BT is a Grammy-Nominated film composer, technologist, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter from Rockville, Maryland. He is known as a pioneer of the Trance and IDM genres and has worked with artists like Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel, Depeche Mode, Death Cab for Cutie, Sting, NSYNC, Blake Lewis, The Roots, Madonna, Britney Spears and more.
At the age of 15, he started studying Jazz at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. With his passion for experimenting with music and styles he is known for pioneering the stutter edit and was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for using the largest number of vocal edits in a song (6,178 edits in "Somnambulist (Simply Being Loved)".
Hi Brian, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us, I’d like to kick things off with asking you how you first got into Electronic Music?
I’m a classical music kid (studied piano Suzuki method and at Washington Conservatory of Music) so I discovered electronic music as a young teenager via break dancing culture and New Wave from the UK. Bands like New Order, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, OMD, Howard Jones had a profound impact on what I thought of as possible. I was struck very young by the idea that many of my early classical heroes would be using electronics for composition were they to still be alive. Attending Berklee I studied composers like Xenakis, Stockhausen, and Cage and learned more esoteric computer music languages like cSound and Super Collider.
Your song ‘Flaming June’ (1997) is still being played and talked about today, do you remember the DAW and gear you were using at that time and how the song came about?
Thanks for the kind words and yes, I sure do. This is one of the first versions of Logic Audio that had ProTools (i.e. audio capability). Maybe Logic 4? Whichever one I remember it was an ADB dongle. Yes, that long ago!
Some of the synths I was using were the Memorymoog, Roland P-330 (the piano), Kurzweil K2500, Quazimidi Raven, Roland SH-09, Roland D-70, Studio Electronics Pulse, Moog Minimoog Model A, Arp 2600, Roland TB-303 and far too much outboard gear to list. That was mixed in my home on 3 Yamaha O2r/w’s and I must say there is liberal use of what we now call “desk distortion”. Printed to a Panasonic SRV-3700 DAT player. That’s cool I remember that much about this!
Can you tell us a little bit about your current live setup when you’re performing?
My current live setup depends on if I am DJing or performing live. For live (like with All Hail the Silence), my main gear is a Roland Juno-60 and Oberheim OB-6. I love these two synths so much. I use Ableton Live for some stems and drums. Lots of crazy max/msp stuff too but that is the big stuff.
You’ve played around with Unfiltered Audio’s first synthesizer called LION, how have you been enjoying it?
I think one of the most unique things about Lion is its modular approach. It makes creating sounds both fun and inspiring (in so far as happy accidents the kind usually only found in Eurorack territory). When I opened it and saw Dust from Supercollider as a noise algorithm, I knew I’d found my new favorite synth. The FM stuff and oscillator types are phenomenal too.
Technology has advanced so much in the last few years, making it easier for people to compose and release music. Many say this caused clutter in the industry making it difficult for artists to stand out. Do you agree with this? Do you have any advice for any upcoming musicians trying to breakthrough with all the clutter?
I think it’s great because it gives voice to so many that want to express through music. It’s pretty easy to tell who knows what they are doing for someone though. More than through feeling that technique. At the end of the day, music is about the expression of the human condition and a language to express what words struggle with. I truly believe music has the ability to sculpt the world into a better place, to provide comfort and solace.
My advice to young musicians is don’t think you’re going to learn to be a great composer from YouTube. If music is your passion, find a great program and study it. There are a million lifetimes worth of information to learn about organized sound. That’s my advice. Study.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview!
Likewise, thanks for having me there!
For more on BT visit: https://www.btmusic.com/