We recently sat down with Astral Beats & Astral House producer Skygaze to chat about all things production, growing up in the North of Spain and creating his incredible new album ‘Freedom’. Skygaze’s sound ranges from incredibly wonky hip-hop to all out jazz, swinging house and everything in between so we knew this was going to be good.
Hey how’s it going? Tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from and things of the sort.
Hey, I’m awesome cheers.. so.. I am from the north of Spain and I’m also a part-time architect. In Spain it can be pretty hard to make a living from just music so I decided to do stuff in both disciplines. Working relieves the stress of making money from music so it allows me to concentrate on the creativity.
That’s some combination! Do you feel that your location and upbringing has a direct effect on the sounds that you create?
I don’t think so really. I mean, here in Spain there’s not a huge amount of support for music outside of the mainstream productions and styles. So Spanish culture doesn’t really affect to my musical output. For the last 15 years I’ve always listened to music from UK, EU & US so the influences are pretty broad!
Speaking locally, I live in a place called Gijon which is a city that has a strong musical background. In terms of electornica, we have the LEV festival which for me is one of the best festivals in Spain. They were the first people to bring artists like James Blake, Mount Kimbie, & Jon Hopkins to the country. Back then, these artists were super unknown so this event has been a big influence in my musical development. Without that festival I never would have found most of the artists that I love and take influence from today!
Your music styles crosses boundaries, genres and tempos. How does the production process look?
Well, I am very open minded which is the best thing I learnt studying architecture. Musically, I have my favourite genres but I am not focused on just one in particular. As Skygaze, I have released instrumental hiphop, house, juke, jazzy stuff, idm, etc…and love to explore new genres, sounds and influences.
As a kid, what were you listening to? Guessing it was pretty eclectic haha?!
Ha yeah, well..I started listening lot of brit pop back in the 90s, Blur, Suede, The Verve which eventually got me into rock and metal. Artists like The Deftones, Incubus, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Mars Volta and Mogwai, etc… After that I really started with the electronic music thing. I supposed the first electronic guys were James Holden, Nathan Fake and all that Border community stuff. After that I have been digging and enjoying all kind of electronic stuff from hipho to dubstep, juke, house, techno or even jungle. As you can probably tell, I’m also a huge jazz, funk, soul so my influences come from everywhere. I’d say these days 90% of my time is spent listening to jazz-funk and stuff on that ilk.
So tell us about your production process, what gear do you use? Software? Any favourite plug-ins & DAW’s etc.
Well my production process always starts by sampling then trying to give some personal flavour to that sample. This initial sample can stay in the track until the end or sometimes it disappears early on, but I almost always need a musical input to start.
I mainly use software but have a few hardware devices knocking about. For me, soft synths and DAWs are perfect for being productive so rely on hardware less and less. My favourite DAW is Ableton and have loads of VST’s that i tend to use. Instrument wise, I used to play guitar back in the day but these days I spend more time messing with keyboards and using the pads from my Maschine to create drum loops and rhythms.
So, you’ve just completed your second pack for us called Astral House and wow it’s pretty immense. Tell us a bit about the collections.
So yeah, I’ve two packs completed now and this one is some kind of house inspired, ‘non quantizied’ jazzy-organic piece. I think it has some kind of hiphop influence but could easily be used for house, down-tempo or most things in between.. I’m pretty proud of it!
My other pack Astral Beats was way more Hip-Hop orientated but both are pretty fun.
I see your new album ‘Freedom’ came out last month. How did it go? Any meaning in the title?
I suppose my album was me attempting to place jazz at the forefront of the style.. well at-least it’s more than it was in my previous LPs. It has a bit of everything; fast tempos, slower tempo and I just felt free to do whatever I wanted. That’s the main reason for the title. It’s nice having that absolute freedom to do whatever you like.
Last but not least, what bit’s of gear could you not live without.
For me these days it’s pretty simple. A computer with Ableton live, a Soundcard and some Spectrasonic’s VST’s. With those I’d be pretty happy.
A huge thanks to Skygaze.
The Touch Loops team.