Paxton Fettel is an electronic producer from Copenhagen and is also part of Greta Gottage Workshop, a small record label owned and operated by Matt Densham out of Torquay in Devon. Over the past couple of years Paxton has released several soul and jazz influenced deep house records. In 2013 Paxton released his first record for Greta Cottage Workshop and is soon to release a four track follow up “A Night In Torquay” EP.
Ahead of this release, we invited Paxton to record an hours mix and to tell us more about who he is, how he got into music and how a producer from Denmark came to release music out of Torquay. Paxton also takes us through his studio setup and offers some tips to the music industry. His mix features music from Nils Frahm, Axel Boman, Fantastic Man, Tammi Terell and of course tracks from Paxton’s forthcoming “A Night In Torquay EP“, which you can preview on Soundcloud.
What have you been up to so far in 2014?
So far in 2014 I’ve been looking for a new place to live, which has finally fallen into place. I’ve been living a nomad life the last 4 months, so I’m really looking forward to getting a proper base. Of course, more studio space, it’s really in need now, my studio just keeps expanding.
I work a part-time job to pay for everyday expenses, records and new studio gear. Music creation is more of a money sink than a stable income to be honest.
Tell me about the mix you’ve recorded for Inverted Audio. Is there a particular flow in the flow and are there any tracks that particularly stand out or mean something to you?
All of the tracks are personal favorites; I can’t choose a particular standout. I always try to add a lot of diversity when mixing; I get bored very quickly if there is no change. Music makes my heart warm, genre fascism does not.
What did you aspire to be as a kid?
Most of the time these aspirations were temporary. I wanted to be a football player, journalist, animator and a full-time computer gamer.
But most of these things turned out not to stand the test of time. I lost interest, or sucked too much at them. The only thing that I stuck with was audio technician, which I’m going to apply for next fall.
How did you get interested in music? What outlets / platforms helped provoke your interest?
Music has always been a focal point in my life. My parents were involved with music from way before I was born, it just came naturally. My dad had a piano, and I got my own drum kit early on. I never enjoyed taking lessons though, it has always been about creating for me, not duplicating.
I might know 20 people who can play “Stairway To Heaven” on guitar, but people who can create exceptional music, which is both authentic, challenging and unique, is down to a few. Over the past few years, I have got in touch with a lot of great artists, but it is mainly due to my own persecution of people with similar artistic mindsets.
What artists and albums have been pivotal in the development of your musical taste?
That list is longer than a straight line from Torquay to Copenhagen. But to name a few I’d say:
- Diana Ross & The Supremes
- Prince (If I were to pick an album it’d be the black album)
- Greta Cottage Workshop Radio (always stellar sonics)
- Pointer sisters
- Four Tops
- Cunnin Lynguists (“A Piece Of Strange” was groundbreaking for me)
- The Avalanches (“Since I Left You” is a true masterpiece)
- Röyksopp (Melody A.M.)
- Bob James
- The Doors
- Johnny & The Hurricanes (“Red River Rock” was one of my favorite instrumentals as a kid)
- Elvis Presley
- Jefferson Airplane (“Surrealistic Pillow” is such a bomb)
- Aphex Twin
- John Tejada
- James Holden
- Fats Domino
- James Brown
- Billy Paul
- Avishai Cohen
- Fila Brazilia
- Groove Armada
I also just realised that I should thank my parents for a proper musical upbringing. Of course this list is just what comes out on top of my head, I’ve obviously forgotten a lot of great people, but we could spend all night on this.
Then there’s all the stuff I dislike, I’m not going to mention any, but it has been as important as the stuff I love. There’s no good without bad.
When did you start to produce music and what equipment did you have to your disposal?
Music and sound was recorded since I got my first tape recorder around the age of 4. It was a neat red toy. I was so very interested in my dad’s stereo as a young boy, all those glowing V/U meters & knobs to turn. You might say I fell into the bowl, like Obelix.
So at first I had a portable tape recorder with a handheld microphone. Later on I got a small 4-channel mixer, so I could properly record drums with more than one microphone. It was just to record my own playing and point out any flaws to improve later on.
Up until 2006 all recording was done to cassettes, since I didn’t really know about DAW’s and digital audio production at all.
Then Ableton happened to me, and since then I’ve pretty much stuck to that program. Not because it is the best, but simply because I can navigate quickly and it doesn’t take too much focus away from the creative process. At first I was overwhelmed and drawn by all those digital plugins and software instruments but I didn’t feel I could achieve the sound I wanted.
I’ve spent the last few years moving back to the analog domain, and it has been worth every penny and every effort.
How have your production techniques developed over the years? Are there any particular areas of production you want to explore further?
Well, it’s an ongoing progression I’d say. I guess I’ve become more aware of the rules of music production. At the same time I’ve also discovered the need to break them.
I’ve been working on an album for a long time, finishing that thing is probably the next thing I’m going to explore. Doing an album is quite different compared to the EP approach.
You’re currently living in Copenhagen, are you happy being based there or do you have dreams of living elsewhere?
Well, the weather is a drag, but I like the city. It’s a neat place. I can get to London, Berlin or Barcelona within hours, so I guess base location isn’t as important as it was 70 years ago. But you never know, I guess it’s hard to say ahead of time.
What’s the music scene like in Copenhagen? Is there much of an electronic music community?
There are a lot of people making a huge effort to keep the community running, but the appreciation of the general public is lacking slightly. The clubbing culture here is very mainstream oriented in general. Clubs struggle to keep running and there are only a handful of places booking artists that I’d personally like to see. But demand and supply goes hand in hand I guess.
Tell me about your studio setup, any instruments out of the ordinary?
