Alex Melia aka Reso remains a steadfast musical staple on the London underground dance scene. Years after his early appearances on REACT.FM alongside the likes of Rusko, Distance and Heny G he is still staying very much true to his roots, pushing a personal sound and not buying into the hype like so many of his previous counter-parts. A relative guru of bass manipulations and by no means a creature of habit, at least as far as his productions are concerned, his debut album ‘Tangram’ did not disappoint old and new music aficionado’s alike.
Alex is also a fan of Japanese anime [Manga] and retro games, almost everything released over the past 6 years has contained an influence of his personal tastes, whilst staying distinctly ‘Reso’. The apparent ease with which he creates his twisted mechanized sounds is enviable, conjuring images of a dystopian future. As album’s go, ‘Tangram’ explores a rich variety of melodic theme’s and is by no means formulaic. Spanning styles from Dubstep to Drum & Bass, with a few stops in-between, it really is worth a listen.
For those less acquainted, could you tell us who you are, where you’re from and what you wanted to do when you grew up?
My name is Alex but I produce under the moniker Reso. Originally I’m from Morden which most people only know about as a place they’ve woken up at after being too pissed on the northern line. The band ‘Good Shoes‘ also did a song about it. I wanted to be a goal keeper at first, then an architect and then a drummer.
What records did you find yourself listening to back then, and have you had any formal musical training?
My mum used to love 80’s music which at the time was just pop. So I heard lots of Tears For Fears, Thompson Twins etc, which has had a clear effect on me now that I think about it. The first record I bought myself was ‘Pantera- Cowboys From Hell’ when i was about 10 or 11. This was when grunge and metal were really big, i remember watching headbangers ball and thinking it was great. In regard to me having any formal musical training, not really. I had drum lessons for about 3 years at the start but that’s it. I’m pretty much self taught.
When did music begin to play a more prominent part of your life, and how do you see your music being received by an audience?
I was probably about 14 or 15 when I started thinking about doing music seriously. As I mentioned before I wanted to be a session drummer so spent a lot of time practicing. I even went to the Brit school, which at the time the biggest artist who had come out of there was ‘Imogen Heap’ and one of the blokes from Another Level’. It was an awesome time as all we did was get stoned and play giant Jenga at the pub after having massive jam sessions in the rehearsal rooms and i still got a B-tech out of it. I think ‘Oneman‘ went there as well haha.
My music gets received in a lot of different ways I think. Some people only like the heavy, hard stuff, others the more chilled out bits and others again who only like the beastly experimental stuff. Some people like it all though, they’re my favorites. I don’t make it easy for people to put me in a box and i think it’s very lazy to just call me a ‘Brostep’ producer.
Some people are probably less aware of your early days working with ‘Urban Graffiti’ collective and ‘REACT.FM‘. What did this time mean to you and how do you view it today?
That was an awesome time and I have incredibly fond memories of going to React every Thursday with Rusko and Roguestar and just playing tunes. It was exciting as dubstep hadn’t blown up and it felt like we were part of something new. I suppose there is a tendency to view the past with rose tinted glasses but I really enjoyed the unpretentious nature of it. I’m a bit more jaded these days, but I think that’s just something that comes with age.
Over recent years you have been working closely with ‘Civil Music‘. How did this relationship come about, and how have you sourced the fantastic artwork on your releases?
Civil is a brilliant label. I love that they release a wide variety of sounds and that I’m the only one like me on the label. Plus Mark and Matt who run it are good friends as well as great managers. Originally it was Matt who got in contact with me when he worked at Fabric about publishing and he asked if i would like to release some music on his new label.
With the artwork, first off we had ‘Terratag‘. I loved Terratag for ages and we literally just asked if Paul (main artist/owner) could do it. He agreed and it looked awesome. With the rest apart from the album art I just made a mood board of pictures/bits of art and design that I like and we managed to find some great people to do it like ‘Hawaii Design‘. The album artwork was done by Justin Maller who runs a collective called ‘Depthcore‘. I pretty much used a lot of his pictures in the mood board I made and we thought “fuck it” lets just ask him and luckily he agreed.
