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Interview: Executive Producer

25 min read

Executive Producer is the collaborative brainchild of Canadian scene veterans Jeremy Reid and Ben Rama. With an emphasis on creating evocative melodic structures and dynamic mixing style, the Executive Producer sound is a captivating synergy of the two artists' creative vibe and skill sets. We had a chance to catch up with the duo on the cusp of a new single for Dreaming Awake. Enjoy!

Hi Guys, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Ben - I'm in my default mood - happy but slightly stressed due to being way too ***** busy. Last piece of music I heard is a remix I'm working on for my record label, Techgnosis Records.

Jeremy - Current mood is, as always, just happy to be alive in these interesting time. Last tune I listened was Alexandra Stréliski - Plus Tôt, it’s very soothing after a long day in the studio.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be producers and DJs?

Ben - I've been a fan of electronic music of some sort since as long as I can remember, but usually more downtempo and ambient. However in 2002 a friend brought me to my first psytrance and techno party, and in a few short years, I was already trying my hand at making beats. I was hooked.

Jeremy - I started going to raves in the 90s, because there’s where the cute girls were, and it grew on me

What music from your youth had the biggest effect on where you are today? Are there certain tracks or albums which profoundly influenced you?

Ben - I listened to Delerium albums nonstop back in my formative years. Also, Type-O-Negative and Tool. I think you can hear those influences in our music, as strange as that may sound.

Jeremy - This may date me but I clearly I remember hearing Sweet Child O’Mine, and seeing Slash I the video, when I was like 8 years old and I knew I wanted to play music at that point

How has growing up and living in Canada shaped the music you make and your career path so to speak?

Ben - Well, funny thing, Jeremy was part of a Toronto-based collective called the Black Light Activists, who were the undisputed kings of quality psytrance and techno parties in the country during the early 2000s. Despite living too far to attend, I would always use who they booked as a reference for who to look up on soulseek or whatever. In 2005, I made a point to finally check out Eclipse Festival in Quebec (actually based on the fact that Jeremy's then-record label Cold Groove had a strong musical presence), and the rest is history. The cycle of attending festivals and being inspired to go home and write music...Jeremy was always a part of that.

Jeremy - True story

How did you meet and eventually start collaborating?

Jeremy - The main catalyst for Executive Producer was Ben asking if I had any tracks to submit for a compilation he was working on. I unfortunately didn’t but remembered I had some unfinished music from an older project of mine called Augustine Wrong.

A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things within the Executive Producer dynamic? Do you have different roles in the production process? And if so, elaborate please.

Ben - We have a pretty good working dynamic, as we really just play to our strengths. For the most part Jeremy takes care of beats, atmospheric sound design and mixing duties. I handle the bulk of composing, synth programming and arrangement. We bounce ideas back and forth and if we feel something doesn't work we're able to tell each other this without hesitation. I'm sometimes over-protective of my arrangements, but Jeremy often has good ideas that are evident once I hear them.

You have some music out on Dreaming Awake and Strange Town Recordings, tell us a bit about those and how they showcase your individualities.

Ben - Those tracks (Maquette and Trust x Love) are both born out of our first sessions as Executive Producer. As Jeremy mentioned above, he had some vocals and instrumentation from an old project of his called with an artist named Florence Masson. We extrapolated those initial ideas into full-blown tracks. These in particular showcase our style of deep but powerful electronic music.

The release on Dreaming Awake is your second single under the Executive Producer moniker, what made the label the right home for a project such as that.

Ben - Believe it or not, Dreaming Awake was my first suggestion to Jeremy when we started to shop that one around. I said Treavor Moontribe has a sweet label' and that was that. We were just thrilled to have found such a great supporter of our music in Mr. Moontribe. Looking at the list of artists he worked with in the short history of the label was a good indicator we would have a good home with Dreaming Awake.

Strange Town has the distinction of releasing your first even single in May and now you return to the label for a remix, what makes the label a comfortable home and what was it about the track which made you want to remix it?

