Another month, another quality release from Crises and the Mindstep Music team.
Bristol’s Vaun has long been on our feature hit list – and yes, we’re ashamed it’s taken this long – but hopefully the following interview, guest mix and FKOF Promo will make up for the delay. This is an extremely exciting producer and one you should all be aware of, following and supporting…
Mr. Vaun, how are you sir? Very well thank you. Thanks for having me.
All good man. It’s taken too long! Can you give us a quick rundown on what you’ve been up to – we’ve heard from various sources that you’ve been busy?! Since my last release, I’ve been focusing on getting this EP finished. I tend to take a lot longer finishing tracks than others, just because I’m so fussy, so it has taken a while to get all six tracks together. I had a lot more tracks written for this project but narrowed it down to my favorites.
Your next release sees you return to Mindstep with the vocal talents of the one and only Animai. After Taking Over dropped and blew up, I was wondering whether you’d work together again. What can you tell us about the Sidelines EP? Since I met Animai and we released our first collaboration, we haven’t really stopped working together. We have a huge collection of tunes that we have made – hopefully we will be able to do something with them soon. Plans are being made. In fact, shortly, I have to get back to work on a special track I’m so excited about!
Originally, in my head the EP was only going to be 3 tracks, possibly with a remix as well. But it dawned on me that I have a lot of tracks that aren’t 140bpm or dubstep, which I really love and thought it would be a shame not to do anything with. So I hit Crises up and we got chatting about doing something slightly different and involving tracks like One Touch, an ambient piece and Kismet – a 120bpm number.
How would you best describe the Vaun sound? Or are you not bothered about giving it a title – is it more about the music? I like to think that my sound is always changing and evolving so I do try and avoid giving it a title. I’m always experimenting with different sounds, and some of the project files on my computer at the moment really express that. I’d like to be able to release material of many different genres one day so I especially try not to label myself as a specific genre DJ or producer. I think there always tends to be an underlying theme in all my tracks, which generally consists of ambience, emotion and minimalism. So I plan on applying my sound to as many different areas of music as I can.
Your vocal dubstep/ bass music/ whatever is some of the best we’ve come across. What’s your production method – how do you sit down and write a tune? Thank you very much! Honestly, I can’t really explain how I go writing a tune. It can be different each time, and usually very back to front. For example, Taking Over was originally written over one of my other tracks, but then I decided to write a completely new beat for the vocals and change the key. I also changed the beat for the new EP’s title track Sidelines. The original version can actually be heard very briefly in a mix online somewhere. Knowledge, with Ill Chill, is actually the first track I have written with a vocalist where I haven’t ended up completely changing everything that I had originally written. And Into The Night is a combination of ideas that I had going on all at the same time. Animai’s vocals were originally sampled from another track that we had written together, but then re-recorded once it was finished.
As for my production methods, again, it can change all the time. Sometimes, it can be very heavily sample driven. Sometimes, it can be based on recorded instruments or vocals. I’m always experimenting with different methods. Recently I have started using drum pads on my midi keyboard in a similar way to a hip-hop producer would use an MPC. I find it very hard to explain without showing. Sorry for the very vague insight into my music making process!
Haha it’s all good! In terms of your production set up, what’s your favourite piece of software? Any hardware you can’t live without? At the moment, my favourite pieces of software are all the plugins from Fabfilter. The compression, delay, EQ, De-esser etc… All of them seriously helped me out with this EP. I’d recommend them to everyone! I probably couldn’t live without my Novation Impulse 61 MIDI keyboard. I can spend hours playing stuff on that before I think about turning it into an actual track. Also, my Mackie HR824 monitors.
You’ve had quite a solid relationship with Crises and the Mindstep crew. How important are labels to you as a producer? Are you one of these guys who thinks you could DIY? Yeah, definitely. As soon as Taking Over was confirmed for Mindstep it has always been like working closely with friends rather than a record label as such. Which, in my eyes, has made the process really natural and unforced.
