His passion for synthetic, musical dancefloor contortions as Chicken Lips, Emperor Machine and Future Four (with Erol Alkan) have all played a massive role in shaping the sound of rave as we now know it.
Now with a new release out on Tronik Youth’s ace Nein Records, we caught up with the Emperor to learn his top tips for new dance music producers…
Build a sample library
At the start, one of the most important things to do is to create a drum library of your own samples that you’ve made alongside your usual stock commercial libraries.
Try to spend at least a day or two sampling drums into an MPC or whatever sampler you are using. There’s nothing better than being able to get the drum sound you want within seconds due to the time spent building your library.
Go charity shop record hunting for samples at least once a week. I go sometimes twice a week as I find it therapeutic. I also used to go crate digging at car boots, but you need to get out of bed to get there for 6 am, and who can face that on a Sunday!
I don’t ever quantise anything musical that I play into the computer. You are far more likely to get a feel and vibe from a live performance, even if it is only eight bars long and quantising can often kill that feel.
I would rather spend time getting it right as a performance even if it takes a few attempts.
The only time quantising does work for me, is when I use an MPC 3000 to program drums, as that Roger Linn feel is just perfect and inspirational.
I only start mixing once I have finished recording and arranging. For me mixing as you go along can sometimes kill the vibe that you’re building. I like to mix levels first in mono, then switch to stereo, and only then start to pan tracks around before I start EQing and adding dynamics.
This way you can get a sense of what the track is going to sound like, and hear the space that’s left in the mix and work out what is needed.
It’s a good idea to have a mixing in and out point for the 12” version, in the arrangement of your track. Otherwise if it’s not DJ friendly, chances are it won’t get played out as often without the aid of a sync button. For me I still like the challenge of not using a sync button when I’m DJing.
Set a deadline
I try to take no longer than five days to finish a track, two days to write and record, one day to arrange, a day mixing and the last day listening back and adding any overdubs if necessary.
Never trash an idea completely. If it isn’t working create a spare parts folder and store it away as often that idea will get re used one day.
Once I received a brief for a TV program I submitted around five new ideas and one old idea from my spare parts folder - they went with the old idea. The point is that all things may have a place.
It’s always good to go back and listen with fresh ears to your spare parts folder. You’ll probably find some parts that can be reused, or at least build some Apple Loops out of the best parts. My folder is categorized in style and bpm.
The Emperor Machine's latest EP Love Lick/Sisco Seeker is out now on digital format with a remix vinyl package out soon on Nein Records.