Being responsible for the music on the record was immediately more appealing to me than being the person playing the record.Progressive-Sounds: Many top producers when asked about their beginnings in the scene would respond by explaining how they began as a DJ in their teenage years or even younger. However your story is a slightly different one. Not bothering with learning to DJ, you went straight into production. What prompted this move, and how long afterwards was it that you began mixing?
Formulate: Being responsible for the music on the record was immediately more appealing to me than being the person playing the record. From the first few times I really experienced underground dance music, I wanted to be the one responsible for the sounds that were making people lose their minds. Doing a live show has always been on the agenda, though. I decided early on that I wanted to build a reputation by writing and producing and then begin doing a live show, if everything fell into place. As far as mixing goes, I've always been into doing non-live mixes. I started doing computer mixes using ACID back when I got into producing in 1999. Cutting a mix CD is always a nice vehicle to circulate your latest track and generate some interest. Now that Ableton Live is around, I'm able to take the same ideas and add ability to do it on the fly, not to mention the fact that Live adds a whole other dimension to computer mixing, as anyone who uses it can surely attest. I do perform DJ mixes from time to time using Live, but it's usually just for small gatherings, or for my radio show. Still, I'm not a DJ, and I don't want to get booked as a DJ. I'd rather put my time and energy into my productions and live performances.

Formulate Pacific Front RecordingsProgressive-Sounds: Along with Davin Greenwell (AFK), you run Pacific Front Recordings. Upon its formation, did either of you have any expectations of where you wanted the label to go and what direction you wanted its releases to take?
Formulate: We knew that we wanted the label to be a progressive label, but we both agreed that the genre of the music isn't as important as the sounds and ideas behind it. We don't want to attach any genres to Pacific Front, as we're more about showcasing talent from our area for the most part. It was also important to us that we run the label as if we were putting out vinyl and had things like manufacturing costs to consider, like a traditional label does. With a digital label, like Pacific Front, your operating costs are next to nothing and the only money you really spend is on promotion. What we've seen in the last year are a lot of these digital labels starting up and cranking out music that no other labels wanted to pick up, just because there's no risk involved. With a few exceptions, the retailers don't care if the music isn't all that good, because there's no risk to them, either; a track sells or it doesn't, and nobody involved loses anything if it doesn't sell. It's important to Davin and I that everything we put out is quality music, and that we'd be prepared to back it 100% if it there was some kind of financial risk involved. I don't write music, shop it around, and then put it out on Pacific Front if it didn't get picked up. I do work for other labels, and I do work for Pacific Front.

Progressive-Sounds: In the past you have had some problems with an illegal release group putting out a release for download across various networks. How much damage do you feel these groups are doing to the scene, and do you have faith that fans will still be honest enough to purchase your music?
Formulate: People think I'm kind of strange when I say that I didn't really care that the material in question was illegally released. I think it has to be expected that things are going to be shared illegally these days. It's become incredibly easy to get ahold of high-quality MP3 copies of songs with the advent of digital music retailers like Beatport, and it's even easier to distribute said MP3s with the popularity of things bittorrent and p2p networks. The most common reaction I got from my stuff being passed around was along the lines of "hey, I grabbed your track from and I went out and bought it." Pacific Front releases that were put out illegally actually ended up outselling the ones that weren't. That's kind of funny. So, I do believe that people will purchase something if they hear it and they like it. As far as damaging the scene goes, I think it does hurt all of us a little, but buying a track is a different thing now than it was 3 or 4 years ago. It's not a huge deal to go put down $2 for a track you really like at a digital music store, as opposed to dropping $10 to $20 for a record. I think vinyl sales have been hurt more, but I don't think that piracy is a significant factor contributing to slumping vinyl sales.

I feel that it's important to have music be my first priority and running the label second.Progressive-Sounds: With a string of top notch releases on your Pacific Front Recordings, many are expecting great things for the future of the label. Can you give any information on upcoming releases, and what personal productions do you have in the works that we can look forward to in the near future?
Formulate: More good things, I hope! We've worked hard this past year to build a good foundation for the label and it's worked out really well. Our focus will remain the same, meaning most of the releases will have our core group of artists involved in one way or another. We'll probably be spacing out releases a bit more this year, as opposed to last year where we were doing a release every 4 weeks or so, just to give us more time to breathe and concentrate on putting out the best stuff we possibly can. I feel that it's important to have music be my first priority and running the label second. Running a label is no good if it's going to detract from doing what you enjoy most, and for me, that's writing music. On that note, our release schedule for next year is pretty open right now. I have a lot of stuff in the works and I'll have an EP coming out early next year. Davin has a ton of stuff going on, and Charles (who records as C79 and Chompers) is hard at work, too.

