Alrighty! Things just haven’t seemed to slow at all over here on our end so far this summer, and to continue on our roll we have another interview & exclusive track for you guys this week. This time we’re going over seas to the UK to have a little chat with the up and coming moombah producer Geek Boy. This British producer has been seemingly sneakily putting out bangin’ moombah tracks without having gained much attention as of yet. That being said we were real excited when he said he was up for talking with us along with throwing an exclusive track our way! So here’s a little remix of his to start things off for everyone, I just ask that everyone try to stayed till you get through the interview and down to the exclusive track; even though the urge to get up and get down my be excruciating. Alas, meet Geek Boy…
TD: Let’s start this off with the basics for a new listener; name,location, and how you got yourself involved with the EDM scene?
GB: My name’s Al Swettenham and until fairly recently I was based in Melton Mowbray which doesn’t exactly have a thriving EDM scene! Disgraceland recently described me as Melton’s second most famous export, not hard as there most famous export is pork pies! Since I got married though I’ve been living in Manchester (loving it!)
I guess like a lot of people these days I got involved in the EDM scene through Facebook and Soundcloud. I’ve been kind of involved in the music scene for a few years because I’ve written music for adverts and corporate videos and stuff like that but about a year ago I decided that I really ought to be putting my stuff out there so I got a SoundCloud and I entered a couple of remix competitions, both of which I won and that really built my confidence and pretty soon people were coming to me asking if I wanted to do remixes, collaborations etc. I always try to say yes to as much as I can with the inevitable consequence that I’m always really busy!
TD: Who or what were some of your early musical influences as a producer?
GB: That’s a really big question. I’m heavily influenced by the video game soundtracks that I grew up with when I was a kid so I guess my most early musical influences are composers like Masato Nakamura (Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2), Koji Kondo (Mario and Zelda), Yoko Shimomura (Street Fighter II), Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage II). I think in a less obvious way I’m also very influenced by the bands and singers that my Dad played me when I was a kid like Paul Simon, Supertramp, 10cc, Steely Dan. I’m also influenced by a lot of disco music like D Train, Chic, Sister Sledge, Rose Royce, Donna Summer etc. And then there’s Kraftwerk who are possibly my favorite band of all time.
TD: So I’m sure you get this all the time but I have to ask, where’d the moniker Geek Boy come from?
GB: That was my friend John’s idea. I was trying to think of a good moniker and he said “Well you are a bit of a geek, you’re totally into video games and a lot of your music has that whole 8-bit chiptune thing going on, how about Geek Boy?” I think it’s very appropriate, I’m basically an overgrown kid, I still get really excited about Batman comics, video games, sci-fi movies, Lego, etc and I think somehow those influences all find their way into my music.
TD: Through following on Soundcloud we have seen a lot of moombahton from you with some other stuff mixed in here and there; are you looking to focus on a specific genre of tunes or just feel it out as it goes along?
GB: More the latter than the former. I didn’t really set out to become a “moombahton producer” as such but there’s something about that tempo 110 that seems infinitely flexible. It feels like within that framework I can explore a myriad of different vibes and genres. I really love the different directions that so many great producers are taking moombah in. It feels like one of the most creative movements in the EDM scene right now.
TD: Having heard that most recent remix you uploaded to Soundcloud a few weeks back it seems like you’re dipping your toes in some disco. Do we have anymore funk like that coming our way?
GB: Possibly, I love producing disco but I’m always really shy about sharing that stuff because I worry people are going to think it’s too cheesy! I’ve actually done loads of disco-esque tracks that aren’t on my soundcloud and that no one has ever heard!
TD: What kind of software and equipment do you use to produce your music?
GB: I use a macbook pro and I run Ableton Live 8 and Reason 6 together in re-wire mode, I’ve been working like that for ages. I don’t know anyone else who uses two DAWs at the same time like that (and I can understand why because it can be pretty demanding on my processor!) but there’s stuff I really love in Reason that Live doesn’t do and stuff I really love in Live that Reason doesn’t do so for the time being at least I’m gonna stick with them both! Like most people I use Massive quite a lot for bass lines but more recently I’m really getting into FM8 as well. This is partly because FM8 can produce some monster bass sounds but also because I’m big into ‘80s pop production and all those Yamaha DX7 sounds.