Ever since your early productions, your music has had a very distinct sound. What do you cite as prominent influences and how long did it take you to feel comfortable with what you were making?
I’m still not entirely comfortable with what I make. It could always be better. The moment you’re comfortable you may as well give up as where does the challenge lay? For me I always try to push myself, whether from a technical stand point or a melodic one. a tune has to have something to keep me going while I make it. It really annoys me when other producers rinse the same formula over and over. There’s having your sound and then there’s just doing the same shit repeatedly because you know people lap it up. If I make a tune that’s similar to one before it’s only because I feel the idea could be improved upon. Sometimes it’s fun to revisit old ideas with a fresh perspective and new set of skills you’ve acquired over time. I’m influenced by everything. Mainly a lot of Sci-Fi though.
What are your instruments and software of choice when producing music?
I use logic just because the choice of which DAW to use is purely arbitrary, they all do the same thing just in different ways. I only use logic because at the time that was the one I had a cracked copy of. That’s it. It could’ve been Cubase or Reason or any other one. The other software I have is all pretty standard stuff, Massive, FM8, Camelphat etc. It’s not what you use remember. I don’t use any out board gear apart from a Kaos pad and a liquid mix compressor as well. The Kaos pad is a lot of fun and the compressor sounds alright. I’d like to get some vintage synths like a Roland 101 or something but they’re expensive and I have a tiny room.
What are your top three albums of all time?
How long did your most recent album ‘Tangram’ take you to produce?
It’s taken me the best part of three years just getting the tunes right and to a point I’m happy with it. I think in future I won’t spend as long on an album, probably try and get it all done in 6 months just to keep it a bit more current in regards to what I like. It feels good to have it done though, I’m glad it’s not just a collection of random singles.
Where do you see your musical persuasions taking you in the future? Any projects, collaborations, live shows or parties we should know about?
There’s two choices really, keep making the same old shit and plod along happily enough or try to strive for something interesting and different. I’m more inclined for the latter. I have a lot of ideas for music that doesn’t fit any style really. I’m keen to see how it turns out and what people will think of it. For the moment I don’t have any future projects, just keep making music. There will be a ‘Tangram’ remix package coming soon with some great people doing remixes.
As for a live show, It’s something I’ve thought about but I’d really have to work it out. My music doesn’t lend it self to being re-produced live by just me and a laptop. Every part is there for a reason, there’s not much room for improvisation. I think great live shows don’t just play you the album, they re-work it, remix on the fly, add new bits etc. hopefully I’ll be able to sort it out.
How do you view the current state of electronic music in London? Are any current trends interesting you?
I’ve yet to find something new that’s made me get really excited recently. I’m more excited by bands at the moment rather than someone re-naming 808 house for the 100th time. I’m pretty bored of clubbing in London, generally I feel like I’m being mugged off. £20 to go to a warehouse in Hackney with a 10 watt sound system and £5 for a warm red stripe is not cool. I still love a good Drum & Bass rave though.
Could we have an insight into what your listening to at the moment?
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not grafting beats and playing instruments?
Playing video games mainly and eating good food.
Any words of wisdom for our readers?
To make perfect pork belly:
1. Go to the butchers and get some pork belly. Get them to score the skin for you.
2. Make a rub out of fennel seeds, salt and pepper then mash it up with a pestle and mortar.
3. Rub that shit into the pork good.
5. Pop it in a roasting tin and pour some red wine around the bottom.
6. Put it in the oven at around 155 degrees C for about 5 hours.
7. boost up the heat for the last 15-20 minutes to about 190 degrees C (this get the crackling absolutely banging)
8. Take it out the oven and remove from the tin then wrap it in tinfoil and leave it to rest for about half an hour.