Interview With Utah Saints
What is going on in the world of Utah Saints at the moment, keeping busy?
At the moment we are working on new material. We are also doing a big remix package of one of our early releases. We also run a label called Sugarbeat and a club night as well. The label has been going since September 2010 so it is early days but we are now up to release number 5 and all is going well so far. We release quite eclectic material and are always on the look out for quality electronic music to sign and release. Our Ethos is that if we would play it our night at peak time then we can release it.
You guys have been making music for a long time now, which means you must have experienced a lot of different ways of working. What is your typical set up in the studio now? And what's the first thing you reach for to get ideas down?
Our typical set up in the studio is a on a mac tower running Ableton. We use this to get ideas going as Abeton is like a giant sketch pad/sampler and is very fast for getting ideas down. When it gets to mixing stage, we normally export the stems into Logic or Pro Tools and mix down from there. We still have all our outboard gear from back in the day ranging from old synths to compressors and drum machines so we do call on this from time to time for certain things and then wire it in through the sound card on the mac and record it in. All our early Utahs material was made on an Atari 1040 running Cubase and we used lots of Akai samplers but it was all outboard and the only thing that the computer was doing was the MIDI sequencing so to answer your question - yes we have seen a lot of things change over the years!
You're well known for your impressive use of sampling. Has an uncleared sample ever caused you serious problems? And what is the process to get samples cleared?
We have always cleared our samples and it sometimes can be a frustrating process and very time consuming. The process starts by us making the track and then we have to approach the label who own the original recording and clear that side of it for audio use and then the publishing has to be agreed upon once the artist has given permission to use the sample. The percentage used is normally decided by them so if they decide that they want 100% of the publishing even though you may have only used a very small part of their track then they are perfectly within their rights to do that, though most of the time in our experience, the percentages have always been fair. We have never had problems from un-cleared samples as we have always cleared them or not used them in the final version or had them re-played.
Products available from Loopmasters are all royalty free. When you were starting out would you grab ideas from royalty free sources, or was there hours spent crate digging?
Using Loops from Loopmasters is a great way of getting your head around making full tracks. Yes we did use to spend hours crate digging and we still do but we also use Loopmasters samples. It is a great way to start an idea off and then we really get into the samples and start cutting them up and using a bit from one sample, a bit from another and try different ways of processing them and try and create something new. They are a great starting point as the loop has already been produced so if for example you use a kick then you know that sonically it is going to be in the right area and wont need too much doing to it.
Through your career you have worked with some huge names including REM and toured with the likes of U2. What was it like chilling out with Bono and The Edge on a daily basis?
The U2 tour was a great experience and it taught us a lot of things. The band were great and very friendly and supportive and most importantly they had no attitude and were real people that were approachable.
Hailing from Leeds, a city I had the pleasure of visiting for the first time recently. Musically, it seems like a really thriving city. Do you still go out much in Leeds and check out the local talent?
We don't go out in Leeds as much as we should. we promoted a night there for over 10 years and stopped about 2 years ago. Where our studios are based though is a great place as there are about 10 other people all making electronic music so the place has a great vibe and people are always bouncing ideas of each other. It keeps us on our toes and between us we are all very up to date on the technology side of things as we all let each other know when a new gadget, plug or some piece of kit that we need comes out.
We also get to meet a lot of upcoming producers and dj's as some of the studios are hired out and we get to hear what people are doing and it is also how we have signed a couple of the releases that we have put out on our label. Leeds is a good city though for music and there seems to be a lot of diverse talent out there right now.
I've read that you're quite active on blogs discovering new artists. Is there anyone you've found that we should be listening to?
We have had to be active on blogs as our club night only holds 600 people so we cannot afford to put on big name dj's and the only way we can do it is to book them before they become big so we have managed to put on people such as Justice and 2 many Dj's who now would play to much bigger sized venues.
You recently created a sample pack for Loopmasters, how did you find this compared to creating musical productions?
It was good fun and quite testing to do and different to what we expected. It was a tough one to do as we wanted to make every single sound that we put in the pack valid and useable. Sometimes in the past I have flicked through sample libraries and only one or two things are really useable. We were trying to create something that if we were looking for samples/loops or inspiration then this would do it. Hopefully, we have achieved that. It is quite a diffrent process as well to making a track as normally you would say work on beats then a bass line and build up your track where as we would spend a day making different kick drums from scratch which is harder than you may think.
I've recently got my hands on an Akai Mpc 2000 and although it may be slightly long winded when compared to soft synth samplers like the EXS24, I am loving the simplicity of it and have began to appreciate the art of sampling a lot more.
is there any sampler that you have an attachment to for our readers to go check out?
I guess that would be either an Akai S900 or S950. I would challenge anybody reading this to go and pick one up off ebay and see if they can make a whole track on it. Taking into account that it is mono and you only have 19 seconds of sampling time and have to save everything on floppys. We used to record in samples from Vinyl of a record at 33rpm and speed it up to 45rpm and then pitch it down so that we could get more in the sampler!!
The good thing about learning your skills on these type of machines is that back then you would have maybe one or 2 pieces of equipment in your studio and you had to really learn these inside out and be more creative almost to the point of making them do things that they weren't supposed to do. Today things are very different and the technology available is amazing. Also you would have to get your calculator out and work out percentages for time stretching samples where as today you can just do it in realtime and play any sample at any pitch and any time.
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?
Yes we always have advice to give.... We are Utah Saints and have been doing this for quite a long time now.lol... The biggest advice we can give is : Be nice to people on the way up. Be aleader and not a follower. Fashion seems to go in 13 year cycles so if you start of doing something now and stick with it, then by the time it comes round again you should be able to clean up!!!