For the 39th edition in our mix series, we present arnaldo. We also had a pretty extensive chat - enjoy.
Who exactly are you and what do you do for a living?
I’m William Smith. I'm Argentine born but was raised in Norfolk. I cut my teeth in Manchester and currently reside in London. Norfolk is a great place to grow and to die, but in between you need to make a tree and split.
In Manchester I worked for several years at Eastern Bloc Records (established 1985). I learnt and bought a lot working there.
I’ve been in London for around a year, and I work for a music consultancy company who compile playlists and music systems for venues ranging from bars, restaurants, cinemas, shops, blah blah blah. I also play for a few bars weekly. It’s great as it gives me two clear days off in the week to write and listen to music... I can’t write music at night so it works a treat for me. I also sacrifice most weekends so I’m that guy commenting from the bedroom on Facebook!
You mention DJing in bars... do you take requests?
Haha. I am known as a bit of a… hmm how to make this sound like I’m not one? I’m a bit of twat about it to be honest. I have been doing it for many years and have studied people’s habits quite closely... mating rituals too (not that I’m a peeping Tom or anything).
I have found the best response is a flat “no”, as if you budge a little they will ride you all night thinking you’re their “mate” or “bruv” if you’re down here in the south.
It’s not that I’m that arrogant twat who thinks he’s so cool… I’m in fact that quiet guy who does not want to talk to you whilst DJing. I always get people telling me to “cheer up” – my relaxed face must look grumpy to some.
Best example is when someone requests, you say “no” and go back to mixing, then a few moments later you turn and they are still there! I’ll say “yes?” and they’ll say “You’re so rude!” and it’s like “How so? You asked a question and I replied”... it’s not like we’re gonna grab a drink and talk about the gross national debt or how expensive the drinks are in here... or are we? Maybe I’m the bad person…
Tell us a bit about your production set-up. Cracked copy of Ableton and a few VSTs, right?
Ha… I have Ableton 8, I think, and it’s definitely not for me... I just can’t seem to get on with it. When I tried to make something that didn’t just use samples and “clips” I just came up with stuff that sounded like everyone else... I’m kidding, some of my most respected peers use it and it boggles me what they can do with it... I just can’t! I’m that guy that has to get someone else just to warp something for me haha.
My workhouse is Logic, I’ve used it from the start and find that it’s very quick and has a great ‘width’ of sound… you can really place sounds well in the stereo field. Obviously its width is nothing in comparison to using a desk and having separate outs running from a drum machine... then it gets WIDE!
I guess that leads us on to the tidbits I use out side ‘the box’. I have my boom machine (808) and my thunderclap machine (909), both made by Roland in the 80s, in addition to a 606. I’d really like a CR-78 too, one day. I also use an MPC and a filter bank (not a Sherman though).
Unfortunately synths are something I lack, but I’ve borrowed a few in the past and got some great samples, so that should keep me busy until the modular arrives, ha. I also do a lot of field recording with my DAT recorder and microphone.
I think that all aspects should be considered in this day and age - including Ableton. I personally think that you should try and use analog stuff if you can but then utilise the positive aspects of a DAW for processing. What I’ve done from the beginning is to get something raw and then get it screaming yourself… not just use a pre-made sample pack.
In the 90s the production process was often a lot more rough and ready and obviously equipment was limited... I have an early DJ Spen record (“Back When”) which phases quite badly… VIBES!
What I mean is, his samples are so rough and ill cut… possibly he may even have two records mixing together. Phasing is when you have two identical sounds and they cancel each other out.
Love the record though. I just want people to understand my viewpoint, I’m not an “anti-sampling” kinda guy (most of my favourite records are sampled to fuck) - it’s just the way I go about things personally. Just try and do the work yourself and learn the techniques.
How did the hook-up with Smallville come about?
Ah it’s actually really funny, it was a fate thing.
I played with Julius (Steinhoff, one half of Smallpeople) and Lawrence at meandyou. in Manchester a few years ago. Then maybe two or so years later I was selling a record on Discogs and noticed the guy buying it was called “Julius Steinhoff” then checked the postal address and noticed it was the address of the Smallville shop in Hamburg!
I messaged him saying “Hi, I played with you at meandyou.” or whatever and then thought fuck it and copied and pasted my Soundcloud URL at the bottom of one of the messages. It was a punt but it paid off!
I should mention Greta Cottage Workshop too. I sent Matt, the label owner, a track after I bought his Mudkid record, which I really like.
I’m really bad at deciding on what to send and who to send to. I’m not one of those types to go around sending my music to 50-odd different labels – my music is too precious to be mass-sent like that.
