After getting addicted to his synthesized sounds and trippy visuals, we got to sit down with East London’s finest, Dreamtrak.
You will probably remember that we premiered a fairly eye-melting video for the track “Do Re Mi” last week: it was all very Windows XP graphics on acid, with a suitably hypnotic track to match. You might also remember that it was the work of London-based artist and producer Dreamtrak , whose self-titled EP was released recently on Double Denim. Along with “Do Re Mi”, the EP also featured a deliciously retro, standout track in the form of “The Tide (feat. Alexander Burnett)” as well as “Contemporary”, the kind of electro that really has you jigging about at your desk wishing you were in the club.
With ‘The Tide’ stuck firmly in our heads, we were lucky enough to be able to sit down with Oli Horton – the man behind the dream – and ask him a few questions about that video, his favourite places, and how he gets that unique sound on “Do Re Mi”.
Great video for “Do Re Mi”: were you involved heavily in making it?
Actually not really! I saw Hard Science’s work on a video synthesis forum and thought it was amazing, so I asked him to make something. I was particularly interested by his stuff using a machine called the Fairlight CVI – it’s an 80s video effects and programming unit which can do all sorts of image manipulation. But I’m drawn to the grainy, fuzzy feel of it. Old digital technology being pushed to it’s limits – it’s how I make the music so I wanted the video to feel the same. The video for “Odyssey Pt.2” was made with an Atari Videomusic.
“Do Re Mi” has quite a different sound to some of the other tracks on the EP…can you talk us through it?
For every track there’s various stages which are quite similar. I actually (believe it or not) write most stuff without any of the gear, just an old electric piano – this is where the melodies and sequences originate, and some of the structure. It’s good to get away from the computer otherwise it starts to feel too much like work – it’s the same computer that I do my emails and accounts on…”Do Re Mi” did actually come from this little toy keyboard with a singing voice I bought on eBay, so I was limited by the notes that were available on it. Everything else I had written up to this was all-out banging, and I needed something to open a set with, something with a slow build and some grandeur. There’s a lot of post-processing – towards the end the whole track is going through a keyboard-controlled pitch shifter to make it really woozy.
The EP has just been released, but what’s next for you?
More EPs! And then I’ve got a whole load of production with other artists on the go. I am a studio hermit and I like to be in bed by 11. The last time I DJ’d my set time was 5am – I actually got up and did it after breakfast… But I do have one London live show in December (details coming soon)
You’re London-based, but where has the best nightlife for you (bonus points if you don’t say Berlin, but feel free to!)
I don’t actually party that much… I spend all day listening to bangers, so in the evening I like to just sit in silence. Sometimes I go to the pub next to my studio. I live and work in Hackney and I like going to restaurants so it’s all good. There’s loads of places to eat here.
When did you decide that making music was something you wanted to pursue full time?
I can’t actually remember, I was too young! Always been trying to write songs since I was about 6. The first song I wrote was called “Big Surprise” and just repeated “You are looking in my eyes / Big Surprise” over and over. From a very early age I wrote songs with my cousin Stuart and later we formed a band with another friend of mine, Paul – we were called Trademark and our peak moment was probably supporting the Human League on tour. Paul now designs and builds an 8 bit synthesiser module called the Atmegatron, it’s amazing. I didn’t have it for this EP but it’s all over my new stuff.
How did you end up working with Alexander Burnett on “The Tide”?
Alexander and I have been working together for quite a long time, he’s probably the person I see the most these days! He has an amazing way with melody and words and the most incredible voice. Recently I’ve been doing production work for his forthcoming records and also co-writing for other artists with him. There’s a few things that are already out in the world – like this Antony & Cleopatra track which I’m very proud of.
Where do you imagine yourself in 5 years… no pressure?
In a bigger studio with more gear and more spare time.
Words: Benji Walters