Progressive-Sounds: A hot topic at the moment is the debate over whether or not producers and DJs should be moving towards all things digital. What are your thoughts on the issue, and what hardware / software do you favour in your own work?
Formulate: I've always been a 100% software guy, so that's what side of the fence I'm on. With a few exceptions, I feel that anything you can do with hardware can be done just as well (or better) with the huge array of quality software available today, and it's much more cost-effective. Right now I'm using Cubase SX 3 as my sequencer and Reason 2.5 to generate a lot of my sounds. I'm frequently changing up the VSTs I use to keep things interesting, but there's always some Waves and TC Works stuff being put to work. I've been messing with Vanguard a lot lately, and I've always liked the FM7. I'm also a huge fan of Spectrasonics products.

Formulate Pacific Front RecordingsProgressive-Sounds: The Pacific Front Sessions on Proton Radio has taken off on a positive note, and you started it with the aim to showcase some of the hot talent floating around Canada at the moment. How successful do you think you have been in your goal, and are there any undiscovered Canadian DJs / producers who we should be keeping an eye out for in the future?
Formulate: The feedback we've recieved about the show has been wonderful. People are always telling us that it's a bit different and it's not your standard show, which is definitely what we set out to do. The guests we've had so far have really stepped up and provided some great sets, so we feel that we're doing a good job promoting northwestern artists and DJs. Braeden Parrott is someone to look out for. He's one of the most versitile DJs I know and has a phenomenal energy about him when he's doing his thing. The perfect peak-time DJ. C79 is crazy. He's been working on a live show that sounds like it's from another planet, and his latest productions are ridiculously good. Also, Davin DJs under his Ariz0na moniker and has already accomplished a lot as a DJ. His sound has gotten him a cult following here in BC and he's poised to blow up internationally at any moment.

Progressive-Sounds: Under the Formulate guise, your work is often pushing the boundaries of different genres, making it quite difficult to pigeonhole. Has this stemmed from diversity within yourself, or have there been any particular figures who have had influence over what you do. Or perhaps a bit of both?
Formulate: I guess my body of work is a reflection of my idea of what an artist should be. I don't think that this comes from within, other than the fact that I enjoy more than just one genre of electronic music. I enjoy it all, so that inspires me to write a lot of different stuff. I was always influenced and excited by electronic artists that had a broad range. It's always fun to hear that someone has a new single or album out and you have no clue as to what it's going to sound like, but you know it's going to be a great experience having a listen and finding out. I suppose that's what I would like people to feel when they come across something of mine that they've never heard before.

Leftfield blew my mind when I first heard Progressive-Sounds: On that note, are there any albums - from the past or present, electronic or non-electronic - that you consider true classics, and why so?
Formulate: There are a lot of non-electronic albums that I consider classics because I connected with them at this perfect time when I was just beginning to appreciate music. "Ten" by Pearl Jam is one of those albums to me. Eddie Vedder sounded possessed on every song, and every song felt so raw. "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" by Red Hot Chili Peppers is still one of my all-time favourites. It blended ideas from funk, rock, and hip-hop seamlessly into this album that induced constant head-bobbing. My first exposure to electronic music came through more commercial stuff, and I still absolutely love the first albums I owned. Daft Punk's "Homewerk" is magical to me, as is Chemical Brothers' "Exit Planet Dust." Leftfield blew my mind when I first heard "Leftism." That album was a true inspiration, and I still consider it my favorite electronic artist album. Mixed compilations like "Northern Exposure" did a real number on me as well, and I don't think anyone will argue that it belongs in the classics category. I could go on and on here, so I think I'll leave it at those.

Progressive-Sounds: Your live show has been received very warmly, and many fans from across the globe are hanging out for you to hit their country. Do you have any plans for the near future of taking your show global?
Formulate: Man... peforming live is great, I absolutely love it. Lately, I've really been performing with Davin and we've decided to put all our efforts into a combined live show, rather than me trying to get booked as a solo act, at least for the time being. Davin and I are hard at work making sure we have an innovative, interactive show built on a foundation of great tunes. I want this combined show to be a significant step up from my solo show. When the time is right, we'll be seeking representation and making a serious effort to go international with it.

Progressive-Sounds: Finally, as you have secured a comfortable position within the electronic scene, where do plan to go from here?
Formulate: Well, I'm happy that I'm able to write music that other people enjoy. As long as I'm doing that, I feel like I'm doing what I set out to do. Though, I'm always pushing myself to get better. I feel like I have so very much to learn, and that's what I enjoy so much about writing and producing - you never stop learning as you progress as an artist. Up to this point, the work that I've become known for sits somewhere in the house genre with a few exceptions, and I'm really into doing more stuff that breaks that mold. I have so many half-complete tracks that are really strange but I haven't gotten around to finishing them because they didn't serve a purpose at the time. I think now it's time to explore those ideas and come up with some music that's a bit freakier, while still appealing to the dancefloor. I'm not sure just how all of that is going to turn out, but I intend to have some fun finding out.


Recent Interview

SOSChris FortierDale AndersonSpookyJimmy Van MJames TalkBTJohn DigweedSander KleinenbergDark GlobeTerry GrantLostepAndrew KellyMomuSashaSteve LawlerFormulateKirsty HawkshawChris SaltNick Warren