Alex Tepper is a reputation you’ve got probably never heard of, but the British Report Producer, Engineer and Mixer has had his hand in a few of electronic music’s most charted releases.
An engineer for the likes of Black Sabbath and Metal Pulse at first of his career, Alex now works with, and produces for, a few of the largest names in the business together with Nic Fanciulli, Nicole Moudaber and Steve Lawler to call just some.
A hotly-debated subject for some, Tepper has a profession spanning 25 years by which he’s co-produced, co-written & combined a number of the largest dance flooring hits in our scene. His position shouldn’t be that of a ghost-producer, however relatively that of a co-producer, working alongside DJs to create a partnership that culminates in the launch of profitable tracks. In a task that is arguably no totally different than that of a rock band’s producer, assume Nigel Goodrich for Radiohead, or Brian Eno with talking heads for example, Tepper helps DJs achieve what they hear of their heads because of his expertise as a producer and engineer, whereas the artists he’s working with convey a set of expertise and expertise of understanding what works on the dancefloor and of course artistic ideas for their own music.
Get into details with Tepper and you’ll find a wealth of credit. With Nic Fanculli alone he’s co-responsible for data like Nic and Mark’s “Star” on Seth Troxler’s Play It Say It imprint, Nic’s remixes of Calvin Harris ft. Dua Lipa and the Gorillaz “Ascension” and co-writing and co-production credits on Fanculli’s debut album “My Heart” which featured friends Daman Albarn, Man Gerber, Audion and more. With Mark his two EPs on Planet E in addition to the Vocal Home hit Sacrifice on his brother’s label Saved. Dig deeper and you’ll find he’s credited on a handful of Steve Lawler releases including the tribal Techno wall of sound “Kalimba” released on the legendary R&S Data and “Femme Fatale” on Josh Wink’s Ovum Data. Different credits embrace co-producing and co-writing Nicole Moudaber’s chic hit “Hair” on Leena Data and “The Journey” with Victor Calderone, her remix of the Alcatraz smash “Giv Me Luv” and nearly all of her album “Believe” released on Drumcode. There are countless different credits however time is brief.
6AM sat down with Tepper to dig deeper on his position, and to dissect this contemporary take on the normal position of a band producer, but with a DJ instead of band members and their instruments:
Good to satisfy you Alex and thanks for taking the time to talk with us here in Los Angeles. The place are you now?
Hello, good to satisfy you and thanks for having me. I’m in my flat in East London, UK proper now.
Is that where you reside?
Sure, I’ve been right here for 10 years or so and my studio is a 15-minute walk away. I wish to be near it.
Once we heard about your work we have been immediately desirous about talking to you, but earlier than diving into the nitty gritty of what you’re to date, can you tell us how you bought concerned with the digital music business and music manufacturing in the first place?
I was all the time actually into music and numerous musical instruments growing up. My most influential years have been by way of the 80s, which was the delivery of the “affordable” synthesizer – even rock bands have been digital back then ha…However yeah, growing up within the 80s, I keep in mind loving the best way that Prince data sounded for example, those heavy digital drums with highly effective synthesizers was exciting to my ears.
At around 15, I began working at a recording studio near the place I grew up serving to out on faculty holidays and weekends. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than I used to be in there myself using the studio in down time to attempt to make my own music, which was a sluggish learning curve leading to a variety of completely un-listenable materials!
I then went into sound engineering, professionally working in a studio in Birmingham on all totally different types of music and with totally different bands. I met up with a couple of guys operating a house label and began engineering and mixing their data and doing my very own stuff for the label underneath numerous artist names like X-Presidents and Latino Circus amongst others.
Then in the late 90’s I began my very own dance act with one of the guys (Phil Dockerty) referred to as Futureshock and we had a label with Junior Boys Personal and an album on Parlophone Data. We did loads of remixes and toured with Underworld.
You’ve been a house music fan throughout your entire career, and by that mean numerous sub-genres underneath the umbrella of house. What’s it about home that speaks to you on such a profound degree that you simply’ve made it your career for the final quarter of a century?
I feel what actually drew me to it originally was its simplicity and honesty. It had a rawness, it was underground and was designed to sound great on club sound techniques.
Up till then I was being impressed by producers like Trevor Horn and Martin Rushent which was type of the other; Trevor Horn was just like the musical equivalent to Steven Spielberg and his productions have been tremendous hi-tech and polished.
You would solely obtain that degree of production in one million pound studio however alongside came individuals like Mark Bell from LFO who can be in a kind of bed room sort studio with a bunch of synths and drum machines he in all probability picked up at an affordable worth in these days.
Making Acid Home & Techno data was a bit extra accessible and towards the grain for me. I still find that the kind of house and techno I’m drawn to now has that very same feeling about it, uncooked and trustworthy and not too polished.
