by Kyle Taylor |
In the midst of a lineup brimming with forward-thinking producers and musicians, dubstep still holds a firm place for itself among the Infrasound Music Festival lineup year after year. It is both a testament and reminder that the genre continues to advance the utilization of complex sound design in music. With an admittedly thickening crowd of producers, those who proceed in their own unique fashion are beginning to emerge in a more and more obvious light. Just one of these such producers is Midnight Tyrannosaurus, who will be making his Infrasound debut at the 2015 festival.
Coming off his new album, Midnight Snacks Vol. 1, at the end of 2014, the Florida producer has been annihilating audiences all across the country this past year, playing alongside acts such as 50 Carrot, Dubloadz, The Frim, Bommer, and recently in Philadelphia, AFK and Rekoil. On May 1st the three producers invaded SoundGarden Hall for a night of relentless perils in the depths of bass music. Midnight Tyrannosaurus and Rekoil even teamed up for thirty minutes of back to back bass power following their sets.
With a distinctively swampy sound, Jason Figlioli (Midnight Tyrannosaurus) has become renowned for his particularly articulate sound design and both nostalgic and comedic samples. Often these samples seem to set the mood for the production which surrounds them, be them forceful and energetic or quirky and amusing.
“I start with the sample, and then I mold the tune around it. So say you watch a movie trailer, and something’s just so intense it gives you this really weird, unsettling feeling. I try to take that sample and make a track that provides that same feeling, that fits it. That whole track should speak like the sample does.”
Before the show, Figlioli revealed that indeed his samples play a majority role in carving out the rest of his electrifying compositions. This approach has attracted listeners from all corners of the bass music world to the Midnight Tyrannosaurus project.
“…for me, the type of sound I’m trying to achieve is more organic, so I can mostly just use Massive.”
Further, the sound design consistently found rippling through Midnight T’s production is impressively characteristic of itself. With the explosion of producers attracted and attached to the dubstep genre in the last decade, the repetition and replication of sound design has become an all too familiar plight. However, Figlioli is not one to succumb to such follies. His nourishment of noise has lead to a wide birth of filth infested sounds, providing them pungent rhythm and imagery. As far as “swampy” sounds go, this is the limit. Figilioli admitted that most of his sounds were achieved through the use of Massive alone, spare a few plugins from time to time, proving that all it really takes is just a bit of unique vision and dedication.
“Just from hanging out with people like Dubloadz and Rekoil, people that really know their stuff, it’s really showed me that’s how it’s supposed to be done. And you know, I don’t go and sound like them. I just say, okay here’s the formula, and now I’m going to use my tools, instead of their tools, on that formula. They go in together,0 and it makes a unique product.”
Figlioli has proven himself a true aficionado of his genre, progressing his sound through dubstep’s many approaches and forms over the years. He has impressed his style on more subtle, wonky bass-lines, characteristic of that pouring from UK garages through the mid-2000’s, and given new life to the efforts of torrential drumstep and dubstep sub-blasting tracks.
Before the show we caught up with Midnight T to get a deep look into the mind of this still emerging and brilliantly gifted producer. Figlioli revealed details for his Sweet Tooth Remixes and Midnight Snacks Vol. 2 releases, as well as potential future plans for a separate hip hop beat production alias. He talked thoroughly of his creative process and influences. Fellow producer and performer Rekoil also joined the conversation, inputting plenty of his own valid and unique perspective (read the full interview below).
Previous Infrasound 2015 Artist Spotlights:
Spotlight #1: Thriftworks [April 8th, 2015]
Spotlight #2: Freddy Todd (Plus Interview) [April 15th, 2015]
Spotlight #3: Android Jones [April 22nd, 2015]
Spotlight #4: Grimblee & Hecka [April 29th, 2015]
Funkadelphia: “How long have you lived in Florida?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “Been there about 8 years, and lived up in New York before that.”
Funkadelphia: “Florida definitely isn’t one of the first areas that comes to mind when I think of dubstep; what’s it like being a heavy bass producer in an area where that sound isn’t particularly popular?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “Part of me wants to say [Rekoil and I] are really in kind of in the same boat, because I don’t know about Baltimore, but there’s really no scene in Florida. Down there it’s like I’m one of three mildly successful dubstep producers. Me, Nerd Rage, and Symbiotic doesn’t even live down there anymore; he’s in New York now. That was the three.
It’s basically a home where I’m a nobody, and I like that. I like going home and being treated human. Some people will say it’s so cool to constantly have your name shouted out from across the street, but that’s how you get a big ego and that’s how you get inflated. So when I go home, to just my small town in Florida, when I go up to the corner store, same corner store I’ve been going to every year, every day, the guy still doesn’t know who I am; and that’s sick to me. I’m still kind of incognito, and that just kind of goes with my personality. I’m real in the shadows; you could talk to me an hour and still not know who I am.”
