Interview With RedHeat

By Sam Martin, December 2002

What is the story behind the artist name ”RedHeat”?

“Well, back in 1996, I was making myself a CD cover for some music I had put together using my old Commodore Amiga. I wanted to take some photos for the cover art and I had recently picked up a brand new first generation Mustek digital camera from work that had been returned by a customer – it used a serial port for downloading the images, thats how long ago it was. Unfortunately, it really was faulty and would sporadically take pictures that only had the red channel stored. Being already digital and without a scanner I decided to make do with these images, and as the “selfie” pictures I had taken were otherwise nice they immediately inspired the name.”

How did you get into doing 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 while volunteering for the Midland Owl Rescue– Bryan had one and was eager to show it off in funny ways at every opportunity. Bryan showed me Octamed and it amazed me how samples could be used as instruments in such a variety of ways, this got me pestering my mother for one for Christmas so I could start making my own music.”

“Looking back, it was really quite restricted with only 4 simultaneous audio channels. 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. It was mad, because it was so bad it was good!”

“Towards the end of ’96 it was almost time to do final exams so my music took a bit of a back seat for a while and it wasn’t until about 2 years later that I thought about making music again.”

“The first studio setup began taking shape in late 1998 which was literally after I moved country to the Netherlands (a giant leap into the unknown) to begin a life with my girlfriend/fiancee. At some point I released my first ever piece of recorded music called ‘Dashaka’, it was a terrible attempt at a hip-hop style instrumental, and I believe, looking back, the bass-line was way off key.”

“After a few more experiments learning to record and sequence on the PC using Cakewalk, I came across the fledgling that was, this became the main platform for my music distribution up until 2003 when it went bankrupt and shut down, taking a few thousand dollars worth of my gradually built-up CD sales revenue with it. This was before Paypal existed, so I’d have to cash a paper cheque at the bank, and coming from America those cheques costed a lot of money to pay in- sometimes it wasn’t even worth cashing them.”

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 for my portable cassette recorder 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 – my mother was right.”

“At the time I had been gifted a small Casio keyboard that I could easily recite parts of Tubular Bells to myself, that gave me the feel for his music up until this day. Unfortunately I struggled learning to read music at school and that has been a significant drawback as everything I have learned is by ear alone, which is okay but it has its limits.”

Do you work with other musicians?

“No, not really. I don’t work directly with other musicians, as my creative moments are fast and fleeting, I also like to have total control over everything in the music. I usually sit down and play something and then develop it continually, ideas that spawn from the process. I usually 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 – it amazes me sometimes, there are times I listen back to a track I made a while ago and genuinely don’t recall how it happened. Regarding working with other musicians- I have spent numerous hours coaching and helping my musician friends who have also been very valuable by giving me creative feedback on my material, helping me improve.”

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

“Yes, but it terrifies me. 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 my creativity is badly affected, I’ve had experience before when ones makes their favorite hobby their work, eventually it’s no longer fun to do and it kills it, but I will continue to make music, for as long as I am able to.”