As somewhat of a connoisseur of music producers it takes a LOT to get me truly excited about a producer. It’s a rare feat accomplished by a lofty few such as Tipper, Amon Tobin, Aphex Twin, Noisia and Mr Bill so please understand that I am not fucking around here.
Pedestrian Tactics is low key one of the hottest producers out right now. His fusion of high level composition with shockingly futuristic sound design and original artwork make him a stand out in a crowded landscape. He was nice enough to make us an exclusive video tutorial about one of my FAVORITE TRACKS EVER a while back so we decided to take it to the next level and pick his brain a bit.
Sofia Raisanen has the interview:
Congratulations on your latest release, what is the idea behind PT-A8 Fishtank Sessions and in what ways do you see your sound evolving?
Everyone smells a bit like their house. I think the same is true with your work.
During the production of Fishtank Sessions, I was living in two Seattle-based modern apartments, one of which faced the internal courtyard and looked at the apartments across from it. Modern apartment life combined with the occasional coffee shop limited my production environment to modern boxes with windows. Regardless of my focus on each individual track, I think that influence bled into each piece.
When building the artwork, I had a small bank of resources to draw from. Thankfully during my travels in HK and Bangkok I got a bit obsessed with the crammed flats and took a bunch of pictures that I could later mangle into the artwork.
What is the reasoning behind your identity change from Corporate to Pedestrian Tactics?
It was an easy tendency starting out to want to prove that I could sound like the industry, to try and say I’m skilled enough to be here. I think the name “Corporate” settled well with me for that reason.
In the last few years, I’ve become more interested in pushing boundaries with what I have available to me and focus less on sounding “right”. To a degree, the name change was an expression of that. Corporate was also incredibly hard to place anywhere in Google’s results.
Do you tour consistently? What do you like/dislike about touring?
I toured as Corporate a lot more than I do as PT. I love sharing weird sonic ideas with people, production has just been a lot more fun lately.
Why would you say Soundcloud is your favorite DSP in comparison to others such as Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, Bandcamp?
No other platform lets you easily upload what you’re working on right now, regardless if you want to sell it or not. That’s a great kind of freedom to have.
Any advice on the creative process behind the arrangement to your music?
I once heard a story that a university pottery class divided their students in half. One half was told their grade would be based on a single piece at the end of the semester. The other half was told that their grade was based on the quantity of pieces they made. Long story short the second group produced higher quality work by the end of the semester because they had way more practice making a bazillion pieces they didn’t care about. That story has grown into a lot of my work. I like it cause it keeps me from focusing on each track being “right”. Just keep doing what your doing and eventually you’ll figure out what you’re doing.
What about percussion and the foundation behind building these patterns?
I was a drummer in high school, so I think my world is slanted towards percussion. I have found that when I throw drums in the track I get happy. Really happy. And then I play it again and again, and then get tired of it and the project dies. On a couple tracks, I actually experimented with waiting to build the drums in until 90% of the track was finished. It actually helped me finish the track quicker.
Knowing you describe your music as “subconscious digital recreations of childhood tv show themes…and experimental electronic dance”, have you ever tapped into projects relating to film/video game industries? If so, feel free to expand/elaborate on this topic.
I always have thought it would be cool to do a movie or game soundtrack. I just haven’t gotten the opportunity yet. Jon Hopkins’ Monsters soundtrack had a huge influence on me along with The Social Network soundtrack (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) and the Mirror’s Edge soundtrack (Solar Fields).
Outside of music, what other topics/philosophies do you find interesting?
My formal education was in Industrial Design. Before then I did a lot of graphic design and photography. There are a lot of aspects about each discipline that can be translated to one another. Music is just unique as its’ consumption relies on time.
Let’s talk about “re-sampling”. In what ways has it made making music simpler?
A lot of my synths can become pretty bogged down with effect chains and automations. Re-sampling a synth I’m working on lets me go back to square one and make changes that I wouldn’t have thought to make if I had to wade through the sea tweaked parameters.
Do you also DJ? If so, what are your tools for both sessions and performances? *
Yes, though I haven’t become completely comfortable with the palette of a general CDJ setup. Despite my best efforts, I got too picky and built a controller-assisted Ableton Live setup that I use for live performances.
The hardware was a bit cumbersome when I started this (not as much as some though). It involved an Audiobox, two pad/knob controllers, and a novation launchpad. Since then I’ve been trying to minimize it to the bare essentials that I need. The Touch Bar on the new MacBook was an example of this. Suddenly you have a slider (or 3) without the need for an external piece of hardware.
What do you find to be your biggest challenge as a producer? *
Intuitively understanding when I should stick to a routine in order to do my best work, or follow my right brain wherever it goes.
Who is your favorite producer right now? Why?
Mat Zo. Because I don’t hear anything from him for ever and then suddenly he’ll randomly drop two minutes of sweet intricate fire.
If you could see one change in the music industry, what would it be and why? What steps are you willing to take to see shift happen? *
Less McDonalds music. And by that I mean I would love to see an emphasis on taking the time to refine your craft before posting it to the world, and a bigger appreciation of people/brands (same thing) that collect their cards until they have something great to share with the world.
Share with us an experience that triggered new found knowledge.
Shazamming an awesome track at a club and then going home and hearing how empty it is without all that reverb is inspiring. After experiencing this multiple times, I found it helpful to consider the “ideal” environment and setting of my work and build it for that. Half the time I produce, I run my mix through simulated club reverb.
Your music is an intriguing beast! What advice do you have for everyone?
If you produce for the music, you’re gonna burn yourself out. If you produce for the act of production, you’ll probably enjoy it for a long time. I’m still not sure what I’m doing it for, but I haven’t died yet.
Big up Sofia Raisanen for the interview and many thanks to Pedestrian Tactics for taking the time to answer all of our prying questions. You’re a legend mate!