Some individuals reading this may increasingly sound stunned, as was I once I first heard your identify. I say so because honestly I wasn’t conscious of who you have been, yet I used to be conscious of SO MANY tracks you’re truly liable for but which have been released underneath the identify of different artists. Is this reaction of “surprise” one you encounter typically?
Properly, firstly it’s Co-Accountable – I work alongside the artists and it’s undoubtedly a collaborative course of. But yeah, I do get it so much. Principally due to the type of individual I am, I don’t put myself within the highlight very much. I by no means really took to being on a stage and being centre of consideration. But in addition perhaps because of the misunderstanding in the dance music scene of the kind of production work I do and that it’s purported to be stored some type of a secret, which is loopy. It’s purely right down to individuals being misinformed.
So let’s speak concerning the arguably controversial subject of you co-producing tracks with “household” home and tech home artists the likes of Nic Fanciulli and Steve Lawler. In your personal words, what would you say your job or position is right here?
My position is very similar to that of a standard Document Producer. I work very intently with the artists (which on this case occurs to be DJs) with a view to facilitate their vision and their ideas in the studio, utilizing my expertise and experience in that surroundings. The artists deliver their very own unique ideas which come from performing in clubs and on levels to hundreds of individuals week in and week out, and in a roll that they’re keen about and really feel snug in.
The DJ/Producer relationship is nothing new; it’s been around for decades of dance music. Sasha and Charly Might, Digweed and Nick Muir, Martin Buttrich with Timo Mass and Loco Dice, and those are simply the publicly recognized ones. I assume the distinction with me is I’ve type of made it my profession the place as perhaps these guys had and nonetheless have their own things happening as nicely. Primarily, I just actually take pleasure in working with different individuals within the studio making club music.
How did you start working in this method, “behind the scenes” if you’ll, fairly than using your productions to pave your personal profession as a producer and DJ?
It was type of a natural development after my involvement in Futureshock got here to an end round 2006/2007. I found myself persevering with to make music and obtained a name from Steve (Lawler) at some point asking me to help him out with a few of his productions, which I agreed to. We ended up making Kalimba, Femme Fatale, Programs For Horses, Violet and some others. I assume word obtained out from that and started getting a number of different calls to do the identical with Nic (Fanciulli) and then Nicole (Moudaber) and a few others alongside the best way.
Take a few of the largest hits you’ve co-produced and answer this query: might you and would you’ve got produced them with out working with the artist whose identify ended up being acknowledged for these tracks?
No, I wouldn’t have. I’m a firm believer that a document is a product of what occurs in the studio on that day. The concepts that go into it are from both of us finally, not simply me. No two artists I work with sound the identical, which exhibits you that their stamp is nicely and really on every of those tracks.
I keep in mind working with Steve once on a remix and we received it to some extent the place it was OK but not likely giving us the excitement we need to get with one thing, I went upstairs to make a telephone name or one thing and left Steve at the pc, once I got here down he was all excited and was like “I’ve got it!”. It was the simplest trick with the association that he’d accomplished, making the break a bit longer and proper earlier than the groove kicked again in he did slightly edit with a percussion hit and it made the monitor kick in 10 occasions higher than it did before. It was merely an association factor however that is what DJs know from hands-on expertise, and the best way to work the gang via the music. It was at that point for me proof of how properly it works bringing that again into the studio in such a constructive means.
It is a complete staff effort. I’ve discovered quite a bit about preparations, particularly, working with the calibre of DJ’s that I do. Additionally had an analogous factor occur with Nic & Mark’s monitor “Star” lately. The three of us have been in the room, jamming around and we came across a bass-line that just all of a sudden took the whole thing up a notch. We all just checked out one another as if to say – sure that’s it! That’s the one! You type of attempt to get those moments within the studio and it’s much better when there are other individuals to share it with.
Conversely, might they and would they’ve been capable of produce these tracks without your help?
Nicely I assume they arrive to me for a purpose. Would Frankie Goes To Hollywood have made Welcome To The Pleasure Dome without Trevor Horn? I’d say they might have undoubtedly made one thing great however it wouldn’t have been that very same album.
However you realize, that is the purpose I feel, no one thinks twice about Robbie Williams working with Trevor Horn or U2 working with Brian Eno, or Max Martin with nearly every pop act out there. It’s just all part of the method in those genres and even celebrated and boasted about, however for some cause it’s not the same in relation to dance music. The DJ is predicted to be nice at what DJs do AND make nice data on their very own within the studio on the similar time. Either that or the other occurs and other people make the idea that they don’t become involved in the course of in any respect. It seems there’s not a lot in-between, which is in fact not the case.
Perhaps a big a part of the issue is that there are a number of DJs breaking by means of now as a result of they happen to be dominating the Beatport Prime 10s with their laptop computer productions.
And promoters will ebook those guys, but in various these instances when booked they will’t truly DJ with the talents of somebody who has been working tirelessly most of their lives, mastering that craft. They’re a special set of expertise that are intertwined and go collectively properly but simply because you make an excellent dance document doesn’t mean you’re a great DJ and vice versa.
