Sample packs are a bit of an ambiguous entity for your general music listener. Firstly and obviously they have little practical use. Secondly your average lay person has little in the way of any real understanding of the nature of the product and its worth to the wider musical spectrum at large. The cynics among you might even ask, 'If artists can't find/generate samples of their own, is their music not of lower artistic integrity?' I suppose taking it back, pretty much every great tune ever conceived from the world of drum and bass is brimming with samples. Whether those samples were intended for use in drum and bass music or not is kind of secondary right?
Well that is the conclusion that EDJ favourite Villem must have come to as he has decided to employ his musical prowess to create and release his own sample pack this week. We took a bit of time to ask him some questions about the whole process and the wider world of music at large.
How did the whole idea for a sample pack come about? What made you want to do it?
Producers of electronic music use samples a lot, I’m always hunting for the next sample I can flip into a tune. So therefore the need for new samples is almost infinite, you can never have enough!
Going through other sample packs I felt that I could bring my own high standards, and create a sample pack that is really strong throughout. I also saw it as a challenge to see what I could come up with, and I’m very pleased with the results.
Who do you see it being of use to? Is it geared towards drum and bass producers or do you think producers of other genres will use it?
It’s aimed at drum & bass producers, especially the beats. But the pads & fx are mostly analogue/outboard and would suit many different genres. There’s also a killer Fender Rhodes folder, which I recorded round a friend’s house in Bristol, shouts to Printers Devil! The sound of a Rhodes is so classic and has been used countless times in dance music from House to Drum & Bass, this folder will be the most versatile and personally is my favourite as I got a chance to play on an instrument I had been dreaming of playing for years.
How long did it actually take you to pull it all together? Has it been evolving over a long period of time or was it consciously and quickly created with the finished product in mind? When do you know when to stop adding to it?
I did some research of other well known sample packs, and then geared mine towards a similar approach. I knew I didn’t want samples in there for the sake of padding out the size of the pack, I wanted it to be high standard, so every sample is clean and weighty.
The process of building it was a lot of fun, I got to create noises without thinking about an overall track. So I could fully focus, and hone in on that noise until it was sounding great. It’s actually made me think about writing music differently. Usually I would be creating noises within a context of a tune, now I’m going to spend more time on sound design to create unique sounds.
What dictated which sounds/samples to include or exclude from the pack? How do you exercise quality control/general direction and feel over something that can be perceived so subjectively by each different user?
I made a sample pack that I would want as a professional or a beginner. There is fully formed sounds which can slot into a tune, or there’s strong basic sounds that lend themselves well to further manipulation.
I always enjoy the sounds of the 90’s and am greatly inspired by that classic era of drum & bass, one of my favourite sample CDs is the Reinforced one from early 90s. That thing is huge, still haven’t got through it, many classic tracks were born out of that CD (Deadline/Gateman). So I was aiming for that style.
Does it not feel like you’ve restricted yourself slightly by giving away lots of sounds that otherwise would have been exclusive to you and your productions?
Not at all, all these sounds were created specifically for the sample pack. I’ve taken a month off from writing music to dedicate myself to the sample pack, mainly to stop me from starting new tunes with the new samples!
How easy is it for you to recognise your own samples in the work of others when it starts getting used? Is that something you will be conscious of from now on? How will it affect your own productions in terms of making them unique from the overall feel and aesthetic of the sample pack?
You can give someone a sample pack and ask them to write a tune, and then give that same pack to someone else and the results will be totally different. The samples are a great building block but the unique take on arrangement and processing will always take the samples in the direction of the artists’ vision.
With that in mind I won’t feel that this will affect my own productions at all, yep there might be a tune released which uses one of my beats as the main break, but I’ll be flattered more than concerned.
Does it create a different state of mind when listening to the work of your peers knowing that they may be using your samples? A kind of higher state, knowing that you may have indirectly had a hand in the creation of somebody else’s music?
That’s a pretty deep question! For me drum & bass is all about samples, I’ve sampled my heroes and they sampled their heroes before that, for me its the evolution forward with those samples that count.
You’re releasing this independently. Do you think that not having a record label or a recognised brand behind it will have much of an impact on it’s success or is that not much of a concern for you? Is success measured by more than just how many units you shift?
Certainly a concern, I wish this to be as successful as possible and reach out to as many producers as possible, in the hope to inspire them to create new music. Life is about creation, the more people creating, and the less people destroying the better. If I can be involved in helping people create then that's a beautiful thing.
Has that freedom of self releasing given you a bit of a taste for more self releases for your own tunes and setting up a label? It seems to be the done thing for established producers nowadays.
Its been a life long dream to have my own label, its the ultimate goal to be able to have creative control of the whole thing. I think most electronic producers have a certain element of control freak in them that desire to hone every step, to create their own vision.
While we’ve got you, what else have you got in the pipeline, release wise?
Just about to drop is Mako & Villem - Whatever Whatever (Ft Fields) on Warm Communications, then a summer roller 12” on Samurai Red Seal with Mcleod, details to follow shortly, excited about that one.
Other releases that are getting ready with Metalheadz, CIA, Samurai, Utopia, V Records, Dispatch.
Any shouts, mentions, etc?
Shouts to everyone that knows!
From a listeners point of view, I always like hearing the creators' own perception of the samples they are trying to get people to invest in. Great then that Villem has produced four short demos using the sample pack. There are also tutorials floating around on Youtube but if I'm honest they went over my head a little bit.
Villem Drum and Bass Sample Pack volume one is out now from http://villemmusic.com/