As a producer, labels are important to me. I feel very strongly about them these days, as there are so many to choose from. It almost seems like being a “label owner” is the new producer or musician. I think people sometimes forget that it’s a business that they are starting up and you need to maintain a very motivated and business savvy frame of mind to make it successful. So searching for the right people to trust with looking after your music can be tricky. So when done right, a label is very important. However, when artist’s go Independent with their music it can be really interesting as they have 100% control over everything but it’s also a hard thing to get right.
At some point I do plan on an independent release. Physical copies hopefully! Xian and I have been working on this for a long time now.
Other than the wonderful Animai, are there any other vocalists on your hit list to work with? No one really springs to mind instantly. For the majority of the vocalists I have worked with it’s just because we have started chatting and it naturally evolved from there, so I don’t know, I could be yet to meet the next vocalist that I would like to work with. If I could choose, I’d be stoked to work with Submotion Orchestra’s Ruby Wood. It would be really interesting to try something with grime artists, working with people like Trim, Flow and Riko would be a dream… Basically anyone from Roll Deep!
Bristol seems to have it sorted when it comes to local producers absolutely smashing it. Who are you rating at the moment – Bristol and elsewhere? In Bristol, Sly-One are my boys, each of them make amazing solo music aswell. Troy Gunner. Rowl. Elsewhere, brethren Arion AKX, Trashy B and US boys Xian and Gaszia.
I’ve not been out in Bristol for a good few months; what’s the event scene like? Any standout venues people should know about? Bristol is huge for 130 BPM based music at the moment. 4Seasons smash it every time, as do Psyched (I recently became a resident DJ with them). Also, I’ll be playing for Program at a small intimate venue called Cosies in St Pauls on the 9th of October alongside Sly-One, AKX and Noire. So get down to that. I prefer smaller clubs so I would definitely class Cosies as one of the standout clubs in Bristol, aswell as Take 5 Café and on a good night The Bell pub is really cool.
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve put together for us? Well, when I was creating it, I decided I wanted to put together a collection of tracks that I love, rather than a mix of straight 140 tunes. There are a lot of tracks in there that you wouldn’t classically find in a mix as I was trying to make something a bit different. Recently, I’ve realised that my whole life I have been obsessed with trying to show people new music that they might like, so I based the whole mix on that really.
In terms of the Vaun ‘live’ show, what’s your process for when you play out? Pre-determined sets or in the moment and see what the crowd’s saying or? It depends on where I’m playing really. Recently I have been trying out a lot of 130 tracks and working my way up to 140. At some point, if I feel confident enough I’d like to start somewhere around 110 and work my way up to 170.
If I’m playing a set where I’m confident that I know exactly what the crowd will want, I’ll have pre-determined tracks, but as a DJ it is so important to be able to read a crowd so I always have a mixture of things at the ready. Most of the time I just turn up and see what people are already feeling.
Any final words or shoutouts? Good luck with the release – can’t wait to hear more new music from you! Thanks and thank you for chatting with me! Hope everyone enjoys the EP as much as I enjoyed making it. Shout out to sister Animai each and every, Sarah Zad and Ill Chill. Crises and all the Mindstep family.
Click to DOWNLOAD (144MB)
- Sidi – Early Rain
- Min – Now
- Bertrand Russell Message
- Vaun – One Touch
- Jamie N Commons – Lead Me (Unknwn edit)
- Feonix & Ill Chill – FTF
- Gidge – Huldra
- Shigeto – Soul Searching
- Troy Gunner ft. Rowl – Forgiving
- Menik & Native – Mirage
- Vaun – Kismet
- Burial – Endorphin
- Unknwn – BBY
- DjRum ft. Shadowbox – Lies
- Hidden Orchestra – Undergrowth
- Gaszia ft. Xian – Semplat
- Feonix – Bakwa
- Volor Flex – Blackout
- Trashbat – Velvet Riddim
- Mercy – Buttah Chee
- Vaun & Ill Chill – Knowledge
- Author – My Only
- Moody Good – Eulogy For The Concierge
- Vaun ft. Animai – Into The Night
- Jafu – Flex your Mind
- Vaun & Sarah Zad – Sidelines
- Burial – Rival Dealer
- Kahn – Cover Me
- Vaun & Xian – Sonder
- Arca – Open Letter