Aphrodite (a.k.a. Gavin King) is the
time-tested master of Drum & Bass. Gavin
manages to travel the world DJing, produce
outstanding tracks, and engineer flawless
mixes while also managing his career and
somehow squeezing in the time to program
his own website. He has recently released
another one of his boundary-breaking mixes
entitled "Urban Junglist" which is sure
to set new standards for the D & B genre.
In between traveling the world in support
of his latest release I was lucky enough
to catch up with Aphrodite for a phone
interview while he was at his Victorian
Cottage home in the U.K. Having an amazing
sense of humor and a relaxed attitude,
Gavin kindly shared with me a bit about
himself, and also his wealth of knowledge
including some insight into how he gets
his boldly crystal clear sound.
Jules: What got you started
in the music field - was it at a young
Aphrodite: I've always loved
music. My Mom's a pianist. So when I grew
up at a tiny age, I had my Mom teaching
piano in the room next door to where I
used to sleep.
How do you manage all the aspects
of your career since I know you manage
the majority of your career yourself?
Yeah, well, generally it's the nature
of how you've got to do things because
I'm no Justin Timberlake. I don't sell
millions of records, I sell thousands.
And I'm the kind of person, well, the
way record company sees someone like me
is - they see what I do as steady - and
one day, I might have a hit. Kind of like
the way, I guess, the way record companies
see me is a bit like a kind of Moby. Moby
was in the rave scene for years - doing
his own thing - kind of a similar level
to me - and then, all of a sudden, ten
years into the game, he comes out with
a hit. That's why I have a record label
and why I'm signed to a record company.
At the rate at which I have to do things
myself, I wish I didn't have to do all,
but I have to since I'm not Justin Timberlake
How do you juggle all that? Do you
have some sort of entourage?
Aphrodite: Entourage? Are you having a laugh? (laughs) Now you're calling me Justin Timberlake himself (laughs) yeah, and I've got the top three floors of this hotel. (laughs).
I'm still amazed at how you can get around the world, and have a
home, and do your website.
Aphrodite: Yeah, I mean, I do all these things, I kind of spend time on them, and do something very well for a little while and then it gets left for a while until I can do it again. See what I mean? I also majored in Computer Science and have done a lot of programming in various languages. And I mean, everyone writes lists of all the things they want to do this week, or today. I never achieve my job list because it's always ridiculously long (laughs). So I make sure I don't get stressed because when you get stressed, that's when things go wrong.
How do you actually stay so relaxed through all you have to do?
You always look so relaxed and chilled
Aphrodite: I wasn't always relaxed and chilled out. I'm not relaxed and chilled out, I've gotten used to the stress (laughs).
Where did your cool logo come from?
Aphrodite: Its kind of a redraw. On the very first ticket, of the very first Aphrodite show in 1988, I was hunting through my record collection and there was this kind of a mid-eighties record label that had a cover with lots of girls on it so I redrew one of them. Theirs was made of lines so what I did was make it sordid, gave her some breasts made it a bit more womanly and a bit more dancey and set it on the first ticket. I kind of used it ever since.
I noticed on your website
you have photos of people with your logo
tattooed on them. Do you have any tattoos?
Aphrodite: No, I don't, I personally
don't have any tattoos.
Would you consider getting a tattoo of your own logo?
Aphrodite: No, but the way I see that is, it's the ultimate compliment to get your logo tattooed on someone. You've got someone tattooing your logo on them self, what's not to like?
On the technical side, are you still using the Amiga for production?
Aphrodite: I do, but I'm kind of slowly
switching over to Logic and doing things
on Reason when I'm apt travel and stuff
like that, so yes, and no.
Do you use mostly Macintosh
Aphrodite: Yeah, I mostly use Macs. I love computers. But I no longer get embroiled in the Mac argument because a computer's a computer at the end of the day. I've got a couple of PCs if need be, but my own personal experience with PCs is that they crash a lot. And when there's a problem with a PC, it tends to be major. Macs seem to be a bit more forgiving. I just got rid of one of the PCs in the office because I'd had enough of it. It got a virus. I don't want to spend several days just trying to mend a PC whereas Macs don't really get viruses because they're all written for PCs. So you know what? I just out it, and get another Imac.
Is there any new technology that's come along that has changed
the way you produce?
Aphrodite: Nothing's ever drastically come in and changed the way I produce. There are always new programs that come in and I think, oh, that's cool, I think I'll use a bit of that or something like that.
Your mixes always have unbelievable clarity. Even when you have
a lot of instrumentation going on, everything
stays in its own space. How do you achieve
Aphrodite: Getting kind of technical, if you're making stuff, it's like, everything's got to breathe, you know, you can't have too many frequencies running around in the same area. You know, if you've got vocals, and a beat going chickachickachick you aren't going to hear the vocals, so don't have a beat like that. You know, if the beat you've chosen, is running continually, first of all it gets boring, and there are times when you play something along side it where it might sound a bit cluttered with too much going on. I make sure too much clutter doesn't happen. It's a matter of listening to it and seeing whether it is cluttered and if it is cluttered, make it uncluttered.
How do you go about uncluttering?
Aphrodite: Well, for instance, let's say you've got a nice bass line and a beat and the beat goes doongchickachickadoong and you have a vocal or something over the top of it. It might sound a bit cluttered because she's singing her lyric and your beat's going chickachickachick well all the chickachickachick in the beat might clash with some part of the vocal, so take them out during that sentence. Just get rid of it because it clashes with something else. The beat is still there but your ears are drawn to the vocal and don't miss what has temporarily been dropped out. I want your ear to be drawn to the vocal, not the chickachickachick. Then when the vocal drops out, the chickachickachick is back in there.
Do you still use midi?
Aphrodite: Yes, I do.
At what stage do you record the midi to audio and what type of
mixer do you use?
Aphrodite: I record midi to audio during the final mix stage and use a Mackie 24 channel board that I've had for about seven years.
What tools do you use for time stretching?
Aphrodite: Mostly Time Bandit.
What type of reference monitors do you use?
Aphrodite: Genelecs, which are amazing speakers. Unless it's 5 a.m., then I use a set of Missions so I won't upset the neighbors.
How do you pick tracks to remix or is it more based on who approaches
you to remix?
Aphrodite: I select a track based on what I hear and like in the track and if there are enough elements I think I can work with.
How do you pick the tracks for a DJ set?
Aphrodite: To me, the most important decision is deciding the first track and from there it depends on the audience as to what I'll play next.
Where do you see Drum & Bass heading?
Aphrodite: Well, that's a tough one!
Your guess is as good as mine.
Ok, last question... are you really
the "God" of Love?
We'd have to meet up for you to figure
So Aphrodite may be "no Justin Timberlake",
but I do know that I - as well as many
other fans, and soon-to-be fans of his
- would certainly much prefer listening
to an Aphrodite mix instead of standard
Pop music. Aphrodite continues to gain
tempo in his career without missing a
beat. Be sure to pick up Aphrodite's latest
in Drum & Bass ear candy, "Urban Junglist".
Also, for additional info, check out his
website at http://www.djaphrodite.com.
-- written by Jules Mari
review & buy his CD