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Nathan Liow captured the attention of Bloc Party with snippets of sliced up vocals and a relaxed groove.
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Interview: 26 July 2007
What was your first thought when you found out that you'd won? Who was the first person you told?
I couldn't believe it - i was shocked! I got the finalist's call in the morning and couldn't sit still all day. First person I told was the bass player from my band, Jarrad Brown cos he'd already heard my remix.
Have you done many remixes before?
Not really. I'm always up for a comp, especially one featuring a massive, professional band like Bloc Party, you cant pass an opportunity like this up. Otherwise I'm sometimes dabbling in a bit of home production or mixing other bands. I also won the Frenzal Rhomb remix comp a few years back. That was more or less when it started for me.
What's your studio set-up like?
My set-up is embarrassingly bare, it's just a computer and a microphone. Simple but effective. I'm pretty comfortable working with what I got, although I'm often asking favours from friends and borrowing gear that I never return!
If you could get one extra piece of equipment to pad out your set-up what would it be?
As I haven't really got a set-up to speak of, I would definitely start with a ProTools rack, maybe get some nice mics.
So..you've download the parts and are sitting in front of your computer. What happens next?
I started with the vocals, slicing them up into tiny pieces, and looking for vocal 'scraps' to create the pops and clicks that the track opens with. I wanted to create the entire track from vocals only - which is why it came out sounding unusual but it was the effect I was after. I sequenced the pops and clicks and integrated breathing and gasps, to create a sort of rhythmic, asthmatic loop. Continuing with the 'vocals only' concept, I had to sing the rest - the bass lines and the chords - but not without heavily disguising them, whilst still retaining the vocal timbre of my voice. Then onto the drums - I can't beat box very well, then again I can't sing very well either!
Did your remix turn out how you originally envisioned it would? In hindsight, what would you change?
The basis of the track turned out pretty much as intended. All the pieces were in the right place, although it does sound a little bare and it could have had a bit more punch. I would have spent more time on the drums, or maybe hired a real beat boxer.
You're a jazz musician. Tell us about the jazz scene in Melbourne and how/if that crosses over with the electronic music scene.
From my perspective, I think Melbourne is an integral hub for Australian jazz - we've definitely crafted our own sound that branches away from the American jazz sound, and there is so much music, jazz or otherwise. Melbourne jazz can be ethereal, introverted, poignant, thoughtful and beautiful. It can also be wild, intense, angry and confusing. Melbourne jazz, to me, is very moody. If you know where to go and who to see, you can find something to suit any mood - myspace is making jazz much more accessible. I think in Melbourne, anything goes for cross-genre styles. There are plenty of jazz musicians experimenting with electronic sounds like Sam Keevers, Rob Vince, Joe Talia and groups like The Genie, there's also heaps of jazz fusion bands with hip hop, funk, groove etc as well.
Australian music is...
Forging its own identity, and running away with the spoon.
Where all the slicing and dicing happens.
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