FUTURE LEADER #4 – SPLINTrd
Greg Baker has been producing electronic music for half a decade. “I started going to underground parties and warehouse raves in my early 20′s” Greg explains, “…and we went out to see all sorts of DJs and genres, from psy-trance to jungle, acid techno, house and breakbeat. From then on I really wanted to learn to play records. So I borrowed some 1210′s, a bag of hard-house records and taught myself how to mix.” A short time later the young Greg was gigging around England and into Europe. His tastes also began to mature and he moved away from the 4×4 sound of hard house towards what he calls “fat, wonky breakbeat”. Now signed to Label as SPLINTrd, he has a new release ready to drop called ‘Skyfall’ exclusively with Beatport on Feb 21st.
SPLINTrd describes his music as “a place where genres mingle and collide, where there are no rules and textures and soundscapes melt into broken beats, glitches and sub lines. From stripped back downtempo to twisted electro and all stops in between.” A heady concoction!
Hi Greg, wonderful to meet you. So you were a raver first and got into DJing from that. What were those first few goes at mixing like for you? Utter frustration or the eureka moment?
Probably a bit of both! As soon as I started playing with vinyl I didn’t want to stop, but it took a lot of patience and practice, practice, practice. My decks nearly ended up being thrown out of the window on several occasions in those early days!
Originally, you were a hard house DJ but as you matured your sound developed. How important was that for you to adapt your sound? What sparked your musical revolution?
I was always listening to all kinds of dance music, mainly as a result of my housemate taping the Essential Mix each week, but hearing the Plump DJ’s track ‘Big Groovy Fucker’, nearly took my head off. After that I just consumed breaks tracks, and loved playing around with them on the decks.
We understand you became a little disillusioned by the London scene and decided to concentrate on productions instead. Thats clearly been good for you and you now have several releases out. Your first release ‘Watching Night Come Amber’ on the now sadly defunct Division X records is apparently due for re-issue. Must be exciting to get a second bite of the apple? Whats the time scale for the release?
Yeah its great that its getting re-issued, it was my first proper SPLINTrd release and I’m still super proud of it – and as luck would have it the EP will be out in Feb to coincide with the ‘Skyfall’ single.
You’re now signed to the mysterious ‘This is Label’. How did that relationship develop?
A couple of the artists on my old label Division X approached me after that label wound down and wanted to bring me across to their new venture ‘Label’. We talked about their ideas and how they wanted to nurture artists and deliver high quality releases from across the music spectrum, and I said yes! Since then its just gone from strength to strength.
Speaking about your album ‘Staring Out of Windows’ released in the summer last year, you state “..Ultimately the album is positive, as out of a tough year, positive things came. The whole theme is about hope.” Care to elaborate?
I badly wanted to do an album, the guys at ‘Label’ were 100% behind it and off it went. I think for me it’s a personal album and as a result its emotional both in ups and downs.
As with all the interviews I conduct, I like to check out the artists back catalogue and any previous interviews or features to get a sense of the person I’m going to be chatting to. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found on your sound cloud page. It seems we share a love of Beth Gibbons and her band Portishead! Tell us about the construction of the Roads bootleg?
Haha glad you liked it! Its hands down one of my favourite tracks ever and I’ve loved it since I heard it way back in 1994 (wow its that old?!). I’ve wanted to give it a remix for years but never felt I could do it justice until recently. One day I just got the nerve to do it and I did that bootleg in about 5 hours.
The EP Watching Night Come Amber (great title btw) is a miss mash of emotions and textures. What was the main inspiration for the tracks? Did I just hear a Prodigy – Charlie sample in Sodium Halo?
Cheers – the title is actually from a line in a Bush song! The main inspiration was our old rave days really which usually ended watching the sun come up after a night out and I wanted to make tracks that evoked those feelings of being out in the city at night, walking home, the sights and sounds and feelings of those heady nights raving!
Tell us about your studio. What software/hardware and are there any pieces of kit you can’t live without now?