Rekoil: “Baltimore has been kind of a shaky scene lately. There’s not a whole lot going on there. There’s some good shows, but nothing really substantial on the dubstep side as I’ve found it. There are some people putting on good parties. It’s not as huge of a scene out there I guess you could say. The big dubstep parties aren’t as big as your average electro or whatever else.”
Funkadelphia: “Do either of you have any sort of musical education or musical background aside from producing?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “I played guitar for a year, and then I had to sell it to pay rent. So that’s pretty much it.”
Rekoil: “I actually never really had an interest in music until I started diving deep into electronic music. I really, really wanted to get into it. So that was six years ago when I started producing.”
Funkadelphia: “Samples are a frequent component in your music; so when making a new track, does the sample come first, or the rest of the track?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “I start with the sample, and then I mold the tune around it. So say you watch a movie trailer, and something’s just so intense it gives you this really weird, unsettling feeling. I try to take that sample, and make a track that provides that same feeling, that fits it. That whole track should speak like the sample does.”
Funkadelphia: “So the sample plays a big role in the production of the track?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “Massive. Because before music, I wanted to be a screenwriter; I wanted to write screenplays for movies. I’ve actually put together several manuscripts for projects for high school and stuff like that. That was my really big aspiration. Then, once I realized that basically no one makes it as a screenwriter, because everyone’s basically trying to do the same thing, that’s when I decided music might be a better route to take it. I could just take the images I had in my head and project them through sound. It’s kind of a cool way to do it. I thought it would be fun, and it works.”
Funkadelphia: “Has bass music always been your main musical pursuit?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “Before I started making dubstep I wanted to make hip hop. I wanted to just make straight chill hip hop beats. I was telling [Rekoil] earlier, that’s all I listen to is chill instrumental hip hop beats. It’s like my thing; I’ll drive around and just listen to beats. It relaxes me. This is a really stressful industry, so when I get that time to chill, I like the music to be as chill. I can’t go listen to ‘RA RA RA’ at a show and then go listen to the same thing on the ride home. I can’t do it, kills my head, you know what I mean? So, before dubstep, yeah, I wanted to make that. But once I realized it was a lot harder than it looks, I just gave dubstep a shot and kind of fell in love with it and had more fun doing it. But this year or next year I’m going to start making hip hop finally. I’m going to have a new alias. I don’t know the name for it yet, but I’m going to have a second alias.”
Rekoil: “I’m pretty much on a hip hop tip, too. My music is taking a little more of that direction as well. I’m just going to do it all under Rekoil. But when I’m done with a show I definitely don’t like to be listening to super heavy music or anything.”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “Or even during the day. I know people who get up and like start their day listening to Datsik. You’ve got to be in a certain setting for it.”
Funkadelphia: “Would you say your music is primarily inspired by other bass music, or do you try to draw inspiration from other types of music or even things beyond music completely?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “If anybody says they don’t draw inspiration from other artists they’re lying, because if you listen to other artists you’re going to draw inspiration from them whether you know it or not. It’s going to have an influence on how you make your music. You can listen to someone and be like, ‘yo that guy’s hi-hats are wicked’. So now, without even consciously thinking about it, you’re going to make your hi-hats based on what you heard from that guy, even though in your head you’re just thinking you’re making the song better.
That’s not saying you’re going to jack a certain person’s style. It’s just saying that person inspired you to work harder on that specific element of your music; and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For me, I draw a lot of inspiration from other producers in terms of workflow and getting rhythms down, because I never had a really good sense of rhythm my whole life. Just from hanging out with people like Dubloadz and Rekoil, people that really know their stuff, it’s really showed me that’s how it’s supposed to be done. And you know, I don’t go and sound like them. I just say, okay here’s the formula, and now I’m going to use my tools instead of their tools on that formula. They go in together and it makes a unique product.
If you go in and it sounds too much like someone else in your head, you’re going to go in and fix it, because you don’t want it to sound too much like somebody else. Your fans are going to pick it up and pick it apart. Especially these days. The kids are critics. ‘Your stuff sounds too much like Getter, bro’, and they’ll be eighty comments, ‘sounds like Getter’, ‘sounds like Trollphace’, this sounds like this guy. But as long as you really just try hard to be unique, you’ll be alright.
So yeah, from other producers, and from the samples. The samples are really my main inspiration. I try to envision the sound that fits the feeling that the sample gives you. Like if you listen to some track and it’s got crazy intensity, making sounds that have that same intensity, when the track goes ‘WOMP’ it’ll just make your hair stand up or something. So it’s kind of like how you’ll have a sample that makes you feel the same thing, makes your hair stand up. I try to put those pieces together.”
Rekoil: “You gather inspiration from everything around you. Me, personally I’m more of a sound designer. When it comes down to it, I like writing music, but making sounds is my passion. So I can get inspiration from any kind of sci-fi or whatever. I just love that futuristic, almost robotic sound. That’s where I draw a lot of inspiration, just from hearing things and going, ‘that’s a cool f*****g sound’.
