Si Tew is currently based in Derby, UK, and now promoting his eagerly-anticipated new album, ‘Quietude’. He is an artist that is well travelled, has an active mind, a multiplex of musical outputs, and an array of musical influences. Si set up his own studio Derby in conjunction with renowned producer Atjazz who is Label Manager at the self-entitled Atjazz Record Company, from where his new album, ‘Quietude’, ushers a new chapter.

His previous long player on the same label is ‘When The Clouds Ran Away’, and was promoted through remixes by Atjazz and Zed Bias, as well as live performances across Europe. As of late, Si Tew’s undertakings include remix work for Robert Owens, The Bamboos and Aloe Blacc, and more recently, for Aussie Hip Hop Producer, Inkswel. He’s also been producing music for television. His groundbreaking project, though, is Digit Music: a record label, digital instrument manufacturer and creative learning and performance initiative that helps realise the benefits and joys of making music for all. Cmpsr is Digit Music’s unique instrument that empowers individuals of all abilities to engage creatively in music.

Si Tew’s new album, Quietude, draws on his time living in Venezuela. A far-reaching and eclectic collection of music, tracks echo ambient, through to deep house, with elements passing knowing winks to influences as far and wide as Bonobo, Lapalux, Fourtet, Floating Points, Ludovico Einaudi, and Max Cooper.

We caught up with Si for a few minutes to talk about his new album, remix work, and to find out what he has planned for 2023.

Hi Si, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions about your new album. How are you, and what have you been up with your day so far?

I’m really good thank you. You’ve caught me on a particularly exciting day actually, as my new album, Quietude, dropped on Atjazz Record Company on all good stores and streaming platforms etc, and on the other side of my world with my company Digit Music, we are now officially shipping our new instrument, Cmpsr, which fuses gaming design and musical know-how to create a system that enables everybody to make music.

In terms of what I’ve been up to today, I’ve been in the office at Digit Music HQ, I’ve had an old friend come over and visit as we are looking to expand the team. I’m slightly tired as I was in the studio with Martin Atjazz finishing our Mist Works remix of UIHIA on the album featuring Georgia Copeland. A lot going on at the minute, but it’s all good fun.

Let’s get down to the album, ‘Quietude’. The album is a very far-reaching and eclectic collection of music. What was the inspiration behind the album?

Initially, when I started out writing, I hadn’t really set out to make an album. I was going through quite a change period in my life doing different things, and moving around and I was just trying new sounds and experimenting. With my first album, I featured lots of different styles and sounds I was into so I really wanted to focus on areas of my sound a little more suited for the dance floor… I’ll let you guys be the judge of whether I succeeded because some of it is still pretty relaxed.

For a long time, I was really just experimenting, playing and writing, and I found that things started to come together and form into a “feel” and a sound that I was really into. That being teamed up with where I was in my life – I was living out in Venezuela spending a lot of time in different places with very relaxing and calm environments, so I wanted to bring that feeling into the music.

I don’t really think it started out with a specific inspiration, but as things started to form and gather some mass, that’s where the feeling and vibe came from.

How did the name of the album come about?

I was doing a lot of reading at the time, I was spending a lot of time on planes, beaches and boats, which was very different to anything I had experienced before. From reading a lot, some words would jump out at me and I really liked the sound and meaning of Quietude.

You’ll notice that the album cover is blue sky and the top of a mountain which was taken on my terrible old beaten-up phone, but it was one of the most beautiful spots I’ve been to and one of the most serene moments in my life. I was sitting on top of a mountain just staring out into the world for hours. I was there for a considerable amount of time sitting in that exact spot, and it was just this moment that the tape ran out in my head. There wasn’t any more “stuff” that I needed to think about, my mind was completely free to go where it wanted and was so relaxed, serene and calm, both internally and externally. I just thought this is what I want from my album, this is what I want people to feel and this is what I want to feel, so Quietude felt like quite a fitting name.

When you begin working on an album how do you approach the work? Do you look at it like an album, or is it something that becomes a clearer vision over time?

I definitely didn’t approach it as an album initially. I was just playing and experimenting with the travel and new sounds, I was just making music. It just became an album out of that. From there I knew where I wanted to go with the sound and had a few things aligning with each other, and had a few people that I knew I wanted to work with. At that point, I decided it would be an album and started to work on things to get it over the line. But yeah – it definitely started organically, enjoying making music, and this is where we ended up.

When producing ‘Quietude’, what was your go-to studio hardware/software?

