An interview with Deep Space Orchestra

Deep Space Orchestra have been wowing Disconnected HQ with their last few releases! We have booked them to play at our next warehouse party. If you don’t know about them, here’s you chance to find out…

So, there’s two of you, could you tell us about yourselves away from music before we get into the DSO stuff?

Chris: I’m originally from Birmingham but moved to Liverpool a few years ago. Aside from the obsessiveness with music, I have been completely nuts about video games for as long as I can remember – it’s always been a bit of an unhealthy obsession really. On top of that, my day job is doing web design, so I’m basically a fully paid up geek.

Si: My roots lie in Glasgow but I grew up near Wigan, alas! Although not as much of a geek as Chris, I have a healthy passion for thrash metal and a minor obsession with Celtic and the New York Mets. More importantly though, I’m just about to become a dad for the first time, so interesting times lie ahead for my good lady wife and I!

Good luck with that Si, so, how did you guys start working together?

Chris: We met via a very good mutual friend of ours called Phil Charnock (who also happens to be one of the best DJ’s I know). We were both visiting him in Liverpool – this was before I had moved up here – as Danny Krivit and Joe Claussell were playing at Nation, where Cream used to be. I’d brought a CD of tunes I’d made with me to give to everyone; Si said he was into them and suggested that we hook up. That’s pretty much how it started. Si would drive down to Birmingham, we’d eat curry, play games, get stoned and make music. Good stuff.

How did you get into electronic music?

Si: I came across Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada at a fairly young age. Been hooked on synths/samplers and the general universe of electronic music ever since.

Curry and smoke infused beats… I like the sound of that. What’s in the name then, anything deep and meaningful or did you just like the sound of it?

Chris: Mostly we just liked the sound of it, to be honest! About 3 or 4 years ago, when one of our singles – City Streets – was due to come out as one of the tracks on Five20East (The Revenge’s old label), we realised that we’d never given ourselves a name and had to come up with something there and then. The Deep Space part of it kind of alludes to the fact that Si and myself both read and watch a lot of sci-fi – Iain M Banks, stuff like that; in fact we borrowed the name of one of his books for our label. I think we quite liked the grandiose and slightly silly nature of calling ourselves an orchestra when there were just two of us, a synth, a computer and a stack of records. I guess we’d also like to think that the name’s not a million miles away from describing the type of sound we’re trying to make, but I guess it’s up to the listeners whether we succeed in doing that or not.

You’ve just launched ‘Use of Weapons’, I picked up the first EP this week and I love it already. Can you tell us about your thoughts behind doing the label?

Si: Haha, we’re glad you’re into it. Use Of Weapons, or the idea of us starting our own label, was first discussed a few years back, but wasn’t really that realistic at the time. The idea popped up again last year when we were finding that it was taking a long time for some of our tracks that had already been signed to actually come out. After looking at the finances and logistical side of things, we realised we had the right contacts to make a real go of it and it burgeoned from there. I think the whole thing of having complete control of what gets released on UOW and being able to able to be hands on with the design side of things is very appealing. Primarily, it will be a way for us to release our own music but will also draw in producers that we respect and enjoy the music of.

Cool, anything in the pipeline we should be getting excited about?

Well, Use of Weapons 2 is a Cottam track, Sunrise Sunset, with remixes from Hunee and ourselves. The original is a beautifully-building, string-laden slow acid number, and the remixes take it in different directions, particularly Hunee’s. It’s a really strong release in our opinion! UOW 3 is back to ourselves with a couple of great remixes by Neville Watson and Marcello Napoletano

Back to your own stuff, I know everyone hates to define their music… but, can you try and tell us a bit about your sounds?

Chris: We’re really into the sound of older house and techno… The stuff you’d hear in the late 80s and early 90s, where people were recording with real instruments – synths, samplers and drum machines – rather than using computers for everything. There’s a certain quality to the music produced in that era that really inspires us both, so I think our music owes a debt to a lot of records released at that time. In contrast to that, we do tend to pour loads of different elements in our tunes – possibly too many – but we always try to keep the sounds fairly raw at the same time.

How come you seem to have so many different genres coming through in your productions?

Chris: We both have pretty varied tastes – we don’t spend all day listening to deep house. I’ve been buying old jazz, soul, afro and disco records for years now, so elements of those genres will always creep in. Both of us are also obsessed with Steely Dan.

Si: Chris is absolutely right about us having varied tastes. We also both love old mid 90s drum and bass, which I think has crept into some of the bass sounds of some of the tracks we’ve been working on recently. We also really like soundtrack-y, instrumental stuff, Steve Reich, Brian Eno – those kind of sounds also get thrown into the DSO mangler.

Ah yes, the Steely Dan obsession, I know a couple of people in that club. So, what’s your production process like? What gear are you using?

Chris: The process is a lot like other people’s I guess… We just mess around with sounds until we like what we’re hearing. There’s rarely any kind of particular idea or concept before we get started, though occasionally we do have a particular kind of feel in mind. Everything is sequenced and arranged in FL Studio, but we also use some outboard gear. We’ve got a few Roland synths – Juno 106, SH09, XP-30, as well as an Akai MPC60 and a Microkorg. We should use the MPC more than we do because it sounds amazing, but it’s also a pain in the arse to set up because it’s enormous and the studio room is tiny, so it often gets ignored. Also, my mixing desk exploded a while ago – it made a loud bang and started smoking – so everything has to get played and recorded into the PC one step at a time until we’ve saved up for another one.

What kind of stuff can we expect to hear in your DJ sets?

Si: I suppose the starting point would probably be good quality house, whether that be 20 years old or stuff just out last week. Beyond that I suppose it comes down to the venue and what time of night we might be playing. You can more than likely expect some old techno in there, some disco, maybe even some afrobeat too.

What are you looking forward to music in 2011?

Chris: It’s hard to pin down any one thing… There’s so much good stuff coming out right now. I think it’s a really good time for our kind of music; we’re lucky the scene is so strong at the moment. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the 6th Borough Project album – think that should be out pretty soon.

Si: Chris mentioned the 6th Borough Project album coming out on Delusions of Grandeur… I’ve been lucky enough to hear a few snippets of tracks as they were being worked on and I think we’re all in for a treat when the finished LP drops. I also look forward to hearing what Cottam can do when he actually gets proper studio time to work on his tracks, as opposed to the half hour a week or so he’s able to spare time for at the moment.

If you’d like to hear more from Deep Space Orchestra, check their SoundCloud.

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One Response to An interview with Deep Space Orchestra

  1. Pingback: Deep Space Orchestra – Bucktown | Light Sound Dimension

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