Published on August 2nd, 2013 | by Field Skjellerup0
Keeping pace with Race Banyon
Constantly creating diverse and inspiring tracks from a wide range of influences, Race Banyon is among the list of young producers (many of which we have featured previously) leading the way for original electronic music within New Zealand. With his latest Ep on the horizon we decided to catch up and have a chat about musical directions, sample choices and plans for the future.
This EP is obviously quite a different direction to the music you’ve previously released as Lontalius. Why the shift toward electronic music?
This kind of music is a lot more exciting to me than the Lontalius stuff. I feel so limited when trying to write songs on a guitar, but when making music on a computer I really feel like I can do anything. When Blink asked me to do my first show (as Shipwreck, which would become Lontalius) I was making electronic music, but I decided I wasn’t ready to do that kind of thing live. Playing songs I’d written over a Casio beat was an easy way to play live and feel like I was a part of the close New Zealand music community.
Gotcha, so you’ve been making electronic music this entire time? How old were you when you started?
Probably eleven or twelve. I think I started by trying to find software that would replicate live drums because I didn’t own a drum kit.
Were you as obsessed about making music back then as you are now? I know you’re pretty much always making music whenever you can. What’s driving that? Has it always been like this? Where is the impulse coming from? Is there a certain point or accomplishment you’re trying to reach, or do you just love the process?
I made music then just as much as I do now. I don’t know where it comes from. I remember listening to boy bands a lot when I was little and wanting to be one of them. I would lip-sync to their songs in my bedroom with the lights turned off. I very rarely listen to music without imagining that I am the one who made it. I guess that’s where the drive to make music comes from. Dreams of fame and fortune.
Can you tell us a little bit about that spoken-word sample at the end of the album? Who is speaking and what inspired you to put it in the album?
That’s Pharrell. I been a fan of his music for a while but I didn’t realise how inspiring he was as a person until recently. I watched a lot of interviews with him while I was making the EP. “I remember being in high school for twenty thousand gagillion years.” resonated with me. I still have a year and a half of high school left, and that really scares me. I feel ready to leave school. The idea of university freaks me out as well though. When I think about my future all I can see is me making music in my bedroom. I hope the only thing that changes is the bedroom.
I noticed a lot of vocals on the tracks, but unlike in your previous material, none of them are yours! Why? How do you find working with someone else’s vocal take versus laying down your own. Do you find one to be more expressive than the other?
I don’t know. I just wanted to use parts of songs I love. I’m obsessed with the feeling you get when you hear melodies/words you recognise over new chords or rhythms. Most of the first electronic music I listened to was full of R&B vocal sampling. Burial, Jacques Greene, Blawan etc.
I’ve thought about singing on my Race Banyon tracks but I don’t think I like the idea. Making songs as Race Banyon is just a completely different process to writing songs as Lontalius.
Do you enjoy making music? Did you have fun making this album?
Yeah. This is the most fun I’ve had working on a release. There’s a great Thomas Bangalter quote where he talks about using Ableton, “I use Live anywhere, anyhow…as a personal-computer game — because I have more fun with it than most video games”
Why did you decide to call it Whatever Dreams Are Made Of?
That’s what it sounds like to me. It’s not quite as strong as I hoped it would be and it’s not exactly where I’d like to be musically, but I feel like it’s a really big step towards that. I haven’t reached my dream yet but I’m getting there.
I am enamoured by the last song on your EP and I’ve got a couple questions about it. The main sample says, “Let’s do something crazy. Let’s reach out and love one another”, which comes from a pretty standard R&B ballad about a guy trying to seduce a girl. But for me, when I hear the sample in your song, I actually feel like the singer is singing it to everyone in the world, telling us to all take a risk and start loving each other. Was there a deeper meaning you were trying to get across by taking the sample out-of-context and sticking it in your song?
Yeah, I love the way those lines sound out of context. I can’t say I chose them for that reason though. Words aren’t very important to me. I only recently realised how dumb the sample on ‘Only Sixteen’ must sound to people who know how old I am.
I hear people say ‘Only Sixteen’ all the time and it feels very condescending. I have to remind myself that I’m only sixteen when I’m not happy about my music. I have so much time to get better, to play better shows etc. Most of my favourite musicians didn’t start making great music until they were well into their twenties. I’m very lucky to have gotten into music at an early age.
The last song is basically one massive build-up that never drops. Quite an open ending. Does it say anything about where you’re headed as an artist? What’s next?
I’ve never thought about it like that. Maybe it does. I always want to put drops into my songs because that kind of thing is so much fun to play live. Up until recently my only experiences in playing live were ones where having drops were necessary for the crowd to get into it. It was fun but I think it was a bad introduction into playing live. I love the way a five minute build-up that never drops sounds. Both this and ‘Don’t Need You’ had more conventional dance structure with drops when I first made them.
Where to from here?
I honestly have no idea. I feel like I’ve finally got into a groove where I can make the music I’ve always wanted to make. But at the same time I’m starting to feel uninspired by the stuff I’ve been making recently. The songs on this EP are what I came up with during ten or so months of experimentation after I released Tricks. At the moment I’m working on playing these songs live in a way that’s interesting to me. Who knows what’ll happen after that.
Photography by Megan Dieudonne