Say hello to Caleb Cornett. Born and raised in a small town in eastern "bluegrass" Kentucky, Cornett spent much of his childhood banging on his small keyboard and strumming his first notes on a guitar. That was then and this is now, a decade later, a 24-year-old Caleb is making a name for himself as Amtrac remixing a diverse array of artists such as Metric, Chromeo, Apparat, Treasure Fingers and The Beach Boys. He’s also found himself sharing the stage with acts like Diplo, Mr.Oizo, Alex Metric and Steve Aoki to name but a few. Amtrac’s debut full length, Came Along, was released at the end of September and is proof positive that the man has more than enough ability as a producer, songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist to warrant the buzz he’s been receiving since the album’s release. You can pick it up here.
In the next few months there will be a new Amtrac EP that has him taking a future 2step like approach laced with vocals, along with a few covers he’s been playing out. He also has some collaborations are in the works, but as of now is keeping those on ice.
Other than that… I can tell you Cornett is a big fan of Johnnie Walker (hello, "bluegrass" Kentucky); gets turned on by quality; goes flaccid in the face of pretentiousness; encourages everyone to do what they love; can usually be found listening to records or moving around from place to place via his skateboard; likes to scarf down a PB & J with a glass of milk before bed. And, according to iTunes, his top 5 jams at the moment are: Kreap “Subliminal Static Automatic Floor Assembler”; Louis La Roche “The Wall”; Monkey Safari “Those Dancing Days” (Cassian remix); Cut Copy “Need You Now” and Radiohead “Good Evening Mrs. Magpie” (Modeselektor remix).
I tend to give out a lot of free music, because I really dont see myself ever stopping so why not just give people what they want, it’s a lot more gratifying and in the end and I think it pays off.
How would you describe your sound to a deaf person?
I would cater to the other senses. Smell of analog, taste of Clementine, touch of sand, sight of rolling hills—that kind of sums up my sound in a way.
What was your favorite toy as a child and when/why did you stop playing with it?
I remember taking my small 2-octave Panasonic keyboard everywhere. Not sure if I ever stopped tinkering with it, but all the keys were broken off of it somewhere down the line.
Any colorful incidents involving a fan?
Every show I play, and every person I meet is memorable to me. I'm very fortunate to be doing what I'm doing, and have people enjoy themselves listening to my sound.
Favor us with a moment in life that changed the course of, or defined, your aesthetic philosophy.
In March of 2006 my friends and I trekked from Eastern Kentucky to Washington D.C. to catch The Prodigy perform at some club that escapes me. Mind you this is my first electronic show I had ever attended, always being a big Prodigy fan you could imagine my anticipation. Adam Freeland opened the room with a 2-hour DJ set that completely changed my perspective on what I thought a DJ was, and shortly after… that is the reason I bought my first pair of turntables. Fog covered the stage and out came The Prodigy and it’s safe to say they blew my mind, the energy that presented itself between the people and the music astounded me. I knew right then and there that I wanted in on this, I find myself reliving moments from that show quiet frequently.
Your creative arc. Alpha to omega, go.
I tend to surround myself in the studio with pretty much anything that makes noise, from acoustic instruments to analog synths and you can almost always find a glass of wine and a pack of cigarettes near by. I defiantly like solitude when working on a project, I've found it always comes out sounding more expressive and thought out when I do so—unless I'm collaborating with someone. Most of my work hours take place in the AM, I’m kind of a night owl.
The movement from CD to MP3 was a big paradigm shift in the music biz. Crystal ball time. What will be the next big shake up? How are you going to come out on top?
In that sense it's difficult to know where music is heading, the music industry defiantly isn't what it used to be. It's almost comical to anticipate record sales anymore unless you’re on a major label or just making pop tunes. Now with services like Spotify and iTunes, the idea of buying physical albums seems pointless to most consumers. I tend to give out a lot of free music, because I really don't see myself ever stopping so why not just give people what they want, it’s a lot more gratifying and in the end and I think it pays off.
Do you think there are any commonly held societal beliefs that are false?
I feel that education is very important today, but some people let it get the best of them. Being a creative person I feel that sometimes education can put a damper on creativity, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on your line of work. I personally have never really considered any kind of music education other than from an engineering standpoint. I feel like something like music theory would kind of take away what I get from music, it's about the escape for me.