One Quick Question: Ital

09.05.11 Words by: Charlie Jones

Last week it was revealed that Ital’s Daniel Martin-McCormick will collaborate with LA Vampires on the four song ‘Streetwise’ 12”, to be released through Not Not Fun on May 25th, under the name LA Vampires Goes Ital. Listen to the contorted dance tones of, and watch the video for, the record’s title track below.

Back in February, Daniel released the ‘Ital’s Theme’ EP for Not Not Fun off-shoot 100% Silk, a record rather like dance music and drone together passing through a hall of mirrors. He’s also put out some fine, sparkling noise under the names Mi Ami and Sex Worker on Not Not Fun. In light of these different past projects, we asked him to tell us a bit about how things change from moniker to moniker. You can also download the MP3 of himself remixing himself – that is, Ital remixing Mi Ami’s Dolphins into a pulsing, yet still delicately organic, skewed dance trip.

LA Vampires Goes Ital – Streetwise from Not Not Fun on Vimeo.

You’ve released music under a number of different names. How does your approach to making music change with each one?

In Mi Ami, everything is collaborative. I will usually come up with something to get the song going, but once that’s done I leave it alone until practice. I’ve never written a full song for Mi Ami, although a couple times I tried. Everything always gets sent through the blender.

In Sex Worker, I started focusing on just abstract layering of emotional spaces, using the four track to limit myself. Songs eventually started to form and things got tightened up, but for a while it was largely about riding out an emotionally charged drift.

For Ital, I wanted to make ‘real’ tracks. By real, I mean something that could be DJ’ed or remixed, that didn’t have lots of tape hiss, that sounds like the tracks I jam at home. I started using a free download called Audacity that sorta mimics Pro Tools but is way way shittier. There was a lot of math. I had to decide what the tempo I wanted was, and then calculate the length of a quarter note and all the divisions. I had to come up with a melody, first in my head, then onto guitar, then onto the computer. But I wasn’t using any soft synths, so I had to calculate the exact pitch I wanted for the wave generator. Starting with A=440, I used 3/2 to get E as well as 5/4 for C# and then you just keep going until you have an entire chromatic scale (real nerds will note this means many of the Ital tracks are in just intonation). Then there’s the fact that a pure sawtooth or square wave generated by Audacity does not sound all that hot, so there was a bit of treating, using double phaser and such to give it some more shape and personality. Kick drums were a sine wave somewhere in the 50 hertz zone, hand claps were my own hands clapping through the built-in mic on my computer. Cymbals were me going “psst,” recorded the same way. Hi hats were cut up white noise. Etc etc, and once all the sounds are laid out, I just copy-and-pasted them for a really long time and got to work with the mutes, the fiter (a wah wah plug in going as slow as possible), the delay and reverb and the pitch slide. Ital’s Theme took about 20 hours to finish, give or take, with this method. I’ve gotten faster since.

I would not really recommend this method at all, but it’s one advantage is that when I hear the songs, I can remember the most minute detail about pretty much every sound on there. Although there are a couple of mysteries, still. On Ital’s Theme, there’s a part in the middle where hand claps turn into these church bell sounds. I remember that was because of some jacked setting on the reverb (it was my first time using it in a while), but for the life of me I cannot replicate it. That’s fine, it’s nice to have a little confusion.

Not Not Fun will release LA Vampires Goes Ital’s ‘Streetwise’ on May 25th

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