Asian Dan


Asian Dan Exclusive Interview: TODD EDWARDS

“Todd is genius and I have never been disapointed by his music. I keep telling my friends I can hear angels singing, do you?” Busy P

Todd Edwards is the angelic voice behind “Face to Face” – that amazing tune by a little french duo known as Daft Punk. Todd is one of the godfathers of the UK Garage scene and has remixed everyone from Zoot Woman, Phoenix, Justice, Klaxons, Paul Johnson, and St. Germain. Now here is a little peak into this man from New Jersey’s musical mind and find out how the Daft Punk collaboration came about and how/why he remixed Japan’s own Boris.

Daft Punk – Face To Face (Todd Edwards Remix)

Zoot Woman – Taken It All (Todd Edwards Remix)

Also this time around I had some producers/DJs send in their own questions for Mr. Edwards -find out what Nate Donmoyer (Shuttle/Passion PIt), Pete Dougherty (Hey Champ), Emil & Friends, and GLOVES had to ask.


Asian Dan Exclusive Interview: TODD EDWARDS

Who is Todd Edwards? How would you describe your sound?

I’m a music producer from New Jersey. ..Lot of talent in Jersey 😉 I’ve been making club music since 1991. The driving force that has inspired me to keep going all these years is God. My faith plays an important part in my music and the direction I take it. I have always described my sound as a musical collage. I take bits and pieces that I’ve sampled and fill in the spaces until I feel the track sounds complete.

What are some of your biggest influences, musical or otherwise? What is your first musical memory?

I will always give credit to the original influences that started me on the path of my sound. Marc Kinchen better known as MK introduced us all to a very unique sampling style in his remix of Nightcrawlers “Push The Feeling On.” He cut up the vocals into a two bar loop that sounded like it was saying something, but it wasn’t. The remix was huge with many to follow. I took on exploring that cut-up sample style. I also listened to a lot of Enya. Enya used a lot of her own vocals as part of her background music. I combined Enya’s vocal concept with MK’s vocal cut ups. Add some Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez inspired drum patterns and you get the genesis of what I do now. Film scores have been a great source of inspiration to me. There are chord progressions in film scores that you don’t usually find in club music. The sampling process itself has exposed me to many genres of music from disco and r&b of the 70’s to the 60’s folk music movement. I look for interesting textures to sample. What I sample plays an even more important role in my tracks than how I arrange the samples.

My first musical memory was writing a simple song in a note pad a couple days after my mother received a piano from my father as a gift. I remember when that piano was delivered. It was a great morning, and I still love that piano.

What are your top 5 favorite dance tunes? Who are your top 5 favorite producers?

I have to be honest. I don’t listen to a lot of dance music. After a few years of listening to nothing BUT dance music, I felt that I needed to expand my musical base. I love the music of Bjork, Imogen Heap, Enya, John Williams, and James Horner to name a few. I listen to whatever inspires me, and I don’t know what that is until I hear it.

What are your goals as a DJ versus as a producer?

My goals as a DJ… well… I’d like to be DJ’ing a lot more. That is the first goal for 2010. I really want to develop a show integrating more live keyboard playing, adding samples live as the tracks play. There are visual aspects I have in mind too, but the reality is before a show develops, I need to make my DJ’ing presence known a little more.

As a producer, I have ideas that no one has heard or knows of beyond the realm of dance music. So, that has to be the priority over the next couple of years.

How did the Scion A/V Boris Remix come about? It is a very interesting and unlikely pairing. Were there any challenges when working on this remix?

I had previously done a remix for Scion A/V on Roy Davis Jr.’s “I Have a Vision.” They were pleased with the remix, and a few months later, they told me about the Boris Project. It was described as an experimental mixing of the metal genre with the dance genre. I was very excited for two reasons:

1. Because working with Scion A/V has been a great experience. And reason
2. I LOVE a challenge!!!

Working on a remix using heavy metal based vocals is challenging enough…but in Japanese??? “Sure I’ll do it!” The most difficult part of doing the remix was fitting the vocals into the 4/4 time signature while still keeping the lyrics (which I couldn’t understand) intact. I was also concerned that Boris might think that the music would sound too soft compared to the energy of the original. But I do what I do, like it or hate it…Scion liked it.

What is your favorite remix that you have done?

I don’t think there is a favorite. Like I said before I love a challenge. Gintare’s “Transnavigation” was a good one. Not that it was my best remix, but the original was not in a 4/4 time signature. That took some time to work out. I really liked that remix. It also has some personal significance. My grandmother whom I loved dearly passed away the week that the mix was due. It was a difficult time, but the mix will always remind me of her.

Could you explain how the whole Daft Punk collaboration came about, “Face to Face” is one of my favorite tracks. What was the entire process like? What was it like working with them? Any interesting stories?

