Wangled Teb from Fredericton combines breakcore and ambient influences in a way that is unique and very cool. Their latest EP is called “Water” and is the first in a series of EPs based upon the classical elements: Water, Fire, Earth, and Air.
How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard you before?
Probably not very well. I’d be really anxious about coming off as pretentious or overly technical. I think I’d most likely just say something like “Yeah I do electronic/ambient/breakcore type stuff… What’s breakcore, you ask? It’s like drum and bass except not boring.” My music is pretty varied, I think, though it all tends to be based primarily around drum loops chopped into complex, fast patterns, and analog (or analog modeled) synthesizers. For my most recent EP I also integrated some ambient noises that I just downloaded from freesound.org, but I’d like to get a portable recorder and start recording my own samples to use in my future work. I do some chiptune-style stuff occasionally too, as well as the occasional ambient spaced-out improvized thing.
I’d say it’s like fast-paced electronic music but designed more for headphones than the dance floor. I haven’t played live much (actually, only two Wangled Teb sets which are both on Youtube if you wanna check them out) but I tend to approach it completely differently than my normal production, since, well, it’s being performed live, on speakers, in a venue where a lot of detail will probably be lost and most people probably won’t be listening overly closely anyway. I like the idea of writing a completely new set for each show but the flipside to that is it takes a long time to prepare. Also, I get really bad performance anxiety, though apparently that’s supposed to go away if you do it enough. Maybe. Hopefully.
What gear/software/techniques did you use in making this recording?
For my new EP I think the only outboard/hardware synth I used was the Korg Minilogue, which is an absolutely gorgeous 4-voice analog synth that just came out a year or two ago. I use it in almost everything I do now. I used some ambient sounds as I mentioned earlier. For software synths I think I just used the Korg Legacy Series (which is amazing by the way) and Arturia’s Moog Modular V, which is really cool and flexible even though it does some weird things with clicks and pops and voice-stealing that I’m not huge on… It always seems like the more a plugin tries to do, the more issues it has. Which makes sense, I guess, but I generally prefer synths that do a smaller number of things very well, because I like that reliability, I guess?
So anyway, yeah, I use FL Studio’s Direct Wave plugin for drums. When I find a drum loop I like, I’ll open it up in Reaper and chop it up into individual hits and then import those into Direct Wave so I can easily play them using a keyboard or piano roll. It sounds tedious and it is, but it’s worth it once it’s done because then it’s a resource you can use basically forever (or until you get a new computer and it messes up your sample locations or you lose some stuff). I probably use the amen break more than anything, which if you don’t know what that is, it’s probably the most well-known and oft-used drum break in history. It’s a clip from the break of a song called Amen Brother by the Winstons. I also use Funky Drummer by James Brown and Good Old Music by Funkadelic a lot. Then it’s just a matter of entering the notes in. I like to use a mouse and keyboard to enter the notes and then do some of the modulation by hand and some of it live. It really depends. I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at creating drum tracks that propel the music forward and maintain the focus while leaving room for the melody and other parts… I’ve also been thinking a lot lately, and with this album in particular I tried to accomplish this, about, like, the use of space in music and rests and giving things room to breathe in a way that I don’t hear in a lot of breakcore music, which, don’t get me wrong, I love breakcore, but a lot of it can sound overly frantic and relentless. There needs to be contrast for that to be effective. I also tried to explore the use of different time signatures, which is something that one of my favourite artists, Venetian Snares, does a lot. The last track on the EP, Bon Voyage, has a section in like 17/4 time or some shit. I dunno.
What mood or mental state do you hope to evoke in the listener with this music?
With this album I wanted to create something that could relax people while still being energetic and driving. I wanted something people could listen to after a hard day and close their eyes and feel transported. A lot of the time I think electronic music gets frowned upon as a form of expression but I’ve been doing it long enough that I feel like I express myself through synths and a DAW better than through words… Though I have been thinking a lot about lyrics and I’m planning on taking voice lessons soon. That’s another thing I’d like to do in a future album. I really just, like, I’m always trying to make something that moves people. I don’t believe that music has to be played live or come from a “real instrument” (i.e. not electronic) to be emotional or impactful. A lot of my favourite music, by artists like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Ruby My Dear, Venetian Snares, those are artists that have created music that is very, very dear to me despite not having lyrics or any “real” musicians’ performances. So I’ve been a strong believer in the potential and power of electronic music as a form of art and synthesizers as a legitimate musical instrument for a long time. I feel like I probably didn’t answer this question very well and just kind of rambled, sorry.
Links: wangledteb.bandcamp.com – where you can see my more “professional” work… aka my official albums
www.soundcloud.com/kefkarjp – where I post a lot of odds and ends, random ideas, extended jams, chiptunes, and unfinished, possibly-never-to-be-finished tracks
https://www.facebook.com/LoFi.Goddx/ – where you can follow me on Facebook.