Talal – ‘Monday Is Ok’ Ransom Note Mixtape
Monday Is OK. It really is.
As is customary for our Monday Is OK mixtape action we ask an artist to step out of their doof doof comfort zone into territories further afield. Talal has some rather fine abstract moments on his new LP "Exhibition" which out shortly. The album covers a wide footprint of electronics and has picked up support from the likes of Perc, Laurent Garnier and Max Cooper.
We've asked him to ease us into the week and pick us out some aural gold to get us there. We've asked him some questions below too.
Get this on before you read on:
You’re pretty new on our radar, fancy telling us a little bit about yourself:
Who are you and where are you from?
Bit all over the place, I grew up/lived in Bahrain, Riyadh, San Francisco, Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jeddah, London, Paris, Boston and Los Angeles. I have been coming to London every year since 1996 and have been living here since 2009.
Tell us about the Monday mixtape you’ve put together for us.
When I work on music for some reason the beatless tracks come out much faster but I was not completely sure about the logic of releasing them on a dance label. This mix includes two of my tracks and also a number of other beatless synth tracks I've liked over the years. It's an interesting genre, in this mix you have songs from the early 80's (Tangerine Dream) up to 2014 (Trent Reznor) yet they still sound like they were made in a common environment.
What should we be wearing whilst listening to it?
I am not sure but probably do not follow Red Hot Chili Peppers 'Abbey Road' cover, in this climate it could be challenging.
Are you on the same wavelength as the boomtown rats or do you actually like Mondays?
Depends, if you are pursuing the work and life you want it's all worthwhile, if you aren't then each day is kind of a waste of time.
Who would you say are your biggest influences and what are you hoping to achieve with your music?
My influences come from two angles: production and music writing. For the mid to late 90s I enjoyed music writing and the sounds from Digweed/Sasha, however, my influences became more mixed from 2000-2008 as I was based in Los Angeles for university. California is much more focused on acoustic production sound. These days I enjoy the music of Max Cooper, Ryan Davis and Lanny May, amongst others. The main reason for liking these guys is because they clearly know how to write music and they have good technology in their production. For me at this point my main goal is to release music that is both good in writing and production, I think it's odd in the electronic genre that some music gets attention yet can have low writing skills behind it, it's purely production focused.
What were your original aspirations for Talal? How do you think you're shaping up?
After university and graduate school I spent some time in consulting and ecommerce stuff, however, my passion has always been music. I have been extremely fortunate to gain knowledge on electronic music writing/production in London. I can never underestimate the impact on my music learning from Colin John (founder of Techno Therapy Records). I think in your life you can probably identify several individuals who dramatically impacted your learning curve, he is one of those for me. At the moment I have about 3 releases in the pipeline, leading us from now into June 2015. I was uncertain about having so many consecutive releases but one of the promo partners I work with listened to my unreleased mastered tracks and he was eager to keep moving which is great, he has released Spooky, Charlie May, King Unique, Guy J, Henry Saiz, Marc Marzenit, Jamie Stevens, Robert Babicz, Petar Dundov, Chaim, Tom Middleton, Max Cooper, Ryan Davis, Quivver and more. For now the focus is on quality releases and some DJ gigs, with larger items in the pipeline for June and the second half of 2015.
Who got you hooked on electronic music?
Growing up in Hong Kong 86-96, our music was all British mainstream. It's hard to explain how small the music culture was in Hong Kong and then one day in 1996, out of nowhere, the Renaissance: The Mix Collection, Part 4 got into a friend's hands and the songs on this album were an overnight complete change from everything else that was mainstream chart music.
Some self help questions for a Monday:
Am I excited to dive into the challenges that i have lined up for the week?
Yup, lots to do this week with an album released on 2nd March and then we go straight to the next release to promo, we are also planning some items for gigs in Hackney this month and Camden next month.
Am I looking forward to engaging with the people i am meeting or working with?
Yup, as long as it is set-up in the right context.
Am I going to my dream job?
I think I am 75% of the way to it.
Am I being compensated fairly for the value i bring to my job?
Well I am a bit selfish so I could always come up with some reason for this.
Do I feel energised, rested, and confident?
After a cup of tea I can say yes.
You just had a fight with the person you are closest to. Do you not speak to them until they apologise…or do you apologise first?
My mother says if you are wrong then stand up and go apologise, and if someone has wronged you also be straight-forward in communicating that. I had this on Friday actually, it was me apologising.
If you were trapped on a desert island with one other person, who would you choose? How long would it be before you eat them?
I would probably want a friend who has a good fat to lean meat ratio, that way they have some taste when you eat them later. So although the main thing I want them for their friendship, its all about the consumption later on.
Your doctor says you need more exercise….what do you take up for exercise?
Well for me I have to check the weather/rain online, if it's looking ok then I can jog more otherwise I can persuade myself that it's just not possible.
If you could travel in time…where in time would you go? Why?
Now is good, I don't miss myself from my younger days. However in terms of music probably Harlem renaissance to listen to Billie Holiday live in a nice bar.
What was the first electronic record you heard and how did it make you feel?
Renaissance: The Mix Collection, Part 4 in Hong Kong in 1996, it actually made me question why we only had mainstream pop on the island before. Made me question how is our music distributed.
How does your brain work when making music? How does it work when you aren’t?
With music I always need to start with the deeper sounds or the bass or the drums, then work upwards into mid synthesizers then with high treble synthesizers – I cannot work properly in reverse. I wonder if I am similar outside of music, thinking of things from a certain approach primarily – I'm not sure, but if one's approach doesn't change then things can get stagnant. For each city/country I've lived in I try to learn what their approach is.
What were the first and last records you bought?
Most recent is Kiasmos – Looped, the first was a Def Leppard CD when I was an adolescent in Hong Kong. It wasn't a great CD unfortunately.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
I want to learn from Morgan King about the old synthesizer used for his track in Northern Exposure, will be great to work new tracks based on old synthesizer sounds. It's a sequence really, artists start sounding the same in a chain: using similar synths, similar writing, then the mix becomes similar, then the mastering becomes similar. In order for the mix and master guys to have the window/space to try something different, you need to begin with different synths and writing from the start.
What's your answer to everything?
It's probably more important that we find a good local pub to go to.
Talal's new album, 'Exhibition', is out now via Boulevard Records on Beatport.