When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from London Town, the Turkish electronic talent, Thousand Fingers (aka Hakan Özkan).
What is it like where you’re living? I am currently living in North London and have created my own small world, where my house and studio exist in the same neighbourhood. I have spent most of my time in the studio working on projects, managing the record label and strengthening my brands. Yes, I was locked down – in my studio!
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? To be honest, as with many other artists, I lost most of my income when the virus first hit the U.K. Apart from my DJ/producer side, I used to be involved with technical production management for live music and sound design for A/V performances – which all had the same fortune in the end! Fortunately, I had some savings that allowed me to survive and set up a new business, Follow The Fingers//Records & Studio, which is growing at a very promising rate.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? I am still on a completely “music-related income,” and I’m glad to say that I have more faith in music than I did in the beginning of 2020. This year, I’ve been busy learning about live-streaming, setting up the record label, building a new music studio, working on our brand image, our website, assembling a team and producing music throughout… the list goes on.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? Still working every day, making new music, shooting DJ sets as Thousand Fingers or One Track Lovers and working on Follow The Fingers. I’ve already scheduled three releases, two online sets and one music video for the first half of 2021. My first release for 2021, “Ba Ba Virtue,” is coming out on February 26, and it excitingly features a remix from Betoko. So, keep your eyes peeled!
In the studio, what’s your set-up? I am still using my ADAM Audio A7s – the first release – which I have had since 2007 as reference speakers. Additionally, I have an ADAM Audio Sub10 mk2, along with Antelope Audio Orion Studio Synergy Core interface, their modelling microphones Edge Duo and Verge, Pioneer XDJ-RR all-in-one system, some guitars, and Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49. For music production and sound design, I am using Logic Pro X and I find myself experimenting a lot with Slate + Ash instruments, Output products and Native Instruments sounds. Regarding hardware equipment and vintage selections, I am trying to be as frugal as possible, but I have a “to-buy” list of tasty equipment for the future.
What’s your creation process in the studio? My creation process actually starts in my head. I draw inspiration from live events, people or my sensory responses, and then I start writing – I choose sounds and form a musical expression of my thoughts. The studio process happens pretty fast when you have something in mind. First, I produce the busiest part of the song and then I open it up to other sections and write bridges. Then I sit down to properly mix the song, adding automations, which alter the overall experience.
What’s your typical DJ set-up? I am a user of Pioneer equipment, especially DJM-900NXS2 mixers and CDJ-2000NXS2 players. I’ve been trying other brands since 2011, but Pioneer equipment makes me feel like I am actually playing an instrument. It gives me the feeling that I am touching the sound. I have to say, I am not really a fan of analog systems, as I have to be gentler when playing them, which isn’t for me. Instead, I prefer to use the technological advancements available, as they allow me to express myself better onstage.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? Well, it was mostly life itself that showed me the grey areas. For example, I’ve seen people strictly into lockdown rules – every day, posting “stay home.” etc. – but frequently having new affairs from dating apps. Therefore, I took the bliss of ignorance and started to observe events rather than putting my nose into other people’s lives.
Have you done anything online recently? Lately, I’ve played two hours to a YouTube online session for Zorlu PSM Sessions this past January. That was really good fun and it made me feel reminiscent of times gone by. The latest online thing is a one-hour DJ/live percussion set with Jack Bullock as One Track Lovers. We were cruising with a narrowboat on Hackney Canal and recorded really funny moments. It’s available now online.
Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? Nowadays, these below sounds are helping me to lift up my mood: The Prodigy’s “Voodoo People” (Pendulum Mix); Storken’s “Lille Vals”; and Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen.”
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Frankly, my only advice would be stay away from too much social media, avoid watching conspiracy theories, and focus on things you love to do. Stay in your own world until things improve to a better state and remember the only thing never changes is the change itself – this is all going to pass.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.