Prab Kumar, New York - United States - on 27/6/12
Since his debut releases earlier this year, Norwegian newcomer Finnebassen has been taking the deep house world by storm. His signature sound, which he describes as "deep, grimey, and soulful," has already landed him records with labels like Noir, Electronique, and OFF. Citing modern day pioneers Maceo Plex and Blond:ish as influences, he gives us the story of his music career to date, a few crucial tips for aspiring producers, and a peek of what's around the corner. Read on for a refreshing interview with one of Norway’s finest.
Finn, it has only been a few months since your debut releases with Electronique, and already there’s a great deal of buzz about your music. How does it feel to get such a positive reception to your work, so quickly? It’s AMAZING, obviously. I had no idea things would go this quickly. I’m still trying to settle with the fact that I can actually work as a DJ/producer now. It’s every bedroom producer’s dream isn’t it? I also feel very grateful that I’ve been given this opportunity.
Tell us a bit about your background – how did you get started producing music, and what drew you to the deep house/dance side of things? I am a music nerd. Music has always been an interest of mine, and my father introduced me to guitar playing when I was 15. I went through a lot of genres and for practice I would let iTunes pick a song and just start jamming along. At 18 I started DJ'ing, and I started to like house music- the shitty kind, not the good kind. Let’s just say I was mislead by radio stations in Norway with no taste. Anyway, it’s not that easy to get good gigs in Oslo because the scene here is not that big. It was even smaller back then, and I ended up playing for the crowd and not necessarily for me. I grew tired of this and I wanted recognition for my own track selection. This is when I realized that if I wanted to make it big as a DJ, I had to start producing music. I also realized I had to find music that I liked. This meant a couple of years going though different genres, but after I went to London and saw the Wildcats, Audiofly and Art Department, it was a no brainer. The music style I like is deep, and grimey, and soulful; I have always liked the darker, soulful side of music. After that trip I was able to focus my sound, production-wise. This was in June of last year, I think, and by that time I already had a bunch of projects in Ableton, but they were all shit.
With releases on well-known labels like Noir, your schedule must be getting more and more full these days. Has this changed your daily routine and how you work? Well my daily routine is pretty much the same, except it’s a bit more structured. I need to deliver tracks and remixes on time. When I was just producing music for fun I could spend as much time as I wanted on a track. This is not the case anymore. But it is not affecting my workflow; if anything it’s helping me be more focused on what I have to do. My schedule is messing with my head a little- thank god for managers. Kal (my manager) helps me a lot with what I have to do, whether it is sending a track, doing a podcast, or anything else. I have a lot of gigs this summer so instead of going away with friends I’m going away with no friends. I always make new ones though!
Let's give our readers a glimpse into your work, if you would. What are the basic components of your music studio? How has it changed since you started making music? I started up with FL studio and a shitty computer. Now I use a MacBook Pro, a Native Instruments One soundcard, a set of Yamaha monitors, and a midi keyboard. I also have a Roland Gaia to do pads and chords, plus a Gibson Les Paul.
What’s your favorite instrument (analog or plug-in) in your studio? What does this piece of kit allow you to do? Unfortunately I don’t have any analog gear. I hate that, but its so effin expensive. I have my eyes on a Moog Slim Phatty and when I get some gig money I’m buying it! My favorite VST is the Rob Papen Predator and the Sylenth. They make most of my sounds. Although I also love my Gibson.
Many of your tracks feature memorable, powerful basslines. Can you give our readers out there any tips on how to write good bass? Well it’s not something you teach I think. It’s all about what you feel and hear in your head. What I do is this: I try to mix between drawing the bassline and playing it on my keyboard, adding some notes here and there, because my limited ability to play keyboard might draw me away from another idea that might be better. I also spend a lot of time just jamming to a beat. I reckon that comes from my guitar days. I’m not comfortable saying, “do this or that and then you get a good bassline,” but my tip would be to play around with it and if you like it after it has repeated 50 times, it’s probably good.
You are known both for original works like Such A High and Touching Me (Noir) and your remixes/edits, for example Caribou – Jamelia (an edit). How do you approach doing a remix or edit, versus writing an original track? Which do you prefer? Well, it’s difficult to do originals. When you have something to work from like Jamelia you have a lot of the track already. With edits or remixes it’s the ability to be creative with the arrangement that matters most. When it comes to originals, I just try to be true to myself. If I don’t like what I hear, I start over. If you don’t like it, even though it sounds like a "hit," then stop doing what you are doing. It’s all about being true to who you are as an artist. It’s hard to pick what I like to do the most [originals vs. remixes], but if I have to pick I’ll say it depends on the sample content of the remix mostly. If the samples are good then you get ideas instantly. On the other hand, it’s also fun to get shitty samples and then make something cool out of it. So yeah, it depends.
Several of your tracks take vocal samples from RnB or other genres and turn them into something fresh and unique. Where do you get your inspiration from, and how did you find your own personal style? I get inspiration from everywhere. On the productions side I get inspiration from great producers obviously (especially Maceo Plex and Blond:ish at the moment), and musically…I think that good music is good music. It doesn’t matter if it’s a genre I know. 90's RnB has a lot of soul and attitude and that’s why I like sampling it. A lot of producers are doing it now so I think its a trend that people will get tired of in the end, but I still think it sounds great and there are still a million tracks out there waiting to be sampled. My style? It just came to be this way I guess. I find it hard to describe how I found it; I just try to make music that sounds good to me.
As an upcoming artist, what challenges did you have in getting your music heard by labels etc., and how did you get past these hurdles? Actually I didn’t send out a track to any labels. I was approached after uploading “If you only knew” to SoundCloud. So I guess SoundCloud helped me get signed. I honestly didn’t try because I thought I wasn’t good enough yet, but obviously they thought I was. So I have to thank the people who invented SoundCloud. But I don’t think that’s they way to go. In this business you have to be proactive. What should you do if you want to get signed? SEND, SEND, SEND! If people don’t hear you music, they wont know if it’s good or bad.
When you’re not in the studio, your gig schedule seems to be getting packed. Are you going on tour anywhere over the summer? Where are you excited to play? I’m not touring yet but I still have a lot of gigs. I’m playing Watergate (Berlin) in September, which I cant wait to do!! And I’m playing lots of places in the UK. I have still to get the feel of the international scene so I really can’t say if I like one place over the other. I’m just happy I get to play.
Any upcoming releases and/or collaborations you'd like to tell our readers about? I have a track called "You’re Not Cool Enough" which I am very excited about. And I just did a remix for a Teenage Mutants track called "Out Of Time". Also I’m remixing Nolan on OFF records, for a track called “Go Slow.” Hopefully I'll get a collab going with Habischman from Noir once I get some studio time.
Lastly, your tracks are full of mood, atmosphere and emotion. What do you hope people will take away from seeing you perform, or from listening to your songs? First of all, I hope they like it!!! Secondly, I hope they feel something. I go through a lot of emotions when I hear music I like. It’s indescribable, like an emotional cocktail that is reeeeeeally good. And I guess it’s what I want the crowd or a listener to feel as well.
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