THE LEEK Q&A WITH REDHEAT.

Introduction

Date: October 6th 2002.

There are few artists that now how to push the limits of new-age electronica and find new niches to excel in. One has to have a good grasp of composition, production, mixing, and arranging, as well as be an excellent musician in their own right and this one certainly fits the mold.

Recording as RedHeat, Red excels. His music is lively, adding together orchestral beauty with new-age know-how.

Currently residing in the Netherlands working as a product support engineer. On the other side, though, there is RedHeat, or perhaps it is safer to say that his work with UNIX mainframes is something he does on the side and the music he composes is at the foremost of what he does.

Listening to his melodic tracks, I get the distinct impression that he puts a lot of intensity into his work. One can almost see the symphony orchestra that plays at his command, pulling out emotive after emotive chord.

The drums and cymbals crash in, a haunting melody coming from the string section, a soft and muted synthesizer fills the voids, and suddenly, I am flying between the clouds over a land that time forgot. No, not the land of times past. Not the times of our midieval ancestors, but that simple time where everything seemed possible.

Whatever Red is doing over there in the mainland, it seems to be working. Light, darkness, love and depression seem to flow from his fingertips as easily as one might breathe.


Q&A

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’. It’s quite technical but I enjoy the work I do!

First, the obvious question.. why the name RedHeat?

The bugged out camera took this red & black picture

Well, back about 6 years ago, I was making myself a CD cover for some music I had put together using my old Commodore Amiga. I had to take some photo shoots for it, but unfortunatly my digital camera broke/was buggy and started taking red coloured images only! I thought the pictures were nice and they inspired the name… I also felt that the name identified well with the music I began producing later on, with it being quite intense and atmospheric, so I kept the name.

Heh. Something of an inauspicious beginning. Your music is mostly described as ‘new age’ or ‘ambient’. Do you feel comfortable with that label?

Actually, the genres I write music for do tend to find their way into the new age and symphonic category, it is unfortunate really because in many of my pieces they can cross several genres within the space of 5 minutes.

I try to categorize my music in a way people will respond to so that they don’t feel mislead. Regarding the actual music, it took me quite a while to figure out what I was good at. Back in the early stages of my musical hobby, I tried genres like Trance, Dance and some Experimental along with a few ambient and abstract styles (If you’ve ever found my ‘oldstuff’ page, you’ll see what I mean). Although I enjoyed making the music, I didn’t feel quite at home with it…

But as time went on, I composed more, each time developing my skills a little more. This eventually led to me finding my ‘niche’ in the music genres that I felt ‘Yes this is what I like!’. I guess my influences have had a role to play in shaping the musical mind that I have, this is probably the result of many years listening to my favourite artist Mike Oldfield.

So is Mike your main musical influence?

Yes definitely! Well, 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.

What about non-musical influences?

I’d have to say my most influential non musical ‘driver’ would be the fact that I use music composition as a way of relaxing, letting out stress and probably expressing my inner emotions. I always like to please the family members and fans too, they have always been a strong influence in my mind – I write to please myself and others too so when I’ve done that I feel immensely satisfied. I also enjoy the fact that whatever I create will always be exactly what I want to hear in music!

Exactly. You’re slated to do a collaboration with Priscilla Hernandez. How is that going?

Well so far Priscilla has written some beautiful lyrics and with such a wonderful voice as hers, I’m hoping to make a great mix in with the track she picked out, ‘Outer Circle’. This is quite an old track but this project will see it re-mastered with some great new instrumentation! Priscilla is very talented and together we hope to show the world that we can make something good! Priscilla found my music and became a fan! (so she tells me hehe), she lives thousands of kilometers from me, so this sort of collaboration would not have been possible without the Internet.

She is a good vocalist. Is the collaboration going to be available on mp3.com?