There are a few bits of kit that I use a lot and were used a hell of a lot on the album, but as I previously mentioned about going through a period of change, I really did with my setup too… I have always used Cubase in the past and it was my go-to tool, but I found it quite difficult whilst travelling – needing to ensure I didn’t lose my dongle and stuff like that. I was doing a lot of collaboration work on the other side of things with the production work I was doing for TV, etc. and with one of the guys there, I was using logic a lot. I started the album in Cubase, but whilst out in Venezuela, a while into writing what would become the album, I decided to switch to logic, which was quite a big change! It’s now what I tend to use all the time. There are a few things in Cubase that I tend to miss, and when I work with Martin Atjazz, he’s still a Cubase user. There are still a lot of things I’d love to use in Cubase, but for the most part, I really enjoy working in logic.

In terms of other bits of hardware, my Roland SH09 Synth, I rarely do anything without it. There’s always some element of that involved. It has so much weight to it, it’s raw, dry and has a really solid sound, but then you stick it through some pedals and it really sings. My Prologue is the main workhorse and I have a small modular setup I’ve built for generative percussion with tuning machines and oscillators that work specifically for percussion.

In terms of plugins I use – Soundtoys, Waves, UAD, I’ve got quite a lot of stuff but I am quite sparing in terms of what I use. I’d love to say that’s a really creative choice, but I’m not one of these people that digs in and knows every single function that every single plugin can do. I just use things in the way that I use them.

Of late you have remixed work by a good cross-section of artists including Robert Owens, The Bamboos and Aloe Blacc, and more recently, for Aussie Hip Hop Producer, Inkswel. How do you approach a remix as an artist? Are there any do’s and don’ts?

I love working on remixes, it’s something I really enjoy doing, being able to take things and flip them. There aren’t any major dos or don’ts for me, but I definitely like to put my musical input into it. I don’t really like using too much of the original piece, if there are vocals then obviously I’m going to use a lot of that, or if there’s a kind of mainline somewhere then I’d like to use that but generally, if I’m doing a remix it’s because I have an emotional connection with the piece of music.

The most recent remix is the one with Inkswel, I really enjoyed working on this one. It was essentially a hip-hop tune that I moved up closer to house tempo, took the main line with the horn and Andrew Ashong’s amazing vocal. I worked with a Double bassist to add a bit more weight and slap to the bottom end and picked out the key elements and tried to bring my own flavour to those, chopping things up, messing around with things and seeing what landed.

The only big don’t I guess is moving the placement of the vocal, and that’s coming from the perspective of an artist that gets remixed. If someone is remixing a tune for me and it comes back and they’ve essentially moved where the 1 is on the vocal, I find it almost impossible to connect with.

If there’s a don’t, it’s definitely that. If there’s a do, it’s doing what you like, having a connection with that music and making it your own.

Is there a particular artist you would love to work with in the future whether it be a remix or an original?

Anyone that knows me, they’ll know how much I love Bonobo’s work, and always have done, I really like his sound and how it’s evolved over time. He’s definitely someone I’d love to work with, whether remixing his work, him remixing mine, or us writing something original. So, Si Bonobo, if you’re out there and want to work on something, give me a shout I’m definitely up for it!

There are so many good artists out there, so like Ludovico Einaudi, he’s incredible and the emotional soundscapes that he gets with just himself and a piano are just incredible, so I’d love to get my mitts on those files or get in the studio with him, I think that could be something really beautiful.

Going the other way and going down the sort of techy route, Rich Devine from a sound design point of view, I don’t know how he can be touched, it’s absolutely incredible. I’d love to get in the studio with him.

You have built quite a relationship with Atjazz over the years in terms of music and the label. How has this relationship developed over the years?

Atjazz? Martin? Nah we don’t really get along, to be honest. Only joking, he’s my brother, absolutely love that dude.

He kind of took me under his wing a long time ago. I got a bursary from the BBC – they were giving bursaries to aspiring musicians, or people that were already kind of making moves and doing some bits, but not quite there yet. We were taken up to Manchester for a weekend and introduced to mentors and industry folks. Martin and the team from Mantis recordings were part of the selection committee and during the last day of the event, I met one of Martin’s business partners. I lived in Leicester at the time and was coming into my last year at uni and he said ‘look, we’re just up in Derby, why don’t you come up and meet Martin and see if you want to learn some more about sound design’ So yeah, did that, went to Mantis HQ and got on well with Martin, really enjoyed working with him and decided to make that a lot more regular. When I left uni I moved up to Derby and started working for Mantis and making music with Atjazz (we have a collab project called Mist Works), I even set up my own little studio space in the back room of the office just trying to get as much knowledge as I could.

What can be expected from you in terms of gigs over the coming weeks/months?

I’m being overly selective on DJ gigs and live shows at the moment as work and family are crazy busy and I want to give my all to whatever I’m doing. That being said, there are a few things on the horizon in London, Manchester and Berlin so check out the Atjazz website for updates.

Buy/Steam ‘Quietude’ HERE

Source link