what you’re writing or want to write in technical terms.
I’ve always worked in this tempo range really, and I think the tunes I make have always had a percussive drive too. The main difference between then and now is probably the quality of the production, and there’s more consistency in the sound from track to track. I’m always learning more as I go along though, so hopefully things will continue to develop and progress for the better.
– What is your production set up at the moment?
It’s pretty basic, I use the much maligned Fruity Loops. No controllers or midi keyboards at the moment, just a laptop and monitors.
– Is your music grime?
I don’t think so, but it’s definitely a part of it, and it’s nice to be asked that instead of being told that its techno. I’d say I draw most on (early) dubstep, the way its mutated dance music at slower tempos in the UK underground. The kind of transition point stuff that’s on Dubstep Allstars 1 still sounds fresh to me, tunes like ‘Amazon’ by El-B. I think that sound is present in some of the most innovative music out there at the moment that’s starting to come through, people like ETCH and Wen. Feed that through the darker strains of house and techno that were everywhere last year and that sort of sums it up.
I think Blackdown’s on to something when he talks about the whole 130 thing he’s pushing, labelling by tempo makes sense because there are too many different influences involved to pin it down to one pre-existing tag. One of things that encouraged me to get into production was how exciting underground dance music seemed in London when I first moved here in 2010, and how open minded a scene it was musically. It’s become more and more compartmentalized since then, but I feel like it’s starting to open up again.
– What do you listen to outside of electronic music? Does it influence your production?
I’ve been pretty bad recently at keeping up with stuff outside of dance music, but I’ve always been into post-rock and what’s hopefully the slightly less dubious side of metal, more experimental bands I guess – labels like Holy Roar and bands like Mare. I was into a lot of genres with math as a prefix, and I think the weird song structures and syncopation that goes along with that probably still has a lingering influence. I’ve got a big soft spot for Motown and Northern Soul as well. Sometimes you can’t beat a really well crafted pop song.
– How much do you DJ, and do you play a lot of your own tracks? Not all your tracks sound like you made them with a DJ in mind…
I’ve actually only played out once, at the end of last year, I think I only played ‘Plateau’ in the end. Weirdly I got into production after getting into DJing, partly because it felt like the most realistic way of moving it out of my bedroom.
I know exactly where you’re coming from, a lot of the stuff I make doesn’t always sit that nicely in the mix, they definitely aren’t suited to long blends anyway. I’m always conscious of what they’ll be like to play structure wise, but the arrangements often end up being a bit awkward alongside other tunes. Sometimes it’s interesting to have something a bit more jarring coming into a set, but I’ve been working on exercising a bit of restraint and leaving more space in tunes recently – making them more DJ friendly.
– What can we hope to see from you this year?
I’ve got a record in the works with a really great little label. The guy who runs it has a really clear vision, and releases on vinyl, which I think is quite important. It seems like the perfect place to get things started from. Hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot more activity and output from me by summer as well, and with a bit of luck some DJ sets.
– Tell us a bit about the track you’ve given Get Some Introducing.
I wrote this last summer after coming back to London from a festival just outside Berlin. The lineup was pretty techno heavy, so maybe it’s a reaction to that, something totally the opposite of that slick, polished Berghain sound.
– Finally, please complete the following sentence: Get Some…