Interview With King Roc
What's new in the world of King Roc, what projects do you have on the go at the moment?
I have had a very busy year with releases on Cocoon, Moodmusic, Bedrock, Kling Klong and several others.. but these are ostly under my own name - Martin Dawson, as it a housier sound than with most of my King Roc productions. Right now I am working on projects with Glimpse, Catz n Dogz, Andre Crom, Namito and of course continuing the Two Armadillos project with Giles Smith. Only with this I am working on 3 album projects, Two Armadillos, King Roc, an indie punk project with Darren Farrow from Get Shakes, and 1 mini album for Moodmusic under my own name.
You have recently constructed a sample pack for Loopmasters. How did you find this when compared to writing music?
The hardest thing about making sample pack loops if fighting the desire to carry on and finish the track. To do this I made myself work quite quickly and across several ideas at once so I dont get to focused on one idea. Playing live with software like ableton I realised the sort of loops I wanted to created. For one thing the most important part was to make loops without a kick drum in the final bounce because I always find this the most annoying thing about other samples packs.
Now your sample pack is out are you worried of hearing your loops and one shots in other peoples production? Is this something that would bother you, or would you find it flattering?
No this doesn't bother me at all. I have been using loops for years although I do think it is important to chop up the loops, recycle them and make them your own. Starting with a loop is a really quick way to get a vibe going for a track and that speed can be the difference between getting inspired by an idea or running out of enthusiasm. Working fast is a real key to my studio work and all the guys I work with will be the first to say that about my studio style. Spending 3 hours on a bassline just kills it for me. If the ideas don't come in the first 10 minutes I move on to another one... Starting with loops speeds this process up.
How did you first get into music production?
I was playing guitars in a electronic band and learned back then by watching the guys as we were recording. I have never taken one educational class and because of this i feel even more open to sharing my techniques and processes with other people.
What did you listen to growing up? Anything that you would say had a huge influence on your music?
Well as I said I used to be a guitarist so I was listening to Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, Beastie Boys and stuff like that. My tastes in music have always been evolving and I am always looking for new inspiration. When I discovered electronic music is was to Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers, Fluke and Underworld. I loved those bands because they wrote albums. I had no interest in the DJ world at this point and I was just looking for good songs. I didn't get into vinyl and club tracks until I was 19 which I guess is quite old compared to some guys. But I would say that everything from my past tastes has had an influence on my music because they all inspired my and drove me to get to this point in my career.
What five pieces of studio equipment would you say determines your sound? Your release, the Gonna Be Alright EP that you collaborated with Andre Crom on sold really well on Beatport. What is next, can we expect more from yourself and Andre?
I dont have so much in my studio and I have never been a hardware fanatic like a lot of my friends. When I am working on album material my first port of call is my electric piano or my guitar. I write most of my music melodies on these first and just roughly record them into my computer to get ideas going. For my studio the first thing I would say is essential to me is Apple Logic. I know a lot of guys are using Ableton and I can use this of course but I love Logic. Its not so easy to get into which is why a lot of up and coming producers turn to Ableton first but I have been using it for years so I can work very quickly. To be honest I think its mind blowing that you can get professional music software like this for about £400. Logic on my laptop goes with me everywhere so I can work no matter where I am in the world. After this my Mackie HR824 speakers are my essential. I can work on other speaker but I love the sound of these ones and a lot of my friends and colleagues have them. To me they are sort of like the Yamaha NS10's in that they are widely popular and sort of a studio standard. Thats really it. I have a Juno 106 in my room that I am borrowing from my flatmate but I find with good digital amp modulation and valve eq's you can make most decent software sound respectable so don't use the keyboard that much.
Being an in demand DJ, do you prefer smashing dance floors over the world or getting in the studio and writing music?
For me that's six of one and half a dozen of the other. I love writing music and am so grateful that it is what i get to do for my job. But it is such an amazing feeling to see a track you have just written getting a good response from the audience in a club. I can't imagine having one without the other... but that said if you were putting a gun to my head I would say writing music. I was into this before I even thought about hearing music in venues or performing.
What are you listening to at the moment, any new artists that we should know about?
The last album I bought was Blood Red Shoes. They are a two piece garage punk band. Its very cool music and I also love to write this kind of guitar driven tracks. On the electronic side I have been listening to the album by Kele (the singer from Bloc Party) and Sebastien Tellier. It's more song based music. I don't really listen to any club music at home or on my iPod. To get this music needs to be heard loud.
Do you have any advice for the budding producers out there that are trying to make it in the competitive world of the music industry?
The best advice I would say is never stop and never give up. That is the difference for me in those who succeed and those who get another job. I know I am not the most talented musician out there but I never once thought that there was any other option about how I would spend my life. It takes time to learn your skill and make the contacts to become a full time professional but self belief is the first hurdle to over come. After that it all gets much easier.