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CARTY
INTERVIEW 2006

(by Joann Judge)

 

Usually, this section of the site are for interviews Carty has conducted. But this one is a little different. This time he finds himself on the receiving end of the questions. The interviewer was Joann Judge who represented the US PR for Mantra II. She had just interviewed their front man and had approached Carty for an interview following his involvement in their new Werewolves Of London album.

Over to Jo...


Joann Judge: After a recent interview with Mantra II's Cat Mantra , I decided to get hold of the collar of this underground mixmaster, as I like to call him --- or Carty as he prefers, to find out some of his views on this project, the music scene as it stands, all while he was in the middle of his part of the production work! He can not only mix, he can juggle quite well.

JJ: What inspired you to start doing production?

C: Well 'production' is a term I currently have a problem using, although I am trying!! With the Carty Mixes they are obviously remixes in essence, although some can be more in-depth than others. Other remixers refer to such work as 'post-production' - where they have basically created a completely different production from the original. It's a fine line and I am not doing a very good job of describing it here, hehe.

C: Basically, if I am given the acapella to a song, or all the separate tracks used in the recording, then it's post-production to me, as there was an original producer initially. When I collaborated with Marco Pirroni for "Panzer Mädchen" and "Physical", he referred to me as the producer, and that was something very strange to accept. Me? A producer?

Carty & The Wolfmen - Panzer Madchen Carty & Marco - Physical
Carty & Marco projects

C: So back to your original question...what inspired me? I once dated a girl who was a commis chef at HTV Wales in Cardiff. They are the main independent TV company for Wales, and I became hooked watching all the shows being made and became close with a few key people there. I wanted in on the action, but was only 18 and had no experience. I was advised to join a hospital radio station (Channel 1 Radio in Newport) to gain experience in broadcasting and took the advice.

C: On my first visit I was told that volunteers had to wait six months before they would be considered to go 'on air'. I was presenting my first radio show within one month, thanks to my great friend and mentor Steve Martin (no, not that one). He was into disco/soul/funk music and used to use spare studio time to play his collection and mix a few records. We used to stay until 4 in the morning spinning tunes and practicing mixing records together.

C: One of the station's other presenters, Russ Stroud, was also the DJ at the big local night club and he asked me and Steve to DJ at a wedding he had a double booking for. We looked through his collection and saw all these Disco Mix Club (DMC) LPs - tracks extended or mixed by DJs, for DJs. The next day I signed up as a member and received their monthly mixes for a rather pricey sum.

C: I began to use the studio to record my own mixes, but they were very long and not really for anyone else. There was a half hour version of "Goody Two Shoes" using just two 7" copies, and an even longer mix of Duran Duran's "View To A Kill". Since that time, I had always messed about with mixing records. The following year I faked an audition for night club DJ job by miming to a DMC mix! I was hired for two residencies at two clubs!!

C: I also went on to working as the weekend breakfast show presenter for the Capitol Radio Group. I'd finish DJing at 2:30am at the Newport club on a Friday and Saturday night, then driving straight to the Red Dragon/Touch studios to prepare for my 6am show. The drive home at 11am was a rather scary on the M4 motorway.

C: 12 years later I found a DJ mixing software package in Dixons (UK electrical store) for less that £20 called "Traktor DJ" and tried my hand at reproducing what I could do on the turntables. The result was the first track on "Carty Mixes Volume 1" - a remix of "Wonderful". A very simple mix, but it's how I imagined the song should have sounded to me.

JJ: When did this Mantra II/Carty collaboration 1st begin?

Carty Mixes Vol 5
Carty Mixes Vol 5

C: Well I can never remember which of my mixes are on which CD so I had to cheat and look. I was just about to finish "Carty Mixes Volume 5" and somewhere on some forum a suggestion was made by Matt about remixing his cover version of "Man Called Marco". I'm always up for a challenge so he sent me the acapella and the instrumental (which I never used, hehe). I had already mixed Adam's original version with "Hello, I Love You" in the "Friend Or Foe Full Album Megamix", so that was an obvious place to start. But it sounded messy. I needed some more Ant in there. Annet suggested "Bright Lights Black Leather" from "Manners & Physique". As luck would have it, it was in the same key. A perfect match!

