james rutledge aka pedro answers all ..
1. 2003. whats been your own highlight of the year.
my own? seeing a lot of my friends doing well for themselves. that makes me very happy. going to sonar and nyc are probably top highlights.
2. best lp you've heard from 2003 ?
that's a tricky one. i think there's this really powerful wave of music that came through this year, like the prefuse 73 album, broadcast, four tet and manitoba records. they were all amazing lps, all very well promoted though. i think smaller things like colleen, animal collective, black dice, viktor vaughn, the books, req, stark reality reissue (in fact a lot of good reissues) were cool. the jaylib album on stones throw was definitely one of my favourite albums. like me, every white middle-class kid with a sampler will say that was a good lp. actually, any madlib record that came out this year.
3. last year you released the excellent collaboration with kathryn williams. yet the lp was very much a solo release. no guest collabs a la chem bros. would you ever be interested in an lp of collaborations ?
yes and no. i'm always very happy working on things by myself, but seeing as i don't play in a band anymore (dot), i've really missed playing with other people. you know the way you turn over a jazz record and see all the players working together on some crazy, dark 60s/70s fire music lp? well, i'd like to do something like that. play with a load of other people in a room. i think when albums start to get assembled "a la chem bros", there are a lot of things that get in the way. you're obliged to ask vocalists to work with you. money starts to get in the way. record labels start to dictate collaborations. people get the misguided idea that a certain 'name' sells thousands more records. actually, it probably does. when you start to get more involved in an industry you realise how it works, like when doctors tell you nasty stories about casualty departments. basically, a lot of bigger labels will have a guy in a chair telling a group what to do, and what not to do. which sleeve designer to use etc. i used to think all these groups had amazing foresight in spotting upcoming talent/vocal collaborations. often it's just because that vocalist signed with the same label and the man in the big chair knows it. to confound matters even more, these 'chair' people can often be very pleasant. in fact, very big record labels can sometimes be far more open-minded than small independent labels. it gets very confusing. small independent labels often have one person who started it in some weird faustian pact for fame and glory. anyhow, so i guess i would do some sort of collaboration lp if everything fell into place in the right way. hold on, they always suck though. no.
3. if so, who would you like to have appear on a pedro track ?
it's difficult because i wouldn't want to choose too many people who would fit neatly on top of a pedro track. i mean someone like bjork would be amazing, but my music might be too familiar to her. although, i'd probably wet myself if she ever called me. i would say sonic youth. it's different from picking remixers isn't it? that's easier. i've done that. that's coming out next year. amazing line up.
4. as your music is predom computer based, do you have any musical training at all ?
grade 2 clarinet.
5. do you play any old school instruments or are you completely mouse-n-clicks music maker ?
i can play the above, guitar, bass, keys, banjo, mandolin.
6. now that you are an established artist, how do you go about approach making a new track ?
at the moment i am doing my new record actually, so i'm working on new stuff. i just work on loads of things at once. if i get bored working on one track, i'll move on to another. it's the best way to use your time, rather than sitting blankly in front of your equipment. i normally start with a loop, sequence of sampled notes or a beat, and build on top of that. so, i'll have a loop going and i'll play records over the top and fiddle with the pitch control on my turntable until things fit. it's good this way because you make a lot of noise and accidents just happen. i'll be feeding all this into my computer and then start to edit a song structure. it's the same as i did before i was an 'established artist'. what does that mean? am i? i'm trying to ignore thinking about anything like that. people can get too caught up in imaging the reviews for the record they are about to sit down and record. you've got to ignore that; otherwise you're dead.
7. do you keep up to date with new software or is it a case of 'i have what i need to create the sounds i like that'll do ? '
no. i've been using the same stuff for ages. just cubase, wavelab, audiomulch and some vsts. i'm not a software slave. i think using all these things is like playing an instrument. some people can do three chords on a guitar and that sounds ten times better than a massive fret wank solo on a bon jovi record. likewise, a lot of electronic musicians seem to think that the bon jovi style is the best, or the most 'impressive'. it's like being a journalist at the fucking london review of books and trying to 'outwit' your counterpart. i think i'm more a ten chords man. all my favourite producers use a very basic set up. madlib has a dr sample (£250 sampler) that he does most of his stuff on. loads of people just have mpcs. anyone can make music if they really want to and have access to a pc/sampler. i read about something funny called g.a.s, gear acquiring syndrome, or something like that: people who think that having the best equipment will automatically make their music better. i've been regressing recently, making beats on this s20 sampler that i used on my first couple of records. just tapping them out. i'm going to make a whole load of them and put them out on some 7"s.
8. how flexible is the software for the live arena ?
i use audiomulch live. it's amazing. it gives you the freedom to do loads of things. i think it was originally designed for techno, so it has all these weird quirks. i can do a lot live. no two shows are the same and as i do it more and more i get more into it and better at stuff like improv. it's funny that people always joke about laptop shows. i know how tedious some of them can be, but you can't apply this to every laptop performer. you are trying to do something different in a live context. sometimes i hate seeing electronic/hip-hop people touring their album with a 'live band'. all the drums sound really weedy, and they drone on forever. besides, when you see a vocal run of the mill band play, they are normally playing a track as it is on the record, every single one of them. actually, maybe not the guitarist, who is rocking a much longer, screeching solo. that's the equivalent of seeing a boring laptop show, but a lot of people haven't realised that yet. i like going to see a band who bring something more to their live shows, whether they're playing a monkey, a guitar, or a laptop. i'm really good now at spotting who'll come up and ask me about software at gigs. people think it's like some magic fairy dust or a secret society. i don't mind telling people who genuinely want to make music how it works. not that i know that much. i hate it when people think that an in-depth software knowledge is a necessary requirement for making computer music. also, if people don't understand what you're doing on a laptop they think it's either brain surgery or a cd player with extra bits. i'm a tool. i can't figure out any of that max/msp stuff. you just use your equipment as an instrument and make of it what you will. i'm much more interested in the finished product than the process. audiomulch is free (www.audiomulch.com). don't you remember that kid at school who had an amazing £500 guitar from his parents, and all he could play was the smells like teen spirit lick badly?
9. re live performance. much deeper dub aspects in the sounds. will this be reflected in new tracks ?
the new stuff is fairly diffferent. a lot more hip-hop orientated. yeah, the track you are talking about is quite black ark, or something. a lot of it sounds fairly psychedelic or electro also. sort of weird pagan hop in places and like fellini's roma elsewhere. it's a lot more 'live' sounding. and i don't mean because i played more live instruments. i hate it when sample based people go nuts with live bongos.
10. what are the plans for pedro in 2004 ?
well, there's an early pedro lp coming out. there's a remix ep coming out. that's going to be an amazing line up. an ep with a secret person. appearing on a secret band's record. a free jazz record. a country record. a collection of stripped down beats 7"s. loads. i'm not giving too much away am i?