Tuesday, 22 September 2009

INTERVIEW: Taz Buckfaster [Numbers/Rwina/Ramp]

With releases on Ramp and Rwina Recordings to his name already, as well as a collaboration with the veritable feast of an emcee, Durrty Goodz and an EP forthcoming on Numbers (as well as an album well on the way for Rwina) we thought we’d have a virtual sit down with the man who’s got probably the best alcohol sanctioned production moniker in dubstep, Taz Buckfaster.

Sonic Router: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?

Taz Buckfaster: Well, I’m a 26 year old, Glasgow-based dubstep producer/DJ and I’ve been playing out and making music in one way or another since my mid-teens. Had a few releases out on various labels (Dubkraft, Ramp, Rwina) and have a load of things planned for the year ahead.

Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?

On the daily, I do music. It’s hard to stop. I’ve just begun writing Dubstep reviews for a magazine (www.core-mag.net), so I’m looking to cut my journalistic teeth on that then perhaps expand on that. I’ve been on an extended break in the countryside while making this album, testing new material on the free-party scene (big up the Bass Alliance system and the Electrikal crew), away from the city lights, and I’m now looking forward to getting back to the hustle-and-bustle.

How did you first get into making music? What was it that infected you to do produce?

I’ve always had a passion for music. I was into hardcore rave, 80’s metal, synth-pop and gangsta rap/g-funk in primary school and added jungle, house, breaks and trance to the list when I started high school. The time eventually came when I wanted to see if I was capable of making something that I would otherwise pick up off the shelf and listen to. I’d started playing guitar by that point, but buying my first decks at 16 was really the catalyst. That was when I knew I wanted to do more than just spin other people’s records.

Started off messing with the Ejay series (as you do) and then started importing my own loops from Propellerhead software’s ReBirth soft synth, moved onto Cubase and kept progressing.

You mentioned to me before that you fell out of love with computer based producing for a while. What was it that sucked you back in? I mean, was it this new type of music being made that inspired you?

To be honest, the main reason I 'fell out of love' with it was the fact that I was broke and my equipment was failing me, big-time. I started working after college, but was barely making enough to get by, so splashing out on new gear just wasn’t an option. During this period, I got into writing guitar based music, listened to a fair bit of breaks, garage and dnb, and eventually, along with some other mates, discovered the emerging Grime sound.

I ended up getting back in touch with a friend from back in Castle Douglas who I hadn’t seen in a while and he was messing with a few programs and coming up with some alright sounds, so I took out a loan to get a new comp, fired up the cylinders and soon enough he was coming to me asking how to do things. I tend to be my own worst critic, so when I let some other people hear tracks I’d made and they were very enthusiastic, so that inspired some confidence in my abilities and I carried on.

What aspects of dubstep connect with you, and similarly spur you on to continue producing?

I have quite a varied taste when it comes to dubstep. I’m not one of these elitist internet moaners who decides that he doesn’t like something because so-and-so’s blog says it’s shit or whatever. I hate to repeat the cliché, but what makes dubstep special is the lack of boundaries or hemming-in that certain other genres suffer from. Unlike some other genres, almost everyone I meet who is involved with this is friendly and ego-free, which is refreshing (although I do stress the ‘almost’). There is still the danger of being pigeonholed by certain sections if you churn out the same old drill-like wobbles time after time, mind you.

What’s your production set up like? Has it changed a lot since day dot?

Primitive and makeshift! Up until a few months ago, I was working with an ancient desktop PC that was far beyond its last last legs, so I was in a bit of a technological rut insofar as what software I could run. My new lappy has been a godsend. Current setup looks like: Laptop (4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, Core 2 Duo), software (Cubase 4, Reason, etc), shitty powered speakers and an M-Audio Axiom 61 that I borrowed off a mate who owes me money. I’ve got some catching up to do software-wise and there are a few bits of kit that are sorely needed.

What’s the Taz Buckfaster moniker about? An ode to the thick wine of Scotland perhaps? Or is there more to it than that…?

Nah, you’re spot on. Everyone calls me Taz, and Buckfaster just came about through excessive consumption of the dark stuff. Couldn’t escape it really, and I suppose it gives me, and the name, a bit of a Glasgow identity; an ode to its grimey underbelly.

Who do you consider to be of great influence on your output?

There are too many to mention. Far too many.

You’re a Scot and as geographically such, you’re tied in nicely with the Numbers crew. What’s your area like for you to make music in and what’s it like having that network around you? How does Glasgow differ inspirationally from Castle Douglas…?

Glasgow’s a sick place to make music, there’s plenty of good patter, and it’s great to have people in the extended family of mates and acquaintances who are on a similar wavelength and all making their own respective marks on what they do. Glasgow and Castle Douglas are polar opposites. “Castle Douglas”, to paraphrase Vic Reeves, “is where people go to die.”

Your older productions have that kind of dark edge and bass impact that really suits grime emcees. Was that an intentional thing do you think or did it just turn out like that?

I got into Grime in 2004/05 and I guess its influence just stuck with me. Almost everything I do is self-taught, so some habits die hard.

How did the track with Durrty Goodz come about? He mentions you approaching him. Did you manage to get in the studio together? What was it like seeing/hearing someone spray like that over your beats?

