Name: Gavin Lynch
Occupation: DJ, Producer
Labels: M_nus, Perc Trax, Phobiq, Trapez
Current Release: Play With Me! (Part 2) on M_nus
Musical Recommendations: I’ve been listening to a group called Royal Blood recently, incredible band and a super album. And I’m going to recommend a soundtrack – Gone Girl – which is essential airport easy listening.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I was surrounded by music as a child. My parents were big Motown fans and so artists like Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross feature as my earliest influences. Growing up, I listened to bands more and more; Guns N Roses, Oasis, it was that gritty raw sound that really got me. Naturally living so close to the UK, we were also exposed to the dance scene right from the beginning, and it was at this stage that I began Djing. Now this was music that really excited me. I spent hours at the weekends in record shops and quite a bit of money :) So I decided to learn how to make my own. It began as an interest and quickly turned into an obsession. Slow and steady I learned as much as I could on my own and then enrolled in a sound engineering course, which really opened my eyes.
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?
Lots of learning! My course time was split 50/50 between acoustic engineering and electronic production so I got a really good feel for both aspects. And whilst electronic production is my first love, it has been incredibly important to have knowledge of instruments in their purest form both in a studio and in a live environment. I think this has naturally defined the music I write, which I see as an ever-evolving project. Influences come from everywhere, and my own musical tastes vary so widely, so the transition towards my own voice is constant.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
In the beginning I had a part time job as a chef and so my first frustration was trying to find the time to focus on writing music. It was a monumental decision to quit work and lock myself into a studio, one that I couldn't have undertaken had it not been for the support of my family and friends. I began on the most basic of laptops and used programmes like Reason and Cubase, I had one or two synths at the time which I learned inside and out and this set up formed the basis of my studio for the first few years. I knew eventually I’d have to add other pieces of equipment so I built up my collection slowly, studying each piece as I went. Through experimenting, I find that you can hit on something sweet by accident and before you know it, you have the shape of a track in front of you. So by the time I released my first EP on Minus, I had a good body of work ready to go.
After the Minus release, the challenges changed – it was about being on the road and touring the music I’d written – so again I found myself in the studio less and less. Touring is great, there’s so much exposure to other artists, inspiration, ideas, but it’s a different mind-set. And coming back off a heavy weekend it can be difficult to settle into studio mode. I’d normally have a couple of days rest and then prep for the weekend ahead. So I decided to block the first two months of this year off, to work solely on my album.
Tell us about your studio, please.
My studio was, until recently, based in Berlin but I’ve just moved it back to Dublin where I’m now working on my album. My first EP’s were written here and I really wanted to immerse myself in the same surroundings. I love the feel of the city, small and compact, everything at your finger tips – exactly like my studio! The weather suits me also, mostly rainy, dark and cold, which is perfect for being locked away recording. Family and friends whom I haven’t seen for ages, are now close by and all these little details add up to a relaxed, comfortable environment for writing. Inside the studio itself I’m very particular, symmetry is key. I spent days positioning every piece of equipment and running cables so that it’s all within easy reach (not too hard in a small space) and was finally happy with my set up. Then I bought some new toys and the whole re-configuration began again! But I’ve settled in now, the nights turn into days and I’m focusing on learning these new pieces inside out. It’s a great way to inject a burst of creativity, if you ever feel like you’ve hit a brick wall, buy a new toy.
What are currently some of the most important tools and instruments you're using? In which way do certain production tools suggest certain approaches, in which way do they limit and/or expand your own creativity?
I’ve just picked up the Moog Voyager. It’s so versatile, I’ve been figuring this synth out and exploring it’s capabilities and it’s pretty unbelievable. I also got a Prophet 12, which has sucked up hours of my studio time – again, a super piece of equipment. My Access Virus is a key piece for me though and one that has been with me since the beginning – it has very much defined my sound so far and when I updated my operating system, I had communication issues between the Virus and my Mac, so it made it difficult to use. I had no choice but to explore other equipment, which was a good thing really for me. But in the background I was in contact with Access and they helped me to figure out what the issues were. Without the support of soft-wear developers, I would have been lost and now everything is running smoothly which opens up so many more channels creatively.
Many contemporary production tools already take over significant parts of what would formerly have constituted compositional work. How has this affected your own production process and its results? Are there any promising solutions or set-ups capable of triggering new ideas inside of you as a composer?
My own production has only been enhanced by advances in technology and software capabilities. I can take a track from it’s genesis to the mastering stage in my own studio, a process which would have been very time consuming and costly ten years ago. And I think a balance is the key, you have to respect the natural sound of what you’re working on otherwise it’ll be over manufactured.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where do ideas come from, what do you start with and how do you go about shaping
One of my all time favourite albums is Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. It’s an incredible journey through music, sound and time. Individually, the tracks are still so relevant today, and as an album, it’s a story, twisting, turning and growing. And I guess that’s how I like to approach my work. It could be the simplest of sounds that catches my attention, and I spend hours tweaking with a riff until I’m happy. Then it’s about layering and supporting that initial idea with sounds that work. And this can be the tricky part – it can be hard to let go of something that you loved at the beginning but if you have to force it, it’s not natural. I like my music to tell a story and this has to be as organic as possible.