The video stream for this lecture can be watched here.
House legend and Daft Punk collaborator Todd Edwards is well known for his hypnotic collage of cut-up samples over swing house beats and extremely juicy, disco-flavoured bass lines. Credited as one of the godfathers of UK garage, his four to the floor beats have won him a passionate fan base in Europe. Todd’s trademark sound on his early releases on NYC house labels like i! Records and Nervous quickly cemented his status in underground dance music circles across the pond, in the time before London’s 2-step sound had morphed into grime. He has also remixed Moloko, Justice, Phoenix, St. Germain, Klaxons, and even Boris, amongst numerous others and he co-produced and sang on Daft Punk’s "Face To Face" on their milestone album Discovery.
RBMA: Welcome. Lots of people who sit on this couch can say they've influenced something or someone, but there aren't many people who can say they've basically kick-started a whole genre. We're gonna be talking about all sorts of things, early New York and most recent stuff, but first off, I think we should just give a very, very big, warm welcome to Todd Edwards.
Todd Edwards: Thank you.
RBMA: So, like I said, we are gonna go back and talk about the sort of halcyon days of New York house and garage, but the first thing I wanted to ask you was you've kind of just come back from some little mini-tours in the UK and Austria, and you've just come back from Mexico. And I wondered whether it felt like your sound has been rediscovered again by the whole world.
Todd Edwards: Yeah, it's kind of interesting. I had taken a two-year hiatus off. Kind of had a parting-of-ways with the old label I was on, and reached a low in the slash independent music market, with piracy taking over and killing off a lot of old labels. It was funny, when I came back I decided after two years of working a regular job and wanting to jump off a bridge, I decided that I wanted to dive in full-time. And at the height of the American recession, I just decided to quit the job and to take a chance and go back in full-time again. And it was at that point I realised, I was blessed that it actually happened at that time. I was getting interviewed, and dubstep obviously was really big, and one of the questions that this interviewer asked me over the phone, he's like, "How do you feel that you're having dubstep producers say that you're one of their influences?" I honestly didn't really even know too much about dubstep at the time. Like, I heard some of it in, I guess, 2007. I'm like, "This sounds like Timbaland productions," you know? And I was, like, "Wow." It's amazing, the timing couldn't have been more impeccable, because the fact that I'm being recognised as an influence, I didn't know that that was the case. So it was almost like the first introduction back into the scene, and it took about a year of having a really good manager to really put my face back on the map of the scene. ’Cause everyone's always like, "Where did he go? What happened over those two years?" It's funny. Don't take any time off. (laughs)
RBMA: I think, for people who were there at the time, they would have a finely nuanced idea of the difference between house and garage. But it might not be quite so obvious. And also, the ideas of those things change over time, don't they? They're different to people who might think about it now, or hear those records now, than they were at the time. Can you break down for us what those two things mean to you?
Todd Edwards: Originally, I was only trying to come up with my own sound. I was very heavily influenced by Masters At Work, Kenny ’Dope' Gonzalez' drum programming. He had these wonderfully shuffly beats, and we can play a track by him after. So I was, you know, shuffly 16 triplets were very big. And then you had someone like MK, Mark Kinchen, who cut up vocals, and I was highly influenced by that, and basically put those two concepts together. A lot of people probably already know this, but I also loved Enya, and she used her vocals as musical elements, so I was like, "Why not if I take sampled vocals and make those the instruments, instead of organs or pianos and whatnot?" And I just put this together, so it had a very shuffly sound. I had an old Ensoniq EPS keyboard, which had about 15 to 30 seconds of sampling time, but the quantise on there was amazing. It had this great, really hard triplet shuffle, so that really made this sound what it was. And when it took off, you had kids trying to imitate that. So, to me, it was just house music with shuffly beats. Maybe it was just that I made very sloppy-sounding house music, but my roots are in house music. It just so happens that in England, they started to speed up the tempo, it started to get the coined phrase "speed garage," which is not exactly a positive phrase. People started wanting to disassociate with speed garage, there was almost like a rift between house music and UK garage at the time. I would just say the difference is that house music is much smoother-sounding, especially these days, it's less sample-involved. I think it's obvious that most people are using more synths, and there is a move back to '90s house and organs and pianos and whatnot, but sampling still is not as dominant as it was at the time in UK garage. Is that clear enough?
