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HEART010 - Grum - Human Touch album

Scottish electronic musician, Graeme Shepherd, better known by his stage name Grum, burst on to the then burgeoning ‘Blog House Electro’ scene in 2007 and injected a heavy dose of Disco and vintage sounds while the likes of Justice, MSTRKRFT and Crookers where dominating the fresh-faced movement. With a debut album that earned comparisons to Daft Punk’s Discovery and Mylo’s Destroy Rock & Roll plus being named iTunes ‘Best Electronic Artist of the Year,’ Grum is no stranger to illustrious accolades.

His sophomore LP, Human Touch is forthcoming (on his own, Heartbeats imprint) and thankfully, I was able to catch up with the man to ask a few questions about the project:

RiCHARD.GEAR: Where are you currently based and where was this album produced?

GRUM: I’m currently based in Glasgow, but I produced most of the album when I was living in Leeds in 2012.

RG: What was the inspiration for this album, could this LP be considered a ‘concept album’? There seems to be heavy parallel’s amongst the track titles (water: ‘Raindrop’ and ‘Tears’, love: ‘Lotta Love’, “Serotonin’ and ‘In Love’, nature: ‘Autumn’, ‘Sunrise’ and “Raindrop’) which would allude to a shared theme.

G: I wouldn’t say there was specifically an idea of a concept but these themes have been inspiring me quite a lot. In a time when dance music was all about the technical side of things (heavy drops, ridiculous bass sounds), I was trying to bring some more spiritual influences back into it. I guess that comes across through these references. That’s really cool you picked up on that!

RG: There is a pronounced, ‘vintage’ sound to the tracks on this LP, was a lot of classic gear used in the studio? If so, what pieces?

G: Honestly there wasn’t that much vintage gear involved apart from some old Roland analogue synths. I was however messing about with multi samples quite a lot from old Yamaha FM gear and the Roland D50, both of which have quite a unique sound which really appealed to me.

RG: The first single from Human Touch, ‘Tears’ has had a pretty successful run, earning spins from Annie Mac and Pete Tong… What’s your reaction been to this? Did you know from the moment you wrote the tune that the reception would be positive?

G: I think it’s very rare to know that your tune will be a success or have a good reaction. Generally I finish most music, think it’s “good enough” or “ok” and then send it to my manager and label and see what everyone’s thinking. Sometimes you can get lost in the moment and think your tune is great while no-one else agrees, although I try to keep these moments as rare as possible.

 

RG: And is that a nod to Godley & Creme we hear in there?

G: Well spotted. I loved the sample, so happy we managed to clear it.

RG: You’re from Scotland, and in looking at the personnel involved with the forthcoming singles and remixes, there appears to be a host of Scottish talent (Mia Dora, Barrientos, etc). Did you personally select each remixer or was it a fluke to have so many countrymen on-board?

G:Well Kevin Mckay, who runs the label is very hands-on with procuring remixes and has some good contacts with these guys, hailing from Glasgow himself. There’s some really amazing talent up there so I’m happy to be involved with showcasing it to the world. I think Scotland has always had a great dance music scene and some top producers have come from here.

RG: Human Touch is forthcoming on your very own, Heartbeats Recordings. Is there anymore we can expect from this imprint? New signings or is this purely an outlet for your personal work?

G: It was originally started up to release my music but as ever, if any great unsigned tunes get sent in then we’d love to put them out there.

jesse oliver - press pic 2014 c

Multi-genre, Finnish producer, Jesse Oliver is no joke. Typically sailing the waters of international House and Nu-Disco music with his co-captain, Jay Lamar and dropping tunes on globally respected imprints like Discotexas, this month sees Oliver’s second, solo release for the Moulinex and Xinobi helmed label. As a force in the local Helsiniki scene, Jesse pulls double-duty as bass player and producer for local rock band, Vanity Beach, who’s sound is somewhere between Duran Duran and Ministry.

I caught up with the young producer last weekend to chat about his various projects and the horizons of 2014:

RiCHARD.GEAR: Hey Jesse, thanks for joining me. Could you describe your musical background for us? What are your influences, formal training, how’d you get started, etc.

Jesse Oliver: I played recorder from age 7 until 8 and moved on to saxophone when I was 9. Played the sax until I was 12 and to be honest it wasn’t really my thing. I never practiced enough. I didn’t do anything significant, music wise for a couple of years after playing the sax, but then I started Djing a bit and playing bass just before hitting my twenties. Been a bassist in a few local bands and toured a bit too since then. I did piano lessons for a few years and would like to study it further, I have a nice Rhodes at home to practice on. Did some music theory and finished a music production program about two years ago.
I’ve always been a fan of Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Interpol and The Cure. Of course I listen to loads of electronic music too, even Rotterdam Hardcore and Goa Trance as well. Maybe it’s because I’m gettting older and “wiser”, but I’ve been enjoying housier stuff from more recent labels like Exploited, Off Recordings and Local Talk.

RG: How would you describe the Finnish dance scene? Its DJ’s, it’s producers, it’s clubs, parties and festivals… what’s your general impression of the environment?

JO: There are different kinds of parties/scenes here in Helsinki. A bit of everything for everybody. It sometimes feels like there’s too much happening during weekend, considering Helsinki being such a small town. When I go out I normally end up going to Kaiku (http://clubkaiku.fi). There’s a lot of producers and Djs hanging there. So, I guess in general Helsinki is doing quite fine. I wish the club hours wouldn’t be as restrictive as they are, though.

RG: In your studio, what’s you go to piece these days? Something that you can’t do without when writing a new tune.

JO: Logic and iMac. I’m still running Logic 9 because I don’t like the color scheme of Logic 10. Going to update at some point, but we’ll see when that happens. I might make the move to Ableton, I like to change my workflow from time to time. I do have some nice hardware too… I love my Api 2500 for drum bussing.
Synth wise, Moog Voyager and Juno 60 are my favorites. To be honest, gear doesn’t matter that much because I tend to “sound like myself” no matter what tools I use.

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RG: You have a new solo EP coming on Discotexas, but you normally co-produce with Jay Lamar, what was the inspiration to go it alone this time?

JO: I’ve always written tunes alone, I wrote ‘Piece by Piece’ after a club night because I realised I was missing that kind of a tune in my repertoire.

RG: And how did you get connected with Discotexas?

JO: We, Jay Lamar & Jesse Oliver, sent some tracks to Discotexas and they liked them. Later on I sent some of my own tracks and the Discotexas crew also liked them and wanted to release my solo stuff.

RG: Aside from your solo work, you’re a member of the Finish dance-rock group,Vanity Beach. What’s your role in the band?

JO: I play the bass mainly. We just started working on an upcoming album, which I’m going to record, mix and produce.

RG: What can we expect from you in 2014?

JO: Hopefully more “Jesse Oliver” releases, in addition to the EP on Discotexas. I did a remix for Intricate Records which should be available soonish. The new Vanity Beach album should be done this year too.

RG: Open Mic! Anything you wanna plug? shameless self-promotion!!

JO: Check out my Soundcloud! Also, I mixed and recorded a local punk band, WHC. According to Finlands main alternative radio station they are “hipster friendly old school punk”.