Arion Oates, a Nottingham head and perhaps better known as Dungeon Dubstep stylist; Gutcha.
A young man who’s production had always touched on sounds just tipping beyond your standard Dark-Room, Smoke-Filled, Sub-Session with people nodding slowly in the black. That something tipping beyond was yet to emerge. But now with Gutcha behind him that sound has risen to the surface under the new alias; ΔKX.
With music so touching, we thought it only right to give him a good old Q&A.
01. Your ΔKX production is sublime beyond belief. Supremely relaxed, airy, soft and tranquil but still with subtle flecks of darkness. How did you find yourself dabbling in such a sound?
When I started Producing in 2007/208 it wasn’t this deep vibe, this sound grew on me over time along with my production skills. I think my music has matured along with me and I’m sure it will continue to do so. Having said that, I am no stranger to the deeper/ambient side of the musical spectrum; when I was younger I was listening to a lot of post-rock bands in their early stages, the tranquillity captured in that sound stayed with me as I discovered the dubstep movement and then other electronic genres.
02. Any bands or artists in particular?
There’s too many to mention.
03. What was it in the sounds that you were hearing that got you so hooked?
As a listener you can get completely lost in music, you enter your own world whether you’re at a club or in the comfort of your own home. When it comes to being an artist, it’s the creative outlet and the intense feeling of inspiration that gets me hooked.
04. And where do you find yourself drawing most of your inspiration from? Do you see something in a day/night that suddenly clicks with you or is it more of a long drawn out process?
Inspiration comes from anything, It could be from a sunset to something from a movie. It can just happen unexpectedly. Long train journeys do the trick for me, always bring my macbook pro with me just in case.
05. Did you always know that you were going to do something to do with music? Be a producer?
At an early age I started learning to play guitar, which opened the doors to the world of music. I don’t see myself as a very musically talented person compared to most artists out there, but from a young age I’ve always been in to making a sound how I wanted it to be and I think my music reflects that in an artistic format. I love doing sound design and building atmospheres, with that you can create the same sort of emotional response you would get from lyrics to a melody. This all links to why I’m making music on a computer opposed to be being in a band.
06. Where do you stand on the “Ease-of-Access” side of the internet debate?
These days anyone can be a ‘producer’ we all have computers and can easily download intuitive music production software. Because of this, it drives me and many other producers who have some real content to their ideas to get better and better production wise and to think differently to stand out from the rest.
07. Under the Gutcha alias you’ve been rolling out a much darker and more classic end of Dubstep, despite having switched to this much more relaxed and beautiful side of production with seeming ease. It seems a lot of producers that generally make “Bangers” or Darker tunes will occasionally pop out a really nice liquid track. Do you think that these guys could easily turn their hands to becoming a chilled electronic producer or are they just one offs?
I finished the Gutcha alias & that sound when my computer had problems consequently loosing project files I was working on at the time, it gave me time to think where did I really want to be taking my music and the opportunity to a new start and set me off in the direction of where I really want to be heading.
I couldn’t say whether other producers can do a change in their sound or not – I’m sure most people can because it has been done many times but you do see a lot of producers get caught up in the trends and hype at the moment. Producers who just put out bangers constantly will have a good run for a few years but eventually the hype will go onto something else in music and consequently they will be forgotten. Chilled out music doesn’t really capture any of that and gets over-looked but it has a more timeless feel so future generations appreciate it.
08. Where do you think this emotional production comes from within yourself?
A lot of it is from memories of places, people and events in my life. Making music is my way of getting emotions out.
09. In the same instance, do you build multiple tracks from one memory etc. or are their specific tracks for specific moments in time?
It can vary but mostly a track is about one moment of time
10. Do you listen to a lot of chilled/downtempo sounds?
I try to listen to all sorts of music, I don’t listen to much soulful music as you would be thinking. But I always like to my taste in music eclectic and get inspired from whatever genre it is.
11. Has this step from Dark to Deep opened your eyes to any further musical experimentation?
Yes completely, I’m not limiting myself to a certain BPM or even the music to be electronic, experimenting with sounds is one of the most exciting parts in music production for me.
