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Interviews

Big O Magazine Interviews BT

BT
Higher State Of Consciousness
By Zulkifli Othman

"What I do is dance music, but it's more organic than your standard, linear American music" says Brian Transeau (aka BT) in an overseas phone interview.

His debut album, Ima, crossed boundaries generally associated with dance music. If you've heard the joy of tracks such as Embracing The Future and the recently reissued Loving You More (featuring the vocals of Vincent Covello and fresh remixes by Alcatraz and psychedelic trancers Man With No Name on Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto label), you'll be amazed by this rock music-loving American ("Smashing Pumpkins are my favourite band!" he admits) who rocks the dancefloors of the UK and beyond.

What's more amazing is that when Transeau creates his hands-in-the- air trance epics, he is more inspired by the force of nature than clubbing or other types of dance.

Sure, he loves the clubs in England because "people are there for the music. In the US, it's all one big fashion parade. Still, I'm not inspired just by going to a club. I love going out with friends and partying, but going out and walking really inspires me." After a short pause, he adds: "I am aware that I'm part of something bigger now, but I don't really want to be influenced by it."

What Transeau is really influenced by is "a sprinkling of everything, from classical, opera, rock to any form of world music." He has sampled countless forms of music from all over. Just like Banco De Gaia's Toby Marks and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, Transeau is especially fond of Indonesian music, particularly gamelan rhythms and Balinese chants. In fact, Balinese monkey chants were sampled for the opening of Embracing The Sunshine, something he is really proud of. He will travel the world to collect sounds to make that his music unique.

Which is why he is in such high demand, especially for his remixes which include tracks by Mike Oldfield, Seal, Billy Ray Martin and Perfecto's first lady of trance, Grace. And he can't even DJ! "Man, I cannot beat mix to save my life," he confesses. "You'd laugh if you heard me. We were in Miami once and Sasha (close friend of Transeau and one of the UK's best club DJs) put on these easy four-on-the-floor records for me to try because he said anyone could do it. Five minutes later, Sasha told me to move over! That's how bad I am!"

He laughs this off saying that, "The fact is, I am more comfortable with a 12-string acoustic guitar than a pair of decks. I'll just make my music and have it out on the dancefloor and leave all the mixing to people like John Digweed and Sasha!"

Despite all this, Transeau still gets the best jobs. He has just completed his remix production for Tori Amos' Talula. And he produced Billy Ray Martin's excellent long-player Deadline For My Memories. He has nothing but admiration for her talents. "She's an amazingly natural singer. You don't get many of those these days."

At the moment, Transeau is concentrating on his world tour, featuring a grand piano, acoustic guitar and tribal drums amidst the samplers and drum machines. Meanwhile, seven tracks have already been recorded for his new album, due for release this September. While the usual sequencer and sampler tracks are still in force, Transeau has employed a full orchestra for additional impact while the trancey vocal epics will feature "talented vocalists" like Vincent Covello, not your run of the mill soul divas.

Transeau has also experimented with other genres like drum and bass. "I'm particular proud of this track I did with a Sufi singer, a jungle Arabic record. A definite first!"In between, he is all psyched up for the release of his next single, Divinity, featuring varied mixes from ambient masters The Orb, junglist LTJ Bukem and dreadlocked acidmeister Josh Wink ("Man, his Higher State single was the best single of 1995! Did you know that he took his gear apart to make it that manic?").

Transeau admits: "1995 has been the craziest year of my life," "I've been making records in my bedroom from way back, so it's mindblowing that you get to do what you always wanted and people freaking out in the process!"


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