Neko Nation is on this Caturday in Purrth, so we decided to catch up with S3RL and check out what’s going on in his world and a bit about his music background.
You have mentioned that when growing up one of your first experiences was with the program Music 2000 on the PS1. In the days long before Youtube tutorials, did you find this to be somewhat helpful before eventually moving to Reason?
Well it definitely helped me learn the basics of music production before moving on to a more advanced and complicated sequencer. In saying that it would have been much easier using YouTube tutorials to learn rather than just using the in-built help menus. I think it’s much easier to learn music production these days.
When you first started raving and experimenting with making music, what sort of DJs and producers were you into and looked up too?
I used to love all of Scott Brown’s work initially. Also Blumchen, a lesser known German (I think) group. Most of the bigger UK hardcore guys like Styles, Gammer, Sharkey, Kevin Energy, Hixxy etc all influenced me too of course.
Before you got your first major record deal with the Nu Energy Collective, you were well known in the rave scene and (still) regularly attended a lot of raves. Do you feel that going out regularly and stomping to music at raves was incredibly helpful to you in regards to producing music?
Yeah definitely. I knew what I liked dancing too and what made me want to get up on the dance floor so I based my tracks on that. As far as I’m concerned, if it didn’t make me want to dance then it’s not good enough to play at events.
You had your first major break in 2005 when you were signed to Kevin Energy and Sharkey’s Nu Energy Collective label. Tell us a bit about how that came about?
There was a local show (in Brisbane) with both of them headlining so they were in town for a few days. A friend of mine was lucky enough to hang out with them while they were here and gave them a CD with some of my productions on it. I had no idea that had happened so when I got an email about a month later I was pretty surprised. He liked what he heard and asked to sign up my ‘Transformers’ remix to his label which at the time was one of the biggest in the hardcore scene. From there I really stepped up my game and started taking production a lot more seriously.
You’ve worked with quite a fair few awesome singers over the few years, do you have a favourite that you have worked with?
Haha, well I don’t really have any favourites and even if I did say one was my fave the other’s would cut me.
You have an amazing you have fanbase over in America, what has it been like touring over there?
It’s great getting to travel all over and see the different scenes and how they are unique from each other. I’ve made a lot of friends over there so whenever I’m in town it’s always good to catch up with everyone.
What are the fans like and how do their raves compare to what we have in Australia?
The main difference I notice between our events and theirs is that there’s no line between what we call ‘raves’ and ‘festivals’. Generally for us in Australia, raves are all the hard underground music that would never get airtime on a commercial radio station – and festivals are where all the commercial stuff gets played. In the US it’s all mixed you’ll hear just about every genre getting played at the same event, sometimes even in the same set. The weird thing for me is that it’s normal for them. You’ll see hardcore kandi ravers getting down to dubstep and electro whereas here it would be unheard of.
Last year yourself and Triex got to play in Japan, what was the experience like, especially coming in as a DJ who doesn’t speak or have any tracks in Japanese, how did the crowd react to your music?
I was actually surprised because when I first got to the show I had people coming up to me and recognizing me. Most of them could barely understand English and were still requesting songs. Then when I did get up and play they all knew all the words in English. I was blown away.
A few of your tracks such as Friendzoned and Laptop DJ have caused a bit of controversy, is there a serious message that you have been trying to get across with these songs or have people been reading into it too much into it and taking it too seriously?
Well I’ve always said that any publicity is good publicity. I didn’t really mean for those tracks to be so controversial but I guess I was asking for it. With Press Play Walk Away it was just a funny idea I had when I was in the US with SynthWulf (the other guy on the track). The moment that made me really want to make the track is when I saw 3 DJ’s on stage taking turns at pressing a single button for their whole set. Amazing. The track was just in fun though, I know laptop DJing is the future of things so it was more a joke than anything. With FriendZoned that was a case of it being taken way out of context but again it wasn’t serious at all. Pretty much nothing I do is serious, haha. I think I should’ve wrote it a little differently perhaps but the message I was going for was that if a girl keeps going back to the douche after constantly douching her, do you really want to be with someone like that?
One of your less serious tracks was the Fer Sure remix you did for Medic Droid? How did that remix come about, especially coming from two acts with very different styles of music?
I was a big fan of The Medic Droid around the time they were first taking off. Purely out of coincidence around that time I had been talking to a US label about a track I’d just released ‘Pretty Rave Girl’. Turns out that they managed TMD and they asked if I’d like to remix a track for them. I jumped on it straight away and amazingly the remix ended up being as popular if not more than the original.
Are there any plans to do other unique collaborations like Medic Droid in the future? Is there a particular band that you would love to do a remix for?
The band broke up not long after they became big unfortunately but I still talk to one of the band members, the lead guitarist. We’ve always talked about doing a project together but I guess it’s a matter of waiting for the right timing. I have used his guitar skills in a few of my track though, like ‘Kamehameha’, that’s all him on guitar.
The last few years haven’t been too great for the happy hardcore scene when you compare it to massive growth and popularity in genres such as dubstep and electro. We’ve seen the likes of Sonny Moore and Pendulum move to Skrillex and Knife Party respectively. While you haven’t made any dubstep or electro tracks, did you ever consider making one?
Nah I could never make something that I’m not passionate about. To me that’s selling out and something I don’t want to do. Changing what you’re passionate about because it’s suddenly more popular doesn’t count either, haha. I’ve made some slower commercial-ish tracks before but they’re always basically just slowed down versions of what I already do. Even then I prefer to stay with what I love.
Some of your tracks such as “Pika Girl”, “Kamehamaha”, “Neon Genesis”, “Butterfly” and “Finish Him” are based off animes and video games. What were some of your favourite animes and video games when growing up and what are you watching and playing now?
I think the first anime I ever loved is still my favourite today. Street Fighter the Animated Movie. I first saw it because I love the game and it blew me away. I usually like movies over the series but I really got into Evangelion when that was on TV. Still definitely my favourite series. As for games I love 2D fighting and a few 3D fighting games. So all the variations of Street Fighter, Marvel vs Capcom, Tekken, Mortal Kombat etc. I don’t really get into any other types of games apart from old school Sega/Nintendo/Arcade stuff for nostalgia hits.
In 2013 you got to play at Neko Nation Purrth which (excluding the free AVCon show) was the biggest show in Neko Nation’s history, how does it feel that there’s a lot of fans in the anime scene that are absolutely huge on your music?
I love that I’ve got a lot of fans in the anime scene. It’s actually made me lean towards making more game/toon related tracks. I’ve got a few more in the works actually.
We’re starting to see so more and more anime fans really getting into your music, after Neko Planet (2014) do you have any plans or intentions to play at any anime conventions in Australia?
I’d definitely be up for playing more cons but from my experience with them (excluding Neko) the music/DJ organizers usually are pretty shut off with who they get to play at their shows. In the US it’s even worse. They like to keep the limelight to themselves from what everyone tells me. But if anyone reading this is interested in bringing me out then I’m 100% down.
Lastly you’ve been well known for your incredible kandi collection, what are some of the most unique and favourite pieces of kandi that you have received while touring?
I’ve had so many over the years. I had an almost life sized Pikachu cuff with a tail and everything. One time I had a touch screen pocket organizer attached to one. A GameBoy made of kandi with a little game made of kandi that fit into it. One with a toy gun shot little foam aeroplanes into the crowd. Too many to list =O
S3RL will be playing at Neko Nation Purrth on March 28th