RBMA: So really, for you, the difference is house is kind of smoother and garage was more...
Todd Edwards: Shuffly, and swingy beats and whatnot. And again, a lot more sampling than is in house music these days.
RBMA: And was there a kind of point where you as a music fan could pinpoint where that shift happened? Like, is it MK, or were there a kind of bunch of people who made that transition?
Todd Edwards: You know, I can't say that I know the exact transition point. Because I listened to a lot of house music in the early days. From '90 to around '93 I did nothing but listen to house music. And I wasn't really exposing myself to Chicago house, or anything that was going on in LA. I was honestly just listening to what was on the radio in New York at the time. You had people like Tony Humphries and... who else? There was Red Alert, he played hip hop, but there was a bunch of DJs on the radio at the time that actually had these house shows at night. Glenn Friscia, you know? And so I have cassettes, like loads of cassettes that I would just record. I still have them someplace. Listen to those on campuses, I was going to college, I barely went to class, I would just walk around with my headphones on and stuff. Go on.
RBMA: I just wondered about, you said you got the cassettes somewhere. Do you remember the last time that you sort of reached back and listened to them?
Todd Edwards: Well, funny enough, before I moved to LA, I had to go through these cassettes to determine what I was keeping or not, so I got a little throwback recently.
RBMA: And was there anything that you noticed about them that maybe wasn't apparent to you at the time? Or what was the main thing that you saw about them or felt about them listening to them now?
Todd Edwards: Aside from the nostalgia, I mean, to me, it could be just that I'm biased towards that time period, but I just think that between '90 and '93 is one of my favorite generations of house music. I think you had a lot of producers before - in my personal opinion, before hip hop really kicked in - you had a lot of producers that were making house music. So you were getting a really good sound coming out, very soulful, very raw, very underground. And after that time period it just seemed like that whole deep underground sound started to change and get a little bit more progressive and less soulful, to be honest.
RBMA: And sort of seeing, as we've kind of found ourselves psycho-geographically in New York in the early '90s, could you paint us a picture, give us a bit of color about what it was like at that time? I mean, I know that you went to the Shelter and the Sound Factory Bar.
Todd Edwards: Yeah, yeah, Sound Factory Bar was amazing. I always tell the same story. At one of the best nights, it was the night before Thanksgiving, it was right during the release of Masters At Work dropping "I Can't Get No Sleep," featuring India. And this was an amazing house track, and there was a part in this song that just had this transition, and India just has this epic voice, she winded up, like she goes up and sings this glissando up, and the music changes, and the crowd went ballistic when they heard it, and the energy in the room was magnetic. And again, at the time, when I was younger I didn't really DJ, so to see this happen in a club was the first landmark occasion, where I got a dose of how an audience reacts to a good DJ or a good performance.
RBMA: But if you - not necessarily literally - close your eyes and see yourself in that room, and you look around, what do you see?
Todd Edwards: You mean, as far as the vibe in the room?
RBMA: Yeah, just who's there? What do they look like? What kind of mix of people? What's going on?
Todd Edwards: I mean, it was pretty mellow. It's looking out into the audience, you had a good mix of people. I mean, it was white, black, Hispanic, gay, straight. It was a very open club. The smell of marijuana laced the room. It was good, you know what I mean? The upstairs section was probably a room not too much bigger than this, and again, there was always producers that showed up. Like, Todd Terry would show up and I would always bother the hell out of him and tell him how great he was. Who else?
RBMA: How would he respond to your bothering?
Todd Edwards: (laughs) He was patient at first, but you could tell I was annoying the hell out of him after a while. Because I would do... I can't help it! He was a role model at the time, you know?
RBMA: I've just got this funny image now in my head of the kind of 'Todd Meets Todd'.
Todd Edwards: Yeah, exactly.
RBMA: It's Todd squared.
Todd Edwards: And he was the original ’Todd the God,' too, so...
RBMA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do you think he ever minded that you got the ’God’ suffix?
Todd Edwards: I mean, I would hope not. He's had so many accomplishments, I mean, I'm very thankful for everything that I've accomplished, but he's hit so many different genres, had so many pop hits and worked with so many artists, so if it bothered him, I would think that would be very, kind of, shallow-minded of him.