C: From that he asked me to remix "(Chant) Mantra II" for an EP release. I produced two remixes, the "Filthy Remix" and the "Rich Remix". He chose the former, although my personal fave is the latter. The EP release has now become an LP. I was also asked if I would be prepared to give a track the Carty treatment at short notice. I stripped that track down to it's basic elements and re-built it from scratch (this track became Goodbye Part 1). There are some awesome guitar riffs from Double G in there. After sending the finished mix to Matt he offered me the chance to work on a few other tracks...one of which features Marco and Terry together ("Angels Are Forever (Suicide Is Painless)") , so I am itching to start work on that one. I am currently in the middle of finishing up what has now become "Goodbye (Parts 1 and 2)", and next up is "Angels...".

JJ: You said Honesty was your fav track when we spoke last, which track do you feel is a good "1st out of the gate"?

Please do not buy this.

C: This is a tough question as Mantra II's songs have this knack of sticking in your head for bloody weeks! I hated "(Chant) Mantra II" when I first heard it on their first album "This Is Called Fantasy". I thought it was such an egotistical track, but since then I have remixed it for the forthcoming album ("Werewolves Of London"), and I love it! Tracks have to grow to be appreciated and they have to be given the time to grow. I think the songs I have heard from this new album are much stronger than the "...Fantasy" ones. "Honesty" is still up there, but I have been asked to work on a few other tracks for the album and they really are great. If I thought a track was weak, I think I would rather not touch it. I am not a magician. I'm not a musician either, but it's the songs that speak for themselves. All I am trying to do is help bring out the best in as clear a way as I can.

JJ: Being as producers come from different sources (musicians, songwriters, engineering, business or technical standpoint), how will you approach it and what will be your focus? And in what order (backing trax, overdubs, vocals)?

C: Excellent question. Well I can't speak for established producers as I have no clue how they work. I tend to work using my software program as a sketch pad. First of all I will lay down the drums. At this stage it could be any old drums as they are usually changed at the end. These drums will last for a good ten minutes! I'll then look at the bass. If I don't have a bass line from the artist, I'll try and make my own from my sample database (it's huge!). I may have to re-tune each note of the bass to match the song's melody.

C: I try and get the vocals in at this point to see how they sit with the bass. If there are guitars I add those, and will pan them into the left and right channels to give the mix more width. Once all that is taking shape, I'll add bits of percussion, backing vocals and any other bits and bobs that sound good. There is a lot of trial and error involved. Lastly I look at the drums. In some cases I recreate the whole drum track beat by beat, cymbal by cymbal. That way I have total control over the drums (being a former drummer helps a little).

C: Once I am happy with this ten minute monster I will add some very subtle compression to the whole thing and begin to edit it down. Because of my night club DJing background I like long mixes, so making radio edits is very hard for me to do!! HELP!!

JJ: What type of equipment will you be using for this production? How does that compare with things you've used in the past?

C: Well the dream equipment for all wannabe producers is Pro-Tools. And luckily Marco donated his Pro-Tools package to me for free as he had updated to a newer version. I had to convince him though! Now Matt has asked me to work on some of the other album's tracks you'd think it would make sense to use this. Well I have to learn how to use Pro-Tools from scratch, and as much as Marco and Chris Constantinou have offered any help I need, I am on a very tight deadline for these tracks. Matt has already put the release back to allow me to complete these songs, so I have decided to stick with my regular program, Ableton Live. I am comfortable with that for this project.

C: However, there have been little headaches along the way, as expected. Matt uses a different program to me so when he sent me the 'multitracks' (as I'll call them), I had to obtain the same software he uses and copy each of the channels into Ableton separately. Some tracks had over 50 separate channels! But it's quicker for me to do that than try and work with a program I am not familiar with.

