abbey road studios

“I can’t lie, it’s a struggle, it’s a fight”. DJ Yoda on lockdown work, process, missing live and Abbey Road Studios

Duncan Beiny AKA DJ Yoda has been hard at work during the last year and caught up with Audio Media International to discuss how he currently makes music and what a DJ does when at Abbey Road Studios…

How’s lockdown been as an artist?

I can’t lie, it’s a struggle, it’s a fight. It’s really hard for someone in my position and I’ve got family to support. All my income was, really, live events. I do production too and I’m just finishing up my fifth album but I’ve come to expect the production side of things is not really where my income comes from. It’s great if a track gets picked up and gets used in an ad but you can’t predict that stuff or plan for it. Beyond that, for a recording artist at my level, I don’t think you can rely on streaming.

There’s been this mad struggle to see how streaming can work on a public level with Twitch and then private gigs – it’s taken a lot of energy and I don’t know how sustainable it is.

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How has recording been at this time?

My recording has continued at the same speed as it would have in normal times – it’s the same process as my previous albums. The bits which are under my control I’m fine to get done at a good speed and now I’m at a point where I’m relying on the collaborators on the project. And that’s tough whether you’re in a pandemic or not as it becomes about other schedules, politics and money and that’s been a point of frustration for every album I’ve done! As I overcome every hurdle there’s something to be proud of at the end of it though.

All this stuff can be done remotely but I have been able to get in the studio at times which is good. The new album is a very different sound to anything that I’ve done previously so I’m excited about getting it out.

Tell us about your Three Rivers project

It can’t come under the DJ Yoda category as it’s so different to my normal stuff. A lot of it doesn’t even have beats. The two big things to me are music and film and my sets are like that with screens. The main influence for Three Rivers was David Lynch because I’ve always been into Twin Peaks and he’s inspired me to make stuff that’s sparse and industrial. Dreamy stuff, basically.

What have been the challenges of releasing music?

The nature of releasing music these days is very fleeting. Even with my last album which was years of effort, sessions at Abbey Road Studios and that stuff, my album came out and then the next week there’s another bunch of albums on Spotify. It’s very difficult to make music have any kind of longevity now. On the new project, I’m trying to make new music that doesn’t sound throwaway or plastic.

How do you start making music in terms of the process?

I start with a bunch of samples and lay so much stuff on top of the sample that the sample gets ripped away and at the end of you’re left without a sample problem! With the Three Rivers stuff, I started with the technology – there’s a few tracks on there which started with granular time stretching and music from the 30s, 40s and 50s.

We started the live process with drums in a studio I really like for drum sounds. It’s a refreshing yin to the yang of all the Ableton, drum machine stuff. I’m loving that human element at the moment and, for me, it’s about it sounding as un-computery as possible, getting away from the grid, getting away from the loops. With the Three Rivers project, it was great not to have a BPM – it was satisfying. I think all that kind of sound is contributing to the throwaway culture, stuff that has been copy and pasted into any DAW.

What was it like recording at Abbey Road Studios for the Home Cooking album?

It was amazing working with such great engineers. I can’t sit here and say I know the best way to mic up a sax so it’s great to have someone in charge of all that stuff. And frankly it was really useful for me professionally to ask artists to come to Abbey Road Studios. Abbey Road Studios just brings everybody out. I think so much comes out of your environment and it makes people bring their A-Game.

DJ Yoda

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