debut album "Nonlinear Reality" is pure quality
Your debut album is entitled "Nonlinear Reality." Is this a commentary on the stochastic turbulence of this day and age, or did you just think it sounded cool?
Nonlinear Reality, out on Loöq 10/28
Scott G and DJ Kramer of Methodrone
S: Commentary on the world? No, though I like the sound of that.
The name really reflects the way the album was constructed (written, recorded, etc..) and is also a kind of commentary on the lives we have been living during the recording process. We live on opposite coasts, so almost nothing could be done in a linear fashion so we are pretty luck to have today's technologies to assist with the process. Having to live in this non linear style for the last couple of years has kind of made this our standard operating procedure when it comes to the work Methodrone is producing.
How it came about? We were talking late into into the night at the studio coming up with names, and as we discussed this process of writing, this term came up as a way to encapsulate the way we worked and it fit perfectly. Nothing seems to happen in the order or the way you plan it to.
K: Nonlinear Reality...story of my life lately. Ok, that's only part of it. The fact that we create this music with non linear software is the literal interpretation. Then, mix that concept with the craziness of our lives and the world around us. Not so much as a social commentary, but more personal. Sometimes I just think about the reality of my life and the process for how I got to where I am. That there really is no direct path. Things change every day and those changes create this reality of the amazing life I live.
Sometimes electronic full length albums can sound a bit discombobulated. Yours is the opposite -- it's extremely coherent -- all the tracks are in the same world. How did this come about?
K: When we write music, we don't really sit down and say, "let's write a house track" or "let's write a techno track." we just let the ideas come out and the song grows from there. We've written a lot of tracks over the past couple of years so there was a lot to choose from to create this release. Having been a DJ for so long, I am adamant about sticking with the idea that the album is telling a story, so it had to flow in such a way that that the listener had a seamless experience like when you're listening to a DJ set. It took a while to figure out just which songs would work best together. It's also important to us to showcase Methodrone as a project that is more than just an ambient project and more than just a dance floor project, that it stretches across many genres, styles and ideas.
S: The music we write comes in batches, depending on mood, time of year, current influence or bottle of wine. And while that makes things new, fresh and interesting, you have to remember, we grew up with the LP, not the $.99 download. Songs are great, - they move you, they inspire you, but what is even more amazing (and and harder to accomplish) is telling a story that lasts more than your standard 3 -7 minute track. I have always loved the way that the DJ could tell a story on the dance floor for hours on end, or how an album would take you on some wild journey for an hour, where at the end you have no choice but to start all over again. It's the basic human communication tool, storytelling.
You've managed to fuse electronic and live instrumentation seamlessly. Was that difficult? What went into recording this album?
S: This is an area that we are still working on as a team. I come from a studio and performance background and so it seems really natural for me to want to incorporate what I have done over the last 15 years. For this record we chose to use live instrumentation that was very low key - no over the top guitars or piano solos. I think it added a much needed warmth and texture that can be lacking in a lot electronic music. Also, when you have 2 discerning sets of ears that are pushing and pulling the faders, you can get the right balance in the mix. As far as recording goes, I find writing on the guitar to be a very personal experience, I am not someone that can 'jam' in a group. I like to write those pieces alone, late night, with a pair of headphones. It was a lot easier working with outside musicians that we could present a product to, explain what we needed, track it, and then manipulate it exactly how we wanted after the fact. We pulled in a Grammy Award winning bass player (Bernie Minoso), and this guitar virtuoso (Jerry Fuentes) that made the process really easy, and really fun.
Kramer -- your "tribal progressive" DJ sound is much different that the downtempo, wide open sound of "Nonlinear Reality." Does your production work influence your DJ sound, and vice versa?
K: There is an influence from the tribal music I play that you can hear in the percussive bits of Methodrone. While the elements are in there, they are certainly are toned down to their more basic components. Since there is no single motivator of the Methodrone sound, the influences of our lives and what we listen to on a daily basis come through more than does my DJ style. While I play higher energy Tribal Progressive when I am working the dance floor, a lot of times when I sit home and listen to music it is much more chill and relaxing dance music. I love the textures and melodies of ambient and downtempo stuff. And as I mentioned before, we don't sit down and set out to write something in a specific style. This allows the opportunity to be creative in many different genres and styles instead of being stuck writing one specific.
