This man has been a huuuge FORCE in the Dance world for years, continually re-inventing himself and creating nu sub-genres of the highest quality dance music imaginable.
His Tech-Funk stuff a few years back was just outer-planetary and one thing you can always be sure of with Elite Force is that he always marries a deep sense of musicality with dance floor beats and so he’s like a proper musician in my eyes and not just some computer music software geek!
Now, he’s moved onto to creating what can only be described as Elite-Step, a combination of Breaks and Dubstep souped up to annihilate every dancefloor known to mankind!
Take a listen to this from his new album REVAMPED!
And you know what, the guy behind Elite Force & Zodiac Cartel, like most supremely talented artists, is really down to earth, humble and cool as f***
Another great thing about him is despite being one of the SUPERSTAR DJ’S of the Underground Dance scene, he is humble and open enough to be in dialogue with blogs like ours. He is in touch with what’s going daaaaaaan in the music marketing world right now and I’m sure this will bode well for him and his label for the present and future!
Ok so let’s get on with the interview:
ELITE FORCE INTERVIEW
As if “you” need any introduction, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve been involved in making music now for around 16 years, starting out with techno releases as Scattyx, beats releases as Synchromesh and the rap/rock hybrid tracks as Flicker Noise before launching my Fused & Bruised label in 1996 as launching Elite Force, Futurecore & pHrack R as aliases. Around the same time I formed a band ‘Lunatic Calm’ & we did pretty well with our debut album, especially getting licensed to a whole bunch of movies (including The Matrix). Disbanded that in 2001 to focus on Elite Force stuff, recording on Whole9Yards, Moonshine, Kingsize and Adrift and remixing the likes of Grandmaster Flash, UNKLE & Crystal Method along the way. Formed my U&A label in 2007 & launched my ‘under-the-radar’ alias ‘Zodiac Cartel’ around the same time. And here we are, 2010.
How long have you been producing music/running a label and what’s been the plan?
As above! The plan is complete and total world domination … or at least to bosh out some decent music and have some fun along the way.
UP COMING RELEASES
Tell us a little about some of your upcoming projects/releases.
Well it’s been all hands on deck really working towards the ‘Revamped’ album & now it’s out there (check the site at http://www.eliteforcemusic.com/storerevamp.htm to see where the real FUN stuff lives) I’ll be focusing on doing a whole load of DJ and AV shows through the summer to promote it. You can never sit on your laurels for long though & I’m already planning a new DJ Mix album and starting to assemble a load of exclusives for the label. There’s also some great new music coming up on U&A ( http://uaarecs.com ) from the likes of Rektchordz and The Loops of Fury as well as my own Zodiac Cartel output (remixes for Moby, Emanul Kosh, Lee Coombs and Tai are all dropping soon), including a new single on U&A in May.
When did you first get into Breaks?
Back in the day, breaks was born out of ‘eclecticism’ really … it was the music that didn’t really fit anywhere else, and the main DJ-purveyors and producers that I was into were the Chemical Brothers, Justin Robertson, Depthcharge (J Saul Kane – legend!), Renegade Soundwave and then the early Wall of Sound stuff kind of cemented it into more of a cohesive ‘sound’, whilst on the other side of the coin there was the darker more progressive-sounding beats music from BT, Beber, Fuel, Freeland & all…. And then at the same time Mo Wax & those guys were doing much more headsy trip-hop stuff. When we started Lunatic Calm up we had a rehearsal space next door to Mo Wax’s studios & we’d use the main room to record demos when there was no one booked in overnight etc…
How did you get into it?
I was attracted by the energy really & back in the early 90s when I first moved up to London I was a regular at The Heavenly Social as well as techno nights like Lost & Eurobeat 2000. Breaks was just one facet of what I was into, still is really.
The Dance music world is very fickle when it comes to genres and so one year you could have the hottest sound in town and the next year it could be over and you fall back into the land of obscurity…I think the same could be said for Breaks at the moment, which has pretty much been overtaken by Dubstep.
Well fuck it, you know. Let’s just try to move away from the hyped up nonsense that just pervades the music industry and always has done. I’m not for a minute pretending to be fashionable in what I’m doing, I really couldn’t care less about that & if that’s the reason the likes of <insert name of ‘key radio DJ of your choice here’> plays half of what they play, the music world is rather diminished by that lack of insight. I think you stand a much slimmer chance of ‘sliding into obscurity’ if you focus on making quality, honest, forward-thinking music with passion, not for example banging out a post-Riverside bleep-house track (see Beatport Electro 100 for details).
