Abakus' Cerebral Take On Electronica
- By Nick Rhodes
- Published on September 07, 2012
With electronic music absolutely blowing up nationwide, the cream is starting to rise to the top. And Abakus is as thick as it gets.
Real name Russ Davies has the lineage (his father was founder of The Kinks), the talent, the drive and the emotion to become one of the top producers in the game.
Drawing inspiration from all over the spectrum, his one-of-a-kind blend of dub, breaks, techno, trance and more create an imitable experience that will certainly elicit some extreme reaction from the crowd.
[READ news, features and interviews on your favorite electronica artists and events on Headstash.com.]
Abakus prides himself on a truly cerebral method of song construction. He’s a perfectionist and a master of his craft. Each glitch, womp and warble may seem like it’s randomly strung together, but there’s a story and meaning behind each sound. He just makes it seem effortless.
We caught up with the well-spoken and amazingly intelligent Abakus as he prepares for Counter.Point and asked him about his creative mindset to making such unique and diverse tracks.
LISTEN to Abakus' entire Camp Bisco 2012 set below . . .
Headstash Magazine: Describe your style of producing and what makes your sound unique?
Abakus: I've been producing electronic music for over 15 years and have fallen in love with so many different artists, styles of music and techniques for composition . . . so you could say that my style of producing is a huge melting inferno of many influential periods of my life.
The technical process of production and engineering is mostly intuitive for me now after spending so much time in the studio, so the most important thing is simply the “vibe” and having the right energy and story. I'm a lover of musical arrangements and like to take listeners on a journey.
HM: Talk about electronic music as a whole. There are so many DJs and producers popping up with its increasing popularity. Do you see that as positive, negative or a little of both.
A: Fresh energy is always a positive thing. Many young producers are coming into electronic music without much of an education into the roots and history of dance music and they're coming up with highly original concepts.
My entire youth in the 90s was spent going to underground parties throughout the UK, listening to early techno, acid, house, drum and bass – going to parties when the scenes were at the freshest. And as such the roots of electronic music are always present in all compositions I make.
I do love the raw energy some of the ideas new kids are bringing to electronic music, but nothing can replace the time it takes to become a master of production and composition. It's a life’s devotion, and you can hear the difference.
At the end of the day I think it's the more experienced producers and DJs who are the ones who can create that “special” and almost spiritual experience on the dance floor. To sculpt a two-hour electronic journey is something only a few can do properly.
HM: I feel like there's not a lot of gray area when it comes to your music (and a lot of the heavier electronic stuff in general). People either love it or hate it. Do you agree with that?
A: No matter what kind of track I'm making, it has to have a certain emotion to it. This emotion is personal to me. It’s a collection of all the awe-inspiring moments we've experienced through the history of dance music, combined with my own vision of where I can see it going.
The emotion in my music is just me, and is present in everything I make. That’s -probably the feeling you're talking about. If fans also connect and share with this spirit, then I'm happy. I think if you're not composing music that is true to your spirit in some way, then you're never going to capture an audience over a long period of time.
This is the problem with the many bandwagon producers out there – they may capture peoples’ ears for a track or two, but they tend to get lost in time.
HM: I caught your set at The Big Up last summer and you were obviously feeling it on stage and vibing with the crowd. What are you paying closest attention to when you're on stage performing? The crowd, your set-up, the vibe . . .
A: That was a great gig and an amazing crowd. I very rarely plan my sets and I usually turn up and perform spontaneously. The most important thing for me is the vibe and the crowd. I feed off the audience and never think about the technology too much . . . it’s music.
I aim to play as deep as possible and work together with the audience to get there. I prefer to play for a few hours, this way I can really move the atmosphere of the party into deeper territories.
HM: Talk about Counter.Point and what you're most excited about with the event.
A: Counter.Point is such an exciting new event for America, and also for me marks the start of a run of new gigs in the country. I have a ton of fresh, unreleased music I've been producing the last year, which I'll be showcasing for the first time at Counter.Point, and these are always the most exciting moments.
HM: What can fans expect from your set? Tell people who may not have heard of you why they should check you out.
A: A journey through a vast spectrum of feelings, emotions, grooves, bass and rhythm. It's music you never knew you needed in your life so badly ‘til you hear it on a big system for the first time.
HM: What acts are you most excited to catch?
A: M83, Feed Me, Conspirator and Oliver. These are all artists who I think have been doing great things the last year for electronic music.
HM: Talk about your plans for the fall outside of this event. Where can fans hear you?
A: After Counter.Point I'll be playing at City Bisco in Philly at the Mann Theatre under my alias Cinnamon Chasers alongside The Disco Biscuits, Aeroplane and Diplo. Then, I'll be touring for a month with Conspirator and BoomBox.
I really love the American parties and scene so I’m buzzed to be playing in so many cities over the fall. I look forward to seeing you all at one soon to experience some epic electronica soundscapes together!