In 2011 an album Came Along and I became a fan of Amtrac in a big way. He sings, he remixes, he collaborates, he is not limited by the normal constraints the everyday human is beholden to, he is just so damn talented. More than just making good music though, he makes beautiful music, and he does it with a very unique, specific sound that is definitively Amtrac.
Amtrac, real name Caleb Cornett, hails from Kentucky, but let me tell you, his destiny is not keeping him in Kentucky. Recently he was opening for Kaskade on his 2013 Atmosphere tour, and in 2014 we have seen the release of a great Undefeated/Primal EP that sees Amtrac making music based more on rhythm and groove, a newer sound and direction. I had the fortunate opportunity to put some questions to Amtrac to see what makes him tick artistically, and see what exactly the future holds for this musician on the rise.
How is 2014 treating Amtrac thus far?
It's been really good thus far, I've met some great people and played some really rad shows!
How is the reception to the Undefeated/Primal EP?
Not bad overall, I've gotten a lot of good feedback on it. It's quite a different direction in comparison with the records I've made in the past.
How was it opening for Kaskade on his most recent tour?
It was an amazing experience, Ryan is one of the most solid dudes I've met along this ride. Getting to play a sold out show at Barclay's in NYC was most definitely a highlight of last year.
You have such a unique sound with regards to your usage of vocals, could you give us a bit of an idea as to where this unique sound comes from? Was it inspired from something else? A happy accident? Or something you heard distinctly in your head and brought it into reality?
I would lean more towards a happy accident, my production style is kind of chopped and screwed in itself. I tend to make melodies that work well with vocals, then loop it and play records on top of it to get a feel for the vibe I want. Somewhere in that process something will click and then I start from there.
Lately, we have not heard too much of you singing, are you taking a step back and letting your production skills take the spotlight? Or will we hear your beautiful voice again soon?
Actually, I've been singing a lot in the studio. I'm working towards my new album and there will be some vocal cuts on there, along with quite a few features.
How would you say the Amtrac sound has evolved since your 2011 album Came Along? (A personal favorite of mine I might add!)
Thanks! Dance music has been a heavy influence over the past few years, which has definitely shown in comparison to when I was writing "Came Along". As of lately I've been drawn to making music based solely on rhythm and groove, experimenting how I could use tracks on the dance floor. I've been coming back to more lush sounds and slower BPM's though, It's possible I'm at a kind of turning point.
Your remixes are definitely a strong point in that you really make them your own. How do you go about giving them that signature Amtrac sound? Is there a process or philosophy in your approach, or just the way it all ends up?
I start with the acapella and rarely take anything else from the original composition, I want it to sound like a completely new song, not just a club edit. I don't think I have one set approach when producing remixes, or originals for that matter. It depends on where I'm making the track. If I'm at the studio then I just sit down at the keyboard, loop the vocals and see where I end up. If I'm in the airport on my laptop, I take the more chop and screwed route to finding a vibe for the track.
Any plans for your sophomore album soon?
Yes! It's coming together more and more, I've been working on it since March of this year. It does sound quite a bit different, I'm really excited about it.
How do you fill your songs with so much emotion? Are you working out some feelings in your songs and expressing that process? I bring this up because your 2013 remix of Alone by Milwaukee is one hell of a tune with a lot of emotion behind it.
Movie scores have always caught my ear since I was younger, they've left me with a strong emotional attachment to the film. I often play movies on mute in the background when producing, in turn the tracks I'm making become the score. Thats one method I use to find an emotional connection to the song.
I have not noticed too many recent collaborations in your repertoire, although Don’t Know featuring Posso is a lot of fun, do you prefer to remix and produce individually?
I've yet to work with that many people directly in the studio. One downside to living in Kentucky is that pretty much everything has to be done over email, which can be stressful and tedious at times. I initially would prefer to work alone, part of the reason being my approach to production. That being said I also love to learn new tricks from producers and open up my mind a bit.
What are you looking forward to for the Summer 2014?
I'm excited about all the material I have coming soon and hopefully I can finish this album, I just need to throw a deadline on it and buckle down.
What are your top five favorite cities to play around the world?
New York City, Montreal, Miami, Los Angeles, Vancouver
Who are you listening to currently?
Chambray, Affelaye, Doorly, Thomas Azier
Will we be seeing another EP in 2014?
Yes, I'm just not sure which will come first, an EP or the LP.
And feel free to follow me on twitter @kirkthewilliams.