Richard Nattoo on his role as a producer, artiste" title="
Kesi and the Artist
Richard Nattoo on his role as a producer, artiste" sl-processed="1">
Kesi and the Artist
Richard Nattoo on his role as a producer, artiste
IF you're familiar with the name Richard Nattoo, chances are you most likely associate him to the delicate and intricate glass illustrations, exuberant watercolour paintings and coffee stained drawings with his recurring little rabbit.
Others who may know a little more about him will know that he recently got his Bachelor's degree in Arts in Architecture at the Caribbean School of Architecture which is located at the University of Technology, Jamaica.
What you may not be aware of, is his vast knowledge and skill in music. A part of the musical ensemble LabWorX Records, he and his group aim to create euphoric sounds better known as PseudoKhule.
Our resident teenAGE art writer sat down with Nattoo to find out more about his journey as a musician.
Kesi Mortley: Most individuals are more familiar with your artwork than your music. I mean you've been a part of numerous exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica, as well as other exhibitions in Jamaica. Why did you decide to venture into the music business? How hard is it for you to make a name for yourself in the music industry?
Richard Nattoo: I decided to venture in music because sometimes visual expression was not enough to get my feelings across. Always saw myself as being multidimensional so it only made sense exploring a different aesthetic. I mean I wanted to know what my art sounded like. How hard is it to make a name for myself? Very hard, especially in the creative scene where I am most popular for my art. I realise people love to put people in boxes, so when they see that I am good at art, they feel that that is only what I am supposed to do and only what I'm allowed to be good at. I would be easier for me to be appreciated as a musician in a group of people who don't know me.
KM: At what point in your art career did you realise that you wanted to pursue music? How did you get started? Who did you consult with?
RN: I started before I even thought about having an art career actually. Started in grade nine when King Biggs (Julian Morrison) gave me my first full version of FL Studio. I was always that guy who would be deejaying in between classes in the hall and knocking beats on the desks. So I guess the zeal was embedded from very early beginnings. It started to get serious when I met ZemI, Kalel. Kheemo and Steve and we formed LabWorx Records.
KM: Was it easy forming LabWorx Records? How did the group come together? Was it based on the same music taste or that you guys had the same interest in music? What was it?
RN: It was seamless actually. We had a mutual friend who made the link between me and Kalel and I knew Steve because of Kalel. So we all had a similar zeal and similar taste so we started to make music together and began frequenting a studio close to where we lived. After a while, we realised that we should really make something from all this energy hence LabWorx Records started. In addition, my music rival in high school and also one of my closest friends, Natari aka ZemI wanted to start working on some of his tracks and his team helped to make that possible. Hakeem who is also one of my closest friends joined the group later after we met through art at the National Gallery. Oh, the irony –chuckles-. Bottom line is that we were all Jamaicans who wanted to do music but did not want to do reggae so we all clicked.
KM: Does your personal taste in music influence the type of sounds you create and the type of artiste you collaborate with?
RN: Yes it does actually. I personally like jazzy, electronic and ambient stuff. Hence a lot of these preferences affect how my chords progress and what I sample in my music. I mean, to me this goes further than music. It's more of a Khulture and after all, PseudoKhule is the new Khulture. By the way, we call our record label LabWorx but we call our music PseudoKhule. As it relates to collabs, we are extremely picky with who we allow inside our world. We really have to see where your mind is musically and then see how far we can expand that.
KM: What is your understanding of the interrelationship between emotions and sound perception? Briefly, talk about the emotive quality of sound within your work.
RN: What is interesting to me is that sound is next to sight. Sound has colour and one can experience a whole world just by feeling the sonics of their environment. Sound affects how we feel, how we think and might even affect how we metabolise. So to me, there is a direct connection between what we hear and what we feel and that may have been where the idea of making music came from. Imagine being able to steer the emotions of people just by playing notes in a certain order? Musicians must have felt like gods in the early days. The emotive quality of my music comes out a lot through abstraction and creating a stereo of atmosphere that allows the listener to look around with their headphones or whatever they are listening through. I always enjoy taking sounds and making them almost unidentifiable. It's like creating grunge. I mean it's like watercolours actually.
KM: You're both an artiste and a deejay correct?
RN: Artiste/Producer/Mixing Engineer but not fully a disc jockey as yet. Still working on that aspect with PseudoKhule (which is also the name of the “live” band consisting of me and Kalel).
KM: How do you multi-task with all those roles? What is your roles as a producer as opposed to mixing and mastering engineer?
RN: A lot these roles are shared in the production process. As a producer, I would make the instrumental and direct the vocalist as to how to deliver the song on the instrumental. As a mixing engineer, I would, well….mix the song –chuckles-. What makes our team work however, is that everyone is a part of the process. So Kalel would sometimes take the instrumental and me, Kalel and Steve would direct the artiste as to how to deliver the track. Sometimes Kalel and Steve would start the mix and I would come in and finish up the mix. Then I would take the main seat in the mastering process. So the load is distributed evenly.
KM: Do you think being all these things (Artiste/Producer/Mixing and Mastering Engineer) and having the knowledge about each role gives you the benefit of creating more euphonic sounds?
RN: Short answer for that question is yes because having a hand in each role helps be to better sculpt the idea and achieve a better rendition of the final product. For example, me understanding the quality of sound I want from the initial idea of making the beat helps me to better direct the artiste on the instrumental. Furthermore, with these initial ideas, I would know better how to approach/direct the mix and furthermore the master.
KM: What is your typical work process like? From creating the first sound to the last stages.
RN: Sometimes depending on my mood I'll start with the chords or beat. Let's say I start with the beat. I try to get the groove to a level where it could stand on its own as a beat and I usually sample a lot of live elements to get this feel. After the beat, I'll add the bass line which is sometimes bass guitar or upright bass. After I settle on this I listen to what the beat is saying and play those voices in the chords and melodies. Then listen to what it isn't saying and add more atmosphere until it's on this uncanny line between live and synthesised. Sometimes I use field recordings from my phone to help add this ambiance. And once I can listen this sound and start seeing images inside of this composition then music is achieved.
KM: Discuss the connection between timbre and dynamics within your beats.
RN: The only way I can answer that is to refer to painting –chuckles. So I mean when I get a blank canvas of silence, the tone colour can go either way but what I have always noticed is that the brighter I paint the drum's dynamics is the paler I paint the background ambience. Some beats don't follow that inverted proportion but my best beats usually do. Sometimes it's as if the beat is going fast and slow at the same time. I guess that's how we took to the name PseudoKhule. Having a false Khule (Khule referring to smoother and less detailed sounds) because the drums usually derail the perceived tempo. It could be fast it could be slow. But this adds very special layers to the music. Can't be a colour blind producer—chuckles.
KM: Are you working on anything right now? Would you like to share anything about your current project/s?
RN: Well we are currently working on the PseudoKhule Session video series. Also, Kheemo has a new single to be released pretty soon called 4Kings. Been doing some pretty awesome stuff with Blvk H3ro too. So good stuff!
To conclude, here's a link to their soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/labworx_rec