Silvertortoise Delivers Unto Us Answers!

culprateIn our appreciation for the newest Culprate release we’ve done a series of three interviews with the contributing artists to various tracks. Last week we spoke to Jaggi (vocals), and then ZES (guitar) about their roles in the album, and today we bring you feedback from Pete Mills, aka Silver Tortoise (piano & violin) on his role. If you haven’t already, grab the album in full (HERE), and enjoy. We’ll be posting about the album in full later this week, but for now let’s enjoy a tune or two that Mills contributed to on his side.

Mills (Facebook, Soundcloud) is an artist we’ve not been exposed to before, but he’s definitely a great talent. A piano player whose album (check it HERE) is one of those inspired pieces for those who dig the solo instrumentation side of music, shows his ability on full display. He’s a man behind the scenes on this album, but he’s a man whose ‘post-classical’ work is to be admired as well.

So enjoy the three tunes from Culprate’s album (plus one bonus tune from MC Xander who Mills will be working with soon) that Mills worked on and enjoy his insight into the production, process, and his insights overall.  Interesting all the way around!

Waxhole: How did it come about that you were brought on to the project? were you approached by Culprate, are you already friends, have you already worked together in the past, etc.
Mills: That is good question, I did a seminar on music theory for electronic producers at The Cube in bristol, (run by these brilliant guys,, and Culprate was also doing a talk, his was on production of course. This was the first time I had met him, and I was absolutely blown away by his talk, check it out on the website. (And check out the others too, they’ve had other amazing guys like Optical, Krust, and Break). I gave Culprate a cd of my piano album, and later on he said that he really liked it and we should collaborate in some way. I lent him my virus ti for a while and we met up and I watched how he built up a tune from just a few elements, which was a revelation for me as I normally use midi and not so much audio editing and resampling.

Then later on he needed someone to do the score for the violin parts for the album and I somewhat foolishly agreed not realising it would be hours and hours of work! But it was great practice to try and transcribe every slide and bend and really improved my sibelius skills. That and when I tried to buy the guestlist for life perk on the fundraiser he gave it to me for free. So I can cash in for a good while yet ; ) Then when he was recording the album he asked me to come a join, but I wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted, so it was a surprise to then be recording on the album, which is the way he wanted it of course, he didn’t want loads of pre prepared phrases.

Waxhole: How did the creation process play out, what pieces of the puzzle did you provide? Some of these tracks seem to have MANY collaborates involved, any insight into that process?
Mills: Well this could be a long answer, but as I understand it, John had already written the album but in electronic form. He actually already sent it to me, and then said he was doing this fundraiser, and I couldn’t understand it because he had already written it, and it sounded perfect to me, but then I realised he wanted to re record it, but with live instruments. That’s when I realised the perfectionism and the lengths the really top end producers go. So when I attended the first session, there was a Kora player who had just been recorded, which sounded amazing as a straight take with no processing, and a guitarist and saxophonist (who apparently also absolutely nailed it), and then we set up a good old hammond organ with a leslie speaker, and a tasty battered old piano with a Neumann mic which sounded amazing, and I heard the phrases and learnt them a little on the spot, but the idea was more playing it live and improvising, so John could get the best feel and sound quality, rather than an artificial recording.

Then we went to a different studio the next day, which was a more formal session – we’d been up all night however – and the main producer wasn’t best pleased when we walked in, but after he’d heard one of the tracks he completely changed, I actually watched his face switch when he heard the pitch of one track completely change culprate style – he said afterwards when me and one of the cameramen walked in he was expecting some dire rock band haha

This session was mainly recording the drums, and the drummer was blinding. I still can’t believe now that he was able to play everything live exactly as it was on the programming, esp acid rain. Then me and him had a crazy jam with me on a rhodes which was a real test, and john later incorporated some of it into The Memoirs of Gregory Otterman

Waxhole: Tell me a little about your current solo work, upcoming releases, etc.
Mills: I’m currently promoting my first piano album which can be streamed from youtube (HERE) as I’m now recording the second album, which will be similar but more pushing the envelope. I’m also going to do some work with with some amazing hang playing friends of mine Hang Massive, and the outstanding MC Xander, if you haven’t heard him, check him out, truly mind blowing stuff. So my second solo piano album will be released autumn next year, and then I will be combining this with the electronic styles and everything I’ve learnt from production over the past 16 years.

Also I’m working on Ninja Jamm which you have to try. It’s an app for iPhone and iPad made by Ninja Tune record label, where when you buy a song you get all the stems, and can therefore make your own remix or even make your own tune if you stretch the sounds enough you can’t tell what the original was. It has a gyroscope for changing delays and ninja slide for glitch! We just did our first chinese artist for it Ceezy and there’s lots of other amazing tracks on there by artists like Coldcut, Bonobo, Amon Tobin and Mr Scruff. I basically write new clips for it which can be remixed in, so they send me the track and then I have to come up with clips which will fit with everything, often I try and do really nice piano phrases, but also bass lines and glitched up pads / fx etc.

Waxhole: I personally feel like there’s a lot of exciting shifts happening across the genre board right now and I’d love to know who’s got you excited about music these days?
Mills: Well MC Xander as I mentioned before of course and Hang Massive as they are the epitome of less is more, very minimal style which is very relaxing – and unusual these days, it’s often seems to be trying to make things as loud and in your face as possible. But then on the more electronic side, Koan Sound I’ve always loved and their E.P. with Asa was a huge step up, and in terms of Dnb Noisia of course who seem to be taking dnb production further than is possible. I thought the new aphex album was amazing too. I continue to find lots of greats on soundcloud as well, such as Mr Bill and Hybris.

What also excites me is people who are pushing techniques on instruments, like the tapping guitarists Erik Mongrain, Jon Gomm and Alexi Hadefi, and of course Rodrigo y Gabriela. And beatboxers such as Reeps One who I saw at Sunrise Festival and basically did things that weren’t possible. At one point he was chatting to the audience with a beat playing, and I just thought he’d recorded it on a looper, but then looked at the floor and there was nothing to be seen, just a mic plugged straight into the desk…

I do hear a lot of music though which although I really like, it’s not ‘new’, it just sounds amazing, but with the elements I’ve mentioned above and today’s production levels, I can see that there are many incredible things we will be seeing / hearing soon. Also the fact that everyone is promoting themselves on youtube etc and need to stand out, often by doing something no one else has done. I know also there’s a vast amount I’ve missed which would blow me away, it never ceases to amaze me how much incredible music there is that I haven’t found yet, even if I’m constantly looking for days on end. Shows you how amazing humanity really is!

Posted By: Hypo-Luxa

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