By Jan Hoeglund
John Apashe is a Montreal-based electronic music producer from Brussels, known for aggressive dubstep, neurofunk, electro and trap. He's signed to Kannibalen Records and widely in the bass music world for his sophisticated sound and dynamic live performances. Our own Jan Hoeglund recently spoke with him about his sound, his direction and thoughts on the current state of electronic music production.
John, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your educational and music background?
Hey, thanks for the interview. I love your products! My musical background started very early with a really musical dad and a creative mom, they have always pushed my sisters and I into music, playing instruments, learning music theory etc.
At the end of high school I was facing the damn 'What am I going to do with my life?' question. I wanted to go for some engineer studies but looking at the only skills I had, I thought it would be easier to just go for sound or music studies. That's when I left Belgium to study electro-acoustics in Montreal. While studying here, I had the opportunity to start an internship at the Apollo Studios. After three months they hired me and I worked for 2 years with them, mainly as a Sound Designer and music writer.
So you moved from Belgium to Canada to study. Do you think moving to a different country has influenced your style of writing?
Difficult to say, I would say yes, because I write music very differently than I used to. However I might have faced the same changes in Belgium too. I think working the Apollo Studios influenced my style of writing more than anything else. I learned to work fast and efficiently while I used to be more of a slow producer.
You have a very unique voice within the world of electronic music. I can hear trap, I can hear percussion, brass, etc. I got a little bit of a Gustave Rudman (Producer of Woodkid) vibe from it, but what do you yourself call this style?
The best way to describe it is to say 'Hybrid' even though many people can't relate to that term because it's not specific. It's exactly what I try to make, music that is not anything specific but rather everything that I like, combined.
As for electronic music I know that your influences range from Prodigy to Fat Boy Slim to Noisia but you are very obviously also influenced by film and trailer style music. How do you combine and balance those epic elements with electronic music and which composers influenced you?
I love orchestral music too, from the old classics to more contemporary classical music. I believe Classical music is the best to make people feel something or dream in a cinematic way. Electronic dance music is often dead inside, its composed to make people dance. I combine both genres in order to give a cinematic and dance feeling at the same time.
Danny Elfman (composer for most Tim Burton's film) is a good example of someone that inspire me. He can make pretty much anything while keeping his signature sound. From the Theme soundtrack of The Simpsons to the most dark and epic Batman movie soundtrack. Other big composers that influenced me in that field would be: Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore and John William.
Percussion samples seem to play a big role in your music, how did that come about? Is part of it because you took drumming lessons growing up?
I like mixing and layering multiple kinds of percussion samples. Mixing the powerful 808's drums with more acoustic percussions. 808's sound big and acoustic percussion instruments have the texture and soul that electronics won't give you. A good example are Taiko drums, those big Japanese drums, that Woodkid often uses. It makes it sound epic and deep directly.
What's your take on the current film/game/trailer music scene? What changes have you observed as an eletronic musician?
I can definitely hear big changes in the mid range production of that music scene. For example productions that couldn't afford big recordings sessions with an orchestra. This was often the case in the video game industry. They use to copy orchestrations with samplers and synths but it always sounded cheap. Now technology allows us to use more complicated samplers that copy the sound and also the organic elements of an orchestral. If you're good you can pretty much compose with a computer and make it sound real.
Will we hear some Apashe film/game music in the future? Is that an avenue that you would like to pursue?
I would definitely love to be more involved with these kind of compositions in the future. Unfortunately I don't have the time at the moment to write exclusively for that. However I can continue making tracks and license them for that industry.
What's next for Apashe? What are your plans for 2015?
I have a new EP, very asian influenced, with a music video shot in Thailand. And for the next month a world tour. For the rest I will keep making a lot of music, focusing even more on the cinematic aspect of it.