As far as introductions go, you could do a lot worse than the inaugural release from the Antipodean Salt Mines label. It certainly increased the profile of label heads Rudolf C and Shedbug and the former has been showing his versatility ever since, releasing music on similarly nascent labels like Micronesia and X-Kalay.
A lover of all things analogue, when Rudolf isn’t punching rhythms into an MPC he’s probably browsing Gumtree for bargains on vintage Roland synthesisers. Sun-bleached house tracks equipped with kaleidoscopic synth leads, muffled acid lines, swinging drums and delicate flourishes have become his calling-card, but to what extent does creative process or studio setup influence his sound? With a European tour of his live show well underway, we thought it was a good opportunity to pick Rudolf’s brain about formative years, analogue gear, translating his music to a live setting and much more.
Rudolf C will play live at the Lobster Theremin 3rd Birthday at Corsica Studios this Saturday (October 1st).
Let’s begin with your formative years. Were you in any bands or musical projects before you started producing electronic music?
I originally started out on trumpet in primary school after seeing a guy making an extremely realistic motorcycle sound at a presentation when I was about 10. From then I skipped between various kinds of punk & hardcore, playing in a few smalltime bands that never went any further than one rehearsal or two. electronic music started for me in my lounge room, picking around on garage band and making sample based hip hop for about 2-3 years, at this time, friends around me were into DJing and the likes but I had no real interest in it. I only really got into dance music once I started studying audio engineering after high school, and it was purely from sitting in Shedbug’s back shed (guess where the name came from) listening to him mix tech house while I smoked weed. This would have been about late 2012 early 2013, it’s all downhill from there.
What were the first bits of gear you started making music on?
The first piece of gear I ever bought was an [Akai] MPC500, I was still making hip hop at this time so I’d take it round to my friends place and drink beers and make shitty hip hop, I then came into a very broken [Yamaha] DX100 and thats when I started meddling with dance music. My first real polysynth was my [Roland] Alpha Juno 2. I still use it quite regularly, those things are so sick, half the price of the other Juno series and they do much much more than meets the eye – if you’re not afraid of menu diving that is.
Would you say you have an ideal environment for making music?
My bedroom is still my favourite place to make music. I’ve done it in high-end studios at university and with friends but I still find that I get the best results on my own in my room.
Any habits or rituals when you sit down for a studio session?
Not particularly. I get stuck into listening to loops I make from all around my room. Quite often I’ll make a 4 bar loop then lay on my bed and listen to it for half an hour, hah.
We’re guessing the quantise function isn’t a popular one for you. Whats your approach in the studio? Loads of jamming sessions with hardware?
Yeah pretty much. Mostly just mucking around on the MPC making drum tracks, then making synth sounds on the [Roland] JV-1080. Lots of tracks I do just record straight to tape, but if I’ve got a good feeling about it I’ll write all the sequences out on the MPC then record ’em onto my computer and arrange and mix them there.
Does your creative process always follow the same pattern, or is it more intuitive than that?
It really depends. Sometimes tracks just happen naturally and are finished within the hour, but quite often, especially as of late, I’ve been revisiting really old tracks and remaking them completely, maybe using one key synth sound from what I had and turning them into something entirely new.
You have cited the likes of Route 8 and Terreke as significant influencers. Have either made an impression on how you approach a live performance?
As a live performance for myself, not particularly. The inspiration is usually with the sound of the music i record at home, but when it comes to live sets I pretty much just sat down one day and figured out what I thought would be the best way of doing it with what I have. Playing live using an MPC as the master can be quite limiting, considering the [Akai] MPC1000 is so old and not particularly built for editing on the fly, but I like it. If I could afford Electron gear I would probably buy a Machinedrum or an Octatrack, just because they are ridiculously good for on the go editing, but I’m happy with what I can do for the time being.
How (if at all) do your live setups differ from your studio?
My live set is basically my studio but without my polysynths. I have used a [Korg] Poly-800 and an MS2000 live before, but for the most recent string of shows I’ve trimmed it back to an MPC1000, Cyclone Analogic TT-303 and a [Dave Smith] DSI Mopho.
Does it ever prove difficult to translate your productions to a live environment?
Yeah it does actually. I used to try and incorporate tracks I had previously written into live sets but I stopped because it was too much hassle. My live sets are written intentionally for each gig, so it’s new almost every time. So I’m essentially writing music made for a club, whereas at home I don’t usually make that kind of stuff, it’s more downtempo spacey tracks.
What bits of kit serve as the rhythm section in your setup?
For me, at the moment its strictly the MPC1000 with some nice old roland samples I’ve got, been getting very heavily into the 909 and 606 sounds as of late, so they are quite prevalent in my sets these days.
With unimaginative twist of an old classic, how about a bit of ‘Desert Island Synths’? Can you choose three synthesisers you would take with you to a desert island (one with mains electricity, of course)?
Haha, definitely the MPC, JV-1080 and an MS2000. Burner combo!
Any other pieces of hardware you couldn’t do without?
Probably my trusty €50 Mackie mixer. Sounds so shit, but so right.
You regularly browse Gumtree for gear. Have you found any bargains?
Yeah heaps! I got my Juno for $500 AUD, MPC for the same price. I also saw a Roland System 100 for a hundred bucks once. Safe to say that was an accident, apparently the guy got texts in the triple figures in under a minute…
What sort of hardware do you use to achieve any additional texturing to your productions? Any tape compressors or similar gear?
I used to use a really dodgy compressor I picked up for free, but I’ve found that outboard effect processing is hardly worth it if your not using a high end mixer in a nice room. Sure it can make your stuff sound cool but its nothing that cant be done in much less time, with much less heartache on a computer, hah.
And finally, what’s next on the agenda for Salt Mines?
Lots of artist EP’s to come. Familiar names and some new ones! 003 is out very soon!