Melbourne, Australia is home to not only one of Australasia’s thriving techno scenes, it’s also home to this weeks broadcast mix. The city has guided the rest of the country through some of the darker days as far as electronica exposure is concerned and furthered the movement across the country. Our guest has aided the vibrant advance over the years and after co-founding HAUL records alongside Mike Callander and Berlin based Christian Vance, they’ve coerced the majority of listeners into the depths of their vision for the label and their respective sounds.
For Craig, it extends to releases across Electric Deluxe, Steadfast records, Project Squared and Telrae, and with forthcoming releases on Theory Records and Sub Squared. Moving forwards, music will be scattered amongst a VA for Ben Sims’ label Theory, a Ben SIms vs Craig McWhinney EP, and a 4 track EP on an emerging label called Sub Squared whose first release will feature Ghostek. If things weren’t busy enough, a fresh experimentation with digital work whilst fusing various elements in a live environment should induce a sensory assault once it starts making its way across the world. Hopefully sometime soon.
Craig McWhinney fronts for broadcast 042.
Kn: There’s been some quality work coming from your end lately in particular. What’s your reflective thoughts on say, how the last few years have played out?
CM: Thankyou, I appreciate that people are hearing and enjoying the recent output. I think it’s taken me up until this year to really break through some of my previous personal barriers, stylistically speaking. Since I started releasing 5 years ago the learning curve has been steep, you can hear the progression with every release, but I think things really kicked along when Haul music made the decision to press to vinyl. It was about that time I started to DJ my own tracks a lot more, which in turn affected how I produce.
I started to put more effort into my sound sources and build my studio properly, and I started listening better. Which is the key (in my opinion) to producing good music. You need to be able to listen to your own stuff from different perspectives and move beyond what’s easy for you, or what sounds good only to you. It’s not about changing your sound for other people, more about identifying how you want your music to be heard, in context, and making adjustments to get a better impact in that scenario.
Since I’ve taken that attitude, things have gotten better. I think the Project Squared release earlier this year was a culmination of a few years of development, and it got a good response. So now I’m building again from there.
Kn: HAUL Music. You’ve got yourself and Mike in Melbourne and Christian is now in Berlin. How’s the imprint going and any hurdles/successes you’ve encountered running the label trans-continent?
CM: It’s a bit tougher to get things going, and the output has definitely slowed down. However, the label was never really about churning out a constant stream of music, it was more about an outlet for the three of us creatively.
Plus, most of our conversing was done via the internet from the start, so for Christian to be in Berlin really makes little difference other than response time. There’s more to come in future, we’ve got our thinking caps on right now looking for what to do next.
Kn: Some of your music has obviously featured on the label and your releases have had a fairly strong showing over the past few years. What sort of space are you finding yourself in at the moment?
CM: Right now I’m looking outside Haul for outlets for my releases, the challenge of getting other people to release my music drives me to be better at what I do. Creatively I’m in a good place, a little time poor, but in a good place. I work as a freelance designer so I find it hard to be constant with the output, but a man’s gotta eat, and I get enough done when I need to.
Kn: …being in Melbourne, along with most producers around the world outside of Europe has its pros and cons? (space to breath, inspiration etc)
CM: I think there’s benefits to both. Obviously the grass is always greener, but the benefit of staying in Australia so far has been staying close to family and friends. I’ve always found inspiration in odd places, usually after a lot of sleep, so I don’t feel I need to be in clubs all the time to soak up ideas. Plus, being a designer and having work keeps the passion intact.
If I were to move, I think the UK would be the destination, which is an expensive place to live, but it would mean that I could potentially continue my work as a designer and look to further my musical career as well. My wife and I are open to that idea but it’s really not the right time, so for now I’m happy to stay here in Melbourne.
Kn: …and the Melbourne scene in particular. There’s a lot of positive energy across Australia generally at the moment. What’s your view on how things are at the moment? (new movements, positive signs of experimenting with new spaces etc.)
CM: There’s a couple of crews doing things well here and injecting positivity back into the scene. Specifically the Capacity events run by the Stable crew who present techno shows at various venues in Melbourne. They bring out a special act and target their audience properly with a focus on good sound, longer sets, and great techno. I’ll be doing a 2.5 hour warm up for Speedy J in August at Capacity 300 which will be really cool and I’m looking forward to it. Also, my buddy Mike Callander looks after Revolver on Friday nights, and is a place I love to play on the occasions that I do. Mike is a constant positive for the scene and it’s my pleasure to work with him as often as I do.
However, It’s probably an age thing, but I prefer to spend my nights in the studio and be very choosy with what I attend these days. I don’t get booked to play anywhere near as much as I used to, but I made the choice a few years ago to focus on getting better at making music, and not just be another local DJ competing with all the other local DJs for inclusion on lineups. It’s much more fulfilling getting booked (when I do) for my musical output, so that is what I keep focussing on.
Kn: In the context of inspiration, is there anything you’ve encountered recently that’s stirred your interest and love for music more so than usual?
CM: I bought a Moog Voyager this year that has been inspirational to work with, and am currently borrowing a 101 which is fitting in with the rest of the gang really nicely. Simple things inspire me, finding new sounds and new ways to make sound is the constant challenge, hearing how other people do it is always a good starting point. I’m still buying a lot of records, and a lot of artists out there are hitting the right note for me, I’m really impressed with a lot of current techno, people seem less obsessed with being conventional and are willing to experiment. Reeko, for example, is making some really great music.
It’s not all music though, I read a lot and have a recent interest in Korean cinema. It’s always been important to have a good balance in the things I do and the music I listen to. I’m constantly finding new ways to distract myself, which in turn inspires me to get back into the studio.
Kn: Which brings us to what’s in the pipeline as of today, Craig – what can we expect over the remainder of the year and what ideas have been running through your mind that you’d like to eventuate?
CM: I have a few releases in the pipeline: a track on a VA for Ben Sims’ label Theory, a Ben SIms vs Craig McWhinney EP which is also for Theory, and a 4 track EP on an emerging label called Sub Squared who’s first release will feature Ghostek. I’m also planning on recording some music with Mike, we’ve been playing live and mixing up our own productions together for a while, but we feel it’s time to create a body of music together that we will release and also perform. We’re proud of how well we play live together so it’s time to step that up a notch.
Also on the performance front I’m looking at shifting away from only djing with vinyl and CDs and moving into the digital realm, blending djing with live elements. I think I’ll always have a love for traditional djing, but I really want to challenge myself and improve my performances. Ideally I’ll do both, weekly clubs aren’t really the place for high octane sets of constantly blended techno, so playing deep records to dancefloors will always have a special place in my heart.