RBMA: I didn't really mean it.
Todd Edwards: I know.
RBMA: It was a throw-away thing, really. I mean that's definitely seen as a real golden age of a certain type of house music. Did it feel like that at the time?
Todd Edwards: I don't think any time you're going through something you can really see it for all it is, until you get a retrospective on it.
RBMA: I think sometimes, at the time, though, if you've ever been somewhere where really amazing stuff's happening, then you recognise it again.
Todd Edwards: Well, let's put it this way... whose phone is going? No, just kidding. For me, I'm a very picky person when it comes to music, honestly. It's like, after three years of listening to house music, I kind of got sick of listening to house music. Only because the New York scene was using the same chords over and over again. And it was just like, "OK, I've learned everything." Once you start really understanding what's going on, production-wise, you need something more challenging. And so I started to go back to other genres of music, but at the time, like I said, I just loved what all the producers were doing up to about '94, and then after that sounds started to change. I mean, everyone goes into a different direction. So I guess, if you want to look at it that way, if those few years were what I listened to mostly and then I stopped, yeah, I guess that would be the golden age for me, you know?
RBMA: So it seems like what you're saying is that there was a part of your brain when you were there, at the Shelter, or listening non-stop to house records, or taping stuff off the radio that was assimilating what you were hearing, working out how it was done, and then getting to a point where you were gonna do stuff yourself.
Todd Edwards: Yes. Well, I mean that's the thing. The more years you spend making music, the more you start to understand it. I don't know about what you're producing, but I would strongly suggest to definitely learn chords, musical chords, on the piano inside and out. It's definitely helpful. It's a double-edged sword, because you can start to think too much inside the box, but it's so much easier once you start understanding how chords are put together, in their different inversions, and it just makes coming up with the music so much easier.
RBMA: I've heard you say that before, actually, that your best bit of advice for anyone producing electronic music is to start playing the piano. And I know that you had played a little bit and had been around people that were playing. I think we should hear some of your music.
Todd Edwards: Sure, definitely.
RBMA: Very shortly. So, would you say that, basically, at this point, when you're just primed to start making music yourself, you're equally informed by family-based musicality as you are by all the house music you've been mainlining for the last four or five years?
Todd Edwards: Wait, say that one more time?
RBMA: That got a bit complex. Sorry.
Todd Edwards: No, that's OK. I'm simple-minded.
RBMA: I'm just wondering whether or not what you're saying is that - or whether it's true to say that - for you, when you were just about to start making music, you were just as informed by musicality and playing of music as you were by all the house music that you'd been absorbing?
Todd Edwards: When I first was getting out of high school I had taken a year and a half of piano, so I had a basic understanding that way. I was also exposed to a lot of disco. My sister is nine years older than me, so I took musical cues from what she listened to as well, and I listened to a lot of pop music growing up. The thing about house music was, I initially looked at it as being this simple art form that was going to be an easy way to break into the music industry. It did only take a couple years for me, but I was humbled by the fact that it wasn't easy as I initially [thought]. Just because some things sound simple doesn't mean it's easy to make. I learned as I listened, but diving in and getting your hands dirty and really making it, the more music you make, the better you are. That's why I think that you could be a great DJ and know what sounds great; that doesn't necessarily mean as soon as you sit down at the keyboard, you're gonna make an amazing track. It's its own art form, so you need to just keep doing it and doing it and you hone your craft and you get better and better at it.
RBMA: So while we just find a track, can you just tell us which disco records you particularly liked from your sister's record collection?
Todd Edwards: I was into a lot of Quincy Jones. But to be honest, I didn't know, I wasn't good with names. Ever. There were summers where the SOS Band, pop disco stuff... I mean, there was Stevie Wonder on the radio. Who else? Who else? Quincy Jones, like stuff off The Dude, that I would discover later on. I'm like, "Oh, that's Quincy Jones," and you would realise he's behind so many productions. So if it wasn't for my friend Rich ’Crease-O', who I've co-produced with, I would have never thought to look at production names. I was clueless with that. I'm horrible with names.
RBMA: OK, so then should we hear not your first release but one of your early releases?
Todd Edwards: Sure.
RBMA: "Guide My Soul." And then we'll hear a bit and you can tell us something about it.
So, what had you figured out how to do by then?
