For those of you who don’t know who Downlink is, hopefully a glance at the giant “R” above is a good enough clue. Downlink, or Sean Casavant, is one of Rottun Recording’s (label of Excision) original three musketeers, making Datsik, Excision and Downlink among the first to produce the modern dubstep we know today. Casavant exploded onto the scene with songs like “Factory” and “Ignition” (linked below), and has continued to produce similar hard-hitting songs while managing to remain untainted by the inexplicable appeal of talent-less and worthless brostep.
I got an amazing opportunity to interview Downlink for a term paper I wrote about dubstep, and thought it’d be interesting to share some of what goes on behind the purported ex-lumberjack’s (Downlink’s career previous to music production, as told to me by NumberNin6) creative process, background, and just miscellaneous tid-bits. Some questions were, of course, more academically relevant, but I hope you enjoy the rare chance to see a side of music beyond the partying, drugs, sweating, etc.!
Some tunes while you read:
How did you come up with your DJ name? What does it mean (if anything)?
I was just trying to come up with a spacey name while working on a track. I was working on a slower computer and was bouncing stuff down a lot so I was constantly going back to my nintendo while waiting for the computer to bounce stuff. I was playing the Legend Of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The main character in the series is named Link. I went back to my computer and started looking up a glossary of outer space terms on the internet. When I read Downlink it jumped right out at me. I read the meaning of the word and was sold.
What production program do you use? Any specific reasons?
I use Logic for the most part. I sometimes use Reason but as of late I’ve been doing almost everything in Logic. It’s just the program that I’ve come to know and love. It has everything I need, and although it has some stupid quirks and issues with audio editing, its overall quick and easy to work with and it does almost everything I need it to.
How do your fans’ comments/feedback factor into your music production?
They basically serve to encourage me and re-inforce my passion for production. It really helps to hear that people are feeling my music and drives me to continue doing what I do.
Whose feedback do you value the most?
To be honest I take each persons feedback differently. Some people are easy to please and others are ridiculously hard to please. They all have value, you just have to know how to take each person. It helps having friends close at hand that can critique your music in a constructive way.
Do you produce most of your music in Kelowna? Do you think (wherever you produce your music) affects/influences you in any way differently than if you were to produce your songs somewhere else like Los Angeles or London?
I do produce most of my music in Kelowna, and I do think that environment plays a role on the music that you produce. That being said I think that as far as a track to track basis is concerned the immediate environment (ie. the room you are in, the speakers you are using, the smell of the room, the lighting etc) has more of an impact that the general city you are in. Of course if you spent a couple years living in Croydon or Shanghai for that matter you would probably start to draw on societal influences and your music would adapt / change. Kelowna has strong roots in heavy bass music so I don’t see any drastic changes in my productions coming in the near future.
Were you a classically trained musician? If so, how much does that training factor into your electronic musical pieces; what instrument(s) did you play? If not, how did you teach yourself the mechanics of music (e.g. reading notes, major/minor keys, rhythm/tempo)?
I am not classically trained in music and I just sort of use my ear to work things out. I’m probably wrong sometimes but as long as nothing sounds ridiculously out of place then you can usually get away with it in electronic music. I know how to construct a song in a minor or major key, although i typically break the rules when writing anyways.
Why did you choose to start producing music? Do you remember any specific moments that inspired you?
I decided to produce music because at the core I am a music lover and a music maker. From as far back as I can remember I’ve loved music and when I was introduced to drum n bass, a fascination grabbed me. Suddenly the possibility of creating music on my own was real to me and I developed an obsession. By the time dubstep came into play, I had already developed my skills a fair bit and basically established myself fast within the scene.
Can you explain to me your creative process? Do you need a certain kind of environment (e.g. music blasting, complete quiet)? Do you create music better when you’re frustrated by blocks (~writer’s block) or when just left to think freely/when your thoughts flow?
I usually like to make a cup of tea and sit down alone and start writing. I start with a kick and snare and go from there usually. Other days I will do nothing but just sit there and make patches. It all depends on my mood and what is taking priority in my list of things to do. These days I often don’t get to choose what I want to work on, it comes down to what has to be done.
Which of your songs are your favorite?
I think probably it would have to be “Ignition” or “Factory”. Both songs were massive for me and everytime I play them out they destroy the dancefloor.
When do you (if ever) consider a song “done”?
It’s hard to know, but I’ve been getting better at completing songs. I mean there’s always some little thing you can do to tweak it or make it slightly better but when it comes down to it, only a small percentage of people will notice those minute details. Wouldn’t you rather spend your time working on the next banger?
Despite his fame in the dubstep world, Downlink is a really nice guy.
Greetings earthlings. 2012 kicked off with a whirlwind of events for me but I’ve finally come down from the clouds and back to reality. For many, Valentine’s Day is the ultimate reality check. It’s a date (or not) in which all people have to face their relationship status head on, whether they like it or not. A day when guys either sack up and serenade, or tuck tail and run. A time when girls eat an absurd amount of chocolate, either out of heart shaped boxes or cartons of ice cream.
