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interview
TEEBEE [Subtitles, Norway]
 TEEBEE [Subtitles, Norway]

ϳ Drum'n'Bass Session, 26 , 2006, "Most",
interview [ua]

photos by clubz.info
photos by fAkeLimiTZ
photos by Adolf Totten
photo-review by zaber [BY]

Interview with Counterstrike
(Justin Scholtemeyer aka Animal Chin)

by backpacker
February 10, 2007
Lviv, Ukraine


What was your perception of Ukraine, what did you know about Ukraine or Ukrainian scene before coming here? Was it terra incognita” or you did know something?

To be honest, I didnt know what to expect. I had very limited knowledge about Ukraine. I just kind of came here in blind, you know. But last night was awesome, the city is awesome and people are awesome, so Ill definitely go back with good perception.

Hows Ukraine been treating you? You didnt expect anything and it came up good…

Its been awesome. I had an awesome host [uk – comment by backpacker] whos been looking after me, so its been really good. And the party was good and people were awesome. So, definitely it was very good.


Do you usually have heavy touring intensity? Or only now with this European tour you have a busy schedule?

Usually what we do is that I go touring maybe every 3 months. Because I live so far in South Africa, its kind of removed from any other place. So I cant just fly from Capetown and say come and play in Lviv because its too expensive for the promoter to do a flight. And also to fly 12 hours or even more (it would be 18 hours from Capetown to Lviv) to just play and fly back, its quite a long time. So usually I have to go on tour. Im trying to do something like 3 weekends at a time, over 2 weeks. And at the same time at home I also have family and other stuff, jobs that I do like music for advertising, cinema etc so I cant tour all the time.

What about some funny events or curiosities that happened during touring or travelling?

Without a doubt I can say that the funniest thing that happened to me was when we went to a city somewhere deep in Slovakia. We went there with an MC and he got so drunk that when I left the party he was on the microphone going completely ballistic. And his microphone cord was caught on the record player and the DJ was also so f**ked up that he couldnt realize what was going on. The guy was MCing and that cable was pulling the record and this resulted in very funny scratching sounds. The same MC later that evening came back to the hotel and hotel staff found him running around naked in their hotel smile.gif. And that wasnt the end of it! Instead of going to the toilet to pee, he opened the cupboard and peed inside the cupboard. That was crazy and f**ked up smile.gif.

Who was that MC? smile.gif

I cant name him. biggrin.gif

Bad publicity, I see… cool.gif


Whats the allocation of responsibilities within Counterstrike? You do what and Eaton does what? Because as far as I am concerned Eaton is busy with his day-time job, so hes doing full-time job and perhaps doesnt have much time for music…

We have two identical studios. So whenever he has time he writes in his studio and if I have some time I write in my studio. And then usually when the song is say complete he gives it over to me and then I mix and master it and finish it off. And usually when I start something and I get stuck: he is very creative person, so I can give him my song and he can mess around with it and then again I take it back, mix down and master.

As for running the label he is responsible for doing all the artwork (Website and everything) and I handle business side of the things: signing the artists, running the label, promoting it – things like that. The same thing goes for doing our monthly night: he also does the artwork and art side of things and I handle more the business side of things.

And obviously you do more DJing? What about Eaton?

He does some and he is a really good DJ. But like you said with his job its really hard. I think he can get something like 2-weeks leave per year. So usually when he gets that kind of leave he doesnt want to go on tour because its hard. People think touring is easy but its like a job, you know. So whenever he gets the chance he goes and plays overseas, like he played in St-Petersburg last June, but in South Africa he plays a lot.


What about your studio set-up? Is it mainly hardware or software?

We used to be into hardware, but funny enough we were first into software (somewhere in 1996-97). But at that time you needed a lot of engineering skills to make software sound good so I went up and bought a sampler (outboard sampler Yamaha A3000). We started working on that and it helped us a lot to progress faster than with a computer.

But then in 2001, I think, we were back to software again because Cubase 5 came out and Reason came out which was a big step and decision for us to make. Because Reason was easy-to-use via ReWire and it sounded really good – almost close to the quality of the outboard gear. So we just decided that its much easier and its obviously the future to switch back to software.

