David Forbes: a long-term music junkieJune 19th, 2011
20 years have passed since David Forbes started doing what he loved most. Now, more than a hundred releases later, the Scottish producer/DJ still does. In the meantime, he’s seen, heard and felt the beat of different generations. One thing hasn’t changed though. He still stands at the forefront of today’s dance scene. Devoted to the rhythm, addicted to diversity, but most of all a junkie to the creation of music, he pours out one quality production after the next. Coming up, is his new E.P. on AVA Recordings, ‘Point Picquet’ and ‘London Road’. A great opportunity to take a deep dive into the world of its creator and discuss what 20 years of music making are all about. Let’s introduce David to some of his old quotes…
“Music has to consume your whole life, actually.” Nearly 20 years of dj’ing and producing on a professional level belong to your past. What’s the best thing music has given you in life?
David:”I’d say sheer happiness. The feeling you get waking up every morning and knowing you are going to the studio to enjoy your work, even if it’s a crap day I still enjoy it. Someone asked me the other day how much time I spend in my studio, I said it would be an easier question if you asked me how many hours I spend in my house.”
“Good music is good music.” 20 years of producing under various aliases, doing collabs and remixes, yet still manage to sound fresh and new. What’s your secret to eternal youth?
David:”Everybody needs variety in their life and I’m no different when it comes to writing music. I would get bored out my brain if I was boshing out the 140 bangers for the last 15 years or so. I think I’m always trying to push the boundaries with the various types of music I’m producing. I’m not saying I’m some sort of music guru by any means, but taking a bassline straight from a sylenth or any other soft synth and whacking it into audio just isn’t enough for me. Doesn’t do anything for me, there’s got to be more. Not just sonically, but the overall depth of the sounds I’m using. I’m always trying to achieve the clarity. I hear people saying to me it’s more about the song. Yes, it is about the song, but there’s no point writing a great song and the production of it sounding like a dude falling down a flight of stairs with his pockets full of loose coins. I always hear from new producers that the mastering will make it sound better. Well, no dude, the mastering will only make your poorly produced track sound louder and worse.”
“Sometimes you just have to chip away at it, even if it’s driving you nuts. One minute you’re ready for punching the monitor, the next your playing a riff… giving it yes!” What pushes your motivation more than anything else?
David:”What pushes me on first and foremost is one.. my little Princess Aria, my 3 year old daughter. Even after all these years, I still feel I’ve not achieved everything I’ve wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some amazing moments in my career. Probably more than most people will have in their entire career. I’m so driven at the moment, to try and get to where I want to be. It would be nice if I could break the top 100 dj’s. It’s easy to get into the EDM nowadays. Pay an engineer, get some press shots…look mum, I’m a DJ/producer… it’s not how quick you enter the scene, the question is how long can you stay in the scene! I’ve spent easy over 10,000 hours getting my production to a standard I’m happy with and know will compete with the rest. So, naturally I expect other people to be putting in the same blood, sweat and tears that I’ve put in. I’m so glad I did because at the moment engineers are like gold dust to people.”
“That’s how new forms of music evolve: different producers from certain fields experimenting.” Your sound has ever been a blend of styles. Is there any development in dance going on that you think took the experimenting too far? Which ‘experiments’ do you applaud?
David:”There’s nothing recently experimentation wise that I can applaud. Funny, I hear all the stuff in the UK charts at the moment and all the main riffs are trance rip-offs. ”
“I was also involved with the million selling act Public Domain, which was more on the commercial side of things.” It’s been 8 years since you left the group, but it’s still an important part of your career. How do you look back on your time in the group? Ever considered a comeback?
David:”Was great times, doing the Public Domain stuff. Looking back, I should have concentrated more on David Forbes and the labels I had back then, with ‘Questions’ being out at the same time.
I was young and someone flashed more money in front of my eyes than I’d ever seen in my life, so I was like ‘When do you want the tracks finished for, Mr. Sony label guy?’ I was like the 5th Beatle in Public Domain and was quite happy with that, it being almost a pop band. I wrote 4 tracks for the album, did some gigs reading and Leeds festival main stage and a few others. It wasn’t my band. I’m one of those guys who has to be driving the car to call it his own. If there ever was a comeback with all the original members I wouldn’t be there. Love them all, but no thanks. I’ll keep the memories I have .”
“When you’re producing music full time it makes sense to have a bit of depth in your productions, not stick to the one style of music.” Do you still release many stuff under different aliases, or is the main focus on ‘David Forbes’ now?
David:”For the last 12 months its been all about David Forbes and my goals I want to achieve with Armada. I’ll be honest with you. Since signing exclusive, I’ve felt like a junkie coming off hard drugs. I was that used to having one, maybe 2 tracks out per month, but with a company like Armada everything is like a military operation. Coordinated, structured releases for maximum impact with the right promotion behind the track. Which suits me fine.
I’ve got plenty lined up forthcoming on AVA, I think. I’m building a great relationship with Andy Moor there and to be honest I think it’s some of the best material I’ve written. I’m in a very happy place musically at the moment. Doing this full time, I end up sitting with too many tracks, so after some consideration and discussion I felt it was time to start an alias for all my non-Armada material. It’s all about pushing on my career with Armada at the moment, so my main focus is on that! I’ll be releasing some material under a new name, Arkadi, so watch this space I’ve already signed off 4 releases for this alias.”
“It’s probably, still to this day, the quickest track I’ve ever written. It was just a track on a CD with a pile of other new ones to me. I think I wrote it in about 5 hours.” That one was your breakthrough track, ‘Questions Must Be Asked’. Do you still sometimes get a lucky shot like that, finishing a banger of a track in that short amount of time?
David:”Yeah, I do. I write for a few other people, so it always seem to happen then. I did a track called Omni for an artist called Graeme Pollock, which came about as quick as. And another artist, 2nd Phase, which I produce all their tracks. ‘Never Come Down’ out on Fraction Records which Armin played a few weeks ago also came together really quick.”
” As always, the tracks are really bass and groove orientated. It’s all about the swing man!” The next EP in line is the ‘Point Picquet / London Road’ release. What can you tell us about this duo, set for release on the AVA Recordings label?
David:”‘Point Piquet’ is more on the pumping side of things, with a delicous melody. Quite moody at times, but the melody is proper hug-the-lady-stuff. ‘London Road’ is a bit on the deeper side of things. Especially with the haunting guitar, it’s a grower in the breakdown. You just don’t think its going to evolve and open up the way it does. I’m really looking forward to the release of this E.P.”
“To me, it’s all music at the end of the day.” What else can we expect to hear from you the next following months? Got a busy summer planned?
David:”Of course we have the Worldwide Trance sounds compilation I just mixed for you guys. I’ve finished another 3 releases for AVA and also got 4 releases lined up with Alan Nimmo, which are sounding amazing. We have been doing some top stuff in the studio recently, so hopefully you will be hearing them on Armada soon. Also 4 tracks locked in for release with Arkadi. Also got collabs with Timmy & Tommy, Mark Sherry & Mr THE MAN Mike Koglin, as well as trying to finish off remixes and engineering jobs. hopefully hitting Oz at the end of the year and trying to tie some gigs up on the white island! So, as always, busy!”