My Yamaha SY-1 is kind of an oddball, but I love it to shreds. It is more of a niche thing, and not used in many tracks. But I plug it in occasionally. My setup is a PC-based setup with Ableton Live 9.
I’ve got the Lynx Aurora 8 AD/DA converter, along with a few audio chains with various guitar pedals, an API lunchbox with some various 500-series units. I’ve also got a reel-to-reel tape recorder (Sony TC-755) to add some grit to certain tracks. Especially good on drum grooves.
Uhm, Moog Slim phatty for bass & leads. Various percussive instruments, two basses, two guitars, a slide guitar. My dad’s piano. (He has a trumpet as well, but I only know one song on trumpet “The Slow and Painful Death of the Elephant”.
A Micro Korg that I actually disliked for a long time, but it has recently found it’s way back. I use my VOX guitar amp for reamping, and neat effects.
Listing a few more off the top of my head:
- Nord Drum 2
- Korg Volca Bass & Keys.
- Native Instruments Maschine.
- Various microphones and pre-amps. a 12 channel Behringer mixer.
- A turntable for sampling
Of course there’s a few plugins I fancy as well, especially the SoftTube plugins, Slate Digital stuff & the Valhalla plugins.
Do you have a philosophy about music? A template you use when producing music?
I have a template in Ableton, which has some standard track-settings and latency corrections but that’s about it. I do have a compressor on my mix bus at all times just hacking off a few DB. Sometimes I let it stay until the end, but mostly I get rid of the settings and start all over for the mix down process.
When it comes to songwriting, it is a very intuitive process. I actually try to do things differently each session. It’s all about experimenting while maintaining an overall feeling for a release.
Have you been to England or London even? What’s your experience of Britain’s music culture?
I’ve been to London once, when I was ten. It is somewhat a faint memory, but it lingers as a positive one.
My experience with British music culture has all been from afar, so I don’t really feel like I have the proper experience to form an opinion on that subject.
Tell me how you got involved with Matt at Greta Cottage Workshop?
Matt contacted me on Soundcloud back in 2011; he liked my output and asked me if I was willing to do some music for his label. I had been listening to their radio shows for some time, and it turned out to be a solid match. I still remember the cramps in my face for smiling the entire night when he first wrote.
What would you say is the ethos behind the imprint?
Keep it local, Yokel! – To quote the man (Matt Densham) himself. We’re just doing our thing in a humble and respectful manner. All artists on the label are amazing, and even before I got signed it was on top of my list.
You’re about to release ‘A Night In Torquay’ EP on Greta Cottage Workshop, how did this EP come about, who got in contact with whom and how do you feel being part of the label?
Matt and I work well together, and I usually keep him in the loop. After “Not Bad For A Tenner” released last year, it was implied that it was just a matter of time before the next release would hit. So when I had the next release done, I simply sent it to him for his approval. It was a hole in one, so to say. The demos he got were really close to the final release, which was a really great experience.
Being part of the Greta Cottage Workshop family is absolutely one of the most amazing things that happened in my life. For that I am truly grateful.
Does it represent a night in Torquay at all? Is there a concept behind the EP?
I’ve never been to Torquay, but it is based on my imaginations about a night in the Cottage. I’m pretty sure it has no resemblance at all.
I’m going to go and experience it on my own later this spring. Maybe ideas for the next EP will be born on that trip.
Where did you work on the EP and how long did you spend producing it?
I did it in my old apartment, in my bedroom actually; before I moved to the temporary location I’m in now. I have no idea how long it took; I tend to loose sense of time when I produce music. But it was over a period of three months.
Sometimes I can write a song in 3 hours, and then spend 40 on the mixing and final tweaks. The writing process is mostly something I do in one take; to make sure I don’t loose the initial vibe & ideas. The tuning stage needs to be spread out, to prevent ear fatigue, and to get my head cleared once in a while.
What are your plans over the next few years to help develop yourself as a producer and DJ?
Keep doing it. Keep improving.
As Winston Churchill said – “To improve is to change. To be perfect is to have changed a lot.”
I’m just going to keep on track, and continue the journey. Perfection is a weird thing, but to me musical perfection is to be telling your own story in honest words, or waves. No bullshit.
On a side note, I’m going to keep spending every spare penny on getting more synths & units for my racks. Suffering from Gear Aquisition Syndrome isn’t easy…especially not on a low budget.
Do you have any other records being released this year via Greta Cottage Workshop, or other labels?
I’m in the process of working on that album I mentioned, not sure when or where it’s going to be released, but it’s on the list.
I have a release coming on another imprint later this year, but I really can’t elaborate too much at this stage. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years, I feel I’m in a place now where I can really do some progress on many different aspects of life.
What’s are your thoughts on the art of the DJ’ing?
Bring it! Good DJ’s make a lot of things spin.
Finally any words of wisdom or warning you’d like to share to those who are aspiring to become a producer or DJ?
Do whatever you want to. If you at any point have success or money as the primary motivating factor for making or playing music, then don’t do it.
What the music “business” needs… Is more good music and less business.
1. Mim IIk – Nonplussed [No label]
2. Winkles – Dancing in the floor [No label]
3. Nils Frahm – Less [Erased Tapes Records]
4. The Marx Trukker – International Air Conditioner [Greta Cottage Workshop]
5. Axel Boman – Not So Much [Pampa Records]
6. Paxton Fettel – Atmas Sphere [Greta Cottage Workshop]
7. Paxton Fettel – Night Or Noon [Greta Cottage Workshop]
8. Christo – New Jazzno [Room With a View]
9. Fantastic Man – Look This Way [Wolf Music]
10. The Deep – Love Your Brother [Basenotic Records]
11. Paxton Fettel – Sketch / Unreleased [No Label]
12. Tammi Terell – All i Do is Think About You [Soulwax]