June 2012 Interview: Retral
Location: Southampton/Taunton, Britain (UK)
Contact: Facebook | SoundCloud | Bandcamp
To start this off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Retral. I’m 23. I live in somerset. I have been producing properly for about a year. I have been mixing vinyl for about 5 months. I’m part of HVRT KRV collective (Retral, FOG, Sangam, Cholombian). I have been touring in bands, playing drums for years, with my most recent band ‘Kerouac’ have recently disbanded. I don’t get along with many people. I think the modern world has twisted happiness and conformity together and turned a few people ugly. The worst thing is, it’s nearly impossible not to conform. I guess I have a negative outcome on everything.
Do you get out of Britain much? Thoughts on other cultural/music scenes you have visited?
I don’t get out much, no. Went to New York to record an EP with an old band once, been to Belgium and Holland for shows with Kerouac and went to Spain twice for holidays with friends/girlfriend. Going to Greece in a week or so too. Actually is that a lot?
The only other music scene I have visited properly is the hardcore/punk scene with my band ‘Kerouac’. I really enjoyed it at the time as I was angry and angsty, but I don’t feel that compassionate about it anymore. So many bands popped up sounding the same and it was horrible. It felt like the whole meaning of the scene was dying, for me anyway. I toured the UK so much and met so many cool people though and played so many cool cities I’d never have gone to otherwise. This will always be one of the best times in my life and I’ll never forget it.
You have quite a few remixes and collabration pieces? Compared to originals, is there a type of production you prefer?
Do I? I never really thought about it. I guess I prefer collaborating then. I mean, it’s amazing when you zone out and make something entirely yourself- it’s a great achievement, but you don’t always have that second opinion. I guess with collab’s, you bring twice the amount of knowledge. Obviously, I always ask opinions from producers I love when I finish a tune. I almost always send previews to Sangam, FOG, Cholombian, Eplp, Budeaux and Bruised Skies. They are always really helpful and supportive and I’ve collaborated with most them and value their opinions a lot. I’ve also included them all in my mix.
You included many of your co-collaborators and friends in your mix. Any thoughts on those you selected?
Because they are genuinely all my favourite tracks (ones I could get my hands on, anyway). I am so used to being in bands and stuff, working with other people musically; I guess it feels like a group of people I want to be included in. That’s what was sick about starting up HVRT KRV. Just collaborating together and remixing each other’s shit. I’ve also including forthcoming stuff from myself on the mix too that no one has heard yet which is cool- collaborations with others and other tracks by people who I’ve collaborated with. Most of the stuff is all connected in some way. This mix was serious fun to make and I hope everyone else enjoys the quality music on there too..
You mention you only mix with vinyl. How to you produce? Any thoughts on the methodology of composition?
Yeah, I bought some second hand turntables from cash converters and went from there really. I already had a tonne of vinyl, but only had the one deck just for casual listening because you never really have an album/release until you have it on vinyl (fact!).
I produce in Ableton. I usually start off with the drums/percussion (naturally, as i’m a drummer), then work from there. I always layer percussion. kicks, snares, field recordings. I usually then try and make some patches and include some of my field recordings which I do off my phone. Got a really sick one today of this girl playing violin down an alley where I live.
I find it hard to create decent melodies. It’s definitely the challenging part for me. Sometimes I base the melodies from vocal samples, but I usually tend to skew the vocal sample to try and make it sound completely different- although recently I’ve just stopped using them at all. I find that most producers are using pop accapellas and some stuff is starting to sound too similar for me. Also, if you’re serious about getting a track signed big time, it’s going to be hard getting the rights to use some huge artist’s vocal parts. I’m not that hopeful though, I’m not even looking for that to be honest, just make what I want. If heads want to listen, chill. Back to composition- it’s basically just a journey for me. whatever in my head sounds good at the time, like a real sick idea, I try to put that down, usually being unsuccessful, but it still sounding pretty sweet. No real ritual yet I don’t think. I always name my tracks properly- there’s one ritual, actually.