At the moment we are running just software: Cubase SX or Nuendo, we use a lot of Reason but mostly just for drums, loops and stuff, then we use Kontakt sampler for the rest of the stuff, we also use a lot of audio tracks in Cubase.

Nowadays d&b is more about sounds then it is about musical composition. And we tend to use samples more than virtual instruments and stuff like that. Because I just find that they sound too synthetic so we tend to sample stuff from anywhere to make it sound more real and just manipulate the samples in such a way that you dont recognize where its from unless straight from the movie or something, you know. Usually the strings and the stuff we use very rarely it is from a VST, its usually sampled.


I was recently watching "Sin City" movie and noticed that youve sampled speech from there at least for two tracks "Maniac" and "White Light". Is there any particular story behind that? Are you fans of that movie or something?

Yeah, we are definitely big fans of that movie. And also just because those parts sounded so good we just decided to sample those. Well, actually we are doing a remix of Maniac” at the moment but its not quite finished. And we sampled other little pieces just before he says maniac”, stuff like I forgot to take my medicine”, stuff like that. Its funny, man. I played it last night actually, the last song. This remix is coming out on our album on Algorythm.


So on Algorythm you put out only your own stuff, yeah?

That was the original idea: to either put out just our own stuff or remixes on our stuff. But as time went on we kind of decided to change our mind. The thing with running a label at the moment is that a lot of artists expect a lot of things when they sign to a label, but because vinyl market is kind of slowly dying its really hard to sell records. So this is why we never really wanted to take on artists because at least we know that when the record doesnt sell its our fault rather than disappointing an artist because his record doesnt sell. But as time went on our label grew and sold quite well we decided that maybe we should take on other artists. And thats why we released Current Value and the next release is AXiS & Trank from Holland. But as the label goes on I dont think it will ever go from just releasing other peoples stuff, there will always be some kind of incorporation of Counterstrike into the label.


uk told me that yesterday you were finishing some tune right before the party and as far as I know you use to prepare some VIP-versions and teasers specifically for particular gigs…

Yeah, usually I do something like little small things for special occasion. When we played for Halloween, we made loads of special snippets. But usually I dont really make VIPs of songs. I tend to edit songs so that they are easy to mix, but thats not something that you will really notice straight away. Ive got a couple of VIPs and stuff but these are usually songs that other people gave to me. Like last night I played Street Knowledge VIP” – thats something that Evol Intent gave me. And I also played I am ready VIP” and thats just something I made ages ago. And also that Audio VIP of Warehouse” - just like little special things.

But I dont take the liberty of going and editing other peoples songs unless I ask them because I just feel like this guy has spent so much time making the song in the studio, who am I to go and cut it up? If someone did that to my song I would be pissed off.


Whats your opinion on the evolution of Counterstrikes sound since 1998?

When we started Algorythm our original plan was techno d&b, hard and neuro kind of sound. And you cant really buy the CD anymore but we had an album out in 2001 called Biogenesis”. That album was very techno-orientated. But from techno sound we kind of went through a long journey incorporating all sorts of different styles into our music and just grew really.

So now with the album what we are going to try to do is to incorporate all the different styles that we went through. And Im sure you could pick up from my DJ-set that I dont just play hard banging stuff all the time, it kind of goes up and down: through techno, through the hard stuff, through a little bit of neuro. So thats the kind of the direction that we will go with an album also incorporating vocals and heavy metal in the music.


Do you have a favourite tune produced by yourself? Is it still Africanism”?

Its hard to say, man. It depends on in what mood I am. Sometimes I cannot listen to my own music at all. I find little bit of problems with it that people cannot hear, but I know exactly where problem is and it pisses me off. So I cant listen to it because I think Why did I release it like this? I could have made a 2dB adjustment on hi-hats” or something like that, if you know what I mean.

