It seems this year will truly be the summer of revelations as this week Magnetic follows up with the legendary BT to discuss his upcoming ninth studio album A Song Across Wires. Arriving at the rendezvous point with a drink in hand, we spotted our interviewee and got down to business. BT, otherwise known as Brian Transeau, has been fairly quiet during this second coming of EDM culture in the US and is now set to make his move. We wasted little time discovering what drives the heart and mind of one of the hardest working producers in the industry and even wrapped up with a discussion of his new desk studio he's building from the ground up.
Enjoy! (We skipped the small talk to get you right into the action.)
Your ninth studio album, A Song Across Wires is due to be release on August 16th of this year. Based on past albums, which share a variety use of genres, what can you tell us about the new album that will make it unique from past productions?
This is probably the first record I've ever made in my career that is focused solely on a club/festival environment. It's my OCD pointillist, top shelf production esthetic applied to the current state of EDM. Lots of trance and progressive house and sprinklings of electro. These are all things that I both play when I perform and deeply love and listen too (which is incredible because for most of my career I have not liked what is happening at any current music in dance music). This feels like a moment where what I love, lines up with what others love and that in itself is exciting.
Your known as once the hardest working producers and talented musicians in the industry with a multitude of strength, skills and talents. What were some of the challenges that you were faced with during the production of A Song Across Wires?
As usual my greatest challenge is life itself. Balancing parenting, travel and studio production are tumultuous and exhausting but all worth it. I may shave a year off my life with lack of sleep but those are my greatest motivations: Being a good father, a good friend/partner/family member and writing great music.
All that said, I've been luck enough to be in development of several extremely exciting pieces of music software with my partners iZotope during the process of making ASAW and they have for sure wormed their way into it's production esthetic. This record has some crazy cool new production tricks up it's sleeve. Also because I love (again really for the first time) what is happening in EDM, I've been in a constant state of "study" during the process of making this album. I feel like I'm only beginning to hit my stride interns of making loud, powerful and evocative dance music. I'm more proud of what I'm doing now that I have been of anything during my tenure doing this. I'm in a massive growth and learning cycle, from it, awesome things are manifesting daily. This album is one of them :)
Follow-up: Was there anything new that you discovered about yourself during production?
That I can stay up 4 days without drinking coffee. That I have infinite amounts to learn. That new information can be assimilated in to my work flow with diligence and patience. That still my number one goal in making music is creating a feeling of uplifting expansiveness. To make people feel less alone.
Your most recent single "Skylarking" sounds phenomenal! Can you share with us how the track came to be produced and what equipment and tools were used for production?
I did this track using quite a few of my analog synths in the studio. It's part of what feels so warm about it. When I listen to it, I really hear my Rhodes 88, The Prophet 5, MKS-50 and Pro-One. It came from a beautiful long walk in the woods. That isorhythmic melody came to me and I got it out exactly (which almost never happens. It's usually about 85%). I got exactly out of my head what was in there. That was exciting.
We've been informed that your working on having a beast of new studio desk built for your studio! What can you tell us about it that makes this new setup extra special?
Well we measured it for my sitting height which makes in ergonomically incredible. The whole thing was built out of cardboard which in itself took 3 months! I am dying to reset my studio back up I miss it terribly. Working on a laptop is convenient but nothing like step sequencers, analog synths and acoustic instruments. DSP and computing are exciting but the aforementioned are my passion.
Lastly, you exemplify an extensive resume with a level of experience and attention to detail that makes you an inspiration to many musicians and to fans around the world. And with a background in classical music, why trance? Was it a natural choice?
You know I started making what is now colloquially known as trance before the name. Many people have said it was named after my last name "Transeau", which although I was reluctant to believe while it was happening, I'm not pretty sure they are right! When I started making EDM there was no such thing as a build, a breakdown or a drop. When I did these things my peers told me I was nuts, dance music is "linear". It's for dancing, it does not stop! Because the music I have studied and loved my whole life is rife with dynamics this was a natural extension of my study and exploration with electronic instruments. My early experiments were a very disruptive technologies and ideologies and I hear the ripples of them in music to this very day. It's why I continue to be invested in this music and culture. I feel a great kinship, historical perspective and sense of ownership in the current state of EDM.
It goes without saying we Had an epic night watching BT perform in San Francisco. If only California had a 4am curfew. Come on now people, we've got to get on top of this so we can hang out with our artist even longer.