Name: DJ E Clyps
Occupation: Producer, DJ, photographer
Current release: DJ E-Clyps's Vintage Future II is out now.
Recommendations: My first pick would be “The Mysticism of Sound and Music: The Sufi Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan” … A really great book, and I need to revisit it again as I read it years ago. It goes deep into the psychological and physical aspects of what music can do to the mind and body. Really great book.
The other I would have to say is to listen to ‘Rocket Love’ by Stevie Wonder … with your eyes closed. To listen to that song with you eyes closed and imagine how a man who can see nothing saw so much. It’s literally one of those songs I listen to and get a rush of emotions every time I hear it.
If you enjoyed this interview with DJ E Clyps and would like to find out more about him, check out his Facebook account and Soundcloud profile. He also has an excellent website.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started producing music shortly after High School. I started out as a DJ and caught the bug for it, and the more I studied the craft, the more I learned all of my favourite producers started as DJs.
I think what drew me to it was just my love of music, and how it could be a way to get your feelings out. Coming up we didn’t have the resources for therapists and what not, so music was the outlet. You could go in the lab and thump drum pads relentlessly and not harm anyone, but when you were done you felt as if you had gotten all those feelings out. That’s why the drums are a major part of my sound, it’s my release of whatever is bothering me.
The musicality part is the other side of it, you can express the other feelings no matter what they are. Together all those emotions make something beautiful.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
I learned by listening.
I remember before I ever got a chance to go into a studio, I was obsessed with mixing consoles, especially the SSL boards. I would take notepaper and draw an imaginary console, listen to music and draw out where I thought the faders and knobs would look like if I were mixing it.
As far as finding and transitioning to my voice, I think it’s a constant state of evolution. If you’re really into music, you constantly evolve, but some aspects of you remain true. The more I listened to various forms of music, you kind of find your own way of making that kind of music your way.
I’m still evolving, in my mind I haven’t made my best music yet, so the journey itself is part of the experience, not knowing where music will take you.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
My biggest challenge in the beginning was transitioning from Hip-Hop to House, and abandoning everything I knew about song structure. The beauty of electronic music is that there really are no rules, and sometimes that is the hardest part… realizing you can go wherever you want to go.
It’s dope to see even in hip-hop the rules of past are being broken, people are experimenting more. I think the whole goal is to learn the rules, and then find out how to break them.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My first studio was a drum machine and the floor, or the kitchen table, or on the bed. As it evolved a bit, I remember always wanting my setup right next to the bed, so if I woke up with a crazy idea, I was able to quickly lay it down. Even now I’m not much of an analog synth junkie collector, I don’t have the crazy setups with synths everywhere … if I was to build a collection of anything studio wise, it would be consoles and compressors.
My most important gear honestly is my drum collection and my mixing plugins. I love the McDsp plugins, I couldn’t mix a record without them at the ready. Also the Slate Digital Virtual Mixbus Collection, it does things to my mixes and gives me a feeling of space that you can’t get just mixing in the box. I transitioned from mostly using MPCs to working mostly in Battery for the drums. But sometimes busting out one is needed.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
I use technology a lot. I honestly think the best gear is the gear you learn and find a workflow that works for you. So many get caught up in these heated debates about gear and software, but if it’s doing the job for you, what does it matter what others say?
The quickest way to let technology overcome you and stifle your creativity is get caught up in always feeling like you have to constantly adapt to what “others” are using … it can choke your creativity out. Use what you know, implement new stuff that enhances your workflow, and be willing to try stuff without abandoning how you work. Humans excel at the ideas, technology helps those ideas come to life.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
My tools are an extension of my thoughts. I like Logic Pro X because it’s the best of both worlds to me … it’s a great mixing tool and a fast production tool in the same package, at least for me. When I get an idea, it’s a very fast process from thought to completion, so I like tools that help me execute that as fast as possible before I forget where I was going with it.
Production tools are like extra hands, they have to be an extension of you or they can quickly get in the way. Anything that enhances that experience of creation is what makes a dope tool, and that can be anything at any given time.
If you saw my collection of EQ’s and compressors, you’d think I was strictly an engineer and not a producer … because I have more of those than probably anything.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
When it comes to collaborations I think I work in reverse. I like to really hear their concepts and thoughts and see what I can do to execute those. Many collaborations I’ve done arise out of raw ideas they had, or conversations we’ve had in the process.
I’m big on getting to know the artist and having discussions with them about all kinds of things before we even get to the music because I need to see where their head is at mentally and musically. Just sending stuff back and forth just to do a record to me isn’t dope because at that point you’re just doing stuff hoping it works. True collaboration exists in the relationship.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
There is no routine with me; I’m pretty much a go with the flow type of person.
My day starts with just clearing my head and being thankful I woke up, because not everyone did. Once I’m fully dialled in and basic morning ritualistic stuff? Checking emails and returning calls. I’m not a big social media person, so that just kind of happens when I get the urge to look. My music routine exists late at night, I work better when the world is sleeping. No calls, no emails, not interruptions: you can just really zone in and get things done. Somewhere in there when I remember, I eat.