I added him to myspace after realising I’d not done so before and a few hours later I had a message in my inbox telling me how much he liked the beats in my player and that he’d like for me to produce some tracks for him. It was around this time that I was making my transition between grime and dubstep and I just kept passing stuff his way and I’d get honest opinion and good advice back.

Ended up going on a road trip last summer to Bristol to check out Bodynod as the lineup was sick (Goodz, Slimzee, Zed Bias, El-B, Joker, Blazey) and got talking to Goodz again there. It was good to hear him tear it up on ‘Destruction’. I guess it was time for certain naysayers to button their lips.

Who else are you rating in the grime scene at the moment? Production and MC wise?

If I’m honest, I don’t really keep up-to-date with the grime scene at the moment. When certain heads started falling off and doing grime-pop and dodgy electro, chasing chart money and writing bars about girl trouble and watches, I tuned right out. I still rate Goodz because he thinks outside of the box, and Tempa T is sick (even if ‘Next hype’ is beginning to grate a little from over-play).

Production-wise, I rate Nocturnal. His stuff sounds sharp and has a real musical feel, which some producers really seem to lack (no names mentioned). Rachet, from Outtakers, is coming with some big things these days too, although it’s more of a departure from grime than his earlier stuff.

Your newer stuff seems to be more in key with the ‘purple’ twisted synthesized sound of Bristol... What producers are you really feeling right now in dubstep?

Without getting into a debate about semantics as these things generally end up (re: Dubstep or not Dubstep); in no particular order - Joker, Gemmy, Ginz, Guido, 501, Starkey, Numan, Raffertie, Silkie, Emalkay, Synkro, 2000F & J Kamata, Reso, Ikonika, Untold, etc. I could go on, and on, but endless lists bore me to tears and I’ll inevitably leave someone out.

Your debut album has been announced, forthcoming on the Dutch label Rwina. How did you link with them? What have you got in store to keep ears interested over the long player format?

Chafik got in touch earlier in the year, we had a chat and it turned out we shared some ideas and some background, so I sent him a handful of tracks and we planned out some releases. After getting a taste of the newer material I was coming up with, he suggested I put together an album and I’ve been working on it since.

The album basically comprises of different ideas around the 140 bpm mark, not sticking to any one formula or style and it reflects the thoughts I had at the time. I’d like to think it covers a few roads, as opposed to just plodding along in one lane. It’s not as obvious as previous releases may lead you to believe.

You mentioned an EP on Numbers as well, can you take us through that and whatever else have you’ve got coming up?

Yeah, I’d been talking with Jackmaster for some time about a release and the ‘Bare Grills’ EP is the result. It comprises of 4 tracks and is one of the first releases on the new label. Release details will follow in the near future.

‘Half Man, Half Trout/20 Red’ 12” drops at the beginning of October on Rwina.
There are a few releases that I’m not supposed to talk about yet, so I’ll keep it hush for now. Some remixes by other people that will rock your socks.

I’m in the planning stages of a quick jaunt to the west coast US for a show or two in October (tbc), I’ve been invited to play at a night in London run by grime (and now purple-drenched dubstep) producer Rachet on the 14th of November (the details of which are pending), and I’m heading out to Patronaat in Haarlem, Amsterdam, on December 5th to play Dub Infusions with Stenchman, Nicon (Subway) and Akkachar (Rwina), so those who missed me after my passport trouble earlier in the year will get a chance to catch me this time round (bigups to Nicon for covering last time).

Tell us about the mix you’ve done for us, what tracks just had to be there? Any exclusive business?

I put a fair bit of my stuff in there for the heads who haven’t got familiar with my music yet, some exclusive cuts from the album, a couple of past releases, and some tunes by artists I rate. Things like 501’s ‘St Ives’ and Rachet’s ‘80’s Substep’ were definite picks because they’re great tracks and on a similar note, Starkey’s ‘Rain City’ had to be the opener because it’s just simply massive and sets the pace nicely.

Have you got any words of wisdom you’d care to share with the interweb?

“Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen


DOWNLOAD: Taz Buckfaster – Sonic Router Mix


1. Starkey - Rain City [Rwina dub]
2. Rachet - 80's Substep [dub]
3. Turboweekend - Something Or Nothing [Kraken]
4. 501 - St Ives [Rwina dub]
5. Taz Buckfaster - Epicentre [Rwina dub]
6. Taz Buckfaster - Ligyrophobia [Rwina dub]
7. 501 - Solitaire [dub]
8. Taz Buckfaster - Half Man, Half Trout [Rwina]
9. Taz Buckfaster - Gold Tooth Grin [Numbers dub]
10. Starkey - Beatingz [Rwina dub]
11. City Reverb - Central Heating (Taz Buckfaster Remix) [Dumb Angel]
12. Synkro - Hornz [Open:Earz]
13. Taz Buckfaster - Wetter Is Better [Rwina dub]
14. Taz Buckfaster - 10AM [Rwina dub]
15. Taz Buckfaster - Orange Jelly [Rwina dub]
16. Taz Buckfaster ft Durrty Goodz - Destruction [Awkward]
17. Taz Buckfaster - 20 Red [Rwina]


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