"I don't make music for the masses, I make music for the small majority that listens" as the great Kenny Dixon Jr. once said.
Haha good words... similar to the slogan for Hendricks gin – “Loved by a select few”.
A lot of my stuff is just me trying to make things work and experimenting, especially as I’m not a trained musician - just a guy learning, and trying things out, more importantly.
Trial and error eh?
Yeah but I go down the error route for quite some way more often than not. I’d prefer to use the term ‘experimentation’, as ‘error’ means different things to different people.
It's all just subjective I suppose.
Ha, indeed. I’m not too fussed with what other folks think.
Best way to be. We loved your set at the Smallville night at Berlin's Loftus Hall in October. How did you find the experience?
HOT. As in degrees, I don’t mean that in a ‘Seth Troxler’ kind way.
Was a bit of a sweatbox in that place wasn't it?
Yeah. You know it’s 'close' when you have to wipe your hands just to be able to get traction on the records. Plus I had to take my hat off!
But the party was magnificent. I’m starting to really enjoy playing with Dan (Juniper) and Just and Julius (Smallpeople). Great people and great jocks.
Loftus Hall, Berlin 27.10.12 - arnaldo
How does playing in Berlin differ from a regular gig?
Germany in general is a great place to place to play I think, crowds always seem so appreciative. I’ve not really played many different countries so I can’t really give too much of an answer.
That was going to be my next question actually... so I take it that wasn't the first overseas gig you've played?
No, I’ve played in Germany a couple of times before. First at Tape in Berlin for a meandyou. party, then I played for a friend’s night at Morlox in Berlin and of course the release party for Smallville030 at Ego in Hamburg.
We Met In Manchester - Juniper / arnaldo [Smallville]
You mentioned meandyou. a couple of times. They've made some great bookings over the years. Are you still a resident for them?
Yes meandyou. have some magnificent guests. Yes I am still a resident but due to my other commitments it’s hard for me to take time off... with Dan (Juniper) and Pete (Joy Orbison) looking after things it’s all cool. Hopefully I should be able to make an appearance early next year.
I'm sure they're in good hands with those boys at the reins. Do you have a favourite DJ? Or one you particularly respect/admire?
Mark Turner. Basically I would love to put on a night and have Gerd Janson first followed by Mark. That there would be an interesting night with of A LOT of dancing. Weird as I have only heard him once but amongst others he played “Can U Dance” by Kenny ‘Jammin’ Jason, one of my favourite 80s house tracks. Yeah it’s a little cheesy, but it has a hook big enough to catch a whale.
Is this the Mark Turner that was a resident at The Orbit?
Yes he was but that wasn’t all he did... he sold records to the best in Eastern Bloc and also embarrassed most of the 'best' when it came to mixing records. If you get a chance to hear him in Leeds you need to go.
Quite the endorsement, I'll have to keep my eyes peeled. What's in the pipeline for Arnaldo? Any upcoming releases or gigs you'd like to plug?
Gig-wise I’m playing this pervert party called Arthouse or something (or is it bath house?) but that’s not until March 2013. That’s at the Deaf Institute in Manchester. It’ll be three people’s birthdays (including mine) that night so should be a great party. Also I need to do a podcast for them, been a year or so since they asked!
Release-wise I have a track on Blank Slate Sounds 001 - some great cats from the east coast of the US. It’s the new label from one half of Supply Records (B-Tracks, etc). That should be available around Christmas through Honest Jons and all good outposts.
Then I have a Greta Cottage Workshop EP out mid January, and then Blank Slate 003 after that at some point.
Plenty on the agenda then. Did you have anything particular in mind when you recorded this mix for us? Tell us a bit about it.
I kind of wanted to do something a little different to my recorded club mixes, and wanted to include some particular records I’d bought recently. It’s more of a “home-listening house” mix.
Three-quarters of the way though recording it, I realized a large chunk of the records I’d taken to Berlin were missing… I almost had to stop the mix ha.
You’d left them there?!
Yeah, only at my mate’s place. He’d noticed them knocking about but didn’t know who they belonged to.
Phew! Could have had a disaster on your hands.
Things got a little ‘emotional’ let’s say.
They tend to when such large quantities of vinyl are involved...
Yeah, some I really didn’t want to have to replace due to the prices being charged for them on that record listing website.
That fucking website.
I am always so particular and cautious with records as well. Happens to the best of us I suppose.
Out to arnaldo for taking the time to chat with us - we'll leave you with his aptly named 'slow but what's the rush' mix which he's very kindly recorded for us.