A conversation with Toronto electro producer Drumatix Six

In this next installment of my series of interviews with electro producers, DJs and artists, we travel virtually north of the border from City of Bass HQ and have a conversation with Toronto's Drumatix Six...

First things first, a little about yourself and your background.

I go by Drumatix Six. Currently I live in Toronto, but I was born in the steel city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

The skyline there is covered with burning smoke stacks and flashing lights, it literally looks like something out of Blade Runner. I think Hamilton was made to inspire Electro Musicians.
City of Hamilton
Music has always been a big part of my life; I started in punk.  Eventually traded my Bass guitar for a TR-606 and started calling myself Drumatix, and more recently Drumatix Six. Back in the day, I was fortunate to have a friend whose dad was a prog-rock guy, and he had a basement full of Moogs and an Arp.

Wicked! Someday I hope my son and his friends get inspired by my studio when I reach old man status. Did you guys get to mess around with the gear?

Definitely, we would go down there and jam for hours and hours. Around this time, I also started Djing electro. I made one mix tape and it got me an opportunity to open for Dj Di’jital, because of that tape I also got introduced to Cryo who later started Intellegenix. Cryo was the only person I knew making electro for a long time. Mostly the scene back then was just techno/house but I was driving to Detroit regularly to get records, and throwing my own electro parties, trying to sway the crowds away from 4/4 beats.

No doubt. I’ve DJ’d a mulitude of styles and genres back in the day, but the breakbeats have always kept me amped. Speaking of breaks and electro, what's your background with electro music? How'd you get involved?

I took break dancing lessons at the local community centre when I was 8 years old; this started my love for electro. The instructors were from New York City; complete with head bands, leather gloves and spray painted logos on their hoodies. 100% street!

Tell us about your studio and production philosophy - how do you make these records? Whats your process?

I put distortion on everything! I also use a lot of loops of noise, to build texture. Texture in my sounds is extremely important to me. I often start on bass guitar, if it sounds good being played by hand, while humming a melody in my head, then I know it should translate nicely into my synths. I want my music to sound like full songs, not just some cool loop that tweaks in and out. A lot of my musical heroes aren’t from the electro scene, just amazing bands with soul like Toots and the Maytals.

After that it is pretty simple, I play most of my parts by hand. I’m still not a big fan of MIDI, and just kinda jam on top of what is looping until the song evolves to the next level.

How has your production evolved gear-wise from when you began to today?

13 years ago,when I first started, I was very anti-computers and used only CV, Gate and Sync.  For a long time, if I turned the gear in my studio off, the song I was working on would be lost forever and so I recorded everything live to tape.  Eventually I realized my stance on computers was short sighted and hypocritical.

You know, I listen to electro releases every day looking for music to share on the City of Bass blog; I've seen you around on Soundcloud and so forth, but it was the video you did for your upcoming ‘I Sold My Soul for Robot Control’ ep that got me to click-through and check out the music seriously. I loved the sound enough to recommend it, and the concept and execution for the video was dope. Can you can tell the readers a little bit about the video process and what you were trying to achieve?

My day job is as a visual artist, so for me it’s natural to pair my music with images. There’s been a running theme in my art and music that is about creating a dialogue between people, cybernetics and the natural evolution of man and machine.

Can you expand on that a little bit?

A lot of people seem to be afraid of the idea of man becoming machine, which is ridiculous, a caterpillar is not afraid to become a butterfly. I’m working part-time towards a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering;  This will take me several years to finish but the end goal is to work in cybernetics and/or design new electronic instruments and interfaces for music. I have a niece who was born with one arm and I would love to be able to help people like her.

In this day and age, with so many artists and musicians clamoring for attention, trying to stand out is difficult. My take is that your video concept is original and well executed that it gets passed around and shared - not always an easy thing to achieve. What got you going with the idea of making a video to promote your EP in particular?

This was my first attempt at making a music video, I liked the idea that the visuals keep the listener captive while the song is playing. Based on the excellent response from people like you and fans of the music, I will definitely be making more. My next album is a lot more fun, it is much less “f--k the world” and more “f--k each other”.

Your new EP "I Sold My Soul For Robot Control" on Intelligenix is coming out September 17th. I’ve been listening to it the past few days and you’ve got some really strong cuts in there. The title track bangs, but for myself ‘I Am Your Enemy’ really stood out. The vocals are a strong look, and I especially like that you processed them with that metallic sheen without using the standard electro vocoder. Tell me a little bit more about the background of that track.

On ‘I Am Your Enemy’ I play bass guitar that’s heavily distorted, and my friend Adam plays distorted electric violin. It was a song I had overlooked for a while, but after an overhaul and re-write I was very happy with the final version. I have a lot of musicians coming in and out of my place, so if they fit I get them to sing or do something.

You’ve got two remixes on the EP. Tell me about the artists and why you chose them to remix your tunes.

I got Snuff Crew to do a house remix for me. I don’t listen to a lot of house, but their songs and old school approach to music just resonate with me and make me want to JACK! Darank, who is an up and coming artist from Spain appeals to my industrial-darkwave side. I really love his work; it reminds me of the original sounds that came out of bands like Coil and Throbbing Gristle.

What do you think about the state of the electro scene and where it's going?

Electro will always be the girl who broke my heart. I love electro beyond words, yet I find much of what has happened in the past 10 years frustrating and sad. Now in the mainstream electro is just an adjective they attach to everything, it has no meaning. This type of new “electro” has little or no relevance to my life today. I am glad to find a community online and world wide of people who know the true meaning of the word ELECTRO and who are proud to keep that tradition alive.

Any thoughts on the top newcomers to the electro scene to look out for?

The whole Battery Park crew is sick, I just finished a remix for Prototype that will be out soon.  And all my brothers and sisters on Intellegenix are killing it!

Where can bassheads find you on the web?

Juno Presence
Listen at Myspace
Neon Vision

Thanks for taking the time to let heads know a little more about you, to wrap up, what's next for Drumatix Six?

About six years ago I started going through some personal hardships that almost killed me; electro music is what saved me from tipping over into oblivion. I battled these hardships and came out stronger for it;  and the experience really made me aware of how precious my time on earth is. I now have a new determination to reach my goals and be true to myself. I think a lot of that pain comes through in my music.... I’m not hiding anything.

It has been less than two years since I rebuilt my studio, and I’ve stayed busy. This year I signed on to three different labels, completed fifteen songs for several different albums, and I’m producing an album for Neon Vision, my industrial band. I’m also finalizing a new project with planned vinyl releases on Tiger Squadron, my new label. (424 Tiger Squadron was my grandfathers RCAF Lancaster bomber squadron during World War II).

I’ve got several other projects going with the labels I am already affiliated with and am always looking for more projects to remix and collaborate on. Hopefully there will be a tour soon, especially in Europe where it seems my music is better received. I will never stop making music, it is my driving force!

The definition of keeps it movin! Drumatix Six ‘I Sold My Soul for Robot Control’ is out September 17th on Intellegenix Records.


 Related: Conversations with DVS NME; Alavux

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