How are you doing?
I’m great! Took a good dump this morning, which was mostly solid. This is abnormal for me and certainly noteworthy.
Hooray for fiber! Now that we’ve gotten up close and personal what are your turn ons? Turn offs?
Where are you from originally?
I was born in England, and my father was in the military. So we did a lot of travelling when I was young. Most notably I would say we spent much time in Saudi Arabia, Arizona, NY.
Do you think this shaped your philosophy/taste in music at all?
Not so much, I think almost all of it came from college. Art school is a great thing when it comes to finding really new and original styles of music. Definitely where my real addiction to quality electronic music began.
How do you occupy your free time?
Free time? I spend alot of time thinking about unicorns and rainbows. I enjoy making music sometimes. Honestly work takes up alot of it. I Co-Own a Post production house called “Rainfall Films” in Los Angeles, as well as my commercial sound and music house “Runsilent”. Both these take up most of my time but I also enjoy video games, and sexual intercourse. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?
Yeah I think I have… maybe? So how did you start on these two companies? More importantly, what is the game you are obsessively playing right now?
I met a few really talented people and we decided to sit down and talk serious about creating the company. It spawned out of wanting to be working directly with clients instead of working for a middle man. Runsilent my commercial audio project really spawned out of Defrag. I had a few companies, notably Onesize ask to use Defrag tracks for their showreel or other commercial applications. So I got serious about making more than just IDM and applied some of my classical musical training / background.
I’m playing alot of “Mount and Blade” and “Left for Dead”. Murdering peasants and shooting zombies are two great things.
How would you define your style?
I hear it is commonly referred to as Industrial/IDM/Dubstep. I have also heard it referred to as loud and annoying. Both are correct.
To reach a new level of loud and annoying you need to glitch tones that only dogs can hear. This will cause an increased level of annoyance to the listener if they can’t hear the music over the dog barking. By the way, do you think the subgenres are getting redundant at all? Just curious.
I think subgenres are getting out of control. I understand the need to break music down in order to simplify finding or avoiding a given style. I think the biggest flaw with genre’s and subs are that the regular populace doesn’t understand electronic genres at the basic styles. I can’t count how many times people ask me what type of music I do, and when I tell them that I make electronic music they start talking about how much they love electronic music and list off Euro trance DJ’s. Someone should start a class for idiots and explain that Electronic music does not always equal Paul Shitinmyass Tiesto’nFold.
But yes. To answer your question it is redundant and only spawns from 1-up’ers that want to start the trend of the next great sub genre. Dubstep for example is already become victimized by this.
When you write a song do you set out with intended tones/sounds in mind or do you allow the song to evolve as your write it?
Each song is certainly its own process. I do find myself working more in the evolve category. It’s more rare that I will sit and begin working with an exact concept of a song I wish to create. Making music isn’t based on following a bunch of instructions.
How long have you been creating electronic music?
I started creating horrible trance music back in the mid 90’s. I’m very glad it’s all gone or deleted.
This just goes to show that most musicians begin with the 4 on the floor formula and move beyond the glowsticks… hopefully. What got you started in the genre?
As with many budding musicians in the early 90’s I was listening to Orbital, Prodigy, Orb etc.. and wanted to try my stick at making music. 4/4 music is the most simplistic talentless music to write, with a few minor exceptions. Seems like a pretty good place to start when you’re exploring a new form of music creation. That and raver chicks have sweet boobs, something I’m partial too as mentioned earlier.
Classic question but it has to be asked, where did the name Defrag come from?
Originally the band name was “Bitstorm” back in early 2000. Matt my music partner at the time and I had just had a bite from Industrial label Invisible Records, and since the album we were working on started to evolve into a slightly different sound, we thought a name change was in order. Then we got really stoned and thought “defragmentation” would be a great name. Something about bringing order to chaos or something equally retarded. After the release the fans cut it down to “defrag” and the name just stuck.
I wondered about that transition because I heard Defragmentation and later stumbled upon Defrag and debated whether the name change was a legal issue or a change within the project/lineup. Also what is “Lament/Element” in reference to?
“Lament Element” was a name I had picked for the next album a long time ago. Which is unusual since I prefer to name the release after it’s complete. The name itself was in reference to a number of personal things happening in my life, and also directly referring to Defrag’s crumbling relationship with Invisible Records.
Literally I intended it to refer to the album as the source of grief, which is the literal translation. The words have several meanings that work great together, and it’s really up to the listener to make their own connection to the title.
An important note on the artwork: dutchman Menno Fokma did an incredible job capturing the mood perfectly for the release. Stefan of Hymen was also incredibly supportive so that the release had the best quality paper stock and printing. CD’s are quickly becoming a lost medium, but Menno and Stefan helped make it “art” instead of a delivery method for the music.