When I started out I was using Reason then a friend of mine convinced me that Ableton was the way and the light. Since then that’s all I use and just upgraded to Live 9 and I couldn’t live without it, I can work so fast with it which makes things more fun. I use that with an Akai MPK Midi keyboard and my KRK Rokit 5’s. As for software I’m a sucker for free VST’s and there’s some great stuff out there. My go to stuff tends to be TAL Noisemaker, Cakewalk’s Z3TA and Greenoaks Crystal.
Lets talk work flow for a moment. Does yours differ between originals and remixes/re-edits? How?
I don’t think theres a big difference to how I approach originals or remixes. I’ll normally start with a melody or synth line and expand it from there. Sometimes that starting melody may have evolved into something completely different or not even end up in the finished piece! I just chuck ideas in and see what works! Remixes are always fun as you have an original to work with and its fun taking the parts and doing something really different to them. Its made even better when the original artist tells you they love the remix!
Which of your productions are you most proud of?
I’m hugely proud of the album ‘Staring Out of Windows’ (these days who can say they have released an actual album?!). Remix wise I’m proud of the remix of DPPLGNGRS ‘Sardo’ I did which came out late last year as Eddy TM played that on his Remix show on XFM and I’ve listened to Eddy for years and never thought in my wildest dreams he’s ever be playing something I did!
Living the dream huh Greg?!! So you’ve created a wonderful mix for us at This is Progressive. What did you use to make it and is there a story behind the mix?
The mix was done all through Ableton – I wanted to showcase the tracks and genres I really love and to show people that there is so much amazing and varied music out there, you just have to look. You don’t have to even look that hard!
Who in the scene is currently exciting you musically?
Artists like Burial still blow me away, there’s an artist on Label called Twoven and every one of his releases is amazing, so check him out. I’m really into a guy called Recondite, he’s making some great techno. Really like Grimes, James Blake, MountKimbie, stuff like that. Just trawling through SoundCloud can through up lots of undiscovered gems! Also theres some great non electronic stuff out there too!
Your sound is a million miles away from producers like Rusko or Skrillex, do think their take on the dubstep sound has damaged the scene or is there enough room for all of you?
I think with any genre there’ll be a thousand and one variations that people will love or hate. The scene will adapt and change and so will the people in it. I try not to think about it and just make music.
We briefly mentioned earlier how you became disillusioned by the London scene and turned to producing more. Is that still the case? Can we catch a SPLINTrd DJ mix anywhere?
Currently no, I’m focused purely on productions for now. Will that change? Maybe. Never say never…
We understand you’re now a proud father, how has that transition been? Have your priorities shifted?
Oh definitely! My son is my number 1 priority! Currently I just fit in producing around him. One day I hope he’ll be wanting to learn the craft from his old Dad!
Thanks for everything Greg, its been a real eye opener meeting you. We wish you all the success in the world with the EP, what else is happening for SPLINTrd in 2014?
Thanks for taking the time to chat! 2014 will see some more tracks and remixes and hopefully some exciting collaborations! Watch this space!
01// The XX – Angels (Four Tet Remix)
02// SOHN – Oscillate
03// Trentemoller – Moan
04// Digital Pilgrimz – I tell ya
05// Bonobo – Emkay
06// Boxcutter – Dream Gator
07// Fourflake – Holdin’ on
08// ErrX – Gone
09// Non Xero – Midnight Marauder
10// dBRm – Darnley
11// Moderat -BadKingdom (Instrumental)
12// dBRm – Hornsey Rise
13// LS – White
14// SPLINTrd – Skyfall (DPPLGNGRS Remix)
15// Codine – Pending 5AM (Dink remix)
16// Dink – Corrino (Harbou Remix)
17// Harbou – Atreides
18// SPLINTrd – Burn Paradise (Dub Mix)
19// skab/t – Bombola
20// Trentemoller – Evil Dub
21// Recondite – Stems