Scott Fraser is somewhat of an enigma.
I guess that's kind of a good description for the 80's acid house producer currently undergoing somewhat of a resurgence turning out incredible dark disco and slo-mo techno (quick Johsnton/Weatherall coin a phrase for us to use!), releasing on Andy Blake's World Unknown and Mr Andrew Weatherall's new vinyl-only Bird Scarer imprint.
Through the years he's produced Chicago house and Detroit techno influenced box jams, played all over the world and recorded for Emissions audio output records in the UK, Black Nation records in the US and Wave music.
Here he presents R$N with 2012 mandate of aural delights to coincide rather nicely with his incredible A Life Of Silence release of the aforementioned Bird Scarer… enjoy… you will!
Read what he had to say here:
Scott, You’ve been on a bit of hiatus in the last few years, what’ve you been up to in the time since your last release, and what made you decide to delve back into production now?
A long story of changes on the personal front, stopping DJing and a move to London three years ago combined were the big things really. When I moved to London and moved my studio into Andrew’s space I spent a full 18 months purely writing music give or take a couple of gigs. That coupled with the vibe and inspiration of being down there with Andrew, Tim and Andy Baxter with everyone making and listening to music constantly has got me back in the right place creatively speaking.
You’re currently working out of Andrew Weatherall’s studio, I hear you’re collaborating with both Weatherall and his engineer Timothy J Fairplay how’s that going?
Just great…I release Bird Scarer number 2 this week and Tim has now done a couple of remixes for me. As I said, there is a great atmosphere down here and I guess we all feed off each other. I think there is a really special sound coming out of the studio and that is evident in the remixes and releases so far this year.
With Messrs Weatherall and Johnston and their love from outer space parties bringing the BPM down, and a host of electronic artists taking a cue from this and generally slowing things down, do you think that this is forming into some kind of genuine movement ‘slow wave’(?) and have you got any theories as to why this is happening now?
I think that lots of the really interesting stuff out there at the moment seems to be on the slower tip. Production wise you have to make the sounds work that bit harder and allow them more space to breathe in the mix and that means that its got to be really good to do that. All those things combined point in that slower direction. I also think that you get the best out of analogue gear by giving it a bit of space and not smashing the life out of the sounds. Also, disco was never about the BPM per say and it was all built around a groove again – possibly things have just moved back towards that kind of feel. No bad thing I say, and all of course helped merrily on its way with Messrs Weatherall and Johnston blazing the psychedelic disco trail for the last few years.
With the early stuff you did as BIOS for example, you’ve said you played everything live using various drum machines, synths etc and that, at that point you didn’t even have a sequencer (!) so everything was played in it’s entirety and recorded to DAT. How do you find things now (putting everything into logic I believe?). Do you feel that technological advances have made the actual creative process more or less creative and more/less pleasurable/stressful?
Yeah, it was certainly a real challenge recording then although there was that kind of energy and spontaneity to it as it was all recorded in one take. I probably work fairly similarly in the fact that I record everything live from analog gear into logic and then arrange and mix it at the end. I have definitely come a long way in terms of the engineering and production side now so I think I am getting the best of both worlds as I have never really been happy just working to a grid. I guess I have the best of both worlds now as I have found a really nice way of working for me.
On that note, what’s been the most inspirational music making machine you’ve ever owned?
Well that is a somewhat difficult question but I suspect it would be my Roland 707 and 727 drum machines which have pretty much been a constant in my sound from the 90s right up to now. I have always loved the way you can write on the fly with it and it carries its own in terms of the swing. It’s also got a lovely ability to get the best out of an Sh101 too with the 101’s internal sequencer.
Oh and my Roland RE301 echo, am I allowed more than one?
As well as releasing music as part of BIOS, you also held a regular BIOS night at the legendary Sub Club, putting on people from all over the techno spectrum. What were your highlights?
The Sub Club is without a doubt one of the best clubs in the world, and on the right night I would say the best. Having that on your doorstep for 25 years and then going on to have a night there was a highlight in its self. We had a great time there in the 90s. Andrew, Surgeon, Jay Denham, Colin Dale at Christmas time, DJ Skull, Joey Beltram were all amazing nights.
Glasgow, and Sub Club, is well renowned for having some of the best crowds in the world when it comes to appreciation of electronic music – how did you find the initial switch from Glasgow to London, and how do you feel about London now, having lived here for years?
Agreed, I had been spoiled up there and had grown up with Stuart and Orde, Harri, Domenic and the Rubadub/ Club 69 gents. I think that in Glasgow there was always a real focus on quality and we just loved the music right from the start so there was always this feeling of if you could play and get the crowd dancing in Glasgow and take them with you then you could do that anywhere.