Most of the time I’m just sitting in a project file messing around with sounds, and then I’ll start messing around with my MIDI keyboard, and things will start coming together with rhythm or whatever. In terms of inspiration, it doesn’t have to be other artists, it doesn’t have to be other music, for me it can be anything abstract. Anything can really get to me.”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “It’s like that for him in that case, for me it’s the samples. Something that doesn’t even pertain to music, that’s a completely different art form, gives you inspiration to make sounds. It’s just the way our brains work.”
Funkadelphia: “You’re able to achieve a lot of unique and diverse sounds with your production; what hardware and software, as well as plugins are you using in your production?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “I don’t really have any hardware. I have an audio interface, that’s the only hardware I use, and that doesn’t even really count as anything. It’s all software. FL Studio and Massive and Reverb EQ. You can pretty much get the dopest sound you’d possibly want out of Massive by itself. You really don’t need Effectrix and all those plugins to really make it sound crazy. If you want to make it to sound a certain flavor, and it doesn’t sound that flavor naturally- like say you’ve got something that sounds like a ‘rar’ and you want to make it more of a robotic ‘blugh’- you can put plugins on top of it. You can get all sorts of plugins to distort it and make it sound different. But for me, the type of sound I’m trying to achieve is more organic, so I can mostly just use Massive.”
Rekoil: “I’d just like to add in, I think plugins are useful and everything, but for the first four years I was making music I was against using anything other than Massive. Like not even EQs after, which is why it kind of sounded like sh*t after, but that was kind of my claim, I only used Massive. It’s a beast. You can do whatever you want with it, so much.
At the same time though, there are some basics. Listening to standard music, like effect pedals on guitars in rock music, you can achieve different flavors with different things, and Massive doesn’t have everything in it. It’s cool to play around with different things too. I’ve been playing around with Effectrix a lot just because it’s really simple to get effects that you can instantly bounce in place and resample.”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “Plugins definitely have their place, absolutely. For me, it’s every other track that usually has a few plugins in it, whether it’s Effectrix, or FL has this one called Effector, which just makes everything sound super loud and ridiculous, but when you turn it down, it sounds great.”
Funkadelphia: “You sort of put comedic samples right up against dark and aggressive bass drops; can you talk about what you’re trying to achieve with this juxtaposition?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “When you listen to something dark, but it’s also got this zaniness to it- like if you watch a cartoon like Rocko or Freakazoid, they have that zany element to it, that kookiness to them. So when I try to make those types of tracks, I try to make them sound kooky to fit that kooky vibe.”
Rekoil: “When you think about cartoon sound effects they’re always big and abrupt, crazy and modulated, so I think that’s why that style really works. Detzky does some cool stuff with that sort of premise, it’s just awesome.”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “Yeah he’s awesome. That guy pretty much inspired me tenfold to do that type of sampling. When I heard ‘Gang Green Gang’ by him and Infekt, I realized how cool you make tracks using samples in that way. So I was like, ‘I’m going to start sampling old cartoons too’. I would hit him up with works in progress and got his approval, and we had a few collabs but they never ended up getting released. I’d like to see him start making music again, he’s too good.”
Funkadelphia: “You have the Sweet Tooth Remixes album coming up soon, and also Midnight Snacks 2 on the backburner, but do you have any other releases you’re currently working on?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “Those are definitely the two main ones. The Sweet Tooth Remixes is going to be like eighteen tracks, eighteen different remixes, and that’s meant to help hold people over until Snacks 2, which is December.
I’m working with a label, who I can’t really mention yet- I’ve go to wait and see what they think- but there could be something in the future, there could not be. Those are the two definite things, though, two eighteen-plus track albums.”
Rekoil: “I’ve got a lot, but kind of keeping quiet about it for now. I’ve got a few singles and some free stuff coming up, that Freekoil sh*t.”
Funkadelphia: “Any details you can give us on when your ‘Aliens’ remix for Figure will be released?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “Here’s a little secret that not a lot of people know: that track’s actually a collaboration between me and my best friend from home. He’s not a name really. I’ve taken him under my wing you might say, so a lot of my fans might know him; I’ve posted him up on my page quite a bit. His name’s Wicked Ill. But trust me, everyone’s been asking when it’s going to be out. Josh, Figure, has even been hitting me up, ‘when am I getting it?’. We’re working on it, we just want to make it really good. I’d say by Fall.”
Funkadelphia: “So who else on the Infrasound lineup are you most excited to see this year?”
Midnight Tyrannosaurus: “A lot of people. There’s people that I never even thought I’d see, let alone see in that kind of setting, out in the woods. Tipper; I never even knew about Tipper until a couple years ago. Tipper’s nasty. Benga; really big on Benga because I’ve listened to him for eons but never thought I’d see him live. It’s Benga; UK’s finest. BadKlaat; I’ve been following him for a long time, and I’ve been wanting to see him live. It’s not as much about seeing these guys live as it is about finally meeting them in person, and then seeing them play.”