12. What’s the production method behind all this amazing music?
Everything is made in the box, I use Logic pro, but that’s not the secret to my sound. A DAW is a DAW, regardless to which one you use they pretty much do the same thing it’s all down to personal preference, I learnt to produce on Logic and got good with it’s work flow so I’m sticking to it.
When starting a new project rather than kicking off the song with a melody of chord sequences I always start off with the drums as the drums are a foundation to my music likewise in most dance music. People always point out my percussion as a key component to my sound, what I do is heavily EQ each drum until there’s only a small bandwidth of frequencies left and then I just keep layering more and more hits to create a pattern and fill the spectrum of sound.
Sampling is the core to electronic music, It’s amazing how a sample can completely turn around the whole track to something else when sometimes a synth or an instrument can’t do. Drum hits or vocal lines tend to be what I sample the most. Old records and acapellas from old X-factor auditions tend to do the trick once I have fully played around with the sample and changed it to be unrecognisable from the original source. I try and avoid sample packs completely, it truly kills a tune for me when you discover artists have simply taken a sample from a pack and done very little to manipulate it – where’s the creativity there?
Another major part to my production is the use of guitar tracks (which relates back to my early post-rock influence). The guitar adds another dimension to the dynamics in electronic music and it gets the creativity juices flowing. I don’t just use the guitar conventionally as a way of playing the melody or chords, sometimes I just stick a mic in front of the amp and create strange effects/atmospheres. For example in ‘Dragonfly’ there’s a slow weeping guitar melody, in ‘Young Tokyo’ I was scraping the pick along the strings coated in delays to create some strange ambience and also reversed plucked notes into some form of melody.
It’s important for artists not to get too caught up in the all the technical side of things as it kills off the creativity flow – remember rules are made to be broken.
13. I notice you’re a Nottingham head. Over recent years there seems to have been a massive surge in some powerful producers coming out of the Notts area. Anex included, who I know you’ve collabed with in the past. I’ve definitely had my fair share of decent raving nights in the Stealth & Rescue Rooms. Do you think Nottingham could become one of the newer Bristol/London/Brighton/Manchesters for good music?
You can see in more mainstream music Nottingham has got recognised with turning out popular artists so I think the city is gradually making it’s way to that direction, over the last couple of years I’ve seen a surge in more and more good music coming from this city. When it comes to the underground of electronic music, people part of MIMM, Rubberdub, Tumble Audio etc. have been working very hard at what they do.
Doing the radio show has a lot of multitasking going on; I’m mixing, presenting, getting involved on the chat room and covering the technical side. But I’m more relaxed on what music I play and can show my sense of humour more on the radio.
The biggest difference I noticed is playing out you can catch the vibe from the audience and bounce off it, this can lead to some really good mixes.
15. And do you think radio show hosting is something you’d want to pursue and do more of? Or is your heart of hearts in playing out live?
Yeah I love it as much as I love playing out.
16. Would you ever want to take your live shows to the level where you’d have a whole band and vocalists etc. on stage performing with you?
That’s exactly what I want to be doing but I’m yet to cross that bridge. I’m not feeling all these artists doing ‘live’ sets when it’s just a couple of guys sat in front of a laptop with Ableton and a midi controller. I caught Mala’s live in cuba set at Outlook, the sound was amazing but I felt like the stage needed to be flooded in musicians doing all sorts.
17. If you could produce a track with any band/producer/singer etc. who would it be and why? What kind of track would it be?
There’s a lot of artists I’d like to work with however I rarely do collaborations as the whole online collab method doesn’t work for me, I need to be sat next to the person in the same room which facilitates the vibe.
18. Dream performance location for a DJ Set?
I’ve never really thought about this but System has the vibe and most importantly the sound right.
19. What do you think the future holds for yourself and your music?
In the short term I have two releases on two different labels coming out in November and December, which is exciting.
In the long run I want to put out a really unique album once every few years. I’m not about the whole constant touring DJ playing the exact same set at each city. I want to play across the world but each show to be intimate and unique in its own way.
20. Any tips for aspiring producers/DJ’s out there?
Be different, don’t just do what everyone else is doing at the moment – who says you need to be a producer or a DJ to make good music?
Safe Arion. Thank you so much for your time, answers and contribution to our website.
Pay your dues to the Gutcha
And don’t forget to catch ΔKX doing his thing Thursdays 6-8pm on dusk.fm