Email interview with Demolee. September 10, 2008.
Where do you find the next generation of downtempo music producers in the Philippines? In I.T. companies apparently. One of them just happens to be Franco Madrid, also known as Demolee, a product specialist who sweats and breathes chillout music. Though he won’t tell us what product he masters, we do know that in his free time, he’s mastering tracks for his solo project Demolee and his live group Flavours and Caffeine (FNC). The best part is, even before he learned how to make electronic music, he was already downloading from QED Records. Which is a nice way of showing that web 2.0 is making producers out of all consumers — though not all of us are as talented as this guy.
Read the entire interview after the jump.
I remember finishing the EP last January 2008. Since then, I’ve been into a lot of musical experimentation. Jayvee (Cardinal Zen/Makkina) and I planned a collaboration but we agreed on doing break beats/big beats — something different from our beloved downtempo genre. I finished two tracks for that project, and on top of the usual texture of my songs (pads mostly) I learned to tweak the softsynths (in Reason) to come up with sounds that sounds more edgy. Other than that project, most of the songs I’ve made go into my other group Flavours and Caffeine (FNC).
My main focus lately is my vocal based group Flavours and Caffeine. Some of the unfinished songs that were made originally for my Demolee solo project, were edited and rearranged to match the more aggressive trip hop vibe of FNC.
I realize that people can more easily relate to FNC due to (vocalist) Tina’s talent for writing, unlike Demolee which is more of a personal music journal. I still do have some songs under the Demolee project that are hidden in my hard drive waiting to be released– probably next year, I’ll release it again in QED.
How do you support yourself, so that you can create art?
To create art, I just use all the resources available. I strongly believe that a person doesn’t have to spend too much to create a good masterpiece; instead you have to invest in coming up with ideas. Go out there, talk to a lot of people, listen to the news, watch movies, be observant, that’s where you’ll get the ideas.
You perform live as part of Flavours and Caffeine, what is it about live gigs that you enjoy? And what’s your setup at a gig?
FNC now has three members: Tina on vocals and songwriting, myself on programming and keyboards, and Pao “Chec” Pacheco on turntablism and effects. What I enjoy about doing live gigs is the freedom to express myself through my music onstage. I must admit it does affect me when people make comments like “Oh, they’re like live karaoke”… but then again, who cares?
My live setup is minimal. My laptop runs on a Pentium M Centrino 1.8ghz, 512mb RAM, and an 80 GB hard disk. For Demolee, which is more of a DJ act, I use either Ableton Live or Virtual DJ, an Echo Indigo DJ soundcard, and an Evolution X-session as controller. For FNC however, I use Propellerhead’s Reason software for sequencing and for the synths that I play live. I use M-Audio’s Ozone both as the external audio interface, and keyboard controller. I also have a small three channel mixer to give me control over my levels (especially when you encounter the sound tech from the dark side).
What’s been your best live gig experience?
Every gig is different. I can count the number of times that I’ve said, “That was a great performance.” I can’t think of any specific gig dates though. A good gig experience is when I’ve had enough time to practice, either alone or with my group, when there is a sufficient amount of monitors where we can clearly hear ourselves onstage, and lastly, a friendly sound engineer to control our levels… with all these, we don’t really have to worry about the audience.
What new gear / software are you having fun using in the studio?
At home, I use my desktop as my main workstation. I use a very old Creative 49-key keyboard controller when writing songs. I don’t have a lot of gear; I just have a lot of desire for them as of the moment. The Kaoss Pad tops my wishlist, followed by a pair of KRK monitors.
Finally, excluding your own solo EP, what’s your favorite QED release so far and why?
I’ve been a fan of QED since before I learned how to make songs in MIDI. Personally, I admire Bleedingboy | Soundtrack’s Caches of Sempiternal Ennui though I can’t decipher all the songs in it, they’re just what they are — amazing! And of course Makkina’s Blissful. That collection was among my favorites even before it was released on QED. I do have another favorite, but it’s not released on QED, it’s Acid42‘s Yes, I am the Soft Asian Enemy, the songs seems to have been carefully structured, and I love the wide array of genres instead of just being plain downtempo or drum ‘n’ bass.