Recently we have been cranking out interview after interview for you guys on so many different fronts it is almost mind boggling. From sit downs with bigger acts such as Gramatik, American Royalty, and RAC; to chatting up some bright and shining new artists that are truly making a mark in the industry. Today we have a Q&A from budding local Boulder artists Proper Motion that are bursting their way into the scene with some oh so soulful Colorado bass. Harry Watkins and Noah Marion are the guts and gears that make up this production duo who has just debuted their follow up EP ‘Through the Door’ after last years ‘A Refined Perspective’ put them into the spotlight. Take a few minutes to get to know these young and upcoming producers; and don’t forget to swoop ‘Through the Door’ if you like yourself some soul heavy and bass laden beats.
TD: We’ll start this nice and basic, can you tell us a little about yourselves?
NM: Well we both grew up in Boulder, CO so we have been blessed enough to be surrounded by amazing music our whole lives. We grew up frequenting visiting Red Rocks, the Fox, and the Boulder Theater. Personally I have been playing instruments since 5th grade, mostly focusing on guitar and piano, but I’m always messing around with anything I can get my hands on. I also studied Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder and will graduate in May.
HW. Noah and I met in high school at Boulder High. From there I went to college in Bozeman, MT. I graduated with a degree in Business Management from Montana State University – Bozeman. I absolutely loved Montana. Anybody who has a chance to get up there it is well worth it. After I graduated I moved back to Boulder so Noah and I could work together. Our agent is also based out of Boulder, and the music scene here is quite incomparable to anywhere else so it was really a no brainer to make the move back.
TD: For those viewers unfamiliar with your music would you like to give them a quick little run down of where you’re trying to take your tunes?
NM: When we make a song it’s a real melding of many different styles. I grew up listening to hip-hop, classic rock, blues, funk, and soul music. All of those are still close to my heart and I feel like it’s important to keep them alive. So we are combining these old school elements with this amazing new era of dance music production to create a fresh sound.
HW: We work a lot with samples. Samples from yesteryear that people may have heard in their life at some point so when they hear them again, they can connect to that old feeling. We definitely concentrate on the ‘bass music’ aspect of our sound but we tend to shy away from the really heavy side of that; not saying its bad music by any means though. We just want to show people there is another beautiful less intense side to electronic music that is still extremely enjoyable.
NM: And still really fun to get down and dance to!
TD: How did you two wind up getting into the music scene in the first place?
NM: I played in a few bands in high school (mostly bluegrass/rock), but was never really technically good enough to play professionally. My sophomore year of college I heard about this production software called Ableton Live. I was so intrigued by it because with Ableton you are the whole band. You can take a simple idea and transform it into a beautiful piece of music (by yourself) that is recorded and saved forever. I loved that. After experimenting with DJing a bit I started playing house parties and little gigs at bars around town.
HW: I started playing guitar in 8th or 9th grade and pretty much taught myself how to play my favorite songs. I was always a bedroom guitar player, never played in any bands but enjoyed it nonetheless. Right around the end of my sophomore year in college I sold my guitar to buy an entry level midi controller and mixing software, and that’s when the obsession started. I spent countless hours mixing my favorite dubstep tracks and eventually started playing house parties. One random night a local promoter was at one of these parties and asked if I wanted to open the next time he was throwing a show.
TD: What about joining forces, how’d that come about?
HW: Actually we weren’t even living in the same state when this started. I was going to college in Bozeman, MT. We both started playing around with DJing a bit at the same time. You know, shitty Numark controllers and entry-level DJ software. From there we progressed our DJing skills when we could. I came back to Boulder for the summer, I think it was in 2008/2009. We started just playing music together and got a few gigs on Pearl Street playing bars and late night events
NM: Yeah I had Ableton a bit before Harry and was learning the basics of production at this time as well. Creating music was always my major focus. Once Harry got a version on his computer we started working together and made one or two songs that summer. Harry went back to MT in August and we both kept working. I moved into a new house and it happened to be directly below the Robotic Pirate Monkey studio. I learned a shit ton from them over those months. They are always down to answer questions and give suggestions. I think in November I decided I needed a little change of scenery (I’ve lived in Boulder my whole life). Montana is an amazing place with a great scene and it just seemed right to go up there. I took off spring semester and moved in with Harry and our buddy Kevin Vilkin in January 2011 and Proper Motion was born. In April of that year we went on tour through the southeastern United States opening for Break Science w/ Chali 2na, PANTyRAiD, Lotus, and Beats Antique. We were also lucky enough to play Camp Bisco X that summer. Now we both are living back in CO.
TD: What kind of musical influences pushed you in the direction that led to you making the kind of tunes you do today?
HW: Top three for me have to be STS9, Pretty Lights, and MiMOSA. We also listened to a lot of hip hop in high school which has definitely made an impact on the kind of tunes we make.
NM: STS9 and PL definitely… Also hip-hop producers like RJD2 and DJ Shadow and more experimental producers like Flying Lotus.
TD: I know you guys are pretty fresh to the scene can we expect some big things to follow up ‘A Refined Perspective’?
NM: Oh yeah! We have a new 5 track EP titled “Through the Door” that released Monday March 11th. We are excited to finally share this new music! We also have some big shows in the works… Heading to State College, Penn next month to play BOOMBOX Festival with Markus Shultz, Datsik, Minnesota, and Crizzly and working on summer tour plans! We are also cranking out new tunes daily so it shouldn’t be to long before another album is ready for release.