However what you’re doing is still kicking ass, so how do you keep ELITE FORCE so important & relevant in the current scene?
That’s really for the scene to decide – as I said before I’m really just trying to plough my own furrow here, just being true to music I enjoy making and playing, and in my experience there will usually be a number of other people who share my tastes & will enjoy what I’m doing. It’s only early days for Revamped, but after 15-hours of being on sale at Beatport, we have 12 of the Top 15 tracks, which is an extremely encouraging start!
What is the current Breaks scene like?
Out in clubland it’s just fine – we get good crowds at our parties, they’re usually up-for-it, vocal and passionate on the floor, and generally speaking pretty open-minded musically … this is a big key for me as breaks is just one component of what I play. The closed mindedness tends to happen on the internet during the week, when thoughts fester and the negativity in people’s lives gets played out on bulletin boards & the like, and these voices are disproportionately loud in their criticisms of the scene. In part, this is why a lot of the scene’s more senior players have walked away from breaks over the years – they’ve just become disillusioned by the bickering & internal politics.
Is there a Breaks renaissance on the cards?
Who’s to say, but music is music and what goes around comes around. Who would have thought we’d be ‘nu raving’ a couple of years ago or ‘enjoying’ a disco revival right now? Preposterous really but things go in 15-year cycles and with the rankness of the production quality in so much bloghouse and ‘fidget’ these days, the logic would suggest that sooner or later we’ll be returning to the world of the 10-minute prog-house leviathon.
Or is the future, BreaksStep/DubTech (whatever you wanna call it), the kinda stuff you did with your MASSIVE Datsik and Benga remixes?
It’s the present tense for me – who knows what the future hold. I’ve been enjoying making this kind of stuff of late though & will probably try my hand at a couple of dubstep tracks this year.
What new names do we need to look out for coming from the scene?
Peo de Pitte’s an exciting one to watch, and on more of the tech-funk side, The Loops of Fury are doing some immense electro-techno at the moment, along with Rektchordz who is really starting to come of age as a producer.
Here’s also the latest version of his ‘Filthy Inspiration Sessions’ up for grabs … a wicked monthly one-hour showcase of some the biggest tunes from the Rekt-box right now.
Emanul Kosh- make my music(Zodiac cartel remix) (Electric sushi)
Stripper- The stripper theme ( Shnorkel, Squarez, Rektchordz RE-MASH) (CDR)
Beckers, Hatfield-You’re Not me ( Edding 850,The Tension, Rektchordz RE-MASH)(CDR)
Elite Force, Blaze, Hugg & Pep-Barbar Blaze-barbar Blaze (Re:Vamped)
Sam Hell-Mothership (Rektchordz Remix) (Trickery Collective)
Rektchordz-LUSH (Mike Hulme Remix) (AUX)
Rektchordz-Feed you head (Elite Force Remix) (Precint, Turn These Speakers up, Rektchordz RE-MASH) (CDR)
Elite Force, Vandal, Hatiras, JELO & The Stanton Warriors-MAD (Re:vamped)
Calvin Harris-Stars Come Out (Rektchordz Re-fix) (CDR) ( free download at http://www.Rektchordz.com )
Dunity- Shake It (Beat Therapy)
Ido Ophie Miki Litvak-Shnorkel (Evapour8)
Elite Force,Benga- 26 Basslines (Re:vamped)
TUNESMITH & INSPIRATION
How are the musical ideas conceived and how do you go about turning an idea into a fully formed track?
Blimey. The musical ideas just evolve as I’m going along – I always start with beats and spend a long time making sure they are sonically spot on and that the groove is exactly right…. Then I usually move onto the bass and again spend a lot of time layering sounds and imaging them properly so they sit as they should with the drums … Next are the leads, synths and samples (although sometimes I will start a track with a sampled loop in mind, more as a vibe template), and finally the vocals if I feel the track needs them.
What sort of equipment & software do you use to make your music and what are the processes involved?
Too big a question really – that’s an essay in itself. Basically I have a mixture of hard & software running 24-channels of analog sound through a Mackie 32:8:2 desk using Apogee and MOTU soundcards & a great A/D Apogee Converter. I monitor on HR824s with the custom Mackie Sub and have Genelec 8040s as a second reference pair.
