And now we interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for something equally full of awesome (or perhaps moreso). After such an incredible night last night watching one of my favorite bands (who are proudly local boys) perform live in the street, my mind is more on music than fashion right now. Also, I'm a bit too burnt to even think about putting on a proper outfit today. So here is a little interview I've been sitting on for awhile, which I had the pleasure of working on with a friend of mine from back when I lived in the most gorgeous part of Canada, which of course is Vancouver. Tyler W is an all around great guy who just happens to make great music on the side as well (music which I find is the perfect soundtrack for my morning walks to work...and walks in general). So while none of you know Tyler from Adam, I thought it would be interesting to get a little education on the finer points of creating electronic music, especially from someone who is rather stylish (even when wearing a Chapters vest). Oh, and also so you can all say you know what you're hearing when you fall in love with the music of my first runway show, because I'm putting Tyler in charge of that (assuming he's still able to do so when he's in his 80s, as it might take me that long to get there...).
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into making music, and what formal training do you have?
I got into making Music shortly after my last year of high school. So this would have been around 2000. I had previously studied Visual Arts at Langley Fine Arts School. Shortly after, I slowly started learning about how different gear works. I studied Recording Arts at the Art Institute of Burnaby. This was two and a half years and has certainly cemented my understanding of how to mix music. There were some courses that dealt with song composition and arrangement so I made sure to study those as much as I could, not having any other real training myself.
What are your greatest sources of inspiration for writing a song?
I'm usually inspired by hearing someone else's music. I spend a fair deal of time listening through the various layers of a track to try and figure how they've managed certain sounds. Otherwise I'm a kid at heart when it comes to getting new gear - outboard or plugins. Sometimes this is all I need to get really pumped about making a track on my own.
What is the process involved in creating a song? Do you start with a note/beat/sample and build around that, or do you have more or less a rough version of a whole song kicking around in your head before you begin?
The process for me to make a track varies dependant on what type of song I wan to make. If I want to make a more tribal or house beat, I'll start with drums or percussion. A loop of that, followed by some bass, a dash of salt, a pinch of sugar, etc. If I want something a bit more emotional in tone, I'll start with a harmonic phrase and build from that. When I'm doing that sort of work, drums and samples follow close to the end of the piece.
What programs/software/instruments do you use?
For the past 4-5 years I've used Logic Pro as my work station. I also use a couple of third party plugins - Battery, V-Station, PPG wave. Added to this, I run a bit of outboard gear. So that's a TL Audio Indigo C2021, Filter Factory, and a Joe Meek EQ. Also, pedals. Pedals are great for very quick and rich tonal changes. My pedals never leave my side. The best advice I ever heard about gear was to keep it simple. To make your workstation "invisible." Such that you don't even think about what buttons you press when you're doing something in a session.
Is DJ'ing an essential/required/expected part to being a creator of electronic music?
Not really, but culturally they go hand in hand.
Has a piece of clothing or outfit ever inspired a song? Has a song ever inspired what you feel like wearing that day?
I can't say that I've never been inspired by clothing to make a track...but I will say this - Cash can rock the Man in Black look to a T. Also, his cover of “Hurt” was better than the NIN original. There. I said it. Deal with it. (BL: Was this ever really up for discussion?!)
If you had to write a song that symbolized and embodied the entire essence of one person, who would that person be?
Not sure who to write a track for. Maybe Buffy Leigh? I heard she killed a shark with a dinner knife. Bad. Ass. (BL: Trust me, this is just an urban myth...) Honestly, because there are no real vocals in my songs, it's tough to create any sense of meaning, so I usually name my tracks for people who've meant a lot to me. They'd never be named after that person, but it might be something we've shared. In a way it's rather cathartic.
In the fashion world, the runway show during a fashion week can be the most important event of the season for a designer, and often a lot of thought is put into the music and theatricality of the production. How would you feel to have your music as the mood setter for a runway show, and are there any designers you know of that you'd like to create a soundtrack for?
I'm not someone who's followed the fashion world very closely, but I've often thought it would be very cool to have a guy like Karim Rashid play a track of mine at one of his showings. He's a product designer, who's also quite fond of the DJ world. Double cool.
Who and/or what time period is a huge musical influence on your work? If you could pick only one album to listen to for the rest of the year, what would it be?
My favorite time period of music is right now. I've never had much of an ear for older sounds so that might explain why I love electronic the way I do. If I could listen to one album for a year solid - Evil Nine's "You Can Be Special Too". They're pretty well the kings of the rock/breaks sound. Everything they touch makes my ears melt into sonic goo. Fantastic.
Do you simply create music for yourself, or do you have any future plans for your music?
Right now I'm still enjoying the challenge of something I have no business enjoying. If I can keep pushing out tracks for myself, I'll be happy. Sometimes it's the journey, not the destination.
What, to you, is the importance of music?
My only criteria for music has been that it's got to make you feel good. There's no point in kidding yourself into liking something, just because everyone else does. I learned this lesson the hard way at the age of 7 - "why am I listening to Vanilla Ice?"
I don't know about you, but I'm ready to go write a song or two...or at least listen to one. You can listen to (and download) more of Tyler's songs here on his Soundcloud page. And here's one more track, the first from Tyler's collaboration project (with his friend Tom Graham), The Devil's Advocacy Group. It might be my favorite track from Tyler in fact. And if you're nice, I might just be posting more from them in the future...