Richard Earnshaw started to make a name for himself by the beginning of the millennium. And since then he hasn’t let a single tiny thing go. Be he on his own, as along with Danny Jones or Mark Bamford, respectively as One51 or Spiritchaser. Richard Earnshaw‘s productions and remixes always being of high caliber, dancefloor friendly yet very musical. And in a business full of big egos, it’s always very refreshing to talk with someone who could think a lot about himself, but has chosen to keep things simple. And that’s pretty much how we love it!
How did you start producing music and when?
“I started in my teens when I got my first computer. I was already playing live and doing a lot of sound engineering, so the two merged and I eventually started producing when I was about 16…”
Let us know about your musical background and what brought you to House Music?
“To make things short, I started playing piano when I was 7. I was classically trained up to the age of 15 when I turned to playing Jazz. I didn’t really get into the House Music scene till I was 22. Up until then, I was playing live, writing and producing a whole different variety of music. After hearing some of the early House Music, I started to slot my Jazz piano into the beats. That was where it started for me…”
Your work is always very consistent in terms of production quality… Let us how as to how your studio looks like and how do you choose to work on a new remix / production? What inspires you the most when producing?
“My studio is very tidy! I need to know where everything is so I don’t waste time finding things. I’ve built the furniture myself so everything is where it should be, my equipment, pianos/keys etc. When things are organized, I find it more comfortable and easier to work.
When I start on any project, if it has a vocal, I’ll simply play the vocal in a loop and jam along, maybe with a basic beat. That’s the main inspiration. That way I make my mind up on the kind of vibe to go along with. Sometimes I can finish off a production and think “Naaah! It’s just not doing it”, and I’ll start again. No backing track goes to waste though!”
What does House Music mean to you and how do you see it evolving? Do you think it could ever go mainstream?
“I do like to think of House Music simply as music. I like to keep things nice and simple. There are so many different genres of Dance Music now. The reason it doesn’t go mainstream is because the public don’t know what the hell to look for! If only it was easier for people to listen to/buy the music then maybe it would become more mainstream.”
Apart from working in the studio you are also an in demand DJ, so do you consider yourself more a producer or a DJ?
“I like to make music and I like to play/listen to music. I enjoy both! DJing certainly came later for me but deep down I am a musician. In terms of format, I don’t really mind what I’m playing music from. I was never a die hard vinyl junkie, but I can see how some are hooked on building a collection. The current generation of DJ’s only have a hard drive to show for their money, you can’t exactly get your mates round and show them your hard drive, can you? On the other hand, if you could play music off a piece of cheese, then I’ll buy it and listen to it!”
What qualities does it take to make a good DJ /a producer?
“Well, on the production side, it certainly helps to have a good musical understanding. And a good level of performance on an instrument also helps. Other than that, don’t be afraid to try things out. At the end of the day, the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work. As a DJ, the best bit of advice I was ever given was always pay close attention to the crowd. You are afterall there to entertain them not play for yourself!”
What do you think of the ecomomic crisis the music scene has been trapped into (free mp3s, decrease of vinyls sales, P&P, etc.)? Do you think the marketing ‘products’ signed by the majors to get a fast financial turnover will kill creativity and new talents?
“As has been the way, since the first ever note was struck/bowed/blown… things change! Now we have to deal with people uploading/downloading/sharing music for free….
Before the Internet, people made bootleg CD’s/tapes. No matter what happens next with the way in which we buy/sell music, someone will always find a way to not pay. Maybe the condition of music is to no more pay for it at all. And for people like us to make our living from associated advertising or something like that! Either way, you’ve got to move with the times. It’s a shame that vinyl doesn’t sell like it used to but then that’s just the way it is. Vinyl has become a victim of evolution.”
Having yourself your own Duffnote imprint, do you find it easy to run an underground House label? Do you diversify your activities as a label to get more incomes?
“It’s not easy to run a label, no matter how often you hear otherwise. We also have a publishing company, a management company and we are involved in production beyond House Music. We do it because as a business we have to survive, but also because it’s fun. My business partner, Danny Jones, and I are musicians at the end of the day. So to stick to one thing only, we’d be cheating ourselves out of the creative freedom that inspired us to start in the music business in the first place.”
Finally, which advice would you give to those who would like to jump into the producer outfit?
Words: Olivier Velay
One51 – Si Weka (Soulfuric Deep)
Ben Sowton, Richard Earnshaw – Bargrooves: Azure (Seamless Recordings)
Richard Earnshaw: In Time (Groovefinder Records)
Richard Earnshaw as Spiritchaser: 1440 (Guess Records)
Interview: Richard Earnshaw
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