Oh absolutely, I’ll probably be uploading it to my own RedHeat website, and also to a new site I have set up specially for additive collaborations with me (additive being submissions of extra layers to my existing tracks). The Sounds of Distant Artists page will soon be available, and not only will the new ‘Outer Circle‘ be featured there, but also a recent collaboration to my song ‘Retrospective‘ by José, an artist called ‘Keol’, José created a wonderful guitar piece to it, I re-mastered the track specially so that the guitars came through nice and strong, so this will be a ‘special edition’ of ‘Retrospective‘ added to by Keol (a great guitarist who is very much into Mike Oldfield himself).

Sounds like your pretty busy. Any new RedHeat projects on the horizon?

Well, at this moment, I’m letting those emotions build up ready for the next outburst!! – I expect the next release to be as big, if not bigger, better and more exciting that my last one… its always about going that one bit further each time. Don’t ask me when I’ll reach the furthest – I doubt that will ever happen soon 🙂

Heh. Okay, I won’t. Turning the tides just a little, who are you a fan most of in the ‘indie’ world?

Thats a tough one, there are quite a few, although I tend not to listen to much music these days; but I’d have to say that the artist known as ‘Galbatron‘ have had my attention for quite some time now, the music they create is quite similar in style to mine but a little more strength on the symphonic electronic side.

If you had a small major label come up to you and offer you a deal, would you take it?

Well I have usually had the attitude that I’d like to keep my music as a hobby – it’s been the only way I can relax! I’ve been wary of labels and contracts regarding my music. If a label came along and tried to sweep me up into quantity productions and other contract-pressure related stuff, I’d probably turn it down. If I am to succeed, I need to feel happy about my music, I still need that satisfaction of a well produced piece. If the label was understanding enough to work something in this way then I’d probably sign up with them. I think I’m just about ready to go out into the world and show people exactly what I have got and what I can do.

I think that’s what most of us are looking for. Would you ever consider joining others in a band on a permanent basis?

I’m afraid that I need control over all aspects of my music, even now I mastered the collaborations just to get the way I want them to sound. I’m probably what you would call a control freak, but being a solo artist is exactly what I want, so I feel totally accredited to the music I create having ‘built’ it from scratch. Much like building a miniature model aircraft or something, I want the satisfaction that ‘I made this, all by myself!‘ 🙂

What kind of instruments and software do you use?

Well, from the beginning I started out in 1998 with my first real synthesizer workstation, the Roland XP60. Its got several expansion boards inside which have given me some really great and versatile sounds – I have always used this synth in every piece I have made.

The other gear I have I bought because I wanted to make some real analogue sounds – The Korg Z1 makes lovely smooth synth leads and can scream some awesome synth if I want it to.

The other analogue modeling synth I have is my trusty Clavia Nord Rack, It’s Swedish made and built like a brick – It has provided some of the most excellent synth sounds especially in tracks like ‘Starlight‘ and ‘Retrospective‘.

The final keyboard I have is the Korg Karma which I bought quite recently, although I really got it for it’s great sound banks, the sounds from it have been used in ‘Retrospective‘ providing the orchestral strings throughout the song. The last sound-generating piece of equipment is my Emu ESI4000T digital sampler, it has provided me with some fantastic ways of experimenting with sounds from so many sources. All of the choir vocals you hear in my music are played on this instrument, thanks to some wonderful music industry sample CDs.

All of the gear I sometimes pipe through my Lexicon effects processor which creates some brilliant ambient atmospherics.

The software I use to write the actual music is Cakewalk Pro Audio, I usually master/record my audio with Steinberg’s Wavelab or Cool Edit Pro.

Sounds like a good setup. Okay, last question. Do you think being on mp3.com is worth it?

Being on a website like mp3.com is only as useful as the work you put into it and any promotion around it. My own personal drive behind using mp3.com is the exposure and the ability to offer music to my fans and friends at a click of a button.

I’ve been on mp3.com way before they introduced any payment system for the artists so earning money via mp3.com was never an intention, however whenever the occasional bit does arrive in the post, it always helps taking my fiancée out for a night 🙂

Hey. Thanks for your time!

You’re welcome!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s