Composer and producer Axel Kacoutié has been working fervently on his craft; with two EP’s in his discography with two completely different sounds, the London based artist really exemplifies the creativity of the city through his work. His remix of MNEK’s White Noise cover garnered major attention and was featured on BBC 1 Extra Radio. Jumping from epic, instrument heavy, orchestrated compositions to creating head bumping future garage mixes, Axel Kacoutié is an individual who embodies a strong passion for music and composition. His interview with us at MusicUmpire definitely reveals this.
MU: What was the first song that got you interested in production?
AXEL: Well the long answer is that it was more the idea of actually producing music that got me into it. At 15 years old, discovering that I could write my own stuff on a computer rather than jotting down notes on paper was a new a world I never wanted to leave. The short answer would be: at the time I listened a lot to this symphonic metal band call Nightwish so I pretty much wanted to have my own version of their epic “Ghost Love Score”.
MU: Do you remember the first track you ever created?
AXEL: Ha! It still pops up on my iPod on shuffle every now and then. I got an A for a dance module we had to do; best thing I’ve ever made! May share it one day.
MU: Most definitely. In music, you often only see the performer as the focal point of a song, what allowed you to look behind surface and become interested in the actual production process of music?
AXEL: The struggle was real haha! First, I was only the tech stuff at secondary school & college, staying as long as I can without annoying the teachers. Then I got my laptop, Reason, and a MIDI keyboard and I’ve never had a normal night since.
MU: Any specific VSTis or plugins you want to mention?
AXEL: Just Reason 6.5, and I use Logic to use my Vienna Ensemble Plug-in which is cool for the more orchestral stuff.
MU: Anything else?
AXEL: Nope, that’s it. Really all virtual for now. And two hard-drives to back it all up!
MU: What would be your next big equipment upgrade? (if money were no object)
AXEL: A new MIDI keyboard with weighted keys and pedals. Upgrade to Reason 7, a new microphone, an iMac. Actually, if I’m at it, I might rent a decent sized place, convert it into a studio big enough for a grand piano and hire a 5 string quartet to record. Plus a practical desk where I can create weird & wonderful sounds.
MU: That would be the ultimate upgrade! On the other side, in a world without electricity (computers and such), what would your music process look like?
AXEL: Hmm. In a world without electricity, I probably would have died trying to make some sort of electrical instrument haha. I probably would have ended up writing music for an orchestra or operas but trying to make it as interesting and immersive as possible. Like an underwater ballet or something.
MU: Great answer.. What’s your specific creative process?
AXEL: Wowah, it’s literally different every time for different people or circumstances. I would hear an element of a song, whether it be a melody or a beat, and literally try and make a better version of that. It would be my own personal response to something I’ve connected to a new, old or forgotten song. That could take an hour to three months sometimes.
(I think that’s the first answer I’ve given I’m actually happy with. A personal and emotional response.
MU: It’s a difficult question, that’s why I asked it. Do you mix/master your own stuff?
AXEL: Haha, good question. I mix my own stuff, I love mixing & I do my own amateur mastering but when it comes to the final final final thing, I’d send it off. That’s what you should actually do in my eyes.
MU: Did you or do you play any instrument?
AXEL: Indeed. I played the flute, still can but really rusty. Taught myself the piano by ear, plus I can sing (in tune).
MU: Are there any current artists which you feel complement your style of music?
AXEL: I’m going for the bold and honest statement and say that I’m somewhere between James Blake & Woodkid.
MU: What are your thoughts or opinions on the London music scene right now? Complaints perhaps?
AXEL: Where do I start! On the one hand, it’s rich in diversity, it would be very hard to not find something you wouldn’t like or at least appreciate or find interesting. On the other hand, some areas are too Americanised; I find it boring or just saturated. For example ‘Trap’ and ‘House’ music; don’t get me wrong I will go crazy to them in a club, but it’s become so standardised and predictable one could argue it’s not even a challenge to be original. All you have to do is not do what everyone else is doing. It’s fine to write hits, get money and have fun, however I do also care about longevity and originality and that you don’t see a lot of. Or maybe a smaller amount of people appreciate it. It may be because people don’t care to much, but I think it’s our responsibility, the musicians and producers (whatever we are), to make them care: to make them literate in a different way of consuming music instead of just skipping to the ‘drop’ on YouTube & Soundcloud.
I could literally go on, but had to force myself there..
MU: Feel free to go on..
AXEL: I’d add that the Internet has removed and redefined boundaries and standards. We don’t know how to use it properly. We still stick to this formulaic way of releasing things for example, why? People’s attention spans are affected by how they listen to music because there’s literally so much music out from all over the world. It’s hard to tell what comes from where. It’s pretty mad out there, but in a good way because it give the chance for anyone to make anything out of it.