We sat down with the mastermind producer behind the latest Red Bull Studio’s London Mixtape to learn a little bit more about what makes this superstar producer tick!
You started out in the music scene quite young, how does it differ to today’s work – would you say it is harder?
I started making music in 1990 when I was 13… but there was no scene like today. I didn’t know about Rave culture so much, I just loved the music and happened to go to a school that had a sampler, synths and stuff, so I was lucky to have that exposure so young especially as schools were generally never full of technology back then.
It took time to find my success…until 2004 to be exact, but even comparing now to when I finally made it, it’s so different. Social media was pretty much non-existent although there was MySpace, but there wasn’t a need to have the presence that is required to ‘make it’ these days. It’s easier if you genuinely have something special to offer, as it can take a matter of days to have people in our scene talking about your record and if you have more material to back it up… you’re off and running. A lot of people think it’s harder because ‘everyone’s a DJ’, but if you’re the real deal, you’ll shine through, no doubt.
The Mixtape platform is all about nurturing up and coming talent, what is it like to see & mentor young artists as they develop their music?
I love to offer everything to the process, I actually come from a teaching background so I love meeting like-minds and if I can, provide experience and pass something on. Lots of people in this game are secretive and see that as a threat, but I personally get a lot back from helping people develop, even if we’re in 2 different corners musically. The Mixtape artists are all wellOtterbox 17 on their way to success in their own right, but I think this project really puts an extra stamp of approval onto their music and what they’re individually doing.
Did you have a mentor at a young age?
I honestly didn’t back then, I had lots of support in other ways… like a forward thinking music teacher at school, but I had to find my own way. I think that’s why it all took time, I had to live and breathe it, make mistakes and push myself with very limited equipment. I grew up on the South Coast where there wasn’t really much happening and nobody to bounce off. I did have one big pivotal moment at the age of 16, when I met Liam Howlett. We actually stayed in touch for a short while and he encouraged me to send my music to XL. I never got picked up but it made it more possible in my mind as he was so normal and from a similar background to me. It all seemed so far away from me until then.
In a very technologically driven world that we live in today, what are your essential gadgets that you use every day?
I’m always attached to my iPhone of course, but for me it’s all about things that inspire me – especially to make music. I play lots of records still in my studio so it’s not all about new technology. That was one of the main things that got me going when I was young – the buzz of hearing your own music on vinyl. I’m lucky my studio is full of some great kit, so I’m in there whenever I can with loads of technology from 1974 until now.
How active are you on your smartphone – which apps do you use in your everyday life and work?
I’m very active actually, it can go against you easily sometimes as you can get lost in the loop of Facebook > Instagram > email (repeat), but I stumble on great stuff all the time via my phone, not least new music.
Shadow Child’s RedBull Studio’s Mixtape Volume 3 is available for free download now.