London Elektricity Recharges with New Album
Cubase endorser Tony Colman aka London Elektricity belongs to the most distinguished, innovative drum and bass acts around. And when Colman’s not playing keyboard, bass or guitar on stage, he’s DJing at clubs around the globe, producing the next smash hit in his studio while also running the London-based label Hospital Records.
The first single “Elektricity Will Keep You Warm” taken from his latest long player Yikes was released in March. The album will be released in a few days time.
London Elektricity’s been going strong for how long now?
I am 15 years young. (I wish!)
You’re also the co-founder of Hospital Records. Is it easy to combine business with performing arts? Where do you see your focus?
When I'm in the studio my focus is 100% on making music. I can only do this because I have such a brilliant team at Hospital Records. When I'm in the office my focus is 100% on the label. When I'm in the office talking about my music, however, it all falls apart and all hell breaks loose!
Do you prefer the live performances or working in the studio?
If I have to give up everything I do apart from one thing, I would choose to keep studio work — writing and producing will always be my first love. I love DJing and performing — it's a hell of a buzz and it's amazing to get paid for playing your own music to (usually) appreciative people in many parts of the world, but I'd die if I couldn't make new music.
Cubase has always been my weapon of choice ever since my Atari 1040ST.
— Tony Colman
What kinds of music do you listen to when you're not producing drum and bass? I noticed that London Elektricity are influenced by eclectic tastes…
I love lounge music, classical up to Bach and from Debussy onwards, lot's of rock, various soundtrack composers, singer songwriters such as Carole King, Todd Rundgren, loads of recent bands like Stereolab, Radiohead and others. I don't listen to jazz because I find it quite elitist.
Let’s talk about your seventh album Yikes. Release date in a few days on 23 April?
Yep, I've been making the album for a couple of years and it's out next week Yipee!!
Can you talk a bit about the tracks?
All the tunes are at jungle or D’n’B tempo, but I think I cover loads of different territory in terms of music and influences. This is the first D’n’B album I've made where I've allowed myself totally free reign to go really deep with chord changes and to use lots of guitar and piano playing. I've always held back with these instruments in the past, I think I'm only now skilled enough to use them properly in the studio! Also I chose just one vocalist for this project, Elsa Esmarelda. She sang Just One Second from my last album, and I was dying to work closely with her — she's an amazing songwriter and her voice is just lovely to work with in the studio, as is she! In the past when I have finished an album I haven't been able to face hearing it for at least a year, but with Yikes I've been enjoying it in the car ever since I finished it and it's holding my attention which either means it's better than my other albums or I've become a lot less critical...
I guess that’s for the listeners to find out. And you produced the album entirely in Cubase, and mastered it in WaveLab 7…
Cubase has always been my weapon of choice ever since my Atari 1040ST. I've stuck by Cubase through good times and bad times and I made Yikes on Cubase 5, which was the most stable incarnation for me since 2. I just loaded up Cubase 6 and once I can get the waveforms to look right I'll get stuck in for my next album!
Being a Mac man I was never able to take part in the WaveLab community so when it was ported to Mac for V7 I was ecstatic, and it has transformed my ability to master tracks. Before I honestly didn't really understand what I was doing, I was kind of stumbling about in the dark. Now I can be totally precise, and I learn so much about a tune in WaveLab that it informs what I'm doing in Cubase too — been a total revelation to me!
Sounds like you enjoy working with our gear. What features do you consider especially helpful?
With Cubase it's all about workflow. It's great for working with MIDI and audio, and it gives me exactly what I need. There are some surprises in there too, like LoopMash and the Pitch Correct plug-in — they can be a lot of fun to use. Sidechaining is great in Cubase now and is very easy on processor. WaveLab is incredible. I'm probably only using about 10% of what it can do, and am still learning. I would love to have lessons on WaveLab.
What about effects, synths and the lot? Do you use soft synths and VST plugs in the studio?
OK, here's a few of my fave VST plug-ins:
EQ: Sonnox EQ
Delay: Audio Damage dub delay
Dynamics: Cytomic Glue compressor, Sonnox Transmod, SPL Attacker, Cubase Dynamics plug-in, SPL drum replacer
Reverb: 112dB's Redline reverb, D16 Toraverb, Sonnox reverb
Filter: Sonalksis Big Knob, FabFilter Simplon, Ohm Force Quad Frohmage
Modulation: Pluggo Jet flanger (discontinued but I can still get it to work just in Cubase 5), Audio Damage MXR emulation, Line 6 guitar phasers... but nothing beats my old Wing Music Resounder pedal I bought in 1979.
Urs Heckmann's ACE synth (used this for 90% of the synths in Yikes)
Green Oak Software's Crystal
Pianoteq for pianos... simply brilliant!
All Arturia synth VST plug-ins, in particular their Brass for spooky trombone emulation
Any nifty tips and tricks you want to pass down to young, aspiring producers and entrepreneurs?
Try to create our own sonic universe. Don't be concerned with fashion, fads, what you think people want. Make a world that you want to inhabit. If you do it convincingly enough, other people will want to join you there.
Visit London Elektricity at www.londonelektricity.com.