S: Kramer's DJing is ever present in the music we make and in the creation process we follow. He ensures that I don't go so far off into knob twiddling and down too many dark holes that we lose the listener. He knows when to bring in the beat, when to extend, shorten and how keep the audience interested. I can listen to the same pulsing synth for 15 minutes straight, only changing filters and bussing effects, Kramer keeps that experimentation on the right track so we don't end up degenerating into listening to white noise. The role of the DJ is essential to our songwriting.
Truth is, to force those individual influences would have not have allowed us to produce the best product. Methodone is more than the sum of it's parts.
Who are some of your favorite bands and producers at the moment?
K: Underworld continues to be at the top of my list when it comes to the "production band" format. There has never been another group who could touch them. Chus & Ceballos have been long time favorites as well as D-Formation. Starkillers have been realsing some great stuff lately. D-Unity has been doing a lot of great remixes lately as well. And the German producers D-Nox & Beckers have been making some nice dark chugging proggy stuff. Cirez D is at the top as well. Im always listening to the 2 Involver albums Sasha did with Charlie May & Duncan from Spooky and Barry Jamieson, as well as Airdrawndagger. I listen to some form of dance music about 95% of the time, but on a totally different note, the Yeah Yeah Yeah's last record "It's Blitz" is really amazing and I really like the last MGMT record.
S: So much inspires me it's crazy. I have mixes that start with Telefon Tel Aviv and end with the Rolling Stones.
There is some amazing music coming out of the Sasha camp these days. Not only the stuff that Sasha is putting out, but also all of the guys that have worked with him through the years are releasing their own material now, and it's amazing - Charlie May, Barry Jamieson, Leo Leite, it's all fantastic.
I do tend to listen to a lot of music from people I know. DJs, Bands, singer songwriters. I happen to have been blessed by meeting some really amazing artists and end up following their work, and branch from there.
Through the recording process, I had stayed away from doing a lot of new music hunting so I could, with a few exceptions:
The last new song that really blew me away was Emiliana Torrini's 'Gun'
Groups that bend and blend multiple genres - UNKLE, Tricky's lastest, Knowles West Boy
Bands that took over where the 90s Brit Pop left off - South, Snow Patrol, Doves
Greg Dulli's projects are something that have always captured my imagination. From the early days with The Afghan Wigs right up through his more recent work with Mark Lanegan.
This new funky pop/disco/indy sound that is really popular in brooklyn right now is pretty interesting. While I am by no means interested in the hipster scene, there are lessons to be learned from the frenetic energy that goes on at the shows. It's the cycle re-manifested, only this time, there are guitars again.
What's the most extreme thing you've ever done in the name of music?
K: Would you consider Burning Man for the last 7 years extreme? DJing on the Playa is about the best place on the planet to DJ. It's such a extreme environment, where you have all these like minded people who are dancing like maniacs, and truly without a worry in the world.
Maybe that or finishing a gig in Mexico City, and having a promoter drag me to the airport and fly me to Cancun for 2 more shows (within a 24 hour span).
S: While I had some amazingly, wildly creative times in the past, pulling together some of the strangest recording experiences you can imagine, I think that the most truly rewarding has been the sense of accomplishment was when Kramer and I were sitting in this little makeshift studio in SF and we came up with an idea one Saturday night - it was so good that we worked straight through the night, burned a disc and headed straight for a party. When the song dropped, the party went crazy - there were like 1000 people thrashing to this song at sundown that we had finished like 4 hours earlier. I was blown away.
What's next for Methodrone?
K: We intend to promote the record we are releasing with Looq through the end of 2009 and into the new year. While that is happening, we intend to finish up and release some of the new tracks that we have been working on over the year. This work goes well beyond the chill/ambient tracks that we have released to date, and showcases both the club and performance sides to Methodrone. I think it will be great to show the different sides of Methodrone.
S: We have so much material, that the key is to complete it and release it. You will probably see a similar narrative piece along side single releases that are much more dance/remix focused. We work solo for a few months, and then have these marathon recording and brainstorming sessions, the next one we pull together will be focused on lining up our future state strategy. The release of Non Linear Reality will be a great time for us to regroup, do some promotion and get a release schedule together for the new year. The key is to find a way to release material that continues to create experiential listening for the audience, be they tech-house, indy, progressive, or whatever comes next!
Moving forward, we are also looking at the live component to Methodonre and how that can be accomplished. How that happens, how that fits with a live audience I do not know. It's not quite Pacha, not quite Whisky, but completely Methodrone. We'll have to see.