Name: Latroit aka Dennis White
Occupation: Producer, songwriter, DJ
Current release: Latroit's official remix of Maximum Love's Sometimes is out via Manta.
If you enjoyed this interview with Latroit and would like to find out more about him and his work, visit the official Latroit homepage. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
“Herbie Hancock was asked in an interview what inspired him. He said (paraphrasing here) ‘My mortgage bill’.
When I was younger, much of my work was born from personal experiences, and emotions, but as my writing evolved in to a career, I didn’t have the luxury of time to wait around until I ‘felt’ something, y’know … You sit down, and hope that god walks in to the room with the gift of an idea. And if that doesn’t happen, you make something up anyway.
Throughout the years, I think I’ve been most inspired by ideas born from my closest collaborators … or a remix for a song that I love … something with a bit of a head start. I’m certain that my best work was inspired by those closest to me.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
I don’t like to spent time planning to do stuff … I consider that to be time stolen from actually doing. I just put myself into a situation and get started.
That said, often times I’ll know how an entire song is going to go from start to finish, including production details, immediately. Then it's just a matter of chasing that down …
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
Funnily enough … I was just about to write a bit about the role of preparation in my process in my previous answer…
I don’t think that I ‘prepare’ for individual projects or songs, but I do prepare extensively in the form of collecting / organizing sounds, samples, and sonic palettes, so that my time chasing melodic ideas isn’t lost fucking around trying to find a good sound
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
Nope. I don’t need to create a ‘vibe’ or an external environment. All of that exists in our heads. The aesthetic environment that I’m in doesn’t tend to impact the work, so much as my state of mind. In this regard I do like to work with a clear head, after exercise or some coffee …
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
I don’t wanna jinx myself here, but the first step or note is the easiest for me … I don’t tend to suffer from being intimidated by an empty page or session … it's the last note that I struggle with … Identifying what the last note is, or should by, and having the confidence to commit to that and move on.
‘Moving on’ sounds somewhat non-committal. ‘Moving on’ as a form of commitment … hmmm … s’cuse me while I just jump over to a piano real quick.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
My mom always says ‘if you wanna make god laugh … tell him your plans …’
It's a balance, really … I work in two creative realities. One is ‘this is what I, or my collaborator, thinks and feels, and I want this idea to find its best life and delivery to your ears and heart’ … and for that stuff … I’m just a stenographer for the universe. I just role with it. I accept that I have very limited control over those projects.
Other projects require a thing to happen at a time that makes the listener react in a certain way. Scoring music to picture, for example. Those require a more intentional approach.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
Indeed. All the time. I get those Ideas out - give them their moment … save them for another time, but I try not to let them hi-jack the work at hand.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
I’d surely over think everything If I thought there was … but having said that, I’m sure there is.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
Right?? You tell ME! Often times a good solid hard deadline can be helpful in this regard … other wise I’ll fuck around with tweaks and self-indulgent nonsense that no one but me will notice …
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
I dunno … In my artist work … I beat things to absolute fucking death … No one told me when my new single had to be done, so there are literally 30 versions of it.
The "Maximum Love" remix that I did … SIAN (Manta Founder) told me when it had to be done, and there are maybe … two versions of that one …y’know … the right amount of versions. Something that says ‘I gave it some thought … but I’m not a crazy person…’
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
I love mixing, but I have no business mixing … I try to get things super close and prefer to hand it off to a better qualified mix engineer so I can spend time working on the next thing.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
Nope. My ‘to do’ list is somewhat oversubscribed. I don’t have the luxury of wondering ‘what’s next’, although it sounds idyllic.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Gosh, what a great question. I mean ... that’s a whole podcast episode premise right there …
I’m sure that I’ve heard songs that sound like they weren’t approached as creatively as a well executed cappuccino, and I’m sure that many baristas approach their craft with as much care as song writers approach theirs.
I shall be mindful to acknowledge the next really well done cappuccino that I receive.