TD: Stemming from the last question, what kind of software and equipment do you use to perform live shows?
GB: It’s a pretty basic set up, just a laptop running Traktor and a Kontrol S2. I’ve thought about incorporating a MIDI fighter into my set up to allow me to get a bit more creative with Traktor’s effects.
TD: Have you gotten the chance to play many live shows yet?
GB: Sadly there’s very little opportunity for that in Melton Mowbray! I’m hoping to tap into the scene in Manchester. Recently I’ve been enjoying returning to “proper” DJing, and by “proper” I mean turning up with a bunch of my favourite ’80s electro tracks on 7″ vinyl.
TD: What sets you apart from the rest of the game when it comes to your sound as a producer?
GB: I feel like hopefully many of the influences that I’m trying to combine produce quite an unusual sound. For example, there aren’t many people combining chiptune and moombahton.
TD: I’m sure you’ve noticed the rise of “Trap” music in EDM. Do you have any thoughts on what it is exactly, and why people love it so much?
GB: Personally I think the main appeal of Trap is very simple, 808 drums. Some classic sounds will never die and there’s still something really powerful about an 808 kick and snare when they’re EQed and compressed just right. I really like the simplicity of it, I think it’s hard to do Trap well. I think genres with very simple production are often the hardest to do well. (Simple is not the same as easy!) I haven’t tried producing any Trap, maybe I should, it’s always fun putting your own spin on a sound. Chiptune and Trap might be an interesting combo!
TD: Straying from the music business for a second, what can we find Geek Boy doing on a day off outside the studio?
GB: Nothing wildly exciting I have to confess! Hanging out with my wife Jess, reading comics, playing video games, etc. I love going out if I know the music is going to be good and obviously there’s a lot of that in Manchester! But I also love just chilling out with mates in a pub over a few pints. I reckon my most deep and profound conversations tend to happen in a pub!
TD: What do you have in the works for the upcoming summer months?
GB: Quite a lot I reckon. I’ve been trying to write a Geek Boy EP but that will probably take me a while because I feel like it has to be just right. I’ve been working on some tracks with Scold Recording’s very own Don Heersema aka Kreecha. Since February this year I’ve been an official member of Rebel Sonix so I’m doing a lot of work with them. I’ve been working on a track for the forthcoming British Invasion comp.
TD: Thank you so much for sharing an exclusive track to tack onto this quick little interview with us over here at The Dankles. Anything you’d like to tell us about that?
GB: Yeah it’s kind of unusual for me this one, I feel like it’s got kind of an oldskool Hacienda house type feel to it, which wasn’t really a conscious decision, it’s just how the track turned out. Must be Manchester affecting my brain! One of the things you might notice about it is the lack of dembow which probably makes it technically not a moombahton track even though it’s at 110. That wasn’t a conscious decision either, like I didn’t start out thinking “I’m gonna write a 110 house track and it’s not going to have any dembow” but I’m a firm believer that you should only put something in a track if it truly needs it and it just didn’t feel like it needed it. Hope all the moombah purists can forgive me!
TD: Any last words or shout outs you’d like to make before we finish up?
GB: This is the bit I hate because I know I’m gonna forget someone really important but here goes! Big shout to all the UK moombahton crew: FeralisKinky, Dee Jay Umb, Neil Queen-Jones, mr9Carter, Jake Twell, Jimi Needles, Kev Willow. And obviously a big shout to the Scold Recordings guys, Don “Kreecha” Heersema, Rob “Hoodwink” Morris and John “Disgraceland” Stanhope (who was recently namechecked by the man himself Dave Nada!) Look out for the aforementioned British Invasion comp, I’m pretty pumped about it, I think it’s a really good opportunity for UK producers to make their mark on the global moombahton scene!