Is there a cause you favor working “quietly” as a producer slightly than touring the world and probably even making extra money as the recognised identify behind these productions?
I really feel like I’ve been there and executed it for a short while with Futureshock – truly being the artist, touring and making an album and doing loads of remixes and having a label. I loved bits of it very a lot at the time but I’m a lot happier lately being within the studio. I’m working in the direction of perhaps getting back into some of my own tasks once more however I’m unsure I might ever go back into DJ-ing and heavy touring. It was exhausting and undoubtedly ate into useful studio time and being artistic within the week; principally most of it spent recovering from the weekend simply gone.
When it is all stated and achieved, do you are feeling that the result of this working arrangement is truthful for you?
Yes completely. That is my profession selection. I’m credited on every part I do – it’s no secret. I’m capable of work with the individuals I need to and luxuriate in working with – a really high caliber of artists in this subject. What producer wouldn’t be pleased with that state of affairs?
Have the artists you’ve worked with invited you to hitch them in their way of life, excursions, or even just to launch on their label?
There was a time I used to be performing some solo music, I launched a number of tracks on Nic’s label Saved and toured with him a couple of occasions. I imply, it might be very straightforward for me to get my music signed and get a leg up if I felt like taking place that route again. Nevertheless it was a acutely aware determination on my part to stop making my own data round 2014. I all of a sudden thought – I’m actually busy doing nice work with nice Artists, it’s working properly and I’m having fun with it so why am I making an attempt to do the DJ factor myself again. It was like making an attempt to have two careers at the similar time and subsequently no life or free time at all…It was an enormous aid once I made that decision and it additionally made me take pleasure in working with others a lot more. I all of the sudden stopped being torn between the 2.
By the best way, do these artists come to your studio, do you’re employed of their studio or how does it often work?
We all the time work from my studio. I do know the room and my screens pretty nicely and have developed a fast and efficient workflow in it. Sometimes we may go remotely if their tour schedule is hectic, which is ok, however even when remote we’re on the telephone or FaceTime all through the day going over the monitor and crucial modifications and so forth. Or it might be that we’re simply putting ending touches to issues we already began collectively so it’s not completely needed that they’re with me for that. Or typically I become involved much additional down the line with tasks and it’s more just a mix-down and finishing touches. Whichever means, part of my roll is to ensure it’s going to sound good within the clubs and next to other tracks in their sets so I have to work where I’m acquainted with the sound.
Are you able to share some insight on your studio, what we will find in it ?
Positive, I exploit principally outboard and analogue gear as I want the hands-on strategy and the unique sound it has. I exploit Akai MPC2000XL (Modded), S950 (Modded), Eurorack Modular Synth, Prophet 6, my Previous Korg MS20, Moog Voyager and DFAM.
I exploit the pc for Ableton Reside as a kind of artistic tape machine or Professional-Instruments for mix-downs, UADs, and issues like Native Devices Reaktor & Kontakt. Principally I like software that brings something new to the desk. It may be a pleasant method to manipulate the extra natural sounds I get from all the analogue and outboard gear.
Do you might have any studio rituals or processes you comply with to get probably the most out of your studio time?
Ha…I wish I might offer you a very funny answer to this however none that I can think of. In all probability just firing up the machines and seeing what happens!
Can anyone attain out to you to work on a monitor with you, or will you solely work with sure caliber artists?
I’m very open to working with up and coming DJ’s. I’m performing some really good work with Alex Kennon who is a superb DJ from Ibiza who is breaking by means of. We just finished a remix on Crosstown Rebels and his 2nd EP On Saved Data.
It would have to rely upon hearing some demos first if I have been to think about working with someone I didn’t know – or a suggestion from someone I already work inside the business.
What’s your largest studio pet peeve?
Any time somebody says “we need to make a top 10”.
Fortunately I don’t hear it fairly often!
Are you able to inform us what a few of the most memorable studio moments have been co-producing some of these hit tracks?
I don’t assume anybody actually realises that they’re making an enormous report at the time, it’s sort of just one other day at the office, so to talk. You actually need to see how data do and then you definitely look back and go wow, that was fairly massive!
So actually I feel just like the few situations I talked about earlier, it’s those moments you get with the individual or individuals you’re working with within the room once you hit on one thing and it all starts to make good sense in that second and starts to sound like music to your ears! It’s exciting and invigorating.
Is there an artist you’d love to be able to get within the studio with in the future, that you simply haven’t yet?
One final Q: What would you say to anyone who has a problem with what you do?
I might say, don’t consider the bullshit surrounding it. The best way I work is nothing new or unusual or secretive, It’s been finished like this because the delivery of recent music throughout all genres – doesn’t matter which. There’s a process that’s concerned in making data and I’m part of it in a passionate approach, as are all the artists I work with.
Join with Alex Tepper: Fb | SoundCloud