To celebrate the release of his Monopoly EP on J:Kenzo’s Artikal Music UK imprint GetDarker caught up with EshOne for a brief chat about his production techniques, the US scene and living in the wilderness of New Mexico.
Talk us through the new Monopoly EP a bit: Did you have any specific goals going in or was it a more about experimenting with sounds?
No specific goals, but I always have the same goals when I make tracks. I try and make stuff that I would want to hear on a big sound system; the stuff that would get me in the zone on the dance floor. I even like to go out to nights where I know the music will not be my thing – I’m most inspired when I hear something I don’t like. It enables me to clearly establish in my head what it is that I would rather hear. My music is pretty stripped down. I try to include the elements I like and nothing else. Big build ups and cheesy filler sounds are not my thing. Organic sounds and moving rhythm sections are where it’s at for me! My tracks are made to be mixed hard, anyone who’s seen me DJ knows exactly what I’m talking about. In the words of Joe Nice, “power mixing.”
Do you have to be in a specific mind set when producing or is it something you can dip in and out of?
I can dip in and out of it. However, I do a lot of other stuff besides music. I tend to be most productive when I have shows coming up. I can be inactive for months, but right before a tour I will make 10-20 tracks in a couple weeks. My workflow is super fast. In Renoise, I can complete a track in a couple hours that would take me a couple days in any other DAW. I think I made Monopoly in well under two hours. It’s important to me to get a full idea down in one session, because I won’t get to that mindset again. I’ll usually abandon ideas I don’t finish in one sitting. I probably have over a couple hundred tracks that I discarded in 2014 alone.
How did you first link up with J:Kenzo and Artikal Music?
I believe AxH and Bakir kept telling me to send Kenzo tracks a couple years back. I never had much luck with receiving support from the UK guys prior to this, other than trading tracks here and there, so I kind of ignored them for a while. I figured he was just being nice, like maybe sitting in the car with them saying, “hey this is cool,” if my track played or whatever. I think it wasn’t until Jay hit me up directly that I sent him a folder of tracks. To be honest, I never thought much would come of it, simply because from my perspective the US scene seemed so isolated from the rest of the world at that point. I’m glad it all worked out, because I couldn’t have asked to be part of a cooler label. The Artikal Music North America tour late last year was amazing. I don’t think we went 20 minutes without a hard laugh throughout those few weeks. Thelem, Sleeper, and J:Kenzo are hilarious and awesome dudes. We didn’t have one disagreement the whole time.
It seems those deeper bass sounds have really started to gain momentum Stateside over the past few years, what are your views on the dubstep scene both at home and internationally at the moment?
It’s hard for me to say, because I’ve been living in New Mexico for these past few years. Here, the scene is always healthy. We’ve got kids that have been heavy into jungle and dnb for well over a decade. This scene’s loyalty to music that people really feel is unmatched, in my opinion. And in NM people seem to care about their favorite local DJs as much as or more than their favorite international ones. You can go to an all-local night and have more crowd engagement than when some superstar from out of town plays. As far as the rest of the US, it seems largely dependent on the ability of promoters to connect with their city. You’ll see places like Denver, where Nicole and the Sub.Mission gang have created a huge family and can throw consistent events with good results. Across the rest of the country, you’ll see groups of other stand-out events, and even some well-known events that have burnt out and no longer represent what they were a few years ago. I’ve also noticed a lot of new great events and promoters popping up, and I think this is really good. It’s a living, breathing organism. There is absolutely still love for the sound here, and right now it seems to be growing a bit. I can’t really speak on an international level at this point, as I have only played in the US and Canada.
Growing up in the US what sort of music influenced you? What made you want to become a producer?
I was in a few bands when I was younger, from punk to metal. Once we got a bit older and all started working more and paying rent, it was much harder to get together and practice. I had been listening to a lot of drum n bass, and hip hop, and bought a set of turntables to learn to scratch and beat match on. I was still pretty young when I started DJing, and it was near impossible to get gigs being under legal drinking age here in the US. I figured if I made tracks, I’d have a better shot at playing out. Unfortunately, I was a terrible producer for the first handful of years. I started to make dubstep in about 2005/2006. Or at least make what I thought represented that sound, haha. I was super into the dark, sparse stuff that was happening. I really started to understand what I was doing as I started getting into cutting dubplates. Each batch of acetate was like a college course in mixing down and EQing things properly!
From what we understand (mainly your Instagram) you spend a lot of time out and about in the more wild and rural parts of the US; do you think that vibe finds its way into your work at all?
Definitely. I even use a lot of field recordings from outside in my music. I’ll use ambient atmospheres to just add a space to my tracks, really low in the mix. A lot of times I’ll add recorded sounds from my cattle ranch to my percussion. Some of my snares have padlocks being shut, wood burning stove doors, or other sounds layered on them to give them a more organic feel. I’m very into fly fishing, and I tie a lot of flies and make other things for it. A lot of times I’ll be looping a track idea while I tie a dozen flies at the same desk I mix down my tracks on. It’s a pretty hands on process, and I can stop thinking and start to get little ideas in my head for added sounds or change ups in the patterns. Overall, I think my lifestyle just lets me be comfortable with my music being a little more raw and unpolished compared to most of what’s out there.
The Monopoly EP by EshOne is out on digital and vinyl via Artikal Music UK and can be purchased HERE
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