Interview with Dan Berkson And James What

Loopmasters interview with Dan Berkson and James What about their Deep Electronic House Sample Pack.

Hi Dan and James, how are you? What have you been up to, been playing any gigs or festivals lately?

We’re good, thanks.  This week we’re just finishing up the music and SFX for a game which has been really fun.  We’ve been a bit more studio focused as of late, but we’re going to Zurich next weekend to play a Live show together.

What do you get your influences from? Is there other creative outlets that inspire you, instead of just music?

I guess everything you do has to influence you in some way.  Living in London there are so many creative things going on that can inspire.  I’m not going to start talking rubbish about how we read philosophy and use the concepts to shape our techno records… You try to live an interesting life and hope that things rub off on your music..

How did you get into music production? I read somewhere that James, you attended the London SAE, I have a few friends that have attended SAE and loved it, how did you find it?

We both studied music pretty seriously before we got into production. Yes, James went to SAE here in London which seemed like a good experience. I think when you study music production you have to be ready to invest a lot of time and you really end up learning most things from experimenting on your own. You can get some good tips etc but really you need to work it out for yourself. Especially when it comes to making electronic music.

You both came from overseas to move to London, why was this? Were the music scenes not quite cutting it in America and France?

I was living in Boston and spending much of my time keyboards in bands.  Slowly my interests were turning towards electronic music and I decided to take a risk and come to London to study production and just get involved in thing here.  James grew up in the South of France so the progression to come to a bigger city like London was natural.

When you’re not playing what clubs do you like to attend in London?

There are so many good things going on in London.  Fabric is always a great club to go to, but generally it’s the more underground warehouse parties that thrive in London.  Secret Sundaze, half baked, Lokee, Electric Minds, Toi Toi… these are all good friends throwing great parties.

Tell us about your live show, what equipment do you use?

For our live show we both have laptops running Ableton Live. I generally use a Moog Voyager and James has a Vermona DRM-1 drum machine (303 clone) and various controllers. Over the years it’s really changed a lot and now we tend to scale back the gear a bit depending on the situation.  (5 years of travelling around the world with my moog was enough).  We’re really able to improvise constantly during our set and adapt depending on the situation.

When in the studio what does your equipment consist of? And if there was one piece of gear you could have, regardless of the price or how rare it may be, that you want?

In my studio I have an old Soundcraft 6000 desk, lots of old synths (Minimoog, SH101, Jupiter4, Juno60, MKS-80, Fender Rhodes), some drum machines (808, 909, 999, cr78, cr8000), FX units (space echoes, PCM70, Bel BD80) and various bits and pieces.

I’m pretty happy with my equipment, but if someone could arrange for it all to be working properly at the same time I’d be happy with that!

You recently created a sample pack for Loopmasters, how did you find this compared to writing a track?

This process was quite fun actually. We treated it as a way to kind of organise our sounds and sample up a lot of our gear in a way that would be helpful for other people, and also for us.  It’s completely different from writing a track, couldn’t really compare the two.

Do you have any news you would like to share with our readers, any releases, big shows etc?

We both recently released solo EPs on Crosstown Rebels, and James has a new release coming soon on PokerFlat. James What – It Feels Wrong  - Poker Flat  (august 2011) w/ Lee Curtiss remix. We’re also going to be doing a special new live set at Panorama Bar in Berlin in October.

Do you have any advice for budding music producers out there that are trying to make it in the competitive music industry?

Don’t get so obsessed over needing new gear!  The same goes for hardware and software.  You’re much better off becoming a master of a few things than a novice at many.  Some people are still making amazing music with an Atari and an Akai S3000!

Check out Berkson & What’s Sample Pack here


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