During a pleasantly warm lunchtime in Central London, Will 2 Listen took the opportunity to meet up with house producer D:Tune to talk about his current and upcoming projects, his musical journey and what he’s been listening to in 2016.
I sit down with D:Tune, a.k.a. Chris Davies-Smith, in an office space in Shoreditch.
Hey Chris, thanks for agreeing to talk with Will 2 Listen.
No problem man.
I’ll start off with a simple question; how long have you been producing music?
I’ve been producing for about 6 years now, and started DJing properly about 3 years ago, but even just 3 years ago I had a completely different sound. I was producing EDM/Electro House in a group with a friend of mine in Switzerland.
I’ve been involved in music for a while though; I was in 5 bands or so after I started learning drums at age 12. I started learning piano aged 4 or 5 but not really for pleasure, it was more like another school subject for me back then. I played for 7 years and then stopped and completely forgot all of what I had learned. I also used to DJ school discos and parties and I still do the odd wedding here and there.
Was the piano useful when you starting using MIDI instruments?
Kind of; only really when it came to the notes but I’ve lost all the core knowledge that I’d learnt as a kid. That is one of the biggest regrets I have in terms of my path in music. Learning the drums helped with understanding rhythm.
What software/hardware do you use to produce your music now?
Just Reason. I’ve tried DAWs like Ableton and Logic in the past but have always ended just coming back to Reason; it’s a really simple and effective all-in-one package. In terms of hardware I have a cheap MIDI Keyboard that I bought on Gumtree for about £10.
There you go folks, no need for the most expensive hardware to produce a good track…
I do actually have some nice monitors that were a little expensive; the Equator Audio D5 monitors.
Would you say you get more satisfaction from completing a track and releasing it or finishing a set that’s gone really well?
That’s a tough one. Obviously, if I’ve spent hours and hours on a track and it finally gets released and gets good reception then that is a great feeling. It’s a longer process than a live set of course so finally being able to drop a track is very exciting. But most feedback with a track is online rather than in person, whereas if you’ve played a great live set and you’ve got people coming up to you in the moment and saying it was really good I’d say that’s a much better feeling.
I suppose there’s more of a definitive end to a successful live set than with a track because it’s sometimes hard to judge when a song is actually “finished”…
Yeah, that’s true. Also one of your favourite tracks that you produce may not necessarily get the same attention as another. I released a track called ‘Wub’ last year and it has the most plays of any of my tracks on Soundcloud and it’s probably my least favourite of all the ones I’ve released so far.
Do you know what genre of track you’re creating when you sit down to produce or do you just start with the elements and see what type of track takes shape?
A bit of both really. Sometimes I’ll say “I’m going to create a garage track” and set the BPM to 132 or something like that and other times I’ll just experiment and see what happens. I’ve been creating quite a lot of different music lately; I’ve got one track that’s progressive house with a chilled vibe that’s coming out soon; I got the master back for that yesterday. I’ve got a lot of garage stuff in the works as well as some underground material as well. I usually have a lot of tracks on the go; at the moment I’m producing a lot of hip-hop beats for the Storm Collective project.
Well that brings me neatly to my next question. Could you give us a bit of background on Storm Collective and your role within that?
Storm Collective is a company that two of my flatmates and I set up. We all go to the same university together, we all produce music and we’ve all taken a year off to work on music-related projects. Part of what we do with Storm is create original music to sync with TV/Film and we also create hip-hop beats and instrumentals to send to rappers and singers.
The other side of the project is events. We’ve got our first event in two weeks time in Reading which is in collaboration with Tackle Records. So we have a lot of ‘Future House’ DJs on the bill playing some good music. We’ve got one DJ who’s going to be collaborating with Mike Mago so that’s exciting.
The third part of Storm is going to be a blog which we are in the process of setting up at the moment. We want it to be a platform on which to share promotional stuff such as Soundcloud posts. This side of the project is still only in the ideas stage given how busy all of us are at the moment, but hopefully we can start working on it more soon.
Going back to your personal journey in music. Who would you say have been your biggest musical influences?
Well, I didn’t actually like music until I was about 12. Learning piano was an extra subject rather than a love of music. When I started playing drums I was really getting into punk and old-school rock so The Clash, The Sex Pistols and Billy Idol got me into music. Bands like Queen and The Beatles were an influence but I always liked the energy of the punk stuff more. Then I started listening to indie rock and bands such as the Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes. In terms of discovering electronic music Justice were a big influence as was deadmau5.
Which artists have you been enjoying listening to this year?
I’ve been liking Oliver Nelson’s stuff which is really good. I mean really really good. It’s clearly different to my music but he’s got this funk and disco vibe that’s really cool. His label Perfect Havoc is putting out some great stuff. Mainly I’ve been paying attention to various labels’ output as a whole like Saucy Records and 3000 Bass too. I really like what they’re doing.
Nice. This brings me to my final question. We’re halfway through the year, what can we look forward to from D:Tune before 2016 is out?
Well, I made a New Year’s Resolution that I would release 12 tracks by the end of the year and at the moment I’m only at 3. I’ve got a track coming out in July and then another in August, and I’ve got 4 or 5 tracks that are nearly done so there are a few things in the pipeline. No labels are confirmed as yet. The track that I received the master for yesterday is called ‘The Vibe’ and that will be out soon but I haven’t decided whether I’m going to find a label to sign it or just release it as a free download. Most of my music is available as a free download which is good for getting myself out there but I kind of want to start pushing for more label exposure.
I’ve got a few bookings coming up, I’m DJing at Golden Bee in Shoreditch once a month and I usually have some sort of gig or event lined up every week. I’m always keeping busy.
Awesome. Good luck with everything that you’re working on and thanks again for taking the time to talk to us.
Questions: Will Hunt
Interview date: 21st June 2016
Connect with D:Tune:
Web: https://officialdtune.com/ – you can find links to all of his social channels here.
Connect with Storm Collective:
Listen to ‘Roof Raving’ by D:Tune below:
Listen to ‘Big S’ by D:Tune below: