5 Minutes with DATASSETTE
We caught up with Datassette, a man perhaps best known for constructing his own fine blend of raw computer-funk and rubbery analogue electro, aims to entertain the brain and move the feet – give this man any machine and chances are he’ll make it talk. Based in London and active for over 15 years, he is an avid collector of obscure space disco, synth-funk instrumentals, and brain-melting library music gems. Datassette’s sets always deliver a genre-hopping intoxicating mix of old and new, spanning several decades and BPMs while keeping a solid backbone of heavily syncopated funk.
Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?
Sitting in a café writing some emails… They’re playing what sounds like Delia Derbyshire or Raymond Scott or something in here – very weird early electronic music – bravo!
To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?
I tend to flit around genres and BPMs all the time so it’s difficult to say, but there are usually some raw crunchy analogue electro things bubbling away with some nice chords on top.
Do you enjoy playing to an audience or working in the studio?
Playing out live can be stressful but tons of fun when it all goes to plan.
Has your equipment changed much since you first started?
Very much so. I started out on an Amiga 600 in about 1995 making proper awful teenager jungle and rave, then later migrated to tracker software on a PC. Didn’t get my hands on any proper hardware until about 2001, which started to gather dust by around 2005 when VSTs started to get really good, but I’m now a firm believer that a mixture of the two is the way.
What are some of the key pieces of gear you use to write your tracks?
I use a bit of everything, but my absolute favourite synths that almost always get used are the Kawai SX-240 and Roland JX-3P. The Kawai is massively underrated, it’s an absolute smash. I’ve also recently borrowed an 808 which I’m recording the bejesus out of before I have to give it back!
What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?
Too many to mention, but 5 big albums that spring to mind are:
FSOL – ISDN
Tomita – Pictures At An Exhibition
Boards of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children
Kraftwerk – Computer World
Broadcast – Tender Buttons
What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?
I just recently discovered Fis, from New Zealand. His album ‘The Blue Quicksand Is Going Now’ is full of amazing crunchy arrhythmic textures, well worth a listen.
I’m also a huge John Maus fan, he’s not released anything for a few years but I keep coming back to it, his chord progressions influenced by medieval and baroque music are really refreshing and seem to fit eerily well with that 4-track portastudio synthpop sound.
What are your thoughts on the following genres?
Classical: It’s such a massive world it’s hard to answer. I tend to enjoy the weirder stuff like Xenakis and Philip Glass, but I do love Holst’s Planets and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. I also have a bit of a thing for classical guitar players like Julian Bream and Andrés Segovia. And Harpsichords. Loads of stuff.
Drum n Bass: I loved it for many years but it stagnated very quickly. There are still some good tunes being made though, by people like Rockwell, Bop, and Current Value’s early stuff. There are 100s of Jungle and DnB tracks from the 90s that still sound ace though.
Deep House: That’s always confused me as a genre name, it’s seems so vague.. I’m more into early house like Trax records etc. People in the early 80s getting a bunch of Roland boxes and making them squeal is where it’s at.
Trap: I quite like the whole fast/slow interaction thing that comes with working in those BPMs, and there are obviously great tunes in all genres but I think a lot of that stuff has fallen into the same trap (LULZ) that drum n bass did in the early 2000s.
Braindance: Love it. Cylob coined that term didn’t he? or was it AFX? Monolith has been doing some great ‘Braindance’ stuff recently.
If we gave you the budget to put a line-up together for a mini fest, who would you book and where would you play?
Wormrot and Keith Harris & Orville play live on the International Space Station.
Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects, DJ mixes or collaborations in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
My 100-track unreleased works compilation ‘Offal’ is getting a ‘selected Offal’ vinyl release later this year, there’s a new EP in the works also. No dates yet though. I’m also starting an experimental label with a friend, we have the first 2 releases lined up but it’s still too early to announce anything… Follow me on one of my social media spam-holes for news! @datassette
Finally, if you weren’t a musician what would you be?
Catch DATASETTE this Saturday at KOKO. Tickets here