Get to know interviews Michael Penman of Scottland-based sound design company and studio that focuses on techno and house music, aswell as techno sample packs and presets. He has worked with the likes of KMS records, Ableton, Roland, Splice, Sample Magic and Armada.
Hey hey – how are you, how has 2022 been for you? Tell us more about yourself and Mind Flux?
Im good, 2022 has been a time of change, like many I have sought out a quieter life outside of the hustle and bustle of city life. I have moved Mind Flux up to Scotland from London. It has been a long process getting the studio ready but we are up and running. So a little about myself, Im a producer and former DJ. Release wise I have released on M-nus, Tronic and Ovum and DJ’ed in venues like EGG, Fabric and MOS. But I would say my main focus is Mind Flux whereas as a sound designer and engineer I have worked on amazing projects for companies and labels like KMS records, Ableton, Roland, Splice, Sample Magic, Armada, and many more.
What are some of your favourite early evening tunes to get the mood set?
Often, I listen to the projects I have been working on that day or week, its good to check on a different system in a different room, normally this is while I am cooking or just doing chores around the house.
But really when I can, I have listened to a lot of old RnB, Maxwell, D’Angelo and old hip hop like outkast. Peppered in are some classics from BOC (like roygbiv, this is my good mood song), funkadelic and most recently thundercatt.
Where do you start on a tune, is one element more important than the other, say bass for example?
It used to be all about drums but over the past few years, it has become more of a focus on chords and tone, and the relationship between them. I use a number of max for live chord tools as well as captain chords. I find this allows me to focus on the listening aspect rather than playing the keyboard. Thou I do from time to time like to fiddle around on the piano and see what happens.
What gear do you use? Are you a software or hardware nut, do you care about the tools?
I work with a hybrid approach which really different from project to project, some are all in the box, mostly using diva and drum racks as the sound source and then mixing through the neve 8816. Other times it’s all analogue, where it’s more using the DAW as a tape machine. I don’t think the tools matter, it’s all about the inspiration and how you get that down. The tools are just that, tools. Buying X plug-in will not suddenly turn you into the new superstar.
What makes your music unique, what do you pride yourself on when producing??
Offt, unique not sure. Thou I do try to inject some sort of emotion within my tracks and focus less on the technical correctness of it. I think moving away from starting with drums has help me with recent projects. how important is artwork, format, march, that sort of thing, or is it just about the music?
How important is artwork, format, march, that sort of thing, or is it just about the music?
I tend to see it as a whole package, I used to love getting a CD and vinyl and reading the credits, seeing who was involved and the gear used. I feel with streaming the context of the project can be lost. I think this is maybe why vinyl still resonates with people.
When creating art or working with a designer I do like to ensure that the artwork represents the same feel as the music. You do see the art before you hear a tune normally, so having something that is eye-catching and represents the music is really helpful.
What are the worst bits about life in music, as a dj, producer, label boss? earning money? social media?
I would say that sadly it is ripe for people to take advantage of artists, it always has been. The monster just changes its skin, now we have Spotify making millions of other people’s content and paying them nothing, or next to nothing.
Where did you get your first taste of dance music? Does that still influence you now?
I think it is hard to move away from your first taste in music. And for many people in the UK, grown up when I did a lot of that was from MOS compilation and various DJ magazines. I do tend to go back and listen to earlier Soma, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin and some of those early MOS CDs (prob my fav is the 2001, or 02 chillout sessions).
What’s the aim for 2023?
I have been at the end of 2022, preparing for some new alias projects, at the moment they are being animated and will be getting that rounded together with the music, art and other visuals. This will mostly like be released on the Mind Flux label, which I would like to focus more on but a lot of projects are already rolling into the studio so who knows if that will happen. Project wise we will be working with Splice and Bandlab earlier in the year of some sound packs as well as some mixing projects.
And on the sample pack preset side, we are looking to bring on some new producers, so there will be lots of new sounds of the site in 2023