Todd Edwards: Well, first of all, the earliest label that I was on, or the one that's worth recognising, is 111 East Records. And prior to working on that label, I didn't do a lot of sampling, as far as drums were concerned. James Bratton worked with a singer named Sybil, and he was good at ripping people off. No, seriously. He came to England, you remember the track "Pump Up the Volume," which was huge in the mid-'80s? He went over to England and heard this and came back with that bassline sound. And Sybil had a track called "My Love is Guaranteed," and he did a whole mix with that bassline, and it caused this whole lawsuit. And I heard it on the radio before I knew him, and when I met him, I was like, "That was you? Really?" And even when Soul II Soul came up with that drum pattern, ’doom doom zzssit’. He did another song called "Don't Make Me Over," it was a re-make, and had Sybil sing it, but like he picked the cues up from England. And that's the one thing about not having Internet back then, you know, there was a delay. If someone in England was coming up with something amazing, and you caught wind of that, you could bring it back to your country and do your thing with it, so... What was the original question? (laughs)
RBMA: The question, really, was: by the time you're making this, what have you figured out to do? What's going on?
Todd Edwards: Yeah, I had a Yamaha RY30 drum machine, which had basic sounds and whatnot, but he's like, "You know, why don't you start sampling your drum sounds instead of using this drum machine?" And the minute I did that, it actually enhanced all my tracks. It's too bad we didn't do this sooner, to get some of the 111 East stuff, because I’m thankful that I was on the label, but I wasn't too proud of the productions compared to once I finally developed a sound. But the minute that you had these rough, raw drum sounds going on, it completely enhanced the track. Again, even with the quantise on the drums. One of the other things to notice is this was the first EP. I've always been into putting positive messages in my work, and then I started to put subliminal messages about God, without being too overt or too in-your-face about it. In this track, if you listen to the samples closely, it's saying, "He can solve it, trust love."
RBMA: It's playing at the moment, can you find a bit and show us where they are?
Todd Edwards: On that particular track?
(singing along) It's saying, "He can solve it, trust love. He can solve it, trust is what love's about." So, whatever, I started doing that and I don't know, I just wanted people to know that positive things come from God, and that beauty comes from God, and most people don't really associate God with anything positive, to be honest.
RBMA: One thing that I was interested in, actually, because you were brought up Catholic...
Todd Edwards: Well, Catholic, sorry, go on...
RBMA: Yeah, so a portion of your life, you were brought up in the Catholic faith.
Todd Edwards: Catholic until second grade, and then this small, non-denominational fire-and-brimstone church that almost destroyed me after that.
RBMA: Even worse than the Catholics? Wow, that's some job.
Todd Edwards: Yes, no, no, definitely. It gave Catholicism a run for its money, definitely.
RBMA: Well, because the thing I was interested in, as someone who was also brought up as a Catholic and also totally fell massively in love with house music, I wondered whether or not you thought there was something about that experience of being in church, priests telling you stuff, the sort of general feeling and the musical feeling that you get from Catholicism, or maybe faith in general, that predisposes you to liking house music?
Todd Edwards: Well, I definitely, definitely think house music is extremely spiritual. I think I have my own way of looking at music. I feel like there's this instinctual vibe. It’s the harder things, like metal, heavy metal, the harder dubstep, even maybe some drum & bass, anything that's hard, it comes from a more tribal, instinctual place. And then you have the opposite end, which is the spiritual side, like, things that are soulful, things that are more musical-based, that come from, I don't know, from maybe a more cerebral place? And then there's everything in the middle, you know, hybrids between the two. And I think it's good to have things that have that soulful side. It doesn't necessarily have to sound like gospel music, but anything that comes from a cerebral place, I think, has a longevity about it. I mean, and this is just like after 20 years of listening to music, things that are usually harder, that have this massive, instant impact, I think they burn twice as bright and then they just die out. Like, all the techno music from the '90s, you know? I mean, tracks that were huge, like "The Dominator," you know? "James Brown Is Dead," it's like, does anyone in this room really know those tracks? Is anyone studying that? But yet, you can throw on a Todd Terry track, and it sounds as fresh as it did when it was first made, and I think most people, they hear these tracks, they're classics, they stand the test of time.
RBMA: I guess we should move on to something else; house versus techno, doom metal versus soul aