WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN: The musical alter ego of Richard Spitzer, Nite Club is worth a listen. His new album My Tronic on Tape Theory is indeed his own addictive take on organic electronic music. SonicScoop queried him thusly:
Q: One quote from Urb in your press kit reads, “Nite Club proves that drum machines can indeed have some soul.” Is this something you were indeed out to prove? How do you think “My Tronic” achieves that?
A: I definitely do believe drum machines can have soul. There is so much soul in machine-based styles like the classic Chicago house, rave or freestyle. Back in the day there were much more limitations, so switching up patterns to match the music is what kept it exciting and fresh. For My Tronic I wanted to continue this process while making beats that become melodic like a vocal or guitar riff.
You have a diverse family background (Orthodox Jewish/Cuban) and musical tastes (prog rock, punk, classical, live drum ‘n’ bass). Are you equally diverse in your approach to music production? How would you describe your approach to recording music?
I strive to be. I’m always looking to teach my ears something new. Having a Cuban family who also prayed in Jewish synagogue might have helped this. I love to pick up tricks from the big Sound System hip hop producers like Danja or Ryan Leslie. Simultaneously, I’m always yearning for that lo-fi warmth from DIY artist’s like Elliot Smith or Broken Social Scene. My approach always starts with chord color and texture — creating a space with the sounds, synthesis and effects. If I’m not in another world I can’t be free to create.
Tell us about the key instruments and recording hardware/software you employed to make “My Tronic.” What’s the guiding philosophy for the tools you use?
Starting lineup would be my synths. I would be nowhere with out them, been gathering quite a nice little synth family over the years. For My Tronic, I would say the Dave Smith Prophet 08, Roland JP 8000, and Novation KS5 stole the show. My software Live 6, Logic 7, and Cubase sx-3 allows me to layer and re-effect my instruments adding much more depth. Live has an ebb-and-flow that fits my style of writing. It’s quick, impulsive and not too tedious. Some tracks I prefer to use Logic if I’m going for a more fine-tuned approach. It just depends where my head is at. Also a main instrument for the album would be the vocals. There’s a difficult meeting of man and machine that really makes this record for me.
What are the advantages and disadvantages to having a home-based setup? How do you make it work with maximum efficiency for you?
Having the music as close to you as possible makes it easier to get personal. A home studio allows you to dream and produce all in the same place. What more can you ask for? An unlimited time to experiment has got to be the greatest freedom of them all. Maybe the uneven acoustics in the home setting can actually help you as long as you know where the sound stands perspectively in the world. Most people who listen to music don’t have the luxury of hearing it in a perfect sound environment anyway.
What’s a song on My Tronic that you think exemplifies who you are as a songwriter, arranger and producer all at once? Tell us what you learned making that track, and spill the beans on a great tech tip that we can all benefit from!
I guess I think of the album as a whole. I wanted to make sure each track have equal emphasis on the different forms of the kraft. That’s probably the most important element to me.
One really cool trick I learned occurred while beat boxing into an ART Tube Pre during “Good Life”. The gain was really high so I triggered its limiter, allowing me to get really close to the mic and capturing all the human nuances without clipping. While the limiter prevented clipping it also deadened the attack, making it perfect for layering with other percussion sounds.
How does being Williamsburg-based inform your musicality now? How would you describe the direction of the Brooklyn scene overall?
Being in New York helps you move quickly with the future at hand. This city is always ahead of its time while showing you the harsh reality of life. Living and working here makes for a strength to succeed no matter what obstacles lie ahead.
The Brooklyn scene is in a point right now where elements of Art Rock, Hip Hop and Club Life are coming together. The clock is ticking and something big is about to go off for sure.
Is now a good time to be making music in NYC? What recommendations do you have for other NYC artists right now who are striving to be heard?
I think now we’re in the time of individuality. Staying true to what we believe in is key. Always remember what pulled you into the music in the first place.
Get closer, and never let go.
Thanks for having me.
— David Weiss