Parallel Lives _ Interview with Black Smith Craft
Black Smith Craft is Tyler Smith. He lives in Lens, France and is a wonderful Techno DJ & Producer.
This interview and mix was originally posted in April 2012.
Tyler’s subsekt 002 mix came a month before we started doing our fortnightly radio show. After Mslwte finished the very first subsekt mix, it was time to pluck up the courage to approach someone to do the next. I had admired Tyler’s productions and great mixes for a good while and dropped him a line. With great relief, he said yes.. and what we got back was genuinely beyond our expectations; really making us realise that we could achieve something truly excellent with these mixes.
We’ve always thought it a shame that it didn’t get the same attention as the other mixes and so after a year and 24 mixes – what better way to mark it than with the one that got away.
Listen live on Fnoob: http://www.fnoob.com/
So.. back to the interview. We were delighted to speak with him about his influences, beliefs, and the superb mix which he produced for subsekt..
Hi Tyler, how are you doing? What pays the bills Mate? Do you have a fake identity in the real world?
My full time job pays the bills as I’m not a professional DJ/artist. Music has always been a passion and never something that I wanted to make my job. I believe you lose control of what you produce once you step into the professional circle. We’ve all seen the 90’s pounding techno idols drifting slowly to a modern, slow and minimal techno sound, so I think my words make sense. Playing the latest crap tunes to get bookings, releases on wax or reach fame is not at all my cup of tea… I’m afraid the words “quality” and “underground” do not make sense nowadays. Sorry for the straight talk but I think some readers will share my point of view though.
One of my friends told me something one day: you have several parallel lives, i.e. Tyler at the office, Tyler the family man and Tyler: Techno DJ/producer. I can’t find a better way to describe it all than that. Obviously, finding balance is not easy and sometimes there are train wrecks. It’s a bit like mixing life on three decks sometimes.
What was the very 1st single / album you bought as a kid / teenager?
It was back in the early 90’s. One of my friends gave me a CD single by The Shamen “Phorever People”. I suppose it’s a bit of a classic and it brings back good memories.
What was the last record / CD you bought?
The latest one was the Soma 20 years comp. Not Birmingham style at all but I like those funky tunes. Right before it was Breaking the frame LP by Surgeon, which is much more in the Black Smith Craft style. That “Those who do not” track is a mental trap.
Have you ever “borrowed” someone else’s record? And if so what was it?
Depends on what you mean by borrowed? Haha! I guess it’s about piracy? I do my best to keep the techno market alive. But when you look for really old tracks, the reality is that they are unfindable. It’s unfortunate, but that is sometimes the one and only solution.
SO.. Picture this – The crowd is dying.. What track is guaranteed to rescue the dance floor?
Isn’t the crowd already dead? You only see zombies in those vids shot at the big events now. Who can dance at 125 bpm, seriously?! Haha!!
I think an old Technasia (Hydra or so) could make the job. Funky tunes always work. Check Ben Sims’ set and you’ll know what I mean.
LINK:Technasia – Hydra
We have to say thanks for the mix Tyler. You’ve definitely set the bar with this one! Will you tell us about the set-up you used for it?
For this mix, I’ve used what’s been my fav setup for the last years: Traktor scratch running on a Mac and playing through an Audio 8 soundcard, a pair of Technics SL 1200, an Allen & Heath Xone 92 mixer and a Kontrol X1 midi controller. That’s the best compromise I’ve found between the old school way and the digital age. For this set, I’ve also used some loops from sample CDs (played on a sample deck in Traktor). I thought some tracks deserved a bit more percussions (hats, claps, rides, etc.). I hope people will enjoy this set. There are some minor technical mistakes but I don’t think it breaks the flow.
Do you like the direction modern techno is going in? Is there an absence of grit and character in the digital age?
I’m not a fan of modern techno mainly because it is too slow and most of time tasteless and uninspired. A kick, a snare, a hi-hat and a bit of white noise with some side-chain FX, played for 5 minutes don’t make a tune! Minimal was already boring. Now, it’s “dark techno”. If that’s dark, I need to update my definition of darkness right now! Once again, we are facing a hype movement and the only dark thing in the story is the future of this kind of music. What kills me in the modern age of techno is the attitude of most artists. They’re arrogant, with their big fucking egos, and they ignore the people around them. It’s not a very new situation but it’s still terrible. DJs are acting like divas or rock stars and that’s not the underground spirit at all. Big up to the faithful soldiers! And by the way, there are many people still acting for the movement and not for their own interest! That’s always good of course.
However, there are still good tracks released but it becomes rare from year to year. We definitely miss new blood. As the vinyl market is dead, I’m afraid that we won’t see new names on wax any more. That’s pretty sad. The digital age made things easier for every artist to get tracks released but the other side of the coin is that there are so many releases every week that they remain unseen, may their tracks be a little gem or piece of crap.
What tracks from the last few years stand out for you?
With no doubt, Casual violence’s “Briefly sexual” released on Aftertaste records will be considered as a classic in the forthcoming years. Inigo Kennedy’s “Obsidian” released on Token records is a future classic as well in my honest opinion.
