Producer Fantastic Mr Fox, a Manchester-based recent university graduate and all around dude, returned home this month from a three week mega-tour of our beloved USA. As a DJ (with Ableton!), he opened for The xx and Warpaint and played a million after parties with Cooly G, Dusk & Blackdown. We went, it was good. His latest EP, Evelyn, comes out this week on Black Acre, the SoundCloud preview is covered three times over in comments. We got him on the horn to discuss to infiltration of Prefuse 73 in dubstep, Katy Perry and if he liked America.
The first Fantastic Mr Fox track a lot of people heard was your “Yukon” remix for Untold.
At that point I was still making hip-hop. I’d been into dubstep, but I didn’t really like the drum sounds. But I liked the energy of it. I got into people like Burial or Untold who were using drums I liked but making dance music. I never really thought I liked dance music apart from housier Four Tet or something, but I was hearing this and thought I’d just have a go at it.
Was that remix a similar sound to the hip-hop were producing?
The sound palette is the same. I kind of look to hip-hop for the sounds of like, high hats and snares and bass drums. I always try to get the sound like Prefuse 73 and Madlib, I look up to them a lot in terms of drum songs, then it’s transferring those noises to a different BPM. All of a sudden I realized it’s a lot more exciting and a lot more fun to produce at a tempo I wasn’t used to, but using sounds from the genre I was comfortable with. Before the whole dubstep thing blew up, I’d go to club nights and they never played anything I 100% liked, but now that depth and complexity of Prefuse 73 has been transferred to dance music everywhere. It’s a good time.
The drums are getting so intricate.
Your drums sounds have to be perfect for people to care what you’re making in hip-hop, but with dubstep and UK funky and stuff it doesn’t matter as much if your drums are good because the energy of the BPM and the bass makes it work anyway. Now people are combining all those elements and getting each area of it perfect, making this kind of hybrid dance music. There’s so many different things going on, the standards of production have really shot up over the last year or two. For me, I’ve never used the same bass drum in two songs. I always start with a beat and I always want to make it slightly different than anything I’ve ever done before. I’ll sit for days making a beat so if you play it without any elements on top you can listen to it and it sounds like a full song.
One of the songs on the Evelyn EP, “Fool Me,” I was listening to it over and over like, “I know this song!” Then it finally clicked: it’s the same chord progression as “Hot N Cold,” that Katy Perry song.
Really? That’s funny. Obviously I know who Katy Perry is but I’m kind of oblivious to that stuff. With this EP I was trying to making it catchy, especially with “Evelyn,” I was trying to make a pop song. The longer I make music it seems the hardest music to make is pop music, to make stuff that’s catchy and that people like. It’s a lot easier to put together some neutral sounding chords and create one kind of emotion from it than it is to make a catchy melody, I find that takes a lot longer to make.