TD: Can you give us a little insight into what went into making that album? Was it a slow progressive thing or did you guys know exactly where you wanted to take it?
NM: “Refined Perspective” took about 3-4 months from start to finish… We were playing a lot with sampling at the time and really wanted to show people our take on the Colorado sound that has been sweeping the country. There’s so much raw emotion in soul music and that’s something that is very hard to synthesize. It’s a much more mellow album focusing on melding the organic and electronic sounds and less on over-powering bass drops. Before “A Refined Perspective” we made a whole lot of 70/140 bpm dubstep tunes.
HW: We actually made this album while we were 700 miles apart. Noah was going to school at CU in Boulder, and I was going to school in Bozeman, MT. Noah would start an idea and then pack up the whole track and send it my way, and I would work on it and then send it back to him. This process went back and forth for every track until we were satisfied with the songs and album as a whole.
TD: Do either of you have a preference between producing your own music and remixing a song made by another artist?
NM: They are different, but I like both equally.
HW: I would agree, they are both different but both just as satisfying. One thing I really like about working with a remix is how it’s your take on someone else’s sound, or musical idea. You get the chance to add your flavor.
TD: Any artists in particular that you enjoy working with?
NM: All the Center Stage Classic crew like Rodway, TYR, and Wicked Awesome. The Robotic Pirate Monkey guys are good friends too and they have always been super awesome. The Digital Connection is a homie we’ve worked with a lot in the past too. We have a remix for SunSquabi out now and another for RPM dropping soon.
TD: If you could chose one producer to collaborate on a track with who would it be?
NM: Big Gigantic, Gramatik, or Flying Lotus
HW: Definitely Big G, Break Science, or our buddy GRiZ
TD: This has become a pretty regular question of ours, what kind of equipment/software do you sit down with to produce in the studio? What about in a live show setting?
NM: In the studio we have a pair of Yamaha studio monitors and a Yamaha sub, a Macbook pro running Ableton Live 8, an Akai MPK49, and lots of samples (mostly from vinyl). In Ableton we use NI Massive, Sylenth1, other random soft synths and a handful of third-party effects. I have a U.S. made Fender Stratocaster that comes out every once and a while too.
HW: Live shows in the past we have been each running a MacBook Pro with Ableton Live 8. I’ve been using an MPD32 for the last couple years and absolutely love it for the live setting. We are currently working on a brand new live set which will be much different than what we have run in the past. 2 MPD’s, an iPad, 1 MacBook Pro, and even some live instruments. We’re really excited!
TD: Are you looking to turn music production into a full time career?
NM: Absolutely. It’s our passion.
HW: It’s why we do what we do! We want to make music and share it with everyone.
TD: When you aren’t making beats like madmen, what are a couple things you might be found doing out and about?
NM: Kicking it in Boulder or Denver with the homies and seeing as much live music as possible. Skiing and just being in the mountains in any way I can.
HW: We definitely kick it around Boulder and Denver pretty hard. Frequent local shows and such. I also interned at Elm and Oak and work at the Fox and Boulder Theater in Boulder. Skiing is a huge passion of our as well!
TD: I’m always a little curious, when you’re just kicking back and lounging who are a few producers like yourselves might toss on?
NM: Gramatik is the shit. The older “Street Bangers” albums have been on repeat for years [laughs]
HW: I’ve been a huge fan of Thriftworks for the last few months. Also NiCo Luminous has been on my radar too. Gramatik for sure. One of my favorite things actually is the Thievery Corporation Pandora Station. I guess it depends on what kind of vibe I’m looking for…..
TD: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, any last words for those people out there on the web?
NM: Grab our new “Through the Door” EP for free on our soundcloud! We think people will really like it. And a HUGE thanks to The Dankles for helping spread the word! All you east coasters come out and catch us at BOOMBOX Festival in State College, PA April 13th!!! We’ll show you a proper good time!
Last show you attended:
HW: MURS & PROF @ The Fox
NM: Savoy @ Boulder Theater
Last long night you had:
HW: My Birthday [laughs]
NM: Harry’s bday was quite a night [laughs]
Last big surprise you had:
HW: One of the biggest surprises I ever had was when my folks flew down to Nashville to watch us play with PANTyRAiD. I had no idea, and they were just sitting in the green room when we got there.
NM: Hahaha that was the only time I’ve ever cursed at Harry’s parents. Pretty funny seeing them just chilling backstage randomly.
Last randomly hilarious thing you found:
HW: A bar coaster with an extremely disturbing picture drawn on it…. extremely disturbing.
Last CD/Vinyl you bought:
HW: Wow Im not sure I could even tell you… I did swoop some random 80’s dance Vinyl from a garage sale not too long ago.
NM: CD? Not in like a decade… I just scored a bunch of vinyl at this Goodwill in Denver recently including Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1, Two different 70s soul compilations, and this great jazz flute player Herbie Mann.
Last good movie you saw:
NM: Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained. There’s also this great Marvin Gaye documentary on Netflix right now… Also, the new Walking Dead season! Not a movie, but it’s awesome.
HW: ARGO was fantastic… and The Walking Dead is some of the headiest shit on TV right now! Get on it!!