Photo by M. De Murashkin
We have been really lucky with our interviews recently. All the producers we’ve asked to give us a little insight into their work have said yes! This time we were lucky enough to get a chance and talk with Philosophy Of Sound, who are a duo based in Melbourne and consists of musicians Martin K and John Salmon. Martin is a philosopher and music producer (yes, apparently people of this sort actually exist) who originally hails from Poland. After spending some time with his other project Koshowko, he decided to start a ‘beyond-disco’ side project with John Salmon, who has international background as a DJ and producer. Our admiration for their music is nothing new. We’ve been following these guys since their very first release “It Is Like That”, which was on repeat for quite sometime at Golden Scissors.
Last month, the duo dropped their fantastic EP “Freedom, What For?” Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to review this record since we didn’t have enough time. Because of this, the main reason we are conducting this interview is to redeem ourselves for this error and thank Philosophy of Sound for the awesome music they continue to provide to the world. From everyone at Golden Scissors, it’s pleasure and an honour to share with you this interview. Enjoy!
GS: We know you guys have been connected to music and video production for a long time. What prompted you guys to start Philosophy of Sound?
P.O.S: In 2008 I was promoting an indie pop EP release titled ‘Anarchy Monarchy’ for my previous project Koshowko and around that time I got contacted via Myspace by John Salmon who was interested in doing a remix of one of Koshowko’s tracks from that EP. I gave him some stems and John started a remix but then he started his new trance project Freeform Human, released an album and went on a tour in Europe. So that remix never got finished. In the meantime I’ve started Philosophy Of Sound, which was planned as a postpunk-disco project, in other words a project with a strong disco inclination but with a rougher sound, referencing a more hi-energy oriented dance style. So I wrote and recorded some material with a variety of musicians and then (I guess around 2010) John returned from Europe back to Melbourne and got in touch again about a remix. At that time I gave him some new stems to one of the new Philosophy Of Sound tracks, it was actually an early version of ‘Freedom, What For?’ our current single on Discotexas. John did a cool remix (still unreleased but we’ve been using it for some of our DJ sets) and after this we decided to start collaborating as a production duo.
GS: This is already your second single on Disco Texas. You guys live in Australia and Disco Texas is from Portugal. How did you guys get in touch with the label?
P.O.S: At some point in 2011, we thought that we had finished an EP release (now I know that it still needed some more work in the studio, ha ha), and we contacted a few European labels to check if they might be interested in releasing this material. We got some serious interest from about 3 labels but when Discotexas came on board we immediately felt very aligned musically with many other artists in their roster and also many of their releases sounded relevant to Philosophy Of Sound’s musical style. It was also obvious that a lot of Discotexas’ releases would be perfect for our DJ sets, so when you add to this some great following that the label has worldwide we thought that this would be a perfect choice for us. As far as digital releases go there are absolutely no problems with a Portuguese label releasing an act from Australia. It’s only a bit more tricky when it comes to operating with some more traditional media outlets in Australia like press, radio or TV, but I typically make a bunch of promos for the Australian media when our releases come out in order to keep Philosophy Of Sound involved in this more old fashioned Australian media landscape as well. But these traditional outlets are less and less relevant, as blogs (like yours) steal their audience every day. It’s great to see our videos or interviews on Australian TV but I have no doubt that the international viral promotion on the Internet is way more important these days and eventually leads to more contacts with people who dig our music.
GS: About your latest single “Freedom, What For?” Can you tell us something about how you guys went about producing the track?
P.O.S: It was such a difficult song to mix. The most difficult one I ever worked on, I’d say! Mostly because it went through so many permutations and changes as new ideas were coming to light. The original mix started as a very live affair with live percussion and live bass recorded in the studio but then gradually my approach has changed and the song has become more and more electronic. However my hope is that a certain level of intensity and drive that I always intended for this arrangement is still present there. The only live elements that were preserved in the mix are the funky disco guitar and the vocals. The guitar was played by Brian Westbrook and the lead vocals are by Magnolia, both of whom also contributed to 2 different P.O.S tracks.
After the original mix was more or less ready and pre-selected for our second single, Discotexas has arranged 2 remixes from A.N.D.Y. and Tronik Youth and it was great to get such producers on board. They both went for completely different feels and musical directions, which makes for a really versatile single, even though it has only 3 tracks.
GS: What were your influences during the recording of the single? What sort of things were you listening to at the time?
P.O.S: When writing the lyrics I was quite influenced by an old song ‘Po Co Wolnosc’ by the Polish artist KULT, I grew up in Poland and it’s still one of my favourite bands. So in a way I was trying to convey some similar ideas but in English and also referencing the contemporary times rather than the 80’s under the communist regime as was the case with Kult’s song.
As far as musical influences go, I was going for some electro-disco type of sound and I was listening quite a lot to several mixtapes, especially by Headman where he was mixing some more live sounding forms of disco and this is the sound which is also referenced in ‘Freedom, What For?’. We also have a pretty different sounding rework of that track which will appear on our upcoming ‘Fragile Disco’ EP. This one has a completely different feel and a bass line inspired by tracks like the recent remixes of Sam Sparro by The Magician or looking at Discotexas’ artists the remix of Jay Lamar & Jesse Oliver by Bright Shades.
