Exclusive Interview With 4mplify
The moon is as high as the night is long. As you drive past the endless green signs hovering above the rolling freeway, the sensation of a warm calm breaks through the walls of the everyday, hindering all vexations. This is the feeling you get when you listen to the new Motion in Space EP from 4mplify. This Belgian producer is newer to the charts and slowly creeping his way to the top of them, earning him a reputation for classy style and pushing the envelope of disco-house. His Midas touch ranges from affable cosmic disco to funk blitzkriegs like his “Cosmico” track. This week T&A caught up with 4mplify to discuss his new EP and views on music, technique, and production…
How long have you been a musician?
Well, I’m not really sure I would call myself a musician. I have no music schooling whatsoever and am more of a self adept artist who uses his ears for identifying what sounds ‘right’ rather than falling back on theoretical background knowledge. I do wish I was a virtuous guitar or keys player though, that would make it easier to transfer ideas into practice sometimes.
It’s that ear for detail that makes you a musician though. How long have you been producing electronic music for?
I have been experimenting with digital music production over a period of 10 years now, but – being a self adept – It took me a lot of experimenting and time in order to get where I am now. And I still feel like I have a lot to learn and that there is room for progression in my music productions. About a year ago I had some more time available which meant I could focus a bit more on improving my music production skills and techniques. A short time afterward I had my first EP ‘Discosmology’ released, launching the newly established label Madison Square Records (Greece) and a couple of months later I released my 2nd EP ‘Future Sky’ on Disco Soul Records (Ukrain).
Belgium seems to be a melting pot for the modern European disco scene, do you think this has had an effect on your music?
Despite being a small country, Belgium is indeed represented well in the ‘modern European disco scene’, with artists like The Magician, Aeroplane, A.N.D.Y., Moonlight Matters, Mickey, etc… and labels like e.g. Eskimo Recordings. The internet remains my most important resource for discovering new artists, keeping up to date with new releases and getting in touch with like-minded producers and even fans of my productions. It isn’t really important to me though where these people are from. Both music and the internet have no boundaries and I get my influences from around the globe as well from close by.
I’m not a fan of the term “Nu-Disco”, but it is clear that disco-influenced music is becoming relevant again. Being a musician yourself, Do you have any views or theories behind this?
To me disco-influenced music always has been relevant of course, I’ve always been a fan of the genre and the music that got influenced by it, especially modern electronica and house or dance music. I associate the genre ‘Disco’ with positive and uplifting feel good music on which people can dance to, and then ‘Nu Disco’ would be the present day variant of this positive feel good dance music.
What do you think sets you apart from other artists in the electronic music genre?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I mainly just do what I feel in regards to music production, and I might have my own ‘typical style of sounds’ other artists don’t have. Perhaps a mixture of older and newer instruments and sounds ranging from disco influenced electronic deep house to more indie dance music.
What software/equipment do you use when producing a song?
I now use Ableton Live on my digital audio workstation mainly because the ease of use in translating ideas to a computer. Next to that I have a 2nd hand Roland Fantom S which I use for sounds as well as a midi keyboard, an old Korg N1R sound module, some D.I.’s and a mixing table to hook up the guitars, bass and pedals when I have friends over in the studio. Next to that it’s all software synths and effects.
Do you record using any live instruments?
I sometimes have friends over in the studio for jamming and I do use some of the recordings in some of my tracks. The track ‘Sunshine Disco’ on the Discosmology EP contains a bassline sample played by Mr. S., a good friend of mine with whom I enjoy spending time in studio as much as possible. Another track of mine ‘Deep Disco’ featured on the ‘Future Sky EP’ contains guitar riffs and melodies from Millann, also a good friend and a gifted musician who spent some time jamming to the track because it needed a little something extra. I often record myself in midi playing ‘live’ on keys, freestyling or improvising, and then I try to focus on working on the best bits.
Explain the artistic process you go through when making a track. Does it start out as a single idea like a small riff, or do you envision the song as a whole?
I tend to start with searching for some nice chords and chord progressions, a main theme or idea, with a strong focus on finding a convincing and groovy bassline that suits the chords. Then I usually add the main instrument sounds and melodies. I often work out different parts and only afterwards I’ll consider looking at a more ‘bigger picture’ and work out the rest of the structure of the song and also focus more on details like more drums, effects and also the buildups and breaks throughout the track.
You’re working on your third EP in under a year, do you have any plans for touring in the near future?
Not right now. I would first try to get some more studio work done and putting out some more releases while improving my music production skills and discovering what room there is for the live element, hopefully with some of my musician friends. Right now my main focus lies on improving music production skills in studio. I’m curious to see what & where the future will bring me though.
What kind of venues are you or would you be most comfortable playing in, a small club setting, or for a bigger audience such as a music festival?
I’d say I’d be more comfortable playing in a club setting first while getting a bit accustomed to a smaller crowd first before playing in front off a bigger audience.
What kind of equipment do you typically use for live performances? Is there any room for improvising in your setup?
Well for future performances I hope to combine funky guitars and groovy bass guitars together with live drums, effects and synths, with hopefully a lot of room for improvising like we tend to do when jamming or freestyling in studio with friends.
What are your views on performing completely live versus a prerecorded set in the context of DJing?
Well, it’s clear both are quite different in approach. A completely live set would often require a bigger set up, more material, more people & more preparation. A completely live set often focuses more on showcasing the work of 1 artist only. A DJ set or mix is more about a unique & innovative selection of tracks of often different artists, mixing & matching them in the best possible way. Merely playing these (pre)recordings in front of an audience without anything else to it wouldn’t really classify as a live or DJ set in my opinion. It’s just not the real deal.
If you could work with any artist in the modern electronic universe, who would it be?
I wouldn’t mind spending some time in the studio with some of the Eskimo Recordings artists or the guys from Chromeo, and while we are at it ….Daft Punk.
Thanks for the insight, we have one final question: In a flooded market such as EDM, it’s important as an artist to offer something unique like producing a track entirely, such as yourself. What message, if any, would you like to give to the newcomers/aspiring musicians?
With enough practice and love and devotion for music, newcomers can go a long way. And there is a point in time when acquired knowledge and practice will reward itself and make things easier for you to translate your ideas to songs. It might sometimes also be easy for newcomers to get ‘lost in plugin land’ and to be overwhelmed by some of the technical aspects that come with ‘doing a clean mix’ etc. Don’t forget to focus on getting some music production done as well and try to actually finish tracks. Finishing tracks requires you to look at all aspects of song production even more in detail. That means notes, melodies, chords, choice and quality of the chosen sound, effects, song structure, buildups and breaks, the mix, etc…’
4mplify has his new EP available for preview on Soundcloud and will be available for purchase soon. Be sure to check it out and keep your ears out for this upcoming artist, you can find him here on Tits and Acid!