He’s one of Ram’s biggest perfectionists… To the point we barely hear more than one release a year from him. With his recent EP I Remember and Troglodyte still ringing loudly in our ears, we thought it high time to give Culture Shock a ring and see what’s going on. Turns out there’s an album in the pipeline, and plenty of love for techno, Tokyo and classical music. Read on for our five minutes with Culture Shock.
I Remember… That’s been floating around since Andy C’s last Nightlife mix!
“Yeah, it’s quite old now. I was never quite happy with the mixdown on it. Being a bit of a perfectionist I was putting off the release. I was initially saving it for an album but that’s not here yet. Andy wanted me to finish it specifically for Nightlife. At the time it was just an idea, maybe two minutes or so long, but Andy said he wanted to finish the mix with it so it needed an ending. I had a knock it up pretty quickly!”
Finishing tracks is the hardest part of the process.
“Yes, starting a track is the best thing in the world. It can go anywhere, there’s no pressure. But finishing tracks? Especially when the project gets bigger and bigger, it’s so difficult. You have to make very finite decisions on which path the track will take. Sometimes tracks have a very natural way. Others don’t. It’s tough working out which direction you’ll take.”
Definitely. Now then, you just mentioned an album… Where you at with that? Too soon to say?
“A bit too soon to say, really. I’ve got lots of ideas for it but far too early to give away any real plans or a release date. Sooner rather than later though.”
Cool! So let’s talk about Troglodyte. It’s a bit of a banger!
“I actually thought it would never be released! I love jamming. Especially when you have loop locked down and start playing with it, seeing where it can go. I was trying loads of different weird sounds over the top. It was almost like a live session. It’s very different to I Remember, it contrasts really well. It’s just a dirty jam and really fun to write. I love mixing it, it’s a slightly different arrangement so it catches you off guard. It seems to be doing quite well. I think that’s really nice. It gives me a push to make more stuff like that. It’s what I love about techno… You let the machines run and just mess around with them.”
You like your techno… We’ve known this since Asteroids. Any more plans for more tracks like that?
“I’m always making other stuff. House, techno, all sorts of stuff. I’m saving it for the album but I may drop a few bits before. I’m into all sorts electronic music, I’m constantly exploring.”
Would you release it under Culture Shock or as another name?
“I’m not sure. You can build a lot of interest in a new name. There’s something quite interesting about that…”
Yeah I imagine there is. Where did Culture Shock come from, then?
“I was trying to come up with a name when I had my first release due on Moving Shadow. I had something in mind but it was pretty generic and I just happened to be saying culture shock a lot. I like acting out different aspects of life. Like I’d find myself going to a classical music concert then ending up at Fabric later that night. I love the contrast of that.”
Classical eh? Interesting…
“My family come from that world so it’s always inspired me. I’ve been listening to a lot of Vaughan Williams a lot recently and Steve Reich, a contemporary composer, has always been influential on how I approach music.”
I find a lot of his stuff impenetrable…
“Yes, you have to invest a lot of time to really get something from it. It’s not an instant fix by any means.”
That’s a good thing. Instant gratification isn’t the one.
“Yes. But there’s definitely a lot to be said for the ability to write a song that instantly captures a lot of people. There’s an art to writing good pop music.”
Good pop music, yes. So what’s been your biggest ever culture shock?
“Travelling to Tokyo blew my mind a bit. I’d love to back there. It’s a technology haven. They’ve got a whole district dedicated to it with malls full of technology. And markets just for different transistors. It’s amazing.”
Nerd heaven! Back to the music… Your releases are pretty rare. We’re talking one a year. Maybe two if we’re lucky…
“I know, I know. It’s the whole perfectionist thing. I’m working on this and should hopefully be able to get more than one release out this year! I’m getting better at finishing things. These days, being that much of a perfectionist isn’t such a great thing. Go back to when I first got into the scene and there was a really small group of artist who were smashing the scene up. Now there’s so many people out there who are all doing amazing things that you have to be out there or people will forget you. It makes you up your game in an entirely different way…”
Keep it up. Looking forward to the next release!
I Remember / Troglodyte is out now. Listen and download here.