11 Questions with Oliver Smith
Oliver Smith is a British Trance DJ and dance music producer. He worked formerly as Aspekt, aka Smith & Pledger, alongside Mark Pledger. Smith, nicknamed Olie, is now the only producer alive who has been featured on every single Anjunabeats Volume Compilation. This forward-thinking artist’s style has been called “sophisticated” and “deeply melodic”. His remixes include songs by Arty, Mat Zo, Andrew Bayer, Maor Levi and of course Above & Beyond (label owners of Anjunabeats).
1. As a producer you have primarily focused on Progressive House and Trance. You also created Meramek. What inspired you to branch out into other genres?
I’ve always been interested in different styles of music and listen to a wide range of sounds. It’s important to try different things to stay fresh, and the Meramek project is just a great way to stretch myself and do something different. I’m still carrying on with my Oliver Smith stuff as well.
2. How do you think your sound/style has evolved, specifically since you first started with Smith & Pledger?
Things have slowed down a lot. Those early Anjunabeats records were 138 or even 140bpm, whereas now they’re more like 128BPM. I actually like the slower tempo because it means there is more space for groove and you can experiment a bit more. The melodies, sounds and equipment have all evolved over the years too. But some things stay the same: my records are all quite melodic and have a recognisable personality.
3. What are your musical roots from your adolescence?
Early influences include Orbital, Leftfield, Massive Attack, Way Out West, LTJ Bukem, Underworld…
4. What are some of your musical inspirations outside of the electronic music realm?
A lot of different stuff. I like movie soundtracks from people like Thomas Newman, Clint Mansell and Ludovico Einaudi. I also enjoy a lot of the stuff from the Erased Tapes label, music from people like Bombay Bicycle Club and Bon Iver, as well as classic funk, hip hop and jazz records. I’m just a music fan I guess!
5. What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in production equipment since you started your studio in 2000?
In many ways it was very basic by today’s standards. I spent a long time saving up for samplers, synths, effects etc. and things were quite expensive compared to today. A lot has changed since then, but in some ways I miss the simpler times!
6. What is your favorite go-to plug-in that you use?
There aren’t really any secret weapons. I’m using a lot of the built-in plugins in Ableton Live at the moment because they are quick and effective.
7. You have a wide range of talent, and your songs seem to tell different stories. Are there particular experiences you base your songs off of, or do you simply go with your current feelings?
Most of my music is done by feeling. I do normally start with a vague idea of what I want to end up with, but the end result is often different to what I first planned.
8. When you first start working on a track, what sparks the direction the sound goes?
I can be inspired by a sample or a chord change and the rest flows from there. The original spark might not even end up in the final track, but it is an important part of the process. I normally have some sort of general concept of how the record should sound before I even go into the studio.
9. How does it feel to be the first artist outside of the trio from Above & Beyond to release a track on Anjunabeats?
I feel very lucky to have met Above & Beyond when I did. It’s been really exciting to watch Anjunabeats grow from humble beginnings into the international business that it is now. The label has a great family feel and it’s been a privilege to be part of the team.
10. Do you have any advice for new and upcoming producers?
Make sure you have a good original idea when you’re making a track. I see a lot of people making a really polished mix but if they don’t have a good idea at the heart of it all, then the record isn’t going to be much good!
11. What’s in store for Oliver Smith in 2015?
I’m currently putting the finishing touches to a new remix for Anjunabeats, working on some material for my next single, and planning to tour in Europe and North America. Should be fun!
Connect with Oliver Smith
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