I am honored that Daft Punk asked me to collaborate on a track with them for their second album. Thomas and Guy wanted the album to tell a story. It was originally going to be accompanied by live action music videos that came together as a short film. Thomas and Guy came to my studio in New Jersey first to begin work on a track. I created 75 samples, and they created 75. Thomas did a lot of the playing of the samples in the song. There was a sample in the track that sounded like it was saying “Face to Face” which then became the title of the track. They wanted to finish the track in Paris. So, they flew me out to France twice to complete it. On the second flight over, I wrote the lyrics to “Face To Face.” The song was to represent a turning point in the story where the protagonists realized that the enemy they were fighting against was actually themselves. The story was altered a bit when Thomas and Guy decided to go with anime instead of live action, but if you listen to the lyrics you will hear that it fits the original concept. I wrote the song to have 3 different meanings. It was to represent a struggle with another person, a struggle with oneself, or a struggle with God. Three meanings symbolic of the Holy Trinity.
Thomas and Guy wanted me to sing “Face To Face.” They are geniuses with the way they do their magic. It was the first and only time that I never used autotune on my own vocals. They recorded me twice, layered it and you’ve heard the finished product.

On a personal not, they treated me like family when I was with them in Paris. It was one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences to date. Most people will appreciate an artist for their work of art. Getting to know and seeing the mind at work of the artist is a whole other experience. I’m very thankful for that.

Where do you see dance music going? Any artists you are particularly listening to?

I don’t focus my attention too much on where the latest trends are going. I try to focus on what my contribution will be to the scenes that are here or that will prevail.

I have become a BIG fan of MY DEAR DISCO. I have gotten to see them perform twice. They sound as good live as they do on their album. They are a diverse, funky electronic group, and no doubt are at the beginning of a long lived music career.

Future plans for Todd Edwards? Releases? Tours? Etc?

Certain inevitable circumstances prevented me from composing as much music as I wanted for the last two years. Those circumstances have changed, and God willing I will be releasing a lot of music in 2010. As I said before, I intend to do as much DJ’ing as possible over the next year. I feel very inspired.

Guest Questions:

Nate Donmoyer
Shuttle (Ninja Tune Record) and drummer of Passion Pit (French Kiss Records) (Boston)

Q: As an American who has transcended international dance music royalty and over a long career, where in America do you think will take over dance the way Paris took house from Chicago or Berlin took techno from Detroit? Is there hope? What city is the Obama of Funky?

TE: Nate, I wish I was able to have that fore site , but I don’t know what city in America will take over dance, but I hope it’s close to New Jersey. I do believe that dance will become more dominant again. It’s obvious as you can see it happening in the Pop market right now…and you know everyone will jump on the band wagon sooner or later. I haven’t been out enough to tell you where the funkiest city is. I find more funky music on line than I do anywhere else. Does the Internet qualify as a city?

Pete Dougherty
Hey Champ (Synth/Keys/DJ) (1st and 5th Records – Chicago)

What kind of live instruments do you use for inspiration for your sample based productions – what point do they enter into equation/process?

TE: The closest thing to live instrumentation in my work is keyboard both for bass lines as well as additional sounds in my tracks. The Sunshine Brother tracks I’ve composed are mostly keyboard playing with vocal cut-ups over them. I love Rhodes and Wurly organ sounds.

Emil & Friends (Producer/Songwriter) (Boston)

Q: Mr. Edwards, when you re-cut your vocals into a final product, is that arrangement something you planned out when you first sampled them, or is it just random experimentation that fits a certain model of musicality you have in your head?

I place the vocal cut ups in the track where I think they fit best. I usually don’t have a preconceived idea for where the vocals will go. It’s on the fly.

Q: Mr. Edwards, I think house music sounds awful between the hours of 7 am to 11 am. Am I wrong?

House music sounds ok between those hours….as long as it’s because you haven’t gone to sleep yet from the night before.

GLOVES (Yama Indra Hondow-Wellby) (Bang Gang Records – Australia)

Q: As a vocalist that has worked under producers, as well as a producer that has worked with vocalists, you have seen other people’s methods & tricks for getting the best performance from a vocalist & likely developed your own. What production approaches have resulted in your best performances from both sides of the control room?

***Note: I’m speaking of person to person production approaches rather than the technical side here, i.e. how Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards would usually not let their vocalists hear the song until they were in the studio with the tape rolling, the intention being to capture someone improvising, ad-libing, under pressure & also excited by hearing the piece for the first times. Other examples are lighting, smoke, press conference style micing (to make vocalist feel important!), taunting, etc.)

I try to describe to the singer the way I hear the vocal in my head. I will have them do many….and I do mean MANY takes until I have enough of them to work with. I then go through each take and single out the takes that I feel have useable vocals. From there I will narrow it down further, possibly down to the best words sung in a musical phrase and then piece it all together. It is very time consuming.

Q: What microphone/s & placement/angle was used to record the lead vocal on ‘Face to Face’? Do you have a favorite or most used microphone for vocals?

TE: To be honest, I don’t remember the microphone that Thomas and Guy used. I do remember Thomas speaking very highly about it. I should have paid closer attention LOL.

I use an AKG C 414 B-ULS. I’ve had no complaints about it. I deal with the voice as an instrument. It has to have its place with the other sounds.

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