As a DJ and producer, Craig Bratley ranks amongst the most enigmatic the electronic world has ever spawned. The fact that much of what he makes, not to mention what he plays, avoids the usual traditions of club music, yet he remains one of the finest players to see in a club, kind of summarises the point. A guy who’d sooner unleash curveballs on a crowd than obvious bangers, unless he’s up for dropping bangers. We caught up with him for a chat about music.
Hi Craig, I would like to thank you for your time! First of all, I want to know how are you feeling at this moment and where are you playing these days or weeks?
Hi, no problem, thanks for having me. It’s been relatively quiet on the release and gig front the past six months as I’ve been working on new material and had a few personal issues to deal with, but I’ve got a few releases lined up. I’m also starting a party in the very near future so watch this space.
How did this fantastic adventure start for you? How did you discover electronic music?
My first memories are the early electronic music that was in the charts when I was a kid, Yazoo, Depeche Mode, New Order etc. My older brother was also into a lot of electronic bands. Then when I was about 15, just as Acid House was kicking off, myself and a few friends went to a club and that was that, I was hooked. After that I bought some decks and a few friends at school had some music equipment as well and I would badger them into letting me go round. After school I did various dead end jobs but decided that I really wanted to make music so began to buy music equipment and went to study Music Production.
How have things developed since you started?
I was speaking to someone the other day about this, when we wanted to be DJ’s it was because we were socially awkward, we wanted to be at the party but not too involved… ha ha!, its almost like wanting to be a pop star now. DJs performing, videos of artists listening to their own tracks. Sometimes I think I would be better off spending less on studio gear and more on PR.
In terms of making music, its far more accessible now, which is a double edged sword.
What music has influenced you? Are there any that could surprise you? Any musical guideposts or influences that led you to have the sound you make?
I’m influenced by a lot of music. The older I get, the more music I listen to, that’s the great thing about music, there’s always something to discover. I spent about a year listening to soundtracks which may or may not have affected my studio output.
Is there a particular thing that you look for in music? What was the first idea on you did build the sound of Craig Bratley? Has that sound changed a lot over recent years? What is your music criterion?
It just depends on the genre of music, but anything that has the ability to change the feeling of a space. If it is music for the dance floor it has got to have that element of funk.
I think in terms of my productions, I would like to think it’s more musically accomplished and the production has improved.
How would you describe your sound? Your music mixes elements of techno, disco, electro… how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard any of your songs?
That’s a tough one, I can never really answer that when people ask me. Like you said, there are elements of everything in there. I’ve listened to so many different forms of music over the years I think it all creeps in. Authentic, electronic music?
Your new EP The 99.9% [Futurboogie Recordings] is your most diverse and intense work so far. What was your concept when you started to work on it?
Thanks. I originally started working on another album, and quickly found that it’s not called the difficult second album for nothing. A well known producer type friend told me he didn’t think I 100% believed in the music I had done, so I went back and made 99.9%.
Can you already tell us into which sound directions the new songs will go?
I’ll keep trying to raise the bar for myself and try different things. In terms of club music I think the tempo will be picking up this next year. I have quite a low attention span and get bored of making the same style of music all the time. It’s also very easy to get pigeon-holed which can be the kiss of death.
As well as the Futureboogie release, I have a track coming out on Tone Dropout which is a homage to my early raving days.
Do you often get in the studio with clear ideas and everything well tied or leave something for improvisation and inspiration at the moment?
If I ever try and make a particular style of track it never seems to work, then a month or two later I’ll go in the studio with no plan whatsoever and make the track I wanted to make a month ago without really thinking about it. It seems to happen on its own.
Could you describe your creative process? How do you usually go about making a track?
Painful, ha ha! It often depends on the type of track I’m making. If it’s more club orientated I usually start with drums and the bass as they’re the most important elements. With the more soundtrack type material it could be a pad or Melody.
What are the key challenges that independent/underground musicians encounter?
The main problem is making a living from music or trying to find the time to make music. Lots of people asume you dont have a day job, but its a lot of evenings and weekends.
What are you most hungry for in life?
I’m pretty happy right now.
What would be your all-time ultimate venue/festival to play at?
Do you have any vision or personal predictions about music evolving in the future and its position in the world?
Soon we will have robots that make music for us so people can concentrate on their Instagram and social media accounts.