Alex Tepper is a reputation you could have probably never heard of, yet the British Document Producer, Engineer and Mixer has had his hand in a few of electronic music’s most charted releases.
An engineer for the likes of Black Sabbath and Metal Pulse originally of his profession, Alex now works with, and produces for, a few of the largest names within the business together with Nic Fanciulli, Nicole Moudaber and Steve Lawler to name just some.
A hotly-debated subject for some, Tepper has a profession spanning 25 years during which he’s co-produced, co-written & combined a number of the largest dance flooring hits in our scene. His position is that of a co-producer, working alongside DJs to create a partnership that culminates within the launch of profitable tracks. In a task that’s arguably no totally different than that of a rock band’s producer — assume Nigel Goodrich for Radiohead, or Brian Eno with speaking heads for instance — Tepper helps DJs achieve what they hear in their heads because of his expertise as a producer and engineer, whereas the artists he is working with convey a set of expertise and expertise of figuring out what works on the dancefloor and of course artistic concepts for their very own music.
6AM sat down with Tepper to dig deeper on his position, and to dissect this contemporary tackle the normal position of a band producer, but with a DJ instead of band members and their devices:
Good to satisfy you Alex and thank you for taking the time to talk with us here in Los Angeles. The place are you now?
Hello, nice to satisfy you and thanks for having me. I’m in my flat in East London, UK right now.
Is that the place you live?
Sure, I’ve been here for 10 years or so and my studio is a 15-minute stroll away. I wish to be close to it.
Once we heard about your work we have been instantly all for talking to you, but earlier than diving into the nitty gritty of what you’re thus far, can you tell us how you got involved with the digital music business and music manufacturing within the first place?
I was all the time really into music and numerous musical instruments growing up. My most influential years have been by way of the 80s, which was the start of the “affordable” synthesizer – even rock bands have been digital again then ha…But yeah, rising up in the 80s, I keep in mind loving the best way that Prince data sounded for example, these heavy electronic drums with highly effective synthesizers was exciting to my ears.
At around 15, I began working at a recording studio close to where I grew up helping out on faculty holidays and weekends. It wasn’t lengthy before I was in there myself using the studio in down time to attempt to make my very own music, which was a sluggish studying curve leading to a variety of completely un-listenable materials!
I then went into sound engineering, professionally working in a studio in Birmingham on all totally different types of music and with totally different bands. I met up with a few guys operating a home label and began engineering and mixing their data and doing my own stuff for the label beneath numerous artist names like X-Presidents and Latino Circus amongst others.
Then within the late 90’s I started my very own dance act with one of many guys (Phil Dockerty) referred to as Futureshock and we had a label with Junior Boys Own and an album on Parlophone Data. We did a great deal of remixes and toured with Underworld.
You’ve been a home music fan all through your entire career, and by that imply numerous sub-genres beneath the umbrella of home. What’s it about house that speaks to you on such a profound degree that you simply’ve made it your profession for the final quarter of a century?
I feel what really drew me to it initially was its simplicity and honesty. It had a rawness, it was underground and was designed to sound nice on club sound techniques.
Up until then I used to be being impressed by producers like Trevor Horn and Martin Rushent which was sort of the other; Trevor Horn was just like the musical equal to Steven Spielberg and his productions have been super hi-tech and polished.
You may solely achieve that degree of production in one million pound studio however alongside came individuals like Mark Bell from LFO who can be in a kind of bed room sort studio with a bunch of synths and drum machines he in all probability picked up at an affordable worth in those days.
Making Acid Home & Techno data was a bit more accessible and towards the grain for me. I nonetheless discover that the type of home and techno I’m drawn to now has that very same feeling about it, uncooked and trustworthy and never too polished.
Some individuals reading this will likely sound stunned, as was I once I first heard your identify. I say so because honestly I wasn’t conscious of who you have been, yet I used to be aware of SO MANY tracks you’re truly liable for however which have been launched underneath the identify of different artists. Is this reaction of “surprise” one you encounter typically?
Properly, firstly it’s Co-Responsible – I work alongside the artists and it’s undoubtedly a collaborative course of. However yeah, I do get it so much. Principally because of the type of individual I am, I don’t put myself within the highlight very a lot. I by no means really took to being on a stage and being centre of attention. But in addition perhaps because of the misunderstanding within the dance music scene of the type of production work I do and that it’s alleged to be stored some sort of a secret, which is loopy. It’s purely right down to individuals being misinformed.
So let’s speak concerning the arguably controversial subject of you co-producing tracks with “household” home and tech home artists the likes of Nic Fanciulli and Steve Lawler. In your personal phrases, what would you say your job or position is here?
