“Up Close & Personal with… Drumcell”

Dec 03 2017 | Artist Interviews | Words : ilovemusic

Drumcell a.k.a Moe Espinosa returns to India after two long years of touring the globe. We were very excited to welcome him back to the I Love Music Academy on the last leg of his India tour. In this second round of “Up Close & Personal with Drumcell”, he was pleasantly surprised to see how the academy had progressed both physically as a learning space, as well as with eager students. The audience was well versed with his music style and hanging on his every word.

The Workshop was hosted by none other than Arjun Vagale; co-founder of the I Love Music academy and legendary Techno boss who has been breaking boundaries in the electronic music scene in India these past few years. Arjun started with a brief introduction to Drumcell and then jumped straight into the interactive session; almost immediately pressing on topics closest to Drumcell’s heart – modular synthesis. Drumcell distinguished between his current methods of production using Ableton live as his go-to DAW, and spoke about how he primarily used logic in the past but later switched to Ableton.

He also spoke about how he used Ableton for recording and sequencing, and incorporated analogue sounds by sampling them in his music; sometimes playing out his music and recording it, keeping the sound more raw. Drumcell reiterated his love for analogue synths, and how he loves to collect them, play on them and sample sounds for his productions.

Moe distinguished his work as Drumcell as “Ableton, working with loops” and for his other project Hypoxi , which is “more analogue” in nature. Hypoxi is Moe Espinosa’s other alias which is a live performance with analogue gear and features performances that are more exclusive, involving live synthesis of sound on stage.

Moe also suggested that one should not be limited by the gear they use or by the audio technology or DAW they work with, but rather one should have a deep understanding of the subject, techniques and equipment to produce good music. Adding to it Arjun Vagale said,“It’s not the gear, its the ear”. Reiterating that one needs to have a deep understanding of music to make good music, and can’t just buy a lot of gear and make good music.

To quote Drumcell: “Music is never going to sound great unless you know your music, so study”. Both Arjun and Drumcell spoke to our students about their love for modular synths, analogue synthesisers, records and all things analogue; but also suggested that there is a lot of interest today in collecting hardware synths as well as having multiple software ones as well. They concluded that one should not limit their creativity by what they own but expand what they know. “Don’t just buy lots of gear; learn, explore, research, each instrument you get”. “Software synths can do anything if you know how to use it; understand them.”

The conversation moved towards vinyl records. Moe stated that he loves vinyl but does not necessarily believe that music sounds better only on vinyl, given that some great music is released digitally. The duo also touched on the topic of music having a small shelf-life, and Moe expressed his understanding of how avid listeners who care deeply about music collect music via records where available, and this has brought about a surge in vinyl records in recent times.

Also discussed was the need for good artwork for music and how the artwork should speak for the music, regardless of the form it is released in. Vinyl records had some great artwork which made them both visually and musically appealing to collect.

As the Q&A session progressed, Moe imparted a lot of sound advice to the eager and inquisitive audience, motivating them to be unique, work hard and love what they do.
The conversation also touched on the life one leads as an artist, including the fatigue and stress of the road added. But it did close with a positive note on how to maintain your ability to perform: “If you don’t love what you do, don’t do it; you’ve got to hustle! ”

In terms of how to make it in the industry, Moe said that while it is a tough world, bring your own unique perspective to what you create. He also said that fame and success don’t happen to everyone, but they can happen to anyone. Moe spoke about his own journey as an artist in LA and gave our students an insight into his journey. He talked about his influences and how they were instrumental in helping him establish a great underground and techno scene in LA. He spoke of underground parties conducted in large warehouses, to smaller intimate scenes in small rooms tightly packed with audiences. He also expressed his empathy towards the Indian music scene and how he has seen the scene grow since his last visit.

Moe ended with praise and admiration and advice to strengthen the scene pointing out that it takes a community to build a scene and not just a promoter. So, he advised the students to go out and support the local scene and pack a party!

The workshop was well-received by everyone who attended, with students taking pics and selfies with the two superstars of Techno. Both were extremely obliging and warm and the session ended on a high note.

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Drumcell was born as Moe Espinosa in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley. Far away from the glamour and glitter of Hollywood, he cut his teeth growing up in a vibrant, culturally diverse neighbourhood that still breeds inspiration for his work. San Gabriel Valley is also where he and the Raíz brothers, Vangelis and Vidal, met and founded Droid Behaviour in the early 2000s which lead to the infamous Interface warehouse series and lauded techno label Droid Recordings.
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