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 Merry Ole England, the Southampton, U.K.-based tech-house talent Biscits (aka Luke Jones).
What’s it like where you’re living? How did you spend most of your time? Here in the U.K., like most of the world, we were hit pretty hard – full lockdown multiple times. But I’ve spent most of my time making music! I’m really happy with all of the tracks I’ve made and can’t wait for people to hear them. I’ve also been working on my health/diet, but that’s a bit hit-and-miss!
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? For me, it felt as though my career was just starting to really take shape when COVID hit. I had loads of shows/tours booked in, but we had to push them back or cancel them, which was very painful. But I’ve been working non-stop behind the scenes, so that when things do open back up, I’ll be ready to hit the ground running.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? I recently signed a publishing deal with Ultra Music, which I’m really excited about. It should really help me take things to the next level. Also, I put out my first-ever sample pack. I’m really happy with how it came out and I’ve started work on another one.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? My latest release is “Your Body” on SOLOTOKO. I’ve kept a really solid release schedule during lockdown – it feels great to let people hear what I’ve been working hard on. And I’ve definitely seen a massive surge in followers and streams in the last year, which is always nice to see.
In the studio, what’s your set-up? I have a very minimal set-up, in terms of hardware – just a MacBook, a pair of Audio-Technica headphones, a Focusrite Scarlett interface and a pair of KRK ROCKIT monitors. I use Logic Pro and my main plug-ins are Xfer Serum, Xfer OTT, Nicky Romero Kickstart, Splice for samples, and iZotope Ozone 9 for mastering. Other than that, I use all of the built-in Logic plug-ins. I think it’s important to keep work flow fast, keep the end goal of music creation in mind at all times, and not get bogged down with over-complicated set-ups.
What’s your creation process in the studio? I enjoy starting with either a new interesting sample or synth sound. I will then jam with that for a few hours, adding different drums and sounds to see if anything stands out. I’ll then begin structuring a track based around the main loop or idea, making sure that everything I do is to emphasize this main idea. I like the restriction of house/tech-house tempo and structure, as I feel with all the modern production tools, pretty much anyone can make any style they want. I like attempting to be creative within a pre-made boundary; it helps my workflow and decision making.
What’s your typical DJ set-up? What’s your approach to DJing? I use CDJs and a USB stick. I come from a production background and began DJing as a way to showcase the music I’ve made. Much like my approach to production, I like to keep things simple while DJing. I like to consider how my tracks will flow in a DJ set, as I’m producing them. This really helps with structuring whilst producing and with building a coherent DJ set. I like to pre-make personal extended versions of my own tracks and live-bootleg remixes of other peoples’ tracks to fit into my sets. Although no set I do is ever the same, I like to fully prep, so I’m ready to react to any crowd or situation.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? I can’t believe that we used to blow all over birthday cakes, and then everyone else would eat a slice. I think we’ve all become very aware of the spread of germs.
Have you done anything online recently? Have you seen any DJ video streams that impressed you? I did a couple of YouTube live-streams over the past year, the best one was for SOLOTOKO on a rooftop in London – you can find it on the SOLOTOKO YouTube channel. Once a week, I sit down to watch the Solomun Boiler Room set. It is the peak of human existence and should be taught in schools.
Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? I hate to do it but… Martin Ikin X Biscits’s “Ready 2 Dance.”
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Exercise, try to eat well and don’t be too hard on yourself if things aren’t working. Be patient and trust that things will probably be OK. Also, in a billion years, the sun will engulf the earth, so nothing actually matters anyway. Cheers.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
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