The ‘vs’ series returns with a trans-atlantic match up between a British half-step pioneer and a genre bending American.
Simply known by his first name, Amit Kamboj has been blazing his own trail for some time now. Although his discography lists releases on reputed DnB labels such as Commerical Suicide and Metalheadz, AMIT has been careful to avoid being confined to any one genre, experimenting with all sides of the bass spectrum as well as doing soundtrack work for a number of short films. This month sees the debut release on his brand new label, AMAR.
Growing up on a diet of Warp Records and Nine Inch Nails whilst at High School in North Carolina, Travis Stewart aka. Machinedrum has never felt pressured to conform to any of the trends of the day. Incorporating the aforementioned influences next to a love of Hip Hop and Jungle, Stewart began releasing music in earnest back in 2001 and has now accumulated multiple LP’s and countless singles as well as an increasingly larger collection of admirers. A frequent collaborator, he is one half of the duos Sepalcure (with friend Praveen Sharam) and JETS (with Jimmy Edgar) as well as being restlessly prolific under his own name. A recent inclusion on Exit Records‘ ‘Mosaic Vol.2’ and a remix of the A-Side on AMIT’s new single simply act as further proof of his incredible versatility.
Ahead of the release of AMIT’s ‘Human Warfare’/’No Mercy’ single on July 29th, we got the pair to grill each other on drinking petrol, flicking peanuts and a bit of electronic music as well.
AMIT interviews Machinedrum
A: What approach did you take in remixing Human Warfare and how did you find it?
M: As with most of my tunes I didn’t really have an approach before I started the remix, it just sort of presented itself during the making of it. You know, just machinedrum-ified it!
A: What do you make of production levels today? Do you feel some work is over produced to the point that it is lacking character?
M: I think production levels are all over the place. Some people are a bit more laid back while others going a bit too far. I feel the ethos of this “EDM” scene going on in America and now even Europe is more = better. Dynamically moving arrangements and subtle details are sacrificed for tons of in your face sounds and huge drops. I want to say this is a phase but you have to think about it as a modern version of rock which has never been about subtlety.
A: If you could have joined any band (old or new) which would it be and why?
M: Skinny Puppy. These guys made me fall in love with electronic music growing up and I would pretend to be Ogre performing ‘Aint It Dead Yet’ with my little brother in my bedroom haha!
A: If you could pick one film that you could have scored which would it be? And what film director would you like to work with?
M: I would have scored Pi by Darren Aronofsky as it was the first film that made me really pay attention to scoring. I’d love to work on a David Lynch and Eric Wareheim collaborative film.
A: Which works best for you, creation by limitation or working with unlimited options?
M: Definitely limitation. I always say, if you can’t make a banger on a Casio SK-1 then you can’t do it with a multi-million dollar studio.
A: Rumour has it that you drink petrol before a gig, is this true?
M: I water it down and add a splash of lemon
Machinedrum interviews AMIT
M: What made you decide to go the 140 ‘dubbed-out’ route with the Gunshotta remix?
A: Well I guess dub reggae has always been something that has influenced all my work. Hearing the opening chords, vocals and general atmosphere of Gunshotta was the key. I could really visualise where I wanted to go with it. The raw elements of the original seemed to lend them selves towards the dub reggae sound.
M: I first found out about your music through Drum n Bass circles. I noticed that you were taking some risks other dnb producers weren’t. What do you think makes you stand out amongst other dnb producers and has it been worth taking those risks?
A: All along I have been trying so hard to sound like ABBA but I just can’t seem to do it. The results of those efforts are what you hear. Thank God for ABBA hey. Seriously though, I think I just try to do my own thing. I don’t listen exclusively to any one genre, especially the ones that I am closely associated with. I find that just leads to breeding within the same bloodlines. I try to make every production a new challenge. I spend a month on a track sometimes, toying with new sounds, processes and arrangement techniques, and it’s definitely worth it. To me all genres are just BPM marks, blank canvases for you to paint on with what ever sound/colour you wish.
M: Do you ever produce on the road or do you find it impossible to work outside of the studio?
A: I have tried but find it impossible, its great for ideas and sketches but in the end it always leads to nothing. I need my room as it is such a special place for me – a place where ideas come to me easily.
M: You seem to have a very recognisable sonic quality to your tunes no matter what style. Is there a go to piece of gear or process that gives you this unique sound?
A: Yes, I have been working on tape delay chains for years, I custom programmed one in MAX/MSP a year a go, it is go my ‘go to’ patch for the AMIT sound. Anything I put through it instantly sounds like me.
M: It seems like only in the past few years that Drum n Bass/Jungle is having a rebirth. Why do you think it has taken so long for so many Drum n Bass producers to step outside of the box?
A: Not entirely sure, maybe it is because some people’s testicles were too short. Music always moves in cycles and like the solar system, other factors have to be in place for a rebirth. The music has always been there, maybe it’s just about whether people have the right receptors to appreciate it. Sometimes shifts in social and cultural trends make a particular sound relevant to a particular time.
M: Sorry for all the dnb questions, do you hate me?
A: I’ll be flicking peanuts at you at dinner.
AMIT ‘Human Warfare / No Mercy’ featuring Machinedrum remix is out 29th July via AMAR