Midnight Conspiracy Interview by Run Sevim Run
Midnight Conspiracy’s remixes are no strangers to being in the top 5 loved songs on The Hypemachine. They crashed the scene in January releasing a slew of tracks ranging from Italo to grimey wobble house. Now the boys are on the 40+ city Arcanorum Tour across the U.S. and South America (stopping in Miami in January). Despite the heavy tour schedule Graham Geren also known as” Dark Lord of the Synth” (as stated in the Midnight Conspiracy facebook page) has taken the time to let us interview him.
Let’s start off with a little background information. How/When did you start producing music?
I started messing around in Reason and some other programs like Acid Pro when I was 16 or 17 after getting frustrated with trying to start a band with my friends who didn’t seem nearly as interested as I was, so I figured I’d start writing my own songs without having to depend on anyone else. It was more or less a hobby over the years until more recently when I started actually putting these remixes out and getting some pretty positive feedback that I’ve started putting more time and effort into the production.
Where do you draw your influences from? *What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
My influences generally come from the music I listen to, which can be a great thing or can be entirely detrimental if your work ends up sounding like whatever artist you’re listening to at the time, so I try to pick different elements from all different types of music and blend them together to create something new. Sort of similar to the bricolage approach but more often than not I will create my own synth tones and record and manipulate my own samples rather than just straight sampling other songs, that’s something I have yet to do. I don’t really consider my work to be any specific genre, as you can tell by listening to my remixes that it’s constantly changing! I would have to say my major influences are artists like Trent Reznor, Anders Trentemøller, Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Jan Hammer, Soulwax, Prince, Muse, Deadsy, etc. I’m pretty all over the place with the influences. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of old industrial as well as stuff like Noisia, Amon Tobin, Wolfgang Gartner, and my two favorite underrated artists at the moment; TEPR and Innerpartysystem.
Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
We’re in the middle of a 40 city tour. Some cool venues… MJQ / Drunken Unicorn in Atlanta is sweet because it’s underground and reminds us of a bomb shelter. Avalon in Los Angeles just has a ridiculous stage production full of crazy lights, and since we opened up for Crystal Method they had LED walls seemingly everywhere which was a joy for us since we do our own visuals live during our sets. Kelly’s Mission Rock in San Francisco is cool because it’s right on the bay, and there were a lot of awesome dives like Barbary in Philadelphia, 12th and Porter in Nashville and Engine Room in Tallahassee.. and of course outdoors at College Bar in Stillwater, Oklahoma where our “Eye” lightbox got destroyed due to excessive raging.
We have a few more U.S. shows and then we head to Brazil and Argentina. In the near year we have shows lined up in Costa Rica and Denver in addition to Miami.
Out of your body of work what is your favorite track and why?
At the moment, it’s the new Moneypenny remix I did, I had a lot of fun making it, I think it’s my best work so far and happen to date Moneypenny’s synth player, and she really likes it, so I’m pretty happy with that one. Now, if she hated it, then I might have chosen a different one…. I do really like my recent Innerpartysystem remix too, we did a week long mini-tour with them and I haven’t met nicer, more talented, more driven people in a VERY long time and I wish them all the success in the world.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
Well, I’m not going to speak to that effect regarding original tunes just yet, but the remix process is to find the parts of the original song that I like, whether it be a bassline, a lead melody or the vocals or whatever, then I’ll scrap the rest of the original elements of the track and start from there. It can start with drum programming or a bass synth patch I’m into or maybe I’ll arrange the entire track first and then figure out what I need for each section. It really depends on the original tune and what I’m trying to make it sound like whether it be dark and brooding or happy and bouncy or whatever I feel will fit with the new version of the track I’m creating.
What can you tell us about your studio setup? (i.e., Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever’s available? What made you choose the instruments/ plugins/ hardware /software you have now? Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference?
I use Logic primarily for everything. I love the Native Instruments plugins, Massive has been used pretty extensively on these past few remixes, I use FM8 a lot too, and some Battery for drums. I recently bought a Moog Little Phatty and a Roland Juno 106 so I’ve been toying with those as well, trying to break out of the box a little more. One indispensable tool for the dirtier stuff I’ve been doing lately is the Sherman Filterbank 2, that thing makes anything sound nasty. I wouldn’t say I’m subject to brand loyalty but when a company like NI is really nailing it like they have been lately with some of Tim Exile’s Reaktor plugins, I’m most likely going to continue to check their stuff out. I guess I choose gear to buy/use based on the sounds it makes first and foremost but ease of use is also a big part, and I’ll admit to having picked something up because someone I admire has used one, but then again, who hasn’t? Cost factors in when I get impatient, which is pretty often and probably why I still don’t have a Virus TI!
What dream tour would you love to be on with any past or present djs/producers?
My dream tour would have to be Violator-era Depeche Mode, Fragility-era Nine Inch Nails, Purple Rain era-Prince, Last Resort-era Trentemøller and Commencement-era Deadsy. Now that would be a lineup.
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