How often do you play live?
As Retral, I’ve done one DJ set and it was a bit of a shambles to be honest. The night was running extremely late and my set was cut from an hour to 15 minutes… so I couldn’t really get into it. Decks were a ruin too. It’s a shame that venues are starting to forget about vinyl mixing. It was a real cool night though, hung with the KRV (minus Sangam) and got high and ended up staying at Mitch’s (Cholombian) house which was not too dissimilar to a crack den and ordered pizza at 5 AM. I don’t know what pizza place is open until that time, but it was one of the best pizza’s I’ve had. Woke up to some semi-naked chick in the kitchen with some serious side-boob… but on a serious note, any promoters that want me to DJ, hit me up and I’ll come do a set for a bag and a beer or two…
You mentioned playing live sets as Retral. Are we to assume their are other projects/aliases you use (aside from your role as a drummer), and if so, any words on them?
There might be… people will have to find out themselves.
Any specific influences you take inspiration from, musically or otherwise?
Nothing specific. I guess everything I listen to rubs off on me in some way. When collaborating, I’m always inspired by their sound and work off of that, but it’s completely different when working on my own tracks. I guess a certain mood I’m in at the time or even a sample I’ve found helps. I wrote a whole track (‘Difficult at Times’ – with Sangam) around this sample I recorded from the show, ‘The Walking Dead’. Someone shouting, “don’t put this on me”. It reminded me of how angry stuff was when I lived at home. I wanted to convey that emotion of how I felt at the time of being back there… but yeah, there isn’t really specifics when it comes to influences for me, just little things that crop up.
Is it possible for you to narrow down a selection a few absolute favorite tunes and artists (aside from those you already mentioned; those you work with)?
There are a few stand out tracks for me on Soundcloud this year. Detz – ‘April’ is such a huge track. He’s giving away a free track every month and all of them are so good so far. Bhok – ‘All Night Long’ is probably still my favorite track at the moment. It grabs me in so many ways. Everything ties together so well. The lead line is the catchiest thing. It’s from an EP he gave away for free called ‘Stolen Tracks’. Three tracks he couldn’t do anything else with as his laptop was stolen therefore all the files were gone. That would suck hard.
EPLP showed me a new track of his, and it’s too good. I played it over and over and still visit that private link to get my fix. This will get into clubs no doubt, and should definitely get a vinyl release. Keep your eyes peeled on his page. Kahn’s new track with Neek entitled ‘Percy’ is sick too. Really inspiring sound.
There as so many tracks I’m really into right now and that have clinged onto me through the mass saturation on Soundcloud, It’s hard to pin point the all but – Scharlach – ‘Make Me Feel’, Delete & Sotus – ‘Walk The Line’, Budeaux & Davwuh – ‘Faded’, Ghosts – ‘Judge’, Demon D – ‘Hurricane’ [Culprate Remix]. Wabz can never really do any wrong either, nor can Valiska… and i obviously love Kahn, El-B and Burial. The list is literally endless though.
Future work we should look out for?
I have a forthcoming collaboration with sub basics, who I included in my mix too. He’s such a sorted guy. He came round my house and we worked on the track together. It’s the first time I’ve collaborated with someone else in the same room and I’d highly recommend it to everyone. Also have forthcoming collabs with SMAUG and Empt. Sangam and I also have a upcoming EP called ‘Himalayan Smoke’ that we’re waiting to release which I would say is my best production to date. I can’t wait to get it out there for people to hear and wrap a couple up to. Also doing a remix of his track ‘Stygian’ too. I have a 2-track release coming out on ‘Future Flavour’ this year which will be cool. HVRT KRV are also planning to get a tape out there of misc. tunes soon, but no definite details on that one yet though.
Thanks for your time. We really appreciate you sitting down to work with us. Hope to see a lot more great work coming from you in the future; really looking forward to those upcoming releases.