C: Ableton has been my main stay for quite a few years now. The latest version has started to get the recognition it rightly deserves from the music industry. Even Marco uses it with his Pro-Tools (although he has asked me for help once or twice).

JJ: Do you play any musical instrument? If not, would you like to?

C: I used to be in a band in the mid 80's. It was called Mirror Image and I was the drummer. My stage name was Mr X. If you think that's bad, my lead guitarist was called John Wickham Henry De Trafford Steed (the full name of The Avengers' TV character), and the bass player was called Kombat Von Wasching Baskett! We did have a keyboard player, but he never played at rehearsals. The guitarist was the younger brother of Andi Turner, who was the lead guitarist with 80's rock band Monro. They were big in South Wales, but huge in Germany.

C: We never played any gigs, just rehearsed. Mainly songs like "Silver Machine", "Paranoid", "House Of The Rising Sun" and many more. I used to have an acoustic guitar in my bedroom where I would knock out Ant songs in private. My (then) 11 year old son now has an electric guitar and is much better than I used to be, but he's now stopped taking lessons, much to my sadness. Oh, and I also sang "Message In A Bottle" at a college concert for a band without a singer. I was never asked back.

JJ: You've been known in some circles for doing a myriad of mixes for some time now, and you don't seem to be out of ideas any time soon. Some say melody is the key to success in the industry, what are your thoughts?

C: If I knew the key to success I would be successful. I will be 40 this year (2006) and it's a bit late to expect me playing on stage to a live audience. I guess that's why I worked in professional radio - DJs are just failed musicians! Really! (I must add radio DJs are NOT DJs, but presenters!).

DMC Commercial Collection 274
A Carty mix is on here!

C: I guess I am in a stronger position now than I was five years ago (from a success point of view). Getting one of my Ant mixes on a DMC album has been the high point for me so far. Seeing my remix of "(Chant) Mantra II" on a full release will be the next (but now there are more tracks that will have my name in the credits!) . I believe luck plays a big role, as does being in the right place with the right people. And I guess working with Marco is kind of having a toe in the door. As is working on the Mantra II songs. What if this album takes off? Who will play me on Top Of The Pops? Actually, no-one, as I am just a backroom guy on this project. However, I have quite a lot of ideas for other projects, and while they may mean a reduction on the number of Ant mixes I can work on, I'll still be learning new things. And that's what keeps me going. Luckily we still have DefiAnt and Simon Clarke kicking out Ant mixes!

JJ: What artists are you influenced by and what's on in your CD player these days? If you could predict it, where do you generally see music trends going in the near future?

C: I am very much an 80s guy. I adore that whole scene. But my influences are varied. In no particular order, Seal, Propanganda, Adam & The Ants, The Art Of Noise, 808 State, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Bow Wow Wow, Toyah, a-ha, Trevor Horn, Norman Cook, Coldcut, DMC, Music Factory (Mastermix)...in fact, check out Carty at MySpace.com as I am repeating my list from there!

C: The perfect day, for me, is to connect up my external hard drive (called Capt. Hardy) to my laptop (Nelson) and shuffle every mp3 I have. I love the idea that I don't know which song is next - and there are thousands of the damn things. I do exactly the same with regular albums - shuffle. But to answer the question, Prince's "3121" and Madonna's "Confessions Of A Dance Floor" are on my mp3 player. I have done a mix featuring Madonna's "Jump" which samples "Don't Be Square (Be There)". It just has to be her next single so I can try a full length remix!

Ant vs Madonna on here
Ant vs Madonna on here

C: Obviously Mantra II is on the play list as I have to know the songs inside out to post-produce them! Also every studio based Ant cover version is getting very heavy rotation time for a (possible) project I won't mention - but it involves Sony/BMG in L.A. and London. Let's hope it results in something worthwhile. (It didn't!)

