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  Offworld Music
Record label catering to innovative music, artists and producers - from drum&bass to hip hop and electronic.

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  BT

   

 

 

WEBLINKS
- Official BT site
- btnetwork.org


 

 

 

  

 

 

SOMNAMBULIST AUDIO
"Available at a measly 20 Kbps stream via either Realplayer or Windows Media Player... The original contains 6,178 edits. Stttutttterrrrrr BzZZZzzzzzT" - btnetwork.org

 

 

 

   

 

For the past decade, Brian Transeau, better known to the dance music world as BT, has been responsible for many wonderful and amazing tracks, including "Blue Skies," "Flaming June," and "Embrace The Future" plus a list of numerous others. In the beginning, BT embraced classical composers such as Debussy, Chopin, and Bach, as his heroes and has molded himself into their modern day equivalent. Although the tools of the trade may have advanced, the desire to create a piece of art remains. And for this gifted musician, the dream continues to the amazement of few and gratitude of many.

From his studio while preparing for an upcoming tour to support the release of his latest album Emotional Technology, Brian Transeau, better known as BT, took a few moments to discuss the album, his philosophies on music and production, and what has driven him to maintain a long career in the dance music culture.

Shawn: What first drew you to dance music since you were mainly into classical music when you were younger?

BT: Really the first thing, the very first thing, was early breakdancing music and culture. I'll never forget seeing and hearing early breakdancing music and breakdancing itself. And just realizing that, you know, that it represented this sort of infinite tonal palette from which my heroes that were composers as a child would have loved to have drawn from. And it just really drew me into it. I never forget listening to Kraftwerk and reading about them and realizing that they built half of the instruments that were making these mad bleeps and bloops. So I was like, "God, I so wanna do that, man."

With Emotional Technology, where did you get the title from?

The title actually came from a fan. It's the first time I've ever done anything like that. The ironic thing is that in making a list of titles, I had titles that had both of those words in it, but never together. I always make a list of like ten titles and we had a t-shirt design contest and one of the people that designed a t-shirt wrote Emotional Technology on it. And I was like, "Oh my god, that's it." It was those two words.

Up to Emotional Technology, how would you describe the progression of your sound from Ima and ECSM to now? How do you think it has changed or grown?

I think my productions have gotten more creative. I think that I've grown in a more song-orientated direction. And actually something that I've really missed, but it wasn't until... I needed to make this album that I made. And it wasn't until being done with this record that I realized that I really want to do some tracks. And I haven't dome that for a long time. But I think my projects have grown very much in a song-orientated and detailed production-orientated direction. And I'd like to think that all of the music I've done has a lot of integrity and it's really important music to me. It's awesome, you know, it's like keeping journals. It's so, when you think about it... I was nineteen years old when I made most of the music on Ima. And I did it in my bedroom with four pieces of equipment and without a record deal. And I didn't think anybody would give a shit, and it runs out I was wrong. I feel really blessed that I've been able to do this for a living, you know what I mean? It's awesome to be able to look at the records in that way and realize that. And the funny thing too... this is a cool conversation. That being limited at the time when I did, you know, a record like Ima, it allowed me a certain degree of possibilities that only having limitations with the equipment you work with allowed. And it's so funny, because now I meet people at shows or around and they'll say, "Dude, I'm trying to get gear," and, "I'm trying to make tracks," and, "I've got a copy of Reason" and, "I wanna buy some keyboards and stuff." And it's like, "Hang on a second man." It's like so... (laughs) you get to being really philosophical. Because, not just making music, but living is still about being content with where you're at, you know. I think so many people race through their lives thinking, "When I get this," "When I get to this point," When I get this girl" and I've had this happen in my career, "When this happens and I'm going to be happy." And you realize that living, as making music is, it's really about the process. There's never a moment of arrival. So, I encourage people that read this that are out there going, "Fuck, I've only got a copy of Reason and a USB keyboard" to know that people have made significant art with limited things, and that's a good thing.

Following the break-in at your studio that occurred while you were working on tracks for this album, has anything been found?

No, it hasn't. And it's funny, I kind of vacillate between thinking one of two things... that either the people who stole the stuff didn't know what they were taking and they just took it and formatted my hard drives and sold the computers. Or that, because, if they knew hat they were taking, that stuff will definitely surface at some point. You know, whether it's on P2P stuff or file-sharing servers or whatever. That stuff will show up at some point if people knew what they were taking. You know, when someone kicks you in the balls, you can either bend over... (laughs) or you can rub your balls and hope they feel better later. (laughs) I chose to do the latter, you know what I mean? That was a really tough thing man, but it was also, it was necessary at the time for where I was at. And it would have been a very record. And stuff happens for reasons.

Was any of what ended up on the record from around that period? Did you have any of these tracks already?

Absolutely man, and I had to redo them. And the ones that survived that transition like... I fought for a lot of those tracks to exist. Like "Dark Heart Dawning," which is one of my favorite pieces of music I've ever done. Especially on a lyrical level, I'm so proud for finally saying. You know, because it's about things that you're not really supposed to talk about. And to crystallize it into something like that, and for my friends to be so moved by it saying, "I can't believe you're writing about your childhood like... honestly.” So there's things like that song and "Animals”, where "the only constant is change." "Somnambulist" was on there.