My position is very similar to that of a standard Report Producer. I work very intently with the artists (which on this case happens to be DJs) with a view to facilitate their imaginative and prescient and their ideas within the studio, utilizing my expertise and expertise in that surroundings. The artists convey their very own unique ideas which come from performing in golf equipment and on levels to hundreds of individuals week in and week out, and in a roll that they’re enthusiastic about and really feel snug in.
The DJ/Producer relationship is nothing new; it’s been round for decades of dance music. Sasha and Charly Might, Digweed and Nick Muir, Martin Buttrich with Timo Mass and Loco Cube, and those are simply the publicly recognized ones. I assume the difference with me is I’ve sort of made it my profession where as perhaps those guys had and still have their own issues happening as properly. Primarily, I simply really take pleasure in working with different individuals in the studio making club music.
How did you begin working in this method, “behind the scenes” if you’ll, relatively than utilizing your productions to pave your personal career as a producer and DJ?
It was kind of a natural development after my involvement in Futureshock came to an finish round 2006/2007. I discovered myself persevering with to make music and received a name from Steve (Lawler) at some point asking me to assist him out with some of his productions, which I agreed to. We ended up making Kalimba, Femme Fatale, Programs For Horses, Violet and some others. I assume word obtained out from that and started getting a couple of different calls to do the identical with Nic (Fanciulli) after which Nicole (Moudaber) and a few others along the best way.
Take a number of the largest hits you’ve co-produced and reply this question: might you and would you’ve produced them with out working with the artist whose identify ended up being acknowledged for these tracks?
No, I wouldn’t have. I’m a agency believer that a document is a product of what occurs within the studio on that day. The ideas that go into it are from each of us finally, not just me. No two artists I work with sound the same, which exhibits you that their stamp is nicely and really on each of those tracks.
I keep in mind working with Steve as soon as on a remix and we acquired it to some extent where it was OK however not likely giving us the excitement we need to get with one thing, I went upstairs to make a telephone name or one thing and left Steve at the pc, once I got here down he was all excited and was like “I’ve got it!”. It was the simplest trick with the association that he’d carried out, making the break a bit longer and proper earlier than the groove kicked again in he did a bit of edit with a percussion hit and it made the monitor kick in 10 occasions higher than it did earlier than. It was simply an arrangement factor but this is what DJs know from hands-on expertise, and methods to work the gang by way of the music. It was at that point for me proof of how properly it really works bringing that again into the studio in such a constructive means.
It is a complete group effort. I’ve discovered quite a bit about preparations, particularly, working with the calibre of DJ’s that I do. Additionally had an analogous factor happen with Nic & Mark’s monitor “Star” lately. The three of us have been in the room, jamming round and we came upon a bass-line that just all of the sudden took the entire thing up a notch. We all simply checked out each other as if to say – yes that’s it! That’s the one! You type of attempt to get these moments in the studio and it’s much better when there are different individuals to share it with.
Conversely, might they and would they have been capable of produce these tracks without your assist?
Nicely I assume they come to me for a purpose. Would Frankie Goes To Hollywood have made Welcome To The Pleasure Dome with out Trevor Horn? I’d say they might have undoubtedly made something nice however it wouldn’t have been that exact same album.
But you recognize, that is the purpose I feel, nobody thinks twice about Robbie Williams working with Trevor Horn or U2 working with Brian Eno, or Max Martin with just about every pop act out there. It’s just all part of the process in those genres and even celebrated and boasted about, however for some cause it’s not the same with regards to dance music. The DJ is predicted to be nice at what DJs do AND make great data on their very own in the studio at the similar time. Both that or the other occurs and other people make the idea that they don’t become involved in the course of at all. It appears there’s not much in-between, which is in fact not the case.
Perhaps a large part of the problem is that there are a whole lot of DJs breaking by way of now because they occur to be dominating the Beatport Prime 10s with their laptop computer productions.
And promoters will guide those guys, however in various these instances when booked they will’t truly DJ with the talents of someone who has been working tirelessly most of their lives, mastering that craft. They’re a unique set of expertise which are intertwined and go together properly but just since you make an awesome dance document doesn’t imply you’re a nice DJ and vice versa.
Is there a cause you favor working “quietly” as a producer somewhat than touring the world and probably even making extra money as the recognised identify behind these productions?