How many tunes do you have in your bank of tracks and how many are you presently working on?
Not that many at the moment – I have a few remixes due to come out as Zodiac Cartel and probably a dozen or so unreleased bombs now that Revamped is out, but most of those are only for the DJ sets. I haven’t made any music in 5 weeks though … that’s the cost of all this promo activity!
Where does the inspiration come from for the music you create?
I work 8am-6pm every day towards the simple goal of creating music I like & promoting it … it’s more motivation than inspiration a lot of the time, and I’m good at driving myself onwards.
Please give us your TOP 10 Records, dance or otherwise!
A better bet than that would be to listen to it, mixed into a ten-minute piece that I did for Eddy Temple-Morris’s show on XFM a few weeks ago. Bear in mind these are all-time favourite tracks mixed together so there’s very little electronic music on there …
OR listen/DL here:
How did you get into music, what are your musical influences?
My influences are pretty rangy – from acid house to thrash metal, from introspective indie to old skool funk, from wacked-out 60s psychedelia to symphonic strings and from easy listening to contemporary classical. It’s hard to define exactly what it is that makes me make music as I do, but I kind of fell into music quite heavily when I was 9 when I badly broke my elbow & it ruled out sports for a couple of years.
When you are not working on music, what sort of music do you listen to?
I don’t listen to that much music at all outside of work these days, but when I do it tends to be the antithesis of what I do at work … I’m a big fan of bands like Sonic Youth, Spiritualized, Sparklehorse, System of a Down … you know, anything that begins with ‘S’.
Who you do you rate at the moment?
I don’t get to see many other DJs unfortunately but I’ve always enjoyed seeing James Zabiela play even though I’m not that into most of his music choices these days.
Popof, The Loops of Fury, Bassnectar, Peo de Pitte, Excision, George Lenton, Spektre, Underworld, Nero, Beckers & DNox, Rektchordz, Doorly, Fergie, Bassbin Twins, Claude VonStroke, AC Slater, Ido Ophir & Miki Litvak, Sub Focus.
Your all-time favourite song/piece of music?
Pavement – Box Elder.
Your all-time favourite movie?
Your all-time favourite book?
Haruki Murakami – The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
How do you see the future for labels like yours given the huge fall in legitimate music sales?
Well we do see ourselves as early adopters of a number of new forms of technology. Our websites now use the Topspin back end to provide bespoke content that allows us to tailor our output much more specifically to the collectors market, and that’s been a really exciting development for U&A. For example on the Elite Force site, the Revamped Store showcases a lot of these ideas [ http://www.eliteforcemusic.com/storerevamp.htm ] and we’re rolling these combined bundles out in differering formats (including remix parts, signed prints & Test Pressings, DJ mixes & special hidden files) across all of our brands such as U&A [ http://uaarecs.com ] and Zodiac Cartel [ http://zodiaccartel.com ].
We’re trying to use people’s insatiable appetite for music to our advantage really by also giving out FREE 320s of some of our sought after DJ tracks, bootlegs & rarities in exchange for their email address so we can keep them up to speed with any future things we might be working on … that seems to have worked really well and as part of the album release you can get the re-fix I did of Benga – 26 Basslines for the first time this week.
And for those who missed the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. TC Vs Caspa and Deadmau5 downloads (all FREE 320s too) they are up for grabs on the Revamped store > http://www.eliteforcemusic.com/storerevamp.htm
What is next on your musical agenda?
Developing the label as a brand a little more with some dedicated label nights, bringing through some of the younger artists I’ve been working with and giving them the best possible platform for the world to hear their music, and also looking forward at ever more creative ways of releasing music and communicating with people. For Elite Force I’m looking at maybe doing a DJ mix album later this year that will be packed full of exclusives signed to U&A, and with Zodiac Cartel the remixes are flying out this month with re-rubs done for Moby, Lee Coombs, Emanul Kosh and Tai.
Where do you see yourself in another 5 years time?
My ambition remains the same as it’s always been, which is simply to enjoy what I’m doing, and earn a living from it. If I can fulfil those two simple requirements for another 5 years, I’ll be more than happy.
If there is one thing you would like to say to the world, what would it be?
Is silence a presence or an absence?
Certainly not the End for Mr Elite Force but just the beginning of a beautiful new adventure!
You can stream here the entire new album!