Name: Chris Barratt
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Recommendations: Ludovico Einaudi - if you don’t know him you must!
My Label :) Art Imitating Life!
Website / Contact: If you enjoyed this interview with Eagles and Butterflies, visit his soundcloud page or facebook profile for updates and music.
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 making music when I was around 18 years old. I grew up on all things 80s, from Madonna to Guns N Roses, then my first intro to electronic music was through the whole french house scene with Daft Punk and Ed Banger.
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 think this is the same for everyone to be honest. No matter what you are learning you will always have someone to emulate or aspire to get to where they are at. This is all part of the learning process.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I think everything is a struggle to start, from a technical side to the simplicities of actually learning what elements make a track come to life. Only through time spent learning the craft do you really start evolving, and everyday there is always something to learn.
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?
I just had a laptop with logic to start and then slowly built up from there. I have lot of bits of great gear that I love but my favourite is my Prophet 5.
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 mean one can’t really work without the other so they have to work together! I always love finding out about new stuff coming out but to be honest I’m always looking back! I’m always looking at vintage stuff and purchasing that rather than exploring new stuff so much, which maybe I should more!
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?
I keep my set up really simple, and my process is really simple … I spend 2 days writing music and melodies, 2 days recording synths and drums and then 2 days working on arrangements and working on what I want to use and for what.
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?
I don’t really like working with others so much, and it has to be together in the studio I think. The only person I have collaborated with really is DJ Tennis, which I loved. He is an amazing producer and it was great to make music with him.
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?
I spend a lot of time in the studio, normally from 8am until 9pm depending on how I'm feeling. But I have my routine. I live by the beach so break my day up with 3 food / chill breaks, then back to it. I go surfing at least once a week and take a day off whenever I'm not feeling it. It’s all about not burning yourself out and having a balance.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
I start every record the same, with strings and a piano and they all grow from there. It never really changes to be honest.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I think every state of mind is ideal or not ideal depending on which way you look at it. Each will all make you feel and produce something completely different.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
For me it’s two completely separate things that are worlds apart but at the same time still connected. I'm never thinking about the track in a club environment when I'm in the studio. Then when you play it live you will always tweak certain parts, more arrangement than anything.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
They go hand in hand and there is no formula. This is all part of the fun in making new sounds and finding the perfect sound for that specific part. I use mostly analogue kit which for me is always the fun part. You start with something and normally always end up with something completely different.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
The whole point of music for me is to make you feel something and engage all of your senses, I never make a song that doesn’t have that effect, because if it doesn't make me feel something while I'm making it, I know it won’t go anywhere.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Do what makes you happy and only that. As soon as you try and please others your art is lost.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I think it’s getting worse and worse as time goes on! But that’s just my opinion, I don’t want to be alive to hear the music in 100 years time!!