Apr 12, 2012

Rain, aka Phutureprimitive, was borne out of more psy-influenced EDM & took those sounds into dubstep and glitch hop territory. At a show in LA, Rain spoke with LessThan3 about his musical evolution, the meaning behind his name, & his upcoming tour with Shpongle.

Phutureprimitive - Center Of Gravity
LessThan3: Your name seems to speak to the notion that all music is derived from something that has come before it. To what extent do you think this is true and how do you think it limits innovation or allows greater creativity?
Rain: Do you guys know the band Dead Can Dance? The whole idea behind the name is that usually the first instruments were created with pieces of previously living animals, like a leather hide would be a drum and strings were made from horse hair. So in a way, the dead live on through the music we play, hence the name Dead Can Dance. For the name Phutureprimitive, I’ve always appreciated technology and I think it promises a lot for us, but I also see how we’re still very primitive and do a lot of ugly things to one another. I feel the name speaks to the state of the world and also the style of music that I like. I like stuff that is a hybrid of everything! Lately, my music has been less organic in terms of its instrumentation, but I still feel that the way that I program it comes across more organic and human than a lot of other stuff out there right now.
LessThan3: Speaking of instrumentation, in your album Kinetik, the drum samples sound so crisp! Did you record them live?
Rain: Well, the microphone is an amazing instrument. Sometimes I will play a sound through my speakers into a microphone so it will capture the sound inside of the room. So yeah, I definitely worked a great deal on the production of that album. The reason it has the name Kinetik is it had been seven years since I had released a full-length album and I didn’t want there to be any question of my intent–I wanted to invoke movement. My current productions are even moreso in this direction.
LessThan3: Why did you change your name from Rain to Phutureprimitive?
Rain: Well, Rain was just a nickname I’ve had for many years that a girlfriend gave to me. It was never really my performer name, although people assumed that. Once I started making music, Phutureprimitive was the first name that felt right and largely steered my first album Sub Conscious.
LessThan3: Who’s singing the vocals for the track Disappear and what inspired it?
Rain: That’s me singing and it’s the first song I ever sang full vocals for. Disappear is also the first love song I ever wrote, as well as the first song I’ve written in just two days. It’s for my girlfriend, and it’s one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s not always about the amount of time you spend, but rather finding that spark, riding it, and not questioning what you’re doing.
LessThan3: As someone who commands tremendous respect from the underground scene, what do you think about Skrillex winning multiple Grammies? Do you think it will help your career?
Rain: Yeah I think it’s brilliant! I really respect the guy. What I love about his music in particular is he’ll give you a moment of face-melting, but he also gives you melody. I think bass music today could use more melody, and that’s something I make an effort to do. If you have a five minute track of face-melting bass followed by another five minute track of the same thing, you become numb. You gotta have peaks and valleys. You gotta hurt it and then kiss it better. Melody is the best way to do that. To me, if there isn’t some hook or something that you can hum by the time you’re done then it goes in one ear and out the other.
LessThan3: To what extent do you think melodies from other genres like trance and progressive house have made their way into dubstep and glitch hop?
Rain: When you cut 140 bpm in half there’s just so much space to play. There’s a quote–“music is just as much about space between the notes as the notes themselves.” You can choose to fill it with four to the floor kickdrums, but at half-time you have room to breathe and really soak stuff in. You can put in all kinds of crazy sh*t.
LessThan3: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the advances of music technology or do you feel it’s liberating?
Rain: I gotta confess something–I’m a full on gear slut so I love it. Anytime something new comes out I have to check it out. There’s so much always coming out and I think, “if I just had this piece of software I could do this.” In general, I think technology is a double edged sword and many of the problems we have in the world are a result of some individuals using technology at the expense of others.
LessThan3: When do you feel most inspired?
Rain: I have a weird lifestyle where when I’m touring I’m hyper-social. I become the center of attention with many people talking to me. But then I go home and I gotta make use of the time I have to work on my music. It’s like I go from hyper-social to hyper-hermit. Often my music comes as a result of spending sometimes many weeks at a time hardly talking to anyone. Music then becomes a way to express myself, and I’m so grateful to be able to do it because I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t.
LessThan3: What got you into your brand of dubstep/glitch hop?
Rain: If you listen to some of the songs on Sub-Conscious you could hear lots of filtered wobble, but it never really got to the extent that it is now. It was also a lot more ethnic-sounding. I’ve always had a deep appreciation for bass frequency and melody. Once I stumbled upon dubstep, I saw the potential to take music that I did before that was labeled and kind of stuck in downtempo and turn it into something much more. I actually used to produce psytrance and I’m able to take a lot of the tricks and apply it to what I do now. This is why I’m still considered a psychedelic artist although I don’t sit down and think, “what can I do that’s going to sound very trippy and psychedelic?” I actually listen to a wide range of music, including non-electronic styles. Lately, I’ve been really digging Minnesota, NiT GriT, and lately it’s hard not to listen to Skrillex with his songs blasting out of people’s cars and on TV commercials.
LessThan3: : You’re on tour with Shpongle?
Rain: Yep! We’ve actually played a lot together, but we just haven’t done a full-on tour until now. When playing live, I do my best to spin tracks that are going to make me have fun because when I’m up there, my energy is going to translate. If you’re up there having fun and getting into it, you’re giving people permission to do the same thing.
LessThan3: What do you think about the current label-based landscape of the music industry?
Rain: Well, I self-released this last album. I’ve actually done so much better financially versus having gone with a label. However, if some huge label came along and offered me a huge fanbase that I don’t already have access to, I would consider it. But this way, I get to make every decision about every one of my songs. That alone was unheard of ten years ago. It’s awesome and I think it’s a beautiful thing. I also have a pretty unique opinion about mp3 trading. I could never pay for that kind of exposure–it’s free public advertising. If 1000 people download my music for free, I might get 50 to 100 people that will really dig it. I didn’t have to do shit to make that happen, but now I have 50 to 100 new fans who might come see me at my show or post about me online. It’s a great thing that does way more good than it does harm. I do see how it hurts people who were always making lots of money from sales. But in a way, it’s kind of leveling the playing field.
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Rain: A Warm Place by Nine Inch Nails.
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Rain: Umm… seriously f*cking fun.
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