But there are a couple of tunes that stand out for me that I still enjoy to this day. They are "White Light", "Bodybag"… I mean I am ready VIP” is not my favourite song by all means, but people really enjoy it: whenever I see the dancefloor thats kind of going down, I just put on I am ready VIP” and everyone recharges, so its a good song in that way. And I also think its quite a broad appeal song for us because we had everyone play it from Dylan to even Aphrodite, you know, two complete opposite ends of the spectrum played that song. So that was a good crossover and I kind of like that song for that. "Africanism" like you said that song also stands out for me. What other ones: "V", on the flip was "Misfit"
Really at the moment the stuff that appeals to me the most is the stuff that we released in the very beginning – in like 2003, around that time. When I listen to it now, I think We didnt actually sound that bad”. But maybe in 2 years I will look back at the stuff we are doing now and think That stuff was good”.


Do all the tunes produced by yourself get signed or something is just lying on your hard drive waiting for its time or maybe you wrote the tune and just dont want to release it?

There are loads like that. I tend to go through periods where I write music that I cannot stand. You know, usually it comes in twos: I write two songs that are shit and obviously leave them on the computer like you said. And then the next batch will come along and I can find a new sound and progress with that. But yeah, there are loads of sounds on my hard drive, nothing ever came off and I think it is shit in any case.

You wont spread it under any circumstances?

No, no. Its just lying there. Maybe other people will like it when they hear it, but to me its just type of specific sound I dont ever want to listen to again.


What music do you listen for your own pleasure?

It depends. I do listen to drum&bass for fun too. Thats the reason I got into d&b in the first place because I really liked the music. I do listen to a lot of d&b, but I listen to a very broad spectrum of music from dubstep to James Brown to heavy metal. I even listen to the stuff like Miles Davis and things like that. Yeah, my music taste is very broad. Im not that big on classical music or opera or stuff like that, but its mostly more like jazz, blues, metal, soul.

And within drum&bass sound of what producers or labels appeals to you the most?

The classic guys like Technical Itch and Dylans Freak and Obscene Recordings. They release very good quality stuff. There are so many little labels with big artists, I think d&b is changing a little bit in that there arent that many big corporate d&b labels left. I mean Moving Shadow basically doesnt exist anymore... Stuff that comes out on Renegade Hardware is always quality, stuff that comes out on Dylans labels is quality, stuff that comes out on Tech Itch is quality. Those are really the big 3 labels that I look up to in terms of the way I want Algorythm to be.

What about some newcomers, some fresh and promising producers?

The producers that appeal to me the most are most probably the people whose songs Im playing. I would say that has to be people like Evol Intent, Current Value, Limewax, Panacea, SPL, Donny, TZA – I dont wanna leave anyone out, you know…


Id like to turn to your videos. Because when I first downloaded your Maniac” (watch "Maniac" video on YouTube) I was like Wow!” Who did that?

Thats Eaton. Thats kind of stuff he does for a day job. He does 3D-animation and everything, so he had just put that thing together.

I mean the sound and video row sit so well together!

Yeah, he was very influenced by Autechre. They did the video called "Gantz Graf" (watch Autechre "Gantz Graf" video on YouTube): it was just a 3D-object and everything that happened there was perfectly synced to how the song goes. So thats kind of style we were influenced by. Im really influenced by Chris Cunninghams stuff because he is awesome. Like the Rubber Johnny” (watch "Rubber Johnny" at Google Video).

Do you have plans for making more videos?

Yeah, definitely; because we both have got video cameras, we are constantly filming stuff. Its a bit hard taking a video camera with me on the road to film because its just too much responsibility. But at home we film a lot; weve got a lot of footage for the forthcoming videos. And for the album we are thinking of making a video basically for every track and releasing it on DVD and CD at the same time. So you can watch crazy visuals and listen to the music. We are still playing with the idea, well see if it is going to happen.


Whats the attitude of your friends and family to what you are doing?

Well, for a long time it was hard for my family to understand what I was doing. I tried to explain it to them, but I think they just said Yes”, you know. It freaks them out a bit that Im traveling all the time, they are very worried sometimes. But as far as friends and family goes, funny enough really all my friends also listen to drum&bass. Loads of friends are very happy for me that I get the chance to travel and play overseas. So yeah, its all good.