C: As for future music, I hope that all genres continue to thrive. I hope that new artists are given the chance to promote their music to the masses. The Internet now plays a major role in the shape of the future of music. Let's hope that I can play a part in that in some way.

JJ: As to the some of the artists you've remixed, what has been their response? Once the work is done, if you could have a say in how its presented/marketed, what would you do?

Still don't buy this album
Still don't buy this album

C: Well ultimately I believe the artist should always get the final say. And will always respect the will of the artist. So if an artist thinks a remix I have produced is not what they wanted, there is room for them to suggest changes or for me to back out of the project. I don't think the artist should dictate how I do my work though. I wouldn't do that to them. But I am a great believer in the art of communication and if the two can talk through ideas then all the better. That's why I am was looking forward to a call from Matt tonight. The last demo I sent him of "Goodbye (Part 2)", resulted in me putting his vocals slightly in the wrong places!! In retrospect I could have avoided this by using his original version more. I imagine him thinking "what did he do my song?!"

C: But he's a very calm person on the phone. I have seen the fiery side of him online and he's been a complete knob. He's too protective of his work and slams anyone who dares criticise him or his music. I worked on 7 tracks for his album, under an exceedingly tense and tight deadline. I have sinced learned to avoid him like the plague, as he never compensated for my work. I strongly advise anyone ever working with him on any of his projects. (Some parts of this paragraph were added in 2012.)

C: As for other artists I have remixed, I can't say I have heard that much back from them. The Lavender Pill Mob (Kevin Mooney's band) were impressed with my remixes of "It Dosn't Matter" (no typo there, it's on their CD cover!). In fact Kevin asked me to collaborate with him on their next album. But, since then he had joined The Imbeciles & The Poison Umbrella as a bass player, so I have no clue whether that will happen. (It didn't) I know Marco loved the Crazy Ant thing I did. (Fat lot of good that did)

JJ: What are some of the challenges you faced on this project?

C: So far...Matt's vocals on "Goodbye (Part 2)". There are so many layers of them! Trying to get a good balance of depth, width and harmonies took some time, but I think I got there in the end. (If only I had put them in the right places, hehe). This song is a love song and the thought of Mantra II doing such a thing was something I didn't want to really have to hear. But they have surprised me with this. It's well produced as it is, so I want to keep the feel of the song. I have done a version with new drums too and worked a little harder on the vocals. I also produced a Cartypella version featuring just the strings, flute and piano from the original. I'm not sure if it will ever be used, but it's great to have the freedom to throw these extra mixes in.

C: I have further challenges with the tracks Terry Lee Miall plays on, as real drummers never keep perfect time. But I am used to that from remixing Ant tracks featuring Dave Barbe - and his drums are all over the shop. So I am hoping I can do an 'easy job' on that as adjusting drum beats is something I am very used to. But who knows what dangers lurk around the corner?

Interview date: May 2006

Carty footnote (Feb 2012):

When this interview was done in 2006, I was rather touched to have even been asked. This interview makes rather painful reading now, due to the fact that Mantra II and its frontman, Matt Alexander (a.k.a. Cat Mantra) screwed me over. Not only with the work I did on his album, but also for DJ/compere work I did for him at AntFest 2007. It's rather comical to see no mention of that, and all credit now given to Kevin Mooney (who joined me on the DJ decks towards the end of the event).

Matt offered me the role of DJ/compere for his 2012 event, with a waterfall of tempting offers. I did not respond to his offer, only to then recieve a barrage of insults. Some people just never change, eh?

People who part with their money do so at their own risk. That's all I will say on the matter.

Lastly, back to Joann's interview. Some superb questions. I tried to make my answers as informative and as interesting as possible. Some of that old honesty has recieved the 2012 remastered treatment, as it was blatantly plugging something I now despise. So to Jo, if you're still around, thank you for asking me to do this. Your heart was always in the right place.

Right, who wants a beer?

   

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