GS: “Freedom Of what For” also has a great video. How involved were you guys in the making of it?
P.O.S: The video was made to a much earlier version of the track and since the song has evolved quite a lot, so did the videoclip, at least on the editing front. One of the key ideas I had for the clip was for it to feature QR codes, as I was keen to experiment with this form of interactivity. The shoot took 2 days and it was done in a huge underground car park that got converted into an artists’ workshop space, so there were a lot of random but handy props ready to be used. There were quite a lot of people involved in the shoot, mostly as actors (even the crew members ended up acting in it), which can also be seen in the footage. The video was shot before I collaborated with John, so he is not in it unfortunately.
GS: Have you been happy with the reaction so far?
P.O.S: Since the single offers a lot of variety musically, we also got positive reactions from many different places. To start with A.N.D.Y.’s remix has done really well on Beatport. Then tracks from the single got featured in a whole bunch of mixtapes, which is great too as we love to hear our tracks mixed by other people. Our video clip has done also very well on Youtube with 3000 views in just one week. We’ve also been getting the video clip played on a several Australian music TV shows, which is pretty exciting. But personally, the most important reactions are always those that come from individuals, so we especially appreciate bloggers or music lovers who contact us through Facebook or other sites.
Martin K (photo by D. Stanley)
GS: What is your synth collection like (hardware and software)?
P.O.S: In my home studio I only had one hardware synth so far – Korg R3, which has been used quite extensively in P.O.S’s tracks. The rest were all software synths, mostly some emulations of the old Yamaha and Moog models. John on the other hand has Jupiter 6 and Sherman Filterbank. He also used to have a Minimoog and Juno-106. Softsynths wise John is using Massive because it’s limitless for when you need that digital vibe. Both of us also use Sylenth because it’s so easy to program and sounds very useful for our musical style.
GS: How is your production set up? Are you using Logic, Cubase, Ableton, etc?
P.O.S: I used a ProTools HD system in one studio for the recordings of vocals, guitars and any other live instruments appearing in P.O.S tracks. The actual songwriting however was done with Cockos Reaper and Reason combo. I really love Reaper for their attitude and quality of software but I’m not so keen on using Reason as a rewire instrument anymore, so gradually I’ve been moving the production of the more recent tracks to Ableton Live, which happened at the same time when I started using Ableton for live performances.
John used to use Cubase when I met him but after that he switched to Logic. Those different set-ups present some difficulties but after some exchanges of files between two of us generally things work out ok.
GS: How do you guys typically start tracks? When you use synth, are you using presets, or editing them, or making fresh patches?
P.O.S: I frequently ride a bike in Melbourne and melodies and song ideas often come to me when I’m on the bike, in which case I stop and then sing the idea into my mobile phone, hoping that no cars will crash into me when I’m doing it. So a lot of those quasi demos have a lot of traffic noise in the background. Typically I write the music and in case of the vocal tracks the lyrics and John comes in with sound design and some structural and co-production ideas. I normally do the mixing but we’re often bouncing sounds and ideas back and forth, which is almost like remixing, we remix each other’s version of the track until we get what we want.
As for the synth sounds they often start as a presets but as the production of a song evolves the presets will most of the time get edited to suit other elements of the arrangement.
GS: Any new talent you’ve been digging that deserves more attention?
P.O.S: When a track passes a test of time and you remember it after a few months or hopefully even years, that’s a proof of its impact and quality. So for a while now I’ve been a fan of Ilya Santana and Mustang and recently both Ilya and Andy from Mustang have remixed Philosophy Of Sound to some great acclaim, which was pretty amazing. I’ve been also digging Aeroplane mixtapes, as they are a great resource for discovering new talent, one example of such discoveries for me was Julie Walehwa with the track ‘I Mind (Weirdo Police Remix )’, beautiful vocals and some amazing production which turned the song into a hypnotic dance number that can also work far away from the dancefloor.
GS: What’s next up for you guys?
P.O.S: In June this year for the first time Philosophy Of Sound’s material will be released on vinyl, for which we are obviously very happy, as it’s such a wonderful and timeless medium to present music. This will be our EP titled ‘Fragile Disco’ which will also come out on Discotexas.
In May we will also have one exclusive track titled ‘Ugliest Twenties’ released on a compilation album titled ‘Headspace’ by the Australian label Clan Analogue.
There is also a new remix we’re working on as well as another Philosophy Of Sound track, for which we already have the vocals recorded with Mereki Beach who sang on our first single ‘It Is Like That’ and now this new track has to be produced and mixed. I’d also love for us to do a few more mixtapes.
Soon we will also give away a bootleg P.O.S remix to a track by one of the biggest groups in music’s history, so that should be a bit of a surprise to many people.
GS: Anything else you would like to say to your fans and our readers?
Just wanted to thank everyone who has supported us. We also love hearing from people online, so keep in touch and we’ll hopefully see you at one of our gigs or will send some tracks your way.