It goes without saying that you produce techno as beautifully as you mix Tyler. How long has it taken you to get to this stage? And how did you figure it out?
Glad to read you enjoy both my DJ sets and tracks. Really appreciated! I’m a self-made man you know. I learnt the hard way. I’ve spent years reading magazines and user manuals to understand how to use software and mix a track. It took me ages to make arrangements that satisfied me. I always try to make tracks that can be listened to at home and on the floor. Most of time, I reckon my tracks are too complex or twisted to be played in a DJ set.
How you you typically approach creating something?
The creative process is something very abstract. Sometimes, you have tons of ideas in your head and other times it’s simply a desert. It takes me months to finish a track (3 or 4) as I can’t spend lots of time on production. A track is never finished: you have to decide when it is. It doesn’t come easy for me. Every track is a representation of something personal. A mental picture of a piece of my mind. It takes time to translate things.. and I think I’m a slow worker as well. I can’t make an EP in two days for instance.
If we were to break into your studio.. what would be good to steal?
I mostly use a Mac pro running Ableton and the Native instruments Komplete suite, plus some FX plugins. I use no hardware, only midi controllers (Launchpad, Bitstream 3x). Geek I am. Ableton live has been my production partner for the last 6 years. The sound comes through an Apogee duet and Fostex monitors (not the best on earth but that’s all I could afford so far).
If you could be a fly on the wall in any Producers Studio – who would it be?
It would be Voidloss for choice 1, only to find out how he manages to transform my crappy tracks into something brilliant… Choice 2 would have to be Surgeon and everybody knows why.
I’m gutted every time I listen to his tracks/remixes. Too too perfect and inspired!
It’s a while ago now – but I seen that you played at Resonance, Birmingham – what was that like?
The Resonance gig was magic! Like pushing the pause button on my life. The crowd was very nice and the event was extremely well organized. I and my mate Mike Stern (he made the journey with me but was not in the line-up) were warmly welcome there. I wasn’t aware I had so many fans in UK, especially in Brum. Unfortunately, this kind of party does not exist in France. Big up to the Resonance crew for their work! Their next events will be big, so keep an eye on them.
Techno is obviously a huge passion as you do a lot of radio too. How do you find the time to get through all the music that’s out there?
Techno has been a passion for a long time. It’s been a partner in good and bad periods in my life. I’ve been running many radio shows related to Detroit and Birmingham styles on different stations for the last 6 years : on Livesets radio (www.livesets.com, the Netherlands), Emergence FM (Limoges, France) and Techno.fm. I’ve remained faithful to my first love and never decided to spread any hype or fashion stuff. The most important thing is to give exposure to the artists. Most of the time I will play other DJs’ sets. I did not create these shows for me, but for the music. Hosting radio shows was a dream when I was a teenager. Now, I can say this dream has come true.
I spend 4 to 5 hours each day listening to DJ sets. Listening to what others do is a good way to learn, discover new tunes and to keep your mind open… I don’t think it’s fake when I say I’m breathing techno…
When you need to chill out away from music – how do you like to relax?
Well, I mostly watch at TV or play sports. My life has nothing unusual if I’m honest.
Most Techno people seem to have cats haha.. Do you have any pets?
You’re right! Pretty funny!! I don’t have any cats… as in my living room, I have a big tank hosting African cichlid fishes. Looking at fish is known to be very relaxing.. So you understand why I don’t have any cats at home… cats and fish are not known to be the best of friends in our world.
And finally Mate.. If you could go back in time & make yourself listen to one good piece of advice – what would you tell yourself?
Break the neck of the cunts that piss you off and never have a doubt on your own capacities.
My public profile : http://soundcloud.com/tyler-smith
Black Smith Craft’s set on Soundcloud : http://soundcloud.com/tyler-smith/sets/black-smith-crafts-sets
Tyler Smith’s old school sets and tributes : http://soundcloud.com/tyler-smith/sets/oldies-sets
Technotherapy SC group (created by Tyler Smith, moderated by Tyler Smith & Mike Stern) : http://soundcloud.com/groups/technotherapy
Old school Techno SC group (created and moderated by Tyler Smith) : http://soundcloud.com/groups/old-school-techno-1
Interstate 94 on Livesets radio (the Netherlands, since 2006, monday from 21.00 to 23.00 CET, twice a month) : Detroit oriented show. More infos : http://www.livesets.com
Interstate 94 on Emergence FM (Limoges/France, since 2007, every friday from 23.00 to 01.00 CET) : Detroit and techno oriented show. More infos : http://www.emergence-fm.com
The Dirty show on Techno.fm (London/UK, since 2008, every thursday from 20.00 to 22.00 CET) : Detroit and Birmingham oriented show. More infos : http://techno.fm/shows/dirtyshow/
The Bside show on Livesets radio (the Netherlands, since 2007 monday from 21.00 to dawn CET, every three months) : Birmingham and banging techno rented show. More infos : http://www.livesets.com