So whatever happened to the crayon drawings and pixel art that was submitted by the fans for your last online contest? And why a horse? Why not go all the way and say a unicorn?
A guy name Gabriel won, and his image is now the tiled wall paper of the amazing defrag website. Something I plan on redoing at some point.
Unicorns don’t have sex with people James. You know that… You tried…
What does your studio setup consist of? Do you prefer hardware or software for production?
Personally I’m huge into software. I like things like Reactor, Cubase, Fruity Loops and Ableton Live. I think as with hardware, different types of software have different pro’s and con’s. People are big into lumping software / hardware into one big pro, and one big con… I hate that.
I think my favorite software item right now is a Reaktor ensemble that my friend Sean Price and I created. It’s called Sinister Minister, and it makes mean mean, mean wobble basses. It’s all over “Lament/Element”… All Over.
For hardware I use mostly midi controllers. APC-40, Novation remote sl’s, etc. My audio setup is 5 Mackie HR824 Mk1’s, a shitty event sub, and my favorite RME Fireface audio card.
I have to admit I love that bass Jeff. What is some gear you are looking to acquire or wish to include in your setup?
Thanks! I’d really love a Universal Audio DSP card for sure. Pretty happy with everything else, why? Any suggestions?
It always seems like people have a wishlist for their arsenal you know? If no new gear then which movie do you think Defrag would best suit as a soundtrack?
I would love to redo the soundtrack to “The Little Mermaid”.
How did you come to be in contact with Hymen?
I contacted Stefan pretty much the day after I decided Invisible Records was a load of horse shit. I had been a fan of old Hypnoskull back in 2000 and just loved the feel and style of the label. In 2008 I was contacted by Stefan to contribute a track to an upcoming compilation. Stefan dug the track and asked if I had more. I wrote more, he liked more… And we talked serious shop.
If you don’t mind me asking, what was the source of issue with Invisible? I understand if you can’t talk about it due to threats that they will hunt you down and kill you.
Oh, I can definitely talk about it. They tried to control the sound of the next album after “Self Construct”. They refused to release what we had sent them, until we had changed the whole album to sound like one or two songs off “Self Construct”. I very politely said ‘Fuck, no’. This lead to them trying to legally pigeon hole us from making anymore music. So I had legal council threaten them. The contract was complete illegal and unfair, and by Law they couldn’t uphold it. We both decided it would be better that the contract be nulled and we go our separate ways.
I’m sure Martin Atkins means well, but Invisible has a incredible history for screwing over all of the artists on the label, with exceptions to the original projects that created the label. Now they’re a joke. Invisible is just a blog for Pigface now, and significantly fucked the growth of industrial music culture between 2000-2006. Way to go guys!
So far with the reviews coming in for “Lament/Element” and various remix appearances I would say you have a bright future. Any plans for future side projects or future releases?
Of course. I’d love to do another release on Hymen. Which I’m pretty sure they feel the same way since “Lament/Element” has been well received. It took 5 years to make “Lament” only because we had so much legal drama with Invisible. Now it’s back to full production. Fans won’t be disappointed.
A number of really exciting collabs and remix’s.
Hypnoskull and I have been talking about doing a release forever. He’s had a lot of personal things to deal with so hopefully soon. Joris / Krampfhaft who’s also an amazing sound designer and I have been talking about doing a mashup track. Ben Boysen (label mate Hecq) and I talk about remix’s often. Skullduggery out of South Carolina as well. All talented artists, it’s more about syncing free time with each other. Maybe something with a band called Lucidstatic, though probably not, because I feel weird collaborating with a convicted sex offender.
Also anyone that wants my old albums, they’re all on Last.FM, for full download, FREE.
But “Lament/Element” is better, so go find it. It’s also on What.cd so you can get it there, but at least send me a hug or some flowers if you do that.
I’ve been a fan of Hynoskull and Hecq so I think the meshing of the sounds would be incredible, and I have worked with Skullduggery recently with fantastic results. Are there any up and comers you think deserve attention?
Absolutely! I’m glad you asked. Some underground artists that I can’t stop listening to that everyone should check out are Lady Gaga, and Aphex Twin. I’m pretty sure no one has heard of them, and they have a really amazing sound!
Any tips for the musicians out there?
Tips for what? I have some good beer suggestions. Tips for young kids trying to get signed?
Best thing I can think of is honest to yourself and make good music. If everyone you send a track to says it’s awesome, NEWSFLASH!!!: Your track is fucking terrible.
If you want to make better music you need a healthy amount of real feedback. If you want to just receive compliments then just ask your mother for them. Or ask me, cause I’m currently engaged inside of your mom’s vagina right now, so I can relay the message for you.
— interview by James Church (April 2010)