I feel like I’ve been there and completed it for a short while with Futureshock – truly being the artist, touring and making an album and doing a great deal of remixes and having a label. I enjoyed bits of it very a lot at the time however I’m a lot happier lately being within the studio. I’m working in the direction of perhaps getting back into some of my very own tasks again however I’m unsure I might ever return into DJ-ing and heavy touring. It was exhausting and undoubtedly ate into invaluable studio time and being artistic in the week; principally most of it spent recovering from the weekend simply gone.
When it’s all stated and carried out, do you are feeling that the result of this working association is truthful for you?
Yes absolutely. That is my profession selection. I’m credited on every part I do – it’s no secret. I’m capable of work with the individuals I need to and luxuriate in working with – a very high caliber of artists on this subject. What producer wouldn’t be completely satisfied with that state of affairs?
Have the artists you’ve worked with invited you to hitch them in their way of life, excursions, and even simply to release on their label?
There was a time I used to be performing some solo music, I released a couple of tracks on Nic’s label Saved and toured with him a couple of occasions. I imply, it might be very straightforward for me to get my music signed and get a leg up if I felt like taking place that route once more. However it was a acutely aware determination on my part to stop making my own data round 2014. I all of a sudden thought – I’m actually busy doing nice work with great Artists, it’s working properly and I’m enjoying it so why am I making an attempt to do the DJ thing myself again. It was like making an attempt to have two careers at the similar time and subsequently no life or free time in any respect…It was a huge aid once I made that call and it also made me take pleasure in working with others much more. I abruptly stopped being torn between the two.
By the best way, do these artists come to your studio, do you work in their studio or how does it often work?
We all the time work from my studio. I know the room and my screens fairly properly and have developed a fast and efficient workflow in it. Sometimes we may fit remotely if their tour schedule is hectic, which is ok, but even when remote we are on the telephone or FaceTime all through the day going over the monitor and essential modifications and so forth. Or it might be that we’re simply placing finishing touches to issues we already began collectively so it’s not absolutely mandatory that they’re with me for that. Or typically I become involved a lot further down the road with tasks and it’s extra just a mix-down and ending touches. Whichever approach, a part of my roll is to ensure it’s going to sound good in the clubs and subsequent to different tracks of their sets so I have to work where I’m acquainted with the sound.
Can you share some insight on your studio, what we will find in it ?
Positive, I exploit principally outboard and analogue gear as I favor the hands-on strategy and the distinctive sound it has. I exploit Akai MPC2000XL (Modded), S950 (Modded), Eurorack Modular Synth, Prophet 6, my Previous Korg MS20, Moog Voyager and DFAM.
I exploit the pc for Ableton Reside as a kind of artistic tape machine or Pro-Tools for mix-downs, UADs, and things like Native Devices Reaktor & Kontakt. Principally I like software program that brings one thing new to the table. It can be a pleasant approach to manipulate the extra organic sounds I get from all the analogue and outboard gear.
Do you will have any studio rituals or processes you comply with to get probably the most out of your studio time?
Ha…I wish I might offer you a very humorous reply to this but none that I can think of. In all probability just firing up the machines and seeing what happens!
Can anyone attain out to you to work on a monitor with you, or will you solely work with certain caliber artists?
I’m very open to working with up and coming DJ’s. I’m performing some really good work with Alex Kennon who is a superb DJ from Ibiza who’s breaking by way of. We just finished a remix on Crosstown Rebels and his 2nd EP On Saved Data.
It must rely upon hearing some demos first if I have been to think about working with someone I didn’t know – or a suggestion from somebody I already work inside the business.
What’s your largest studio pet peeve?
Any time somebody says “we need to make a top 10”.
Thankfully I don’t hear it fairly often!
Can you inform us what a number of the most memorable studio moments have been co-producing a few of these hit tracks?
I don’t assume anyone really realises that they’re making an enormous document at the time, it’s type of simply another day at the office, so to talk. You actually should see how data do and then you definitely look again and go wow, that was quite massive!
So really I feel like the few situations I talked about earlier, it’s these moments you get with the individual or individuals you’re working with within the room whenever you hit on one thing and all of it starts to make good sense in that second and starts to sound like music to your ears! It’s exciting and invigorating.
Is there an artist you’d love to have the ability to get in the studio with someday, that you simply haven’t but?
One last Q: What would you say to anybody who has a problem with what you do?
I might say, don’t consider the bullshit surrounding it. The best way I work is nothing new or uncommon or secretive, It’s been achieved like this because the start of recent music throughout all genres – doesn’t matter which. There’s a course of that’s concerned in making data and I’m part of it in a passionate means, as are all the artists I work with.
Join with Alex Tepper: Fb | SoundCloud