It was time for a change and made all the easier particularly by Andrew, Sean and Tim who have been great friends and making what could have been a difficult switch very easy for me.
London is a great place, it really is the metropolis. I think possibly being a bit older now I have been able to really appreciate it for what its got. I love the sense of history here (you can walk around the city tracing the steps of Samuel Pepys or walk into the National Gallery on a wet Tuesday and look at beautiful pictures … just amazing)
There are some brilliant super record shops here like Phonica, Sounds of the Universe, Rough Trade lots of nice second hand ones and you still have people with the love and strength in their conviction with vinyl to open new ones like the Kristina guys in Dalston. Vinyl is alive and kicking in London town.
That’s before I even get into my other passions of old fashioned boozers and nice eateries…Sadly the deep fried pizza and Irn Bru combo is still to catch on here though…
You did the amazing collaborative remix of Virgo Four with Capracara, how did that come about and who did what on the colab itself?
The Virgo remix came about through a conversation I had with Jonny Burnip when he was round at our house for dinner one night.
We were talking about doing something together and Jonny suggested we do the Virgo remix.
Basically it’s more of a cover version really as it was all re-done live from scratch without using any samples (they did not have any of the original parts).
We used the 707 for the drums, DX7, Juno 106, and an old Sequential Split 8, 301 chorus echo and pretty much jammed it all live in long takes. I wrote down the lyrics and re-recorded the vocals (yes they are me…) and pitched them down a bit. I then did the final mix.
The whole track was really great to do and it was a joy working with Jonny in the studio.
What’s this Nothing But Blood project I’ve heard mentioned?
I have been working on some more stripped down warehousey stuff and the first one is coming out on Astrolab on the treasure hunting CD and a ltd 12” release in September. It features Matilda Tristram on vocals (under the name Yula Fenn) and its called Shadow Dancing. We are going to work on a couple more tracks towards the autumn. Matilda has a really great voice and it fits perfectly with that warehouse sound. I will also be doing some remixes with that moniker too which will be different to stuff I do under my own name.
You’ve had a super spurt of releases in the last few months, with stuff on Andy Blake’s label, The Light Sleeper EP on Relish and of course the Virgo remix. What’ve you got coming up for the rest of 2012?
Yeah, its been a good year so far and I have lots still to come…
I have just released a 10” called “Origin and mass” on an Italian label based in Naples called Etichetta Nera, My Bird scarer 12” came out this week “a life of silence” backed with an amazing remix from Mr Fairplay (the original featured on Andrews masterpiece CD on ministry of sound). As mentioned earlier I have a track called shadow dancng on the brilliant Astrolab compilation CD (along with a ltd 12” sampler in Sept) There is also a separate 12” EP coming soon on Astrolab from me called “A John Hughes excursion” with a great Mark E remix on the flip and then I have a track on Tusk Wax’s new label Horn Wax (number 3) due in the autumn with a deep space orchestra track on the other side.
Remix wise so far I have remixed Semtek’s Bento for Awkward Movements, Catalepsia’s Conducting the band on the ever excellent Days of being wild which is due in September. I am also very pleased to have just completed a remix of Sean’s next Hardway Brothers single which will be out later in the year and I am delighted to be remixing a very special, epic and somewhat unique piece of electronic music which will be coming out in the autumn….
As a separate project I have co-written a track with Robi Headman which features Douglas McCarthy from Nitzer Ebb on vocals which I am very excited about. It’s due out in the autumn with an amazing remix roster..
I am also working with Andy Blake on some co-productions, Jonny Burnip myself are going to try and get back into the studio at some point this year again. Mr Johnston will no doubt be collaborating with me again soon too.
DJ wise myself and Tim head up to Glasgow for our monthly residency at the Berkely Suite called Crimes of the future which has now moved to a Friday night from the 21st September. Alan Gray from Transmission is promoting it and it’s a real pleasure to have a regular night back in my home town of Glasgow.
I also have a couple of upcoming DJ gigs in London, with the Astrolab CD Launch party at the Dalston Superstore which I am doing with Justin Robertson, Toby Tobias, Tim, Sean, Laurent and Ivan. Legendary Children have also asked me to come and play for them in September which I am really looking forward too.
?Complete the sentence: I'm proper techno because….. Is there any other way really???
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
I always thought myself more of a snare man but Mrs Fraser swears I more of a kick drum…
??Do you know Deadmaus, has a mouses's head, for a head?
Ask my daughters Emma and Beth, I do know that fingerbobs had a mouse for a finger ….??
When did you last stick your head in a bass bin?
Does going to Body Hammer last week count?
Check Scott's ace mix he did for us here… what a gent!