An Interview with Red (2002)

Interview conducted and written in 2002 by Sam Martin.

When and where were you born?

I was born on September 29th 1979 in Solihull Hospital, Solihull, West Midlands, England UK.

What do you do for a living?

At this moment, I work at Ericsson Euro Lab Netherlands. I am what’s called a ‘Product Support Engineer’, what that really means to a human is that I busy about looking after Unix mainframe computers, solving problems and providing support for systems either in a standard ‘environment for all‘ or specific ‘project environments‘.

What are/were your hobbies?

Amateur Radio – I used to enjoy making radio contacts around the world using my CB and amateur radio equipment. I started on CB radio to ‘DX’ (meaning long distance) and obtained my amateur radio license in England in 1997 (after passing the radio exams). I am still licensed to this day using my Dutch amateur call sign [REDACTED], however I hardly have any equipment left for my radio hobby as I recycled the money from most of it into music equipment.

Red (1999)
Red (1999)

I have still a large collection of acknowledgement cards (QSLs) send from contacts that I spoke to from around the world. I suppose the Internet has had some part to play in the decline of my use of this hobby.

Amateur radio was also a natural progression for me since I had a thing about electronics since I was a small child.

How did you get into your own music?

Making my own music has always been a method of escapement and stress release for me. It all started when I first saw an Amiga computer back in 1994, the way that samples could be used as instruments inspired me to buy one and start making my own music. Back then it was really quite restrictive, really with only 4 simultaneous audio channels.

Commodore Amiga
Commodore Amiga

Anyway, after messing around with that I released a few tunes onto the Amiga scene, mainly via the magazines who strangely enough made me ‘mod of the month‘ winner in one of the 1996 Amiga Format issues. (with a song that most sane people would consider an awful noise rather than music!).

Shortly after that I gave up on the Amiga.

It wasn’t until about 2 years later that I thought about making music again. To be honest it was more pressure of stress that got me into making music again. I started my music creation for real in April 1998 when I released my first ever piece of music created called ‘Dashaka‘, it was a terrible attempt at a hip-hop style instrumental.

RedHeat Studio 2002
Red in his studio (2002)

Shortly after that, I came across mp3.com which has been my main platform for my music distribution up until this very day. After releasing a few more songs on there, I noticed people actually downloaded them so I thought that the next thing to do is invest some money into some more gear to make my sounds bigger and better.

Today I have a small studio which consists of a number of gadgets, synthesizers and modules which I’ve collected over the last 2 years.

Mike Oldfield has been a major influence in your music, how did this come about?

As a child of about 6, My first ever cassette was Mike Oldfield’s Orchestral Tubular Bells. It was given as a present by my mother who thought that the style of music Mike made was something I would enjoy – she was very right. In my first cassette player I practically wore the tape out!

Back then I also had a small keyboard with which I could play around with, I guess it was the combination of exposure to the complex arrangements of Mike’s music and the ability of mine to replay that myself on the keyboard that gave me the feel for his music up until this day.

You may notice that in a lot of my music, I have orchestral influences and occasionally repetitive arpeggios, well this is probably the manifestation of these influences. I have only my mother to thank for introducing Mike Oldfield to me at such an early age.

Did you ever have any formal musical training?

I’ve never had any formal training before, I can’t read music and I do not want to. In school the music classes were intent on forcing you to read music rather than bring out your musical creativity.

My main criticism of my music classes at school is that they didn’t allow me to express my full musical creativity which really annoyed me.

The funny thing is, on the morning of my GCSE music exam at school, I had something weird happen to my lip and its very gross – it blew up massive somehow, I passed out while sitting on a chair at home and next thing I knew I was on the floor in a pool of blood… eww!

Well, I missed my music exam, and they would not allow me to sit is separately which I thought was really unfair, even though the doctor wrote letters to the school stating that I was totally unfit to sit it. I walked away from school with a defaulting music exam result of a C. Damn!

I still refuse to learn to read music as I have the image in my mind that reading and playing back music by reading it is almost a mechanical type of playing.

I play things I hear totally by ear, which is why you may hear a lot of influences from Mike Oldfield in my music – mainly because I can play practically everything he wrote (If I listen a couple of times, I can usually pick it up and play).

Do you work with other musicians?

No, I don’t work with other musicians, I’m far too much of a solo man, I like to have control over everything in the music! I also think that the way that I write music is totally opposite to what a band would do.

I sit down and play something and then develop it continually, I don’t have ideas before I write the music, nor do I plan any of the outcome… it all kind of happens and fits together – in the end.

Have you ever thought of making a full-career out of music?

I’ve always thought of my music as a way of relaxing and something to stimulate my mind. I doubt I would opt to make music for a living as I know that under pressure of contracts etc… my creativity is somewhat dampened.

I’ve had experience before when you make your hobby your work, eventually it’s no longer fun for me to do either – its nice to have variety.

I will continue to make music, however only on the hobby side and never as a full time occupation.

What about film music or game music? & What if you were offered that job?

If somebody likes something I have already made and wants to use it – then fine, I’d enjoy licensing music out that I have already created. But If someone wants something specifically designed for their product, whether it be a game, film, commercial etc… I would probably decline as I wouldn’t be able to deliver the goods that I know I’m capable of under pressure of contracts (deadlines etc…).

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