On the single side of the fence? Don’t despair. We still have music. And where there’s music, there’s dancing. And where there’s dancing, there’s nothing but positive energy in the air. Whether you’ve already found that special person to cuddle with, or if you’re just looking for some cuddy, having a little background music is never a bad thing.
So here are some of my all time favorite ballads. I hope you enjoy.
This year, I’ve decided to host a new years party on my roof. In doing so I had to give up my Avicii tickets. Needless to say I tossed and turned for many nights before making the choice. As the inner battle waged, the only way I could placate my concert loving half was to insure that I had the best playlist ever for the party. So after scouring the musical world for new gems and the best of 2011, I came across a new banger by Michael Woods called “Last Day On Earth.”
This guys awesome. UK based, he’s been in the game since the beginning of the millennium, steadily producing hit after hit. His songs have ridiculous buildups, always peaking at the right moments and leaving everyone in their blast radii dancing with both hands in the air. Put on some of his jams right around midnight NYE and you are guaranteed to start 2012 off on the right foot.
So here it is, along with a couple other favorites from Michael Woods. Happy holidays everyone and see you in 2012.
Es casi Navidad y eso significa que me voy a volver a casa al sur de Florida. Es siempre una Navidad blanco porque nosotros estamos rodeados de arena blanca. Me encanta. Me encanta la música y la cultura así. Y las chicas… ay yi yi.
Pero por supuesto, me disfruto de esta música con un toque. Por suerte, algunas de mis artistas favoritos también lo hacen.. Recientemente los productores se han unido con el sensación latino, Miguel Bosé. Hay algo en el lenguaje romántico que le da el toque perfecto a la música electrónica.
Así pues, aquí están algunos de mis favoritos. Disfruta.
Lenworth McIntosh, AKA Joonbug, and I first linked up in New York three years ago. We were at some uptight midtown hotel for a Model U.N. conference, but instead of talking about the geopolitical ramifications of Israel’s policies against Palestine, our conversation lost it’s direction and quickly shifted to art, illustration, and design. Basically we hit it off in a sea of over ambitious, neurotic, “I’ll be President one day” types. Anyway, a few minutes later I found myself pleasantly surprised by the sketch book he produced from his bag. He had maybe 50 pieces he’d been “casually working on” that looked like they belonged under glass. It was immediately clear what a talented artist he was, but Joonbug isn’t a one trick pony. Over the past three years he’s done something that many artists find extremely difficult, turning talent into a sustainable livelihood. Today, Joonbug is making moves running his own clothing company, Fresh Kaufee. His tees and sweatshirts not only showcase his strong artistic gifts, but as I hinted at, his unique personality. Get this, each piece of clothing smells like fresh coffee. Now that’s branding. In his own words,
“Fresh Kaufee aims to wake up the dormant creatives of the world. The brand will motivate them to use and express their talents to further better themselves and become successful individuals. All the shirts smell like coffee because what’s a name without a lasting impression right? I am the sole owner and designer for the brand-i.e. I do just about everything… There are many different paths to success so hopefully my brand will inspire you in some way to choose the one that fits you, Espresso Self!”
We sat down with Joonbug to get the low down on everything Fresh Kaufee.
Kaufee Time With Joonbug
WGOF: So what’s so “Fresh” about Fresh Kaufee?
Well first things first-Thank you for interviewing me bro, sorry again for my hectic schedule, I’ll sleep someday. Fresh Kaufee is my little brainchild. Living by example, I aim: to inspire, to motivate, and to encourage all creative minds alike to pursue their dreams full force. The freshness comes from my over-active imagination and hunger for originality. I’d rather re-draw something than copy it-adds pizzazz.
WGOF: How did you get started making t-shirts? What was the inspiration for your brand and how long have you been doing this?
That’s easy, by asking questions and taking some risks. I started back in 2009-though the idea sparked a bit before that-my inspiration was a cup of fresh coffee. I broke down the “caffeine” concept in my mind and it kept growing more interesting.
WGOF: You’re originally from Jamaica. How has that inspired you or shown up in your work as an artist/designer?
It’s crazy but when I think about it, I realize that I had been around coffee almost everyday I lived there, so maybe it’s my subconscious mind finally waking up. We had coffee crops and I used to eat the berries haha. We are very cultured folk so there are a couple ideas that relate to my years growing up there.
WGOF: Recently you did some work with Matisyahu. Tell us about that.
Yes, there was a Facebook contest passed on by a friend and I jumped on it-finished it before noon and submitted. Then came back a couple days later to a message from her telling me I was in the top six. My votes were significantly high and so was the feedback-positive and negative but that happens lol. I ended up winning and scored: 2 tickets to his show, a one on one in his tour bus, and a free copy of the tee. The guy is amazing and extremely well grounded. He offered us a fresh banana-how cool!
WGOF: What can we expect in the future from Fresh Kaufee?
Well I just released my first pullover hoody and looking forward to the spring line-up, there’s also a new logo that will be revealed in the New Year!
WGOF: Anything else you’d like to share?
I am the only owner and creative behind my brand so everything you see- I did it. I’m a certified goofball and I don’t care who knows- I embrace it like a boss!
Check out Fresh Kaufee’s new sweatshirts and be sure to keep it fresh.