Whats your opinion on the other side of drum&bass like deeper d&b, soulful d&b, drumfunk, eclectic d&b?

I think there are good songs in every style of drum&bass. But there are also shit songs. Its just the matter of picking the ones that I like. So I dont put any d&b style down, even jump-up wobble. I cant really put it down because there are a lot of guys that take it very seriously and put in a lot of time and effort to make songs. So, like I said, I can easily pick up one song from every genre that I like.


Whats your opinion on the state of drum&bass nowadays? Do you like where d&b is heading or you see some drawbacks etc?

I might be wrong, but 5-6 years ago most of drum&bass was run by the people in the UK. Mostly big labels, like we talked earlier, Moving Shadow, Renegade Hardware, Full Cycle, True Playaz… And I think what is going to happen now is that music is starting to move out of the UK and diversify everywhere. In pretty much every country you go to you can now find a drum&bass producer. Thats really spread out.

And I think what also is starting to happen is a lot of artists instead of going with a big company rather start their own label and promote themselves in that way. There are so many producers now that its hard for big labels to release all their music. Anyway d&b will grow if there are more labels to substantiate it. And I think that also artists are starting their own labels to get more musical freedom. Because I find that a lot of labels have a specific sound and if you as an artist are a little bit to the left youll never get on this label which doesnt mean your music isnt good, its just different style. So I definitely see d&b growing everywhere in the world, its bigger than what its ever been.

I also see vinyl. I hope it will last, I think there always will be people that collect vinyl. There are also so many people with turntables that I dont see it completely dying out. I think that maybe it will turn into something like specialty item that you maybe press 500 and release it alongside Internet release as a wave or mp3. And I also see drum&bass going all formats: vinyl, mp3/wav, CD, DVD – whatever the format is.

I also think that songs should come out quicker. Because many people are frustrated by the fact that they cant get the songs that DJs are playing at the same time. I mean you gotta understand in a little sense that the DJ has a job in the first place because he can get songs before people. The release time should just be a little bit shorter. Now the average release time from when big DJs start to play a fresh tune is something like a year where it should rather be something like 3 months. Well, the hype is still there and people still like the song, so you must be able to buy it somewhere as an mp3 or wav-file – whatever.


What do you think: has the golden era of Counterstrike already come, is it right now or at some point in the future?

I hope that we dont pass it. My biggest fear is becoming a DJ, a label or a producer that people say has become stagnant and always sounding the same. So Im hoping that our time never comes. I hope that we can always find new inspiration for fresh-sounding music. And for Algorythm I hope that we dont get labeled as heavy metal label or a techno label or whatever. Its just whatever we like well put out.


I know you are into wake- and snowboarding. What else are you into besides music?

We go to the beach a lot and surf. Thats a big interest of mine. I would love to go snowboarding more often, but in South Africa theres only one ski resort and it only has 1km slope and its very far from me. It would cost almost as much to come snowboarding here as it would cost to go there. Apart from that I do some occassional skateboarding. My knees are meshed from it because Ive been doing it since I was a little kid. If Im not working on a song, me and my girlfriend, we like to drive places in the countryside along the coast, go to the new small towns to see what its about. We also spend a lot of time with friends over weekends making barbeques which is a very big tradition in South Africa. Other that that: movies, games (I play PSP a little), British comedy (Ive got many DVDs with that).


What are your general aspirations in life? What do you want to achieve? What are your dreams?

All I want to do is just to live comfortably rather than thinking how to get rich. To be able to pay my bills, my car, my house – then Im happy. Also obviously to have just a little something for the time when Im older and cant make drum&bass smile.gif.


What about some final shouts to dnb.in.ua crew/members and Lviv drum&bass massive?

This is Counterstrike sending out massive shouts to Ukraine drum&bass massive.
[attachmentid=1368]

Cheers, thanks for the inteview.

No problem, man.
- Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 15th July 2019 - 22:08
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