Wether he`s composing ambient pieces, industrial onslaughts or engaging in sound design and production work, Colin Cameron is truly a man of many talents with various aspects of it seemingly being constantly conjured up from within the walls of The Cell Studio.
My first exposure to Colin was through the release of the Slighter album ” V O I D ” , from there I began digging into more of his work and eventually as my own musical journey lead me to sound design we naturally came into conversation about everything and nothing.
An S&S interview with Colin is long overdue given his experience and the different facets to his work, we`ve featured him in other articles before such as the recent promotonal guide written by our grand overlord, The Duchess.
You have several one man projects operating in different areas of the electronic music scene, Heatsync and Slighter to mention a few.Why did you feel the need to establish separate projects and is there any deeper reasoning or meaning behind each projects name and perhaps how it relates to the music?
Well I think it’s sort of part of being in electronic music. A lot of artists in it know that genre’s are very much something you can get ‘stuck’ in. So to have a alias to go off and do something different is a nice thing to have. However I originally approached Slighter as a project for my post-dance floor work, and to which I will explore a lot of different styles with, this can some days feel like the reason I don’t resonate with a core scene… So with Heatsync, I wanted to give myself a more laser focus on what Slighter is doing lately and move the experimental beats and Drum and Bass ideas over there to Heatsync
As far as a deeper meaning, not really. Heatsync is just a play on the heatsink on your computer’s mother board. I liked the sound of it, and flipped it a bit to make it unique. Slighter is sort of the same, I just liked the way it looked in typography, and that I was flipping an adjective into a proper noun, again unique.
You have many years of experience in the field of production, how did you get started with this and what is it about it that keeps you going for as long as you have?
I’ve just always been interested in technology and music, so I sort of naturally gravitated to the combination of the two. I remember reading liner notes on CDs and wanting to know what a ‘mix eningeer’and a ‘producer’ are… So when I started making songs myself as a kid, I was very aware of the production side of it being important. I learned a lot by trial and error early on, and then while working for Appleas a Logic Pro trainer I got a lot of on the job knowledge from there, and being in Los Angeles the pros there who via Apple I was in contact with. I soaked a lot of knowledge up whenever possible.
Well it’s not been 20 years yet! So I think I’m still getting the hang of it! Haha. I just genuinely love being involved in audio and sound projects. Writing songs is one thing, but doing productionand sound design is a real fun challenge now too. So it’s just keeping myself challenged that keeps me going.
Some of your music can be found in popular mainstream TV shows such as CBS Elementary & HBO True Blood, how did that happen and was there any major difference or difficulties with composing for TV as opposed to your own albums?
Well firstly the music that gets used on shows is from my albums. TV shows, like films, have composers for the series. They handle all the cues you hear that resemble a modern soundtrack you’re used to.I’m not involved in that, the actual score of it. But the other side of TV soundtracks is the music that music supervisors pick from artists like me, that they want to use to emphasize a scene, or make a scene or montage relatable to an audience on the musical level. So they will license music, as a placement. For example with Elementary, they had a scene in the final season where the main character has to find a clue inside a video game. The music in the game, is Cyanotic and I’s “Turmoil”. The ‘Blank Mix’ I made.
How it happens really, is like anything else in the music business, luck and being at the right place and time. So for me, being in LA I was working with people who knew the music supervisors at True Blood.They heard a song we had just reworked and asked to put it in a Fangtasia scene. Once I had that placement, I got to hook up with a music placement manager who took over pitching my albums to music supervisors there in LA.
All your music is released through your own label Confusion Inc. What do you feel are the benefits and possibly downsides to releasing in this manner?
Well, I started Confusion Inc. after a string of bad luck with labels I had been working with. I felt like, at this late stage of the remaining music business world why do I even need a label?I’m publishing my own work now, it’s going off to LA for placement pitching. I have those connections, I have a few fans… And I like having a place I can throw all my side projects and not have to worry. The benefits obviously are full creative control, and the downsides is there’s no one ‘pumping you up’ to DJs and magazines and doing all that PR stuff. Or the clout of being signed to say, Metropolis would get you in more physical unit, merch sales and such.
Your most recent endevour is the Abstrakted “Ambient Confessions” series that ended with the song “Dripping”, what exactly are you confessing through these pieces?
Ah, my love for hardware synths! Haha! As sort of a coping mechanism for getting through the pandemic, I just started doing these live hardware synth jams at the studio when I had some free time.They turned out to be sort of meditative for me, and I thought they were cool so I started recording them into Logic. Just using Logic like a tape machine really. Everything in the Ambient Confessions is just long takes of me Having a go with the TB-03, Moog Phatty, Blofeld, Prophet 12, MicroFreak. I relied on the Earthquaker Afterneath pedal for a lot of the big washes too, very expressive pedal to ‘play’ as an instrument.
