As per CDR session usual, we had a little catch up with Big Space ahead of his session in Johannesburg tonight:
How has your music production process evolved over time?
I used to try and make as many songs as I could in one sitting, sometimes doing up to 4 fully arranged tracks per day. But these days I take things a lot slower, I’m also just getting old. But then again it also depends on the project, for example when I’m working on a mixtape I can still make 3 tracks in a night session because with mixtapes I like to keep the sound sloppy and immediate, without having too much of an emphasis on things like the arrangement and perfect mix downs. Back in the day my music all revolved around the drums and having a raw and unpolished tone.., it’s kinda what I was “famous” for but this wasn’t a stylistic choice, I just sucked at mix downs. I know how to mix down now, but I still like the way the music sounded when I was a peasant noob, so I try to emulate that tone but with a better-informed ear. I’ve also stopped saving every project that I do..if it’s not working I just move onto the next song. It’s quite therapeutic going minimal.
What key changes have you seen in the music industry/bidness during your time making records? Is independent the only way to go? Was 2018 tryin’ times?
There are two big changes I’ve seen so far, First was the rapid rate at which music production hardware and software started to become accessible. Back in the day deciding to become a producer meant that you had to make a serious financial commitment, which in turn meant that you had a lot of pressure ( from yourself) to somewhat get a return on your investment. These day’s things like synthesizers are a lot cheaper (but still pricey), which is really great because it gives you a whole new array of sound…but it also makes you come across as an analog snob. The other big change is the role of the internet in the music industry. All it takes today to become a musician/producer is a SoundCloud page, whereas back in the day you had to “pay your dues” before your music was given a platform to be heard. As much as the internet has made it easier for upcoming producers to be recognized, I also think this has diluted the levels of standard, not only on an aesthetic/ sonic level but also economically. A club promoter these days is more likely to book a new act who has a boring style and lots of likes on social media and is happy to play for drinks, as opposed to booking the most incredible seasoned performer who’s had the same affordable booking rate for over 10 years.
Is independent the WAY TO GO? Going independent is not as easy as it looks. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears, piss, shit and saliva…but it’s worth it if you know what you want to do, the freedom is great but it comes at a cost. I only went independent because I always knew it’s going to be impossible for me to get signed to Ruff Ryders. Ruff Ryders would have paid for my production costs, promotion costs, bought me a land rover and a big bag of fancy weed. At Wet dreams Recordings we cover only production costs like mastering or buying you a new laptop charger, we’ll cover all the necessary promotion costs but don’t expect airtime or data bundles for your posts on social media. We have a weed budget of one joint per month per artist…and it’s not Indoor.
Was 2018 trying times? – Every year is an uphill kayak through blood, but I keep pushing on. The only thing that sucked about 2018 was the the death of my son/ cat khadafi. Otherwise I’m quite proud of what myself and everyone at WDR achieved. The plan for 2018 was to focus on the new label roster and that involved me executive producing projects from X14, Rose Bonica, Young Om, WDR Mixtape compilation.
Talk us through the track you last [cmd] ‘S’d ? ([ctrl] ‘S’ to PC users) – I’ve been working at really fast tempos as of late, minimum 145 bpm and up to 180 bpm. It’s quite a simple tune in terms of composition compared to most of my music which is really dense sonically. It’s inspired by old school hardcore/gabba and grime. Lost’s of distortion, lots of screeching whistles…taking it back to the Thunderdome raves. The songs called “while my shank gently weeps”.
What piece of studio equipment would you NOT part with – Ever!! – Equipment is kind of like money or women…they will come and go. But one piece of equipment that will never go away is my broken heart. It has made all of my greatest tracks.
Who/What has been on heavy rotation on your audio player of late? – Bill Callahan, Isao Tomita, Gloss Gang, Rose Bonica, Young Om, Burzum, Thunderdome compilations.
What can the CDR audiences expect from your time with us? – Intellectual twerking at a grass roots level.
Have you any advice for producers/musicians developing musical works in progress to play at CDR? – Don’t be afraid to put your personality in your music…so if you’re a person with bad hygiene, make sure your melodies are also funky. But most importantly, stop worrying so much about everything being perfect. Perfect can be pretty boring.