Interview – Skygaze

Our first Artist Series features Skygaze, the musical project of Jaime Tellado. An architect by profession fond of music from an early age, but it was not until April 2013, when he decided to give a name to his current project, which has been published in various netlabels (Neonized Records, SoullessLab RecordsLove Our Records and more).

In 2014 he was the winner for an artistic residence in Laboral Arts Center in Gijón (Spain). That same year he self-released a cassette LP titled “Endless Harvest“, plus an EP on Love Our Records and participated in several compilations, including Synthzine. He has been nominated for the Vicious Music Awards 2014 in the categories of Best IDM Artist, best album and best live act. His live has been seen at festivals like Sónar 2015, ARTeNOU, CasiMiniFest, Nokodek or MIRA.

HelloSamples – First of all we would like to know about your musical influences: childhood, first steps into electronic music, producers who have influenced you…

Skygaze – I’ve actually gone through a million genres. From Brit Pop on the early 90’s (Blur, Suede, Xixon Sound also…) to Metal, Hardcore and Grunge on late 90’s (Deftones, At The Drive In, Rage Against the Machine…). I also listened to Hip-Hop such as Dr. Dre, Wu Tang Clan, Nas and spanish Hip-Hop as well.

When I moved to Madrid I started getting into House and especially to the so called ‘Minimal Techno’ coming from people like Nathan Fake or James Holden (major culprits for me to start making music). Also, labels like Kompakt or Border Community play a very important role for me. I also went through a French Touch phase (Ed Banger, Sebastian and all that).

It was around 2008 when I discovered all the Los Angeles abstract Hip-Hop scene. I was already listening to some instrumental Hip-Hop like RJD2, Dj Shadow, Antipop Consortium, Prefuse 73, etc… but this Brainfeeder/Stones Throw/Leaving Records sound got me hooked right away. Although, I started producing this kind of music years later, probably around 2012-2013. Until that, I had been producing House, Techno, Drum & Bass, Garage and other types of genres not that experimental, more based on a formula perhaps.

I should also mention that all the so called Post-Dubstep influenced me a lot on making music on a slower tempo range.

What can we expect to find on your library?

Well, basically it’s a melting pot of all drums and percussion samples that I’ve been recording on my samplers through all this years making music. I believe the textures and percussion samples are one of the most interesting parts of the library. On the other hand, I’ve also recorded many electric pianos and roaring synths.

There’s 10 construction kits done with care where you can see perfectly my production style. There’s a lot of audio and MIDI so that you can build your own song starting from those sketches. Since I believe libraries should have a didactic component, I’ve put special attention on it throughout its construction.

One of the main characteristics of your music are the chords sequences. I’ve always thought that they have a special grain and life to it. As if every loop was different. How would you describe your sound?

In my music, chords play a very important role, whether it’s to play pads, rhodes progressions or synth lines. Normally I do those progressions by playing them on the keyboard or by simply drawing them with my mouse. I also tend to offset some notes to give them a more human touch and sound richness which i think is very important in beat music.

You have a special taste for crunchy drums and organic percussions. Sometimes I believe the textures accompanying the percussion end up being decisive on defining the groove on your sequences. ¿Where do you start at on a drum beat?

It depends. I don’t have a clear methodology. I do have some processes or procedures that I always use, but I don’t have a starting or ending point. That is to say, I sometimes start on the kick or snare, perhaps the percussion or even recording something through the mic and start building from there. It all depends on the mood.

If I had to mention another aspect of your drums that catches my attention, would be the subtle syncopated and ‘drunken’ groove. How’s your process? Do you record MIDI sequences and leave them without quantization?

To be honest, playing live drums is not really my thing so I normally end up drawing them and later applying some groove by playing with Ableton’s own swing. Also, another simple way to achieve that, is by modifying velocity parameters on single hits, so it gains certain dynamics. I also like to offset some elements like claps and hi-hats from the grid, giving the beat a wonky feel.

So, you also play a lot with automations and modulations?

Off course! I’m truly obsessed with automations both for loop and long sample recording. When I produce downtempo, I tend to automate loops and when I’m in a more uptempo range I normally record longer automations. The best example would be the track ‘Bricklane’ from my library, where the synth line is based on the filter automation.

Regarding modulations, I use different techniques to achieve the tape effect on my own samples. On one hand there’s Ableton’s Simpler Instrument, where you can load any sample and play with LFO’s set to different destinations, such as tune, pan or volume. I also use the VST ‘wow&flutter’ which I recently managed to make it work at 64bit.

I must say that, what I really like about Ableton’s Simpler Instrument, is that I can load whatever I want, and play around with basic parameters easily (like pitch and filter) ending up with beautiful sounds in seconds; I love deforming samples that way.

We saw you last year at Sónar 2015 in Barcelona and at the Boiler Room. Also, you’ve released on labels like Neonized and Love Our Records. It seems like this is just the beginning. How is it working for you to combine both music and architecture? Should we expect new stuff this year coming from Skygaze?

Years ago, I used to combine both disciplines, but nowadays I’m fully focused on music. For this year 2016 there’s a double 12” LP that will come out on Love Our Records (september) and also a couple EP’s on two labels from Madrid. One will come out on vinyl and the other one con cassette. There’s also a couple more things, but for the moment those are the confirmed releases.

Well, thanks for reading this and I hope this interview helped you further understand how and why I did some of the things on my library.

You can get Skygaze’s library Artist Series Vol.1 now for Ableton as well as for Maschine, MPC, WAV format and as a Bundle Pack containing all of them. 

Happy beatmaking!