Simultaneous

Growing up in Glasgow in the '80s wasn't all fun & games but once I witnessed, age 14, for the first time, a live drummer playing in front of me I was mesmerised and hooked on drums, rhythm and music in general, which became my vehicle to a bigger and brighter future. I remember the moment of inspiration, the band was covering Bill Withers' "Lovely Day", the drummer sitting back in a cool 16s hi-hat beat and I just thought...."I need to do that!".

The next couple of years was spent exploring music in a new way for me, analysing the rhythms, figuring out what they were made of, and initially bashing them out on my bed, pots & pans...and my sister's tambourine acting as my hi-hats - it didn't last too long as right form the start I loved high energy & power in music and pretty soon it was a bunch of wood splinters covering my bedroom floor.

Within a couple of years I started going to gigs in & around Glasgow, popular haunts from the tiny but legendary King Tut's Wah Wah Hut to the obligatory Big Red Shed, the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Center (both of which I would eventually play in my career as a drummer, King Tuts many times).

Not long after that, aged 17 I got my first drumkit and things really got moving. I will say that a drumkit in a council house is not conducive to good neighbour relations, but needs must. Luckily within my small street I had five friends who were all budding drummers so there was some safety in numbers....but boy was it a noisy street. We would take turns congregating in each other's homes to try out each others' kits, learn something from each other, and ultimately show off our new chops to the crowd of drummers and other friends along for the show. I do believe my first gig was actually in my bedroom. I don't think the dude downstairs was overly impressed.

Over the years as a drummer I was in countless bands, some very amateur, some pretty good, and some real contenders where I was lucky enough to work with some truly awesome musicians and very talented songwriters. Some of those feel a travesty that they never achieved more than they did. They know who they are. In the midst of this I moved to London to broaden my horizons and opportunities, opening up a new, much wider pool of bands and musicians to work with.

For a time I went pro and did some pretty cool session work including some tours and whereas it was fun for a while, and having some amazing experiences & stories to tell, ultimately not being a core creative force in writing the music meant it wasn't quite enough to satisfy me. Even joining bands where the music was great, a new drummer arriving and having creative input doesn't always sit well with existing creative forces - and I understand that, as even if that input is to the betterment of the songs, those songs are the writers' babies and the new guy changing anything is tough to accept. So this musically creative drummer often wasn't really welcome and the preference would be to just play boom-tish (albeit with feeling)....and again, that wasn't enough for me.

So I decided that as much as I loved playing the drums, perhaps the role of drummer wasn't quite the right solution for me....so I stopped. Not completely, but as my main serious musical endeavour, I stopped playing the drums to think on what my new direction would need to be.

For a while I wrote and recorded music of my own, just serving my own tastes and was proud of what I created. Lots of guitars, pianos, synths and of course drums, beautiful soundscapes, atmosphere, emotion and power. I was always trying to get the perfect drum sound, or guitar sounds, what I had spent years trying to achieve in the bands I worked with.

Then one day during the Christmas holidays with some spare time on my hands I had an epiphany (not the last). I always loved clubbing and really good electronic dance music, regularly going to some very cool underground clubs with deep & dirty house and techno....and I just thought "ah! I should try a dance tune!". A few hours later I had something that not only came together very naturally for me, but IMHO was better than anything else I'd done....and friends' reactions (although always a bit biased) seemed to confirm that I had found my true calling.

I think what works so well for me is that firstly, in EDM, and house music in particular, everything is rhythm. Even the most melodic parts are components of the rhythm or set up the rhythm or lead to the next downbeat. Also the way dynamics are expressed in drums versus dance music is very similar. Secondly within EDM there are really no limitations to how the sound is constructed. I remember right away quite deliberately not trying to create 'perfect' sounds for, say, drums, or the snare, or the hi-hats, but the liberating feeling of deliberately choosing off-the-wall sounds to represent those traditional parts of the beat.

Suddenly the only limit was my imagination.

 

Simultaneous Sounds