Two weeks into 2022 you’ve already managed to put out two releases, the aforementioned “Dripping” and a collaboration with Moris Blak on “The Hunt”. Are there any plans for the year that you’re able to share?
I really want to make this year about collaboration with Slighter, so starting off with the remake of Brian and I’s The Hunt, I’m also working with James at Static Logic on a split 2-track EP.Tara at Morgue Witch and I plan on doing a 4 track split EP as well, and if we can get it together I, Craig and Chris up in Ohmelectronic should be doing something as well.
Beyond several musical projects and your role as a producer you engage in quite a bit of sound design related work, creating sample packs and the like, what would you say to someone thinking about getting started in this field? Any advice or recommended methods, gear and so on?
I would say, have a good healthy love of technology. And a ear and eye for the methodical. It’s a lot of fun to create sounds from scratch, but your time at work isn’t just doing that aspect. So if you’re looking at sample pack work, that’s upwards of a 100 or more files you’re responsible for making sure they are engineered correctly so the end user experience is 100%. And that’s tedious, and not glamorous at all!
Gear wise, you can do a lot with less these days, and really a portfolio shines more than a CV. Do a lot of projects yourself and use that as your resume. Networking is paramount, connect with people and be a niceperson to be around, no one wants to hire an ego centric show off. Be nice and position yourself well, things will happen!
As Slighter you employ a more industrial sound palette, are you a big fan of the genre and might you have some favourites be them older or newer artists?
You know, as we’ve talked about this, I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘industrial’ label, as I’m not even sure what it means in whole big picture of what’s going on now. But for sure there are correlations to elements of my style that are there in my music because when I was young and impressionable I listened to KMFDM albums as well as Underworld albums – Thanks to WaxTrax! – so I embrace the subversion of mainstream that sort of comes with what ‘Industrial’ is or was...
So when I think about Industrial that I dig these days, it’s the Author and Punisher shit, or Ho99o9 shit, it’s raw and pushes things creatively, and that to me is the ethos I felt made the genre originally what it is. Youth Code is great too, oh and loved those Cocksure records.
Given that you’re the sole member of Heatsync, Sligher, Abtrakted, and princepal song writer at GR^VE do you ever have issues deciding which songs goes where? How do you differentiate it to yourself? Do you approach the creative stage with the idea of writing a Slighter song perhaps
If you would have asked me this question say, a few years or so ago I would have answered it very differently! Because then, Slighter was just a place where everything went. If I was feeling upset and wanted to write something hard, I would. Or if I was introspective and wanted to do some Ambient I would. Now I’m very much placing things into compartments in my creativity. As alluded to briefly before, I feel that possibly my ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach to Slighter alienated people looking for a bit of continuity with Slighter. And also as a growth perspective, I think Slighter has really grown into a style of its own now. I do have sort of a ‘work ethic’ now with it, I know what I want to get out of it when I sit down to do a Slighter session.
So yes, methodical here with creative sessions now. I don’t find myself much needing to just ‘noodle’ and go wherever in a session when I’m working on Slighter material. I think the dedication over the years of doing my own music pushed out all that sort of desire. I like knowing what I want, and how I will get there. It also gets more work done! If you know where you need to end up, it’s easier to know when you’ve arrived at the end.
So partly with Heatsync it was – if I feel like making weird shit, Drum and Bass, etc. where can I go and do that when I’m not focused on Slighter? And it’s not that Slighter is stagnating in exploration, it’s just exploring things in a less-is-more challenging aspect for me personally. Give me less to work with, and I’m finding more interesting things happening creatively.
GR^VE is a different mindset as well, it’s not rooted in anything that Slighter is influenced by. I grew up playing guitar as a kid, doing bands with friends, so my first real musical experiences were that. When I did the track as Slighter called “Over”I explored returning to a guitar based track, playing all the guitar and bass parts, and doing all the drums acoustically. Was really rewarding, a different experience than the years of programming synths you know? So I love that tune. But, releasing it, was sort of a ‘flop’. Not a lot of people were keen on a Post Punk song just stuck between some heavy electronic beats on that EP! Haha. So when I started talking with Christy about vocals and she’s doing “Walls” on my Automata record, I just said fuck it and asked if She wanted to start a band with me! Haha. Thus now I have yet another project to divide my attention under my umbrella of Confusion Incorporated.
Lastly, as you know Sounds & Shadows is all about supporting smaller and newer artists, with that in mind do you have any reccomandations you`d like for people to check out?
There’s so much good stuff happening, it’s truly hard to keep up – esp when you are off making your own music. I’ve heard a lot of great stuff in passing through the S&S group, I met you for example and really enjoyed the Carrion stuff, Mike Nolen makes cool music, Adrian Halo has come into his own with his new band too. Ian Staer’s Ambient is a treat. Ghost Youth is also something unique I dig. I’m sure I’m missing some, truly no shortage of good stuff out there.
Keep up with all of Colin`s endevours via the links below