Do you find it hard writing lyrics? For instance, the word "cyclical" stuck out when I was listening to the track "Circles." That word is hard enough to say and you used it in verse.

(laughs) That's funny, because my friend Shawn was like... he said the same thing, except he said it about "convolving" in "Circles." He said, "I can't believe you found a way to use convolving in a song." I don't know. Honestly, it's kind of from reading too much. I'm always looking for ways to, because a lot of the poetry that I like is very wordy, sort of loquacious-type stuff. And I love when poets or songwriters are able to work a word into a song. Not for the sake of using the word, but because it's the appropriate word to use and they put their finger right on the very word. The guys I really look up to, you know, are able to... the English language is such a beautiful and powerful language and I'm always so impressed with people that real command of it. Not just in terms of being articulate and outspoken, but in terms of actual vocabulary. I think it's like being a musician and having studied a lot and being able to pull out from your sort of bag of tricks when appropriate the right thing at the right time.

Another thing I wanted to ask you about was Bill Hamel (Sunkissed/Teknology). I know he worked with you on this album.

Bill's a badass!

How has it been helping others? Since I know you have always been one to reach out and help other people that are on their way up with touring and talking to people about dance music and dance culture. Do you ever feel overwhelmed, like there are so many people wanting to pick your brain?

Yeah, I do feel overwhelmed a lot. Yeah I do... absolutely. But the upside of that is... you know, what I find really weird is like, I'll get the strangest messages sometimes. And it's so funny too, because everybody always talks about, you know, like harping upon one person saying a negative thing. I get probably two or three thousand instant messages a day being like, "Dude, your record's the shit!" or, "I saw this show, it was the shit!" But once in a while, I'll get a guy that will instant message me and be like, "You're a punk dude. You're a sellout." You know, "You worked with N'Sync... blah, blah, blah." And then I'll say, "Hey listen man," taking the N'Sync thing as an example since this happened a couple of days ago. I said, "Hey, working with those guys, Justin and J.C., who have become really good friends of mine, was a great lesson in judgment for me and you ought to take a lesson from that too. Because I thought the exact same thing that you thought. In that, here are two cheesy, homogenized, corporate, boy band fodder, blah blah blah, call it what you will, wank, right? And I meet these guys and I realize, wow, these are two really talented guys and they're trapped in this cheesy, homogenized, corporate structure. And they want to break of that. Fuck, I'm all for the punk rock, let's break out of the mold sort of shit! And that's why I worked with them, you know?” And then the guy will be like, "Uh, what kind of drum machine do you use?" (laughs) It's like, if you hate me so much, why are you asking me production tips?

Yeah, he didn't really care, he just wanted some help.

Yeah, it's like they want to kick you in the balls and then pick your brain! And I'm like... it cracks me up actually. All of that stuff aside, and which is a very small part of the people that contact me, I'm so lucky to give opportunities to a bunch of people, you know, that I may not have gotten.

Well let's talk about movies. You've done a few scores now, composed for a few films, is any of Emotional Technology going to find its way into a film?

I'd like to think yes man. I mean, I'd love to see a song like, you know, "Animals" or "Dark Heart Dawning" end up in a film where the only constant is change, you know? Something like really moving and epic would mean a lot to me if it showed up in a cool film. Yeah, I'd love that.

Have you finished any films recently?

I'm working on one right now, I'm working on a movie with Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci called The Monster. It's a really dark film. It's a really, really amazing film. But it's very dark and it makes it really hard to work on, honestly. Because I'm so identified with the subject matter of this movie. When you identify with the protagonist of the film, it makes it really difficult to participate in.

What's next?

Next is getting ready for this tour man! And getting geared up to... I've been working on some plug-ins over the last year with a friend that we've coded for the Mac. And I've actually developed a plug-in so that I can do live, sample accurate, stutter edits. So I'm going to take this plug-in out on tour and it's going to be pretty fucking crazy! I'll be able to sing into my laptop on stage and capture lines and do live stutter edits to them using my hands. I'm going to use these things that are kind of like d-beam controllers and it's going to look like gestural dancing. I'm going to be able to control the stutters with my hands.

For someone who is starting out, say with two turntables, a mixer, and a couple of records, what should be their starting point?

The first thing you've got to learn is to beat-mix. But I really encourage people to start looking at some of the programs you can use as a means of DJ'ing. Because you can do so much cooler stuff off of a laptop. So I would encourage people that are on two turntables and a mixer to check out things like Live and Tracker, because they are really exciting. But that kind of would be my advice, you know. A great thing to know how to do is beat-mix. If you're going to DJ, you're going to need to know how to beat-mix and just practice your beat-mixes. Then it's a matter of putting together some good tapes and getting someone to give you a chance. Something that really impresses me personally, but this so not essential to do if you're a house DJ or play breaks or whatever, but I think it is the coolest damn thing in the world when someone that doesn't play hip hop can scratch. I just think it's so badass. That's what I think is really, really dope about what Bad Boy Bill does. And really clever too with the printing the records at the same speed so he can do hip hop tricks and stuff. He's a badass man! I think it's really about finding your own niche more so than anything. And that can mean a million different things. Just think outside the box, think about what's been done before with two turntables and a mixer, and try to do something new.

All right man, I appreciate your time.

Cool, take care of yourself!

-- interview by Shawn Wallace

 

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