Artists hide so many important things in their music. Feelings, thoughts, and sometimes even… memories. We can learn so much about their personalities and past experiences through their sound. We can almost touch their souls. So… What are we waiting for? Let’s do that! Let’s teleport all the way to Chicago Suburbs and meet arcologies – audiovisual talent and music producer, who will share his knowledge on creating tracker music, finding your own visual style, and many more.
Please tell us more about your relationship with music and how it evolved throughout the years.
My relationship with music production started at a young age, and I attribute this to three pieces of software: fast tracker, rebirth, and reason. I remember opening fast tracker for the first time and listening to some songs, and being blown away by the sound. I was especially excited to learn that I didn’t need anything crazy or expensive to make my own songs; I could just use the tracker software and some samples. When I wanted to make my own samples, I’d just load up rebirth or reason and mess around with creating different sounds. I studied art in college and took a media class that focused on max/msp and Reaktor. These also changed the way I looked at music production and got me into learning more about how to create generative music.
My personal musical interests haven’t really evolved over the years. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been listening to the same artists for almost my entire life. Not just because their songs are timeless, but because they evoke so many good memories of family and friends. They are specific memories too… For example, if I play the Trans-Central Connection compilation album… I’m instantly brought back to driving around Chicago in the late 90s with my brother, visiting Tower Records, and buying whatever new idm or jungle CD that was out. Music helps me to never forget, and if I’m feeling down… I can put on a favorite track and zone out to vivid memories.
I’ve always been a hobbyist and pretty much just made music for myself for the past 20 years. When the pandemic hit, I was looking for something to do to help people in any way that I could. So, I started posting my tracks online to see what would come from that. I’m a big supporter of open-source software, and I treat my music the same way. 99% of my tracks are released under the creative commons license, and I’m always willing to share project files, patches, and samples that I’ve made. If I can help or motivate anyone in pursuing their music, it’s worth it, and this is what arcologies is all about.
Why did you decide to create tracker music? What challenges do you face, and what do you like most about this type of music production?
When the polyend tracker was announced, I knew it was going to be an instant purchase. I’m not a big hardware user or anything. I love software… but the thought of being able to make tracker music away from the computer excited me. I bought it when it came out and used it for hours at a time.
A lot of people ask me about challenges with using the Tracker as the main component… and I never really know how to answer that question. I’ve never felt restricted while using it, and challenges are never an issue if you just work within your means. A blank canvas, regardless of size, is always going to have challenges and restrictions… you just need to think about what YOU want to do with it and start creating.
One of my favorite things about the tracker workflow is that I don’t need to worry about tracks being restricted to a single instrument or sound. If I’m using the polyend tracker (or renoise, milkytracker, impulse tracker, fast tracker, etc.) I can place samples and triggers wherever I want and just mix the sounds in the instrument/sample settings screen. I also love messing around with breaks, and trackers are perfect for that.
Where do you seek your inspiration? What other artists have an impact on your sound?
I obviously get a lot of inspiration from the artists I’ve been listening to almost my entire life: Aphex Twin, B12, Autechre, Bukem, Peshay, Goldie, Photek, Squarepusher, Boards of Canada, etc. I also find a lot of inspiration in film and television. I’ll be watching a show, and I’ll pick out something that I find interesting, sample it, and try to build a vibe around it. I can then choose to leave the sample in the track or remove it… either way, it would have acted as the main source of inspiration. I also find that having a community of other producers is very motivational. I love the Polyend Tracker discord. There are so many amazing producers and just listening to what they have to say and hearing their tracks is a wonderful source of inspiration. I’m also a big fan of YouTube music playlist channels, especially channels like Ambiance and 4AM Breaks.
We noticed that you have a very distinctive visual style too. Why would you say visuals are important when sharing your music with audiences?
Visuals are a great way to reinforce your vibe and style. If you can find a visual style that conveys the idea that you’re going for, it’s an effective way to bring a distinctive visual style to your sound and ties everything together. It also helps with idea generation.
For me, anything can spark musical inspiration… it can be a video, a vocal sample, a synth demo, etc. Anything that encourages you or forces you to be creative helps with the entire process, and the more you do it, the easier it is for you to come up with ideas and concepts.
You often share your art on YouTube. Could you please give three tips for someone who would like to start going the same path and try out this platform?
My first tip would be to just start posting your music if you’re interested in doing it. You never know who you may inspire!
Secondly… never be afraid to ask questions. There are so many awesome artists out there who love talking about what they are passionate about, so if you like something and want to know how they did it… just ask!
Finally, make music for yourself and your fans… and not “for other music producers”. You can easily fall into an endless production trap of not getting anything done because you’re too concerned with compressors, mixing, etc. Audio engineering takes years to master, so just create music in any way that you can. Mixing and mastering are my absolute weak points, and I’m trying to get better everyday… but I don’t let that interfere with my creative process because I wouldn’t get anything done.
Why did you decide to work with Midihub? Which features do you use the most and why?
Midihub is the ultimate MIDI expansion. I first learned about it a couple of years ago but didn’t pick one up until the middle of last year… and I regret waiting that long. One of my main musical goals is to be able to perform live… and the Midihub adds a ton of utility and creative functionality to a live setup.
This cannot be said enough: the Midihub is extremely easy to use, and that’s what I love most about it. I can fire up the editor, and within a couple of minutes, I’ve got something creative going on.
Recently, I’ve been looking at ways to use the Midihub to expand on the polyend tracker’s MIDI limitations… mainly due to the number of tracks. However, the Tracker has a chord FX feature, which will send the notes of a chord via MIDI on just a single track instead of multiple tracks. What I’ve been doing is using the Midihub’s MIDI channel and note remappers to trigger sequences with Reaktor and Zebra2 in Ableton live. If you were an artist that used a lot of software or hardware that had the option to trigger or change sequences via MIDI notes, you could essentially trigger/change 4 live sequencers on 4 different MIDI channels via one track with a chord FX on the Tracker. Cool stuff.
And lastly, do you have any exciting future plans that you would like to share with us? Please do!
I’m always going to be building new tracks and sharing project files on my YouTube… but I also am trying to set up some small random live shows around the city and maybe even in some college towns around the midwest. Live performance is something I really want to try to do, and I’ve been practicing a lot in my spare time.
Take a look at arcologies’ quick tutorial and make sure to subscribe!