You can't beat the sound system

My Technology: The Shamen's Mr C Raves About His State-Of-The- Art Studio
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The Independent Culture
We have always used technology to its fullest potential with what we do at the End club and everything we have done as The Shamen. We were the first club in the world to do a two way audio visual ISDN link with another club in another country. That was over two years ago. The Shamen were the first band in the world to perform live on the Internet, at the Town and Country club in Kentish Town, north London, about four years ago.

And three years ago we were the first band in the world to release, free of charge, a single on the Internet. We still don't use it commercially - we don't sell records at the End websites or merchandise. It's about using technology to express ourselves artistically and to gain information and use that information to create sounds and experience.

The sound system in the End club is built by Thunderridge. The brain of the sound system is called an Omni-Drive system and controls everything about the sound; where you want the sound and the frequencies you want in what areas. It's basically the dispersion of the sound that makes the End sound system as good as it is.

We generally have pre-sets now. Our sound engineer, Cyclone, is a really, really good engineer and he has got different settings for different nights, depending on the sound; house music is slightly warmer than techno so it would be slightly softer on the top end [treble] and flatter on the bottom [bass]. Whereas a techno night would be a bit tighter on the bottom end and more ringy on the top end. If something is very vocal heavy the mid-range would be pulled back a little bit so the vocals don't distort and overpower everything else.

The sound is much more important than the DJs, as a general rule. But one is no good without the other. As a producer, I make music; it's about making music and making music that sounds correct.

Our studio is state of the art; it's Macintosh computers, power Macs, running Logical Audio with Audio Works 8 (8-track digital software). It's a tape free studio.

I physically play everything in myself. However the technology makes it so much easier, quicker and makes you a much more powerful producer. You have got the versatility there to do exactly what you please; with the technology you can craft shapes out of sound and using the best modern software sequencers you can push your sequencing to a further degree.

That is what making modern dance music is, for those who are musicians. There are those who aren't musicians and don't know how to work around chord structures. If I am going to criticise technologically-based dance music, it's that there are too many lazy people who aren't prepared to push their sounds into something new, more psychedelic, more electronic. I feel modern technology isn't really there to make music easier, it's there to make music more exciting, more interesting, to break new grounds.

Very few people are coming out with real innovative music, even though they are using innovative hardware and software. As the end of December The Shamen are splitting up in the physical world of atoms and are shifting to digital bits. We are going to recreate ourselves as digital characters on the internet, like animated characters almost. However on the internet The Shamen will still be growing and releasing music on digital files on the net. There may be performances as well, but the digital characters will be performing.

Why? Because in the physical world the whole music industry sucks. It's all about pounds, shillings and pence. There is no integrity anymore, there seems little experimentation and push as far as popular music. The Shamen is into evolving and growing and within the digital domain there are no barriers, there are no rules, and no one can tell us what we can or cannot do. Therefore as an art form the band can evolve.

The Shamen's final album, `UV', is ou now on Moshka records. Shamen news on: www.nemeton.com

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