Artist of the Week: Francis Preve

Artist of the Week: Francis Preve

April 8th, 2009

He wrote ‘The Remixer’s Bible’, produced film music, works as a technology editor for Beatport and is considered to be a guru when it comes to the magical world of producing and everything involved with that. The world of sound is not safe with this guy around. Francis Preve thought it was right about time to step out of the background and get in touch with the crowd. He landed himself as a forefront DJ/Producer, with all the right knowledge in stores to blow them away. His Different Pieces release ‘Hasown’ is about to hit the portals, clubs and lead the way to much more. Getting upfront might have been the best decision Francis has ever made. Francis: “It has completely changed the way I approach music. I have a much clearer vision of the music I want to create.”

Hooked for life
The essence of Francis’ love for music was fed by more than just one genre. However, there was one compromise: a groovy beat. Francis: “As a kid in the 80′s, I grew up listening to Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Duran Duran and such. So when house came along and combined electronics with a groovier beat, I was hooked for life. Then the rave scene happened and it all went forward from there.”

It sure went forward. Francis got more and more involved with music. And especially the technology behind it. Francis:”My first synths were purely analog: the Roland SH101, Moog MG-1 and Korg Polysix. MIDI was barely getting started. I’d always been into science, building electronic kits and such, so it was a matter of keeping up with everything and learning all that I could. By the 90′s, I was asked to help with the development of Tascam’s Gigastudio software sampler, so I took the job and became very deeply involved with the inner workings of synthesizers as well. A few years later, Ableton approached me about designing a bunch of their presets. Then Korg contacted me to do the same for them. The work just kept evolving and it’s a lot of fun, so I continued. In fact, I recently finished 25 or so presets for Live 8. I just love this stuff.”
Francis was also involved with film music. Something he has done for years, but is now kept into the fridge till it’s time to open it again. Francis:”Film and soundtracks are just another way of expressing sound and vision. Like the ‘opposite’ of making a music video, since the video is already in front of you. In fact, I plan to go back to soundtracks once I’m too old to shake my ass behind the decks, haha.”

Take them on a journey
Within the past few years, Francis also started writing books. He took his musicianship to the next level and wrote ‘Powertools: Software for Loop Music’, ‘Powertools: Garageband’ and ‘The Remixer’s Bible: Build Better Beats’. A way of understanding today’s music. But nowadays, whoever needs to read a book to produce a good tune, one might wonder? For someone who is so involved with the technology behind it, Francis is remarkably broad minded. Francis:”There are many good tracks that are made with presets and a bit less experience, but combining that with a strong understanding of how the technology works allows an artist to put their own individual stamp on every step of the process. At first, you’re choosing the notes and beats, but as you go deeper, you’re choosing ‘everything’. Of course, no matter what’s your approach or background, the bottom line is connecting with the audience and taking them on a journey.”

A clearer vision
Francis spend most of his time avoiding the spotlights of a solo-career, sticking to collaborations and underground remixing. But in 2008, things changed. Francis: “I’d done a lot of remixing over the years – both alone and with others – but I was strictly a producer and programmer in those days. Once I started dj’ing, I had a much clearer vision of the music I wanted to create as an artist. Music that fit my sets and spoke from the heart. So it was finally time to step away from remixing for a while and make my own tracks. At this point, I have to give Josh Gabriel a lot of credit for my getting into dj’ing a few years back, as he really encouraged me to do it and it’s completely changed the way I approach music.”

Being the technology guru that he is, we wonder if knowing so much about it isn’t sometimes making it harder. Harder to restrict himself to a certain limit of ‘doing this and adding that’. But to Francis it’s mostly a big plus. Francis:”This is true in a way, but I don’t feel it’s a restriction. Having more options means it can definitely take longer to make a track, but this relationship with technology is exactly what helps create the sounds I’m hearing in my head, rather than turning random knobs until it sounds cool.” The question whether he thinks his sound is distinctive, sure isn’t an easy one. Francis:”That’s a tough question. I guess I sound exactly like me, which is a confluence of every single artist I’ve ever loved – and believe me, that’s a LOT of artists, haha! If I had to refine it into DJ terms, I’ve been told it’s the intersection between progressive and tech house.”
And with that, he hits the exact right spot.

Caboose and Hasown
‘Caboose’, released in November 2008 right before Different Pieces became part of the Armada Music family, was Francis’ first solo release. A sturdy tech-houser with a funky attitude. Now, a few months later, his ‘Hasown EP’ is making waves in the scene. Support is coming from all different corners. Francis: “The reactions have been beyond my expectations. It’s incredible. ‘Caboose’ was supported by Dave Seaman, Martijn ten Velden, Gabriel & Dresden, Richard Dinsdale. Now ‘Hasown’ is getting support from DJ’s like Kaskade, Sandra Collins and Tritonal. The b-side, ‘Less Cowbell’ is getting support from them also, along with M.I.K.E., Noel Sanger and quite a few others. I had no idea these tracks would appeal to such a broad range of DJ’s – many of them are my influences – so it’s quite an honor.”

Always fun to know where tracks are coming from, especially if it’s from the hand of a technician guru. Francis: “Actually, ‘Hasown’ is a very personal track about a situation I was in last year. Josh (Gabriel) just said to me one day: ‘You have all these emotions, so why not get them out in your music?’ It took a very long time to make. Longer than any other track I’ve ever worked on, because I wanted everything to be expressive of those events and feelings. That’s what the huge peak in the track is all about – the climax and intensity of that time. I don’t know if that comes across directly, but I hope it does. ‘Less Cowbell’ was a lot faster. I was dissecting the exact frequencies in the classic Roland TR-808 analog cowbell sound, using Ableton’s Operator synthesizer. Because of my experience with Ableton Live and Operator, there’s an intimacy with their capabilities. So I created a patch that took this deconstructed 808 cowbell sound in a million sonic directions and built the track around that. Here’s a link for other Ableton users to download the patch for Less Cowbell and make their own version: http://createdigitalmusic.com/2009/03/13/free-exclusive-ableton-operator-download-less-cowbell-808-sounds-new-ep/ .”
Once a guru, always a guru.

More to come
With ‘Caboose’ and ‘Hasown’ only just behind him, Francis doesn’t need to worry about the future. Plenty of promising stuff ahead. Francis:”Well, the success of my current Wolfgang Gartner collaborations, ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’, has really helped to spread the word about what I’m doing. Wolfgang’s a good friend. We both live in Austin, Texas and get into trouble in clubs and such – so it was great fun working with him on the release. Next, I’ll probably remix a track or two before another solo single. As for gigs, I’m planning to stick close to the US for the next several months, then head over to Europe for a few weeks this summer.”
As you can see, Francis isn’t only busy being a guru, he’s also enjoying it to the max.

Exclusive Mix:
Check it here!

Francis Preve
Hasown E.P.
Different Pieces

Availabe now at Beatport

For more info about Francis Preve, check www.myspace.com/francisprevemusic.