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Interview: Plutonic Lab

Plutonic Lab

With a career spanning over two decades and over 80 collaborations with the likes of G-Love, Dialectrix, Drapht, and Hilltop Hoods under his belt, Melbourne producer Plutonic Lab certainly isn’t a newcomer to the game. Releasing his his fourth solo album ‘Deep Above The Noise’ just days ago, boasting further cutting edge features accompanied by the Pluto’s intricate heavy hitting beats, it’s no wonder the album has been so well received. To learn a little more about the album and it’s inception we caught up with the legendary producer to find out his inspirations and what he has in store for the coming months.

To start off, I wanted to say I love the singles you’ve released from the album, especially the track with Guilty Simpson. Can you tell me a little bit about how this album came together and why it took 11 years to release another solo album?

I just got caught up making records for other people, and because I treat those records as my own records the need to make a solo producer record seemed a bit redundant. At some point I took about a year off putting anything out and in that time I just got it in my head that I wanted to do another record for myself.

The record itself took about two years, but a lot of that was just putting ideas for guests and pieces of music that I wanted to keep aside. Apart from that, the whole thing really came together quite quickly though. I think I was really working on it in August last year, and I finished it in February.

The recording process ended up going really well too. Guilty Simpson came to my studio here, so we got to hang out and record, which was great. It’s so much better to get someone in a studio, rather than just dialing something through. I was pretty lucky with the whole record actually. Even with Coma-Chi I ended up borrowing a studio in Japan and recording her there. The Notes to Self feature we did over the internet, but it was so much more like a collaboration and we’re still working on other stuff as well.

‘Deep Above The Noise’ is your fourth studio album, how do you feel it relates your earlier work, the Murph and Plutonic, or ‘Codes Over Colours’ days? Do you feel there’s been an evolution in your sound in terms of your production?

I think it more relates to the Dialectix records, it’s a bit more sonically in tune with say Cold Light Of Day. But it’s still me, so I can hear the lineage of it, but I guess the other solo work and Murph is a lot longer ago, but it’s all connected definitely.

In regards to your production, how do your ideas normally come about? Do you spend a lot of your time crate digging looking for samples or do things come more naturally in the studio?

I have stuff in the studio all pre-mic’d up. Sometimes I just sit on the drum kit and play out a rhythm idea and record that and then add ideas to it. A lot of it is actually played, whether it’s guitars, drums, or synthesiser. A couple are started as a sample idea and then built around it, but not a lot of this record is really a crate diggers record.

You mentioned you’re in fact a drummer on top of simply being a ‘beat maker’. Did this come before you were making beats, in which case, how did you actually get into producing hip-hop?

Yeah I started drumming in primary school, so quite along time ago! I got into studio recording through a teacher that I met in high school at a time when not many people had good home studios, the days of all analogue gear when hard disk recording wasn’t readily available. So I learnt a bit about studio recording from him. I guess I was making music on my own in the studio, the way that beat producers do now, but it wasn’t hip-hop at all.

From there I met a guy who had moved out from L.A. to Australia to live, he was an emcee and a painter. I ended up living with him, and he was getting so much music from the states that it just rubbed off on me. I transferred all the skills I had from the studio work and then just got obsessed with making beats.

What kind of stuff was rubbing off on you? You have such a wide variety of styles and sounds present your beats, where did all these influences come from?

Well, this was the really early 90s, when hip-hop was really jazz influenced. Also my Dad was a jazz keyboard player, so the house I grew up in had a room that just had instruments, a music room. Jazz was playing all the time, but when I was younger I thought it was corny simply because you don’t really like your parents’ music. Later on it really connected with me, along with dub and reggae, which also tend to surface in my beats a lot too. I think it was also just that time, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, all those artists and their jazz influences.

You’re seen somewhat as a veteran in the Australian scene, what do you think about the Australian hip-hop scene in 2016 and where it’s going?

I really like it now. When I started in the 90’s there was no Australian hip-hop, we were just making hip-hop. To make that more obvious there would be American emcees too, it wasn’t an Australian thing per se. I think there was a time, maybe 2003 or 2004, when the media really grasped it, I think there was the thing on Channel V called ‘Aussie Friggin Hip Hop’, and they just coined that term and ran with it, even though all the people I know who make hip-hop in Australia are pretty diverse.

I think the thing now is that diversity has risen to the top and because it’s a lot more diverse now it’s a lot better and more interesting. There was an idea about Australian hip-hop a few years which was really blanket, and it stifled more adventurous ideas. So now I really like it and hopefully it just keeps growing!

Lastly, what’s on the cards for the rest of the year? Is anything planned?

I have a tour that just got locked in, so that’ll start late August. I’m hitting pretty much every city, so it’s seven or eight dates. I haven’t ever done a solo tour, I’ve just been touring with Hilltop Hoods, so I’m a bit nervous!

Have you sorted out a live show?

Not yet, it’s really early days. I’ll doing it with another DJ, so it’ll be two guys doing live beats. I don’t think I’ll play drums or anything, it’ll more be recreating tracks live, but it should be a lot of fun! (laughs)

Plutonic Lab’s album ‘Deep Above The Noise’ is out now. Check his single Sliced Bread HERE or The Crib below!