Ben - We are very grateful to have Bryan Wolf Ear from Strange Town in our corner. Being based out of Montreal, and having a very strong release history are of course added bonuses. Jeremy has worked with Bryan in the past with previous projects and I can see why he vouched for doing a release with Strange Town. I absolutely loved the main hook of the original, and that sealed the deal. We were able to bring a deep but punchy techno feel to the affair, and we hope listeners and dancers, as well as the original artists appreciate the direction we took.

I think for a lot of artists music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way, your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true for yourself? Where does your inspiration come from and was there anything that inspired these two tracks?

Ben - Back then, it was kind of surreal to be doing this project with someone that I had looked up to musically for well over a decade. I was thrilled to be digging into those vocal stems, although a tad bit intimidated with what Jeremy would think of the end result. So for me, I take inspiration from the fact that this project was something that was manifested through sheer focus and force of will, despite it looking like happenstance or coincidence. I don't see it that way.

What does your set-up look like? Do you share a studio? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of these tracks?

Ben - Living in separate cities, we have a completely in-the-box approach to producing. We both use all the same plug-ins and Ableton Live, so sharing projects back-and-forth is a mere matter of having an internet connection. You are able to get some truly top-notch sounds out of software these days. It's incredible. Besides my monitors/sub set-up, a few MIDI controllers, laptop, my setup is very basic. I just recently gave my studio space an acoustic treatment, so that has been a big help, despite the fact that Jeremy always does the final mix.

Jeremy - I have a Moog Little Phatty and a Virus C hardware that you can hear in some of the Augustine Wrong co -productions. Mixing in the box on Barefoot monitors and if there’s time I run the stems through an AM1 analog mixer a friend of mine owns.

What’s a piece of gear that always gets used when you’re writing a track?

Ben - I do a lot of automation passes with my AKAI keyboard controller, as well as actual keyboard input while recording the original riffs and ideas. I also use it for live sets, so that little dude has been paid for a hundred times over.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

Ben - We trust our ears, so while we do sometimes send close friends early versions for feedback, any final changes usually take place because Jeremy likes to tweak details.

Jeremy - I like to take the mix out of the studio and listen on a small Bose bluetooth speaker that I like

How have you been dealing with COVID-19? How has it affected your daily life, music production and overall inspiration to write new music?

Ben - The situation has been difficult, having lost an entire year's worth of gigs, however the biggest thing...due to border restrictions, we can't even get a band photo. It's the main quest of the band currently. To take a band photo together. Creatively, I thrive on channeling negative emotions into art, so despite its many challenges, this past year has been very productive. In fact, we 'launched' the Executive Producer project with our debut original track on Traum Schallplatten just 2 months into the whole thing, and the future was *very* unknown back then.

Jeremy - I didn’t really enjoy being stuck in the house during the long Canadian winter but it was a good opportunity to finish of a bench of music. Looking forward to the summer and hopefully getting out and playing a few times.

Once nightlife eventually resumes globally what kind of effect do you think this period in our history will have on the clubbing experience?

Ben - I hope that people are able to see things from a perspective of not taking things for granted.

Jeremy - I think people are going to go hard when things are back in full swing.

How do you guys see your sound evolving in the coming years?

Ben - Jeremy and I have a vision for our sound, and the journey of Executive Producer is one of working to attain that. The evolution in our sound is the story of moving towards that goal.

Is there a movie you would have loved to have produced the soundtrack for? And if so why?

Ben - No, but it'd be sweet to be asked by Chris Nolan to do the main theme for his next movie. There is a definite cinematic quality to our music, for lack of a better word.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Ben - Spending time with my family.

Jeremy - Hiking with my girlfriend which I’m about to go and do for 5 days in northern Quebec.

What does the remainder of 2021 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Ben - Hopefully being able to travel somewhere with the family.

Jeremy - We have a few more releases in the pipeline. I’m looking to build a studio outside of the city close to nature. We also need to get together for a proper photo session.

'Maquette' is out now via Dreaming Awake: https://bit.ly/2Smo6KN

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