Come celebrate our 1st anniversary of bringing great music to the Good Life dancefloor with the house music legend Todd Terry! Before we dance with him on Friday, we wanted to talk with Todd and learn more about his style of music production, techniques from back in the day, and much more. Zakim Records label head and Beantown Boogiedown creator, Nick Minieri crafted up some questions to ask Todd Terry. Enjoy!
Interviewed by Nick Minieri
SHAKE: With almost a dozen albums, a hundred singles, and over a thousand remixes, you are obviously a machine in the studio. Do you have any advice for aspiring producers who are struggling to develop their workflow and would like to complete projects more efficiently?
TODD TERRY: It’s not so much work flow as it is staying true to your vision. The tools are fine and you can use anything from a laptop to a full blown studio it doesn’t matter. Logic, Protools, Abelton, I use them all but they are not what’s important, they are just tools, it’s the music that matters. It’s the feel that’s important, whatever is around that day is what I’m using. If I have an idea I can’t wait to get to a studio to record it, I just drop it in my laptop if that is what I have.
SHAKE: What is your definition of a good remix? Should it retain the important elements of the original, or is it ok to re-invent the wheel at the expense of the original artist’s vision?
TODD TERRY: I think using elements from the original are key for me in a remix. You can change the tempo and change the beat, but you must retain the original song structure and melody. It’s a remix not a redo
SHAKE: You went out of your way to cut a drum and bass album (Resolutions) and, in more recent times, a trap album (vs. That Trap Sh!tt). Do you find that venturing outside your comfort zone like this is essential to your development as an artist, as well as a source of inspiration in your everyday work
TODD TERRY: I have to create and explore and push limits. To keep making the same record, the same song, the same style, the same track is just not happening for me. If I’m feeling something, Trap, D&B, Freestyle, Dubstep, or HipHop I go for it. I gotta keep moving forward.
SHAKE: How were your earliest remixes constructed? Reel-to-reel with drum machines, a razor blade and an endless supply of patience I assume? When you DJ, are there any specific tracks (yours or anyone else’s) that literally always go over well on the dancefloor…regardless of when, where or how it’s played?
TODD TERRY: The first tracks I made I made on a 4 track reel to reel. At first I used an Alesis drum machine then a Yamaha. Yes I did my share of razor blade edits. At that time I was just making it up as I went. No one told me how to do it. I made complete records in my SP12 and SP1200, 8bit then 12 bit with only 3.2 seconds of sample time. I used what I had at the time.
See Todd Terry on Friday, December 4th with Ali Berger, Dev/Null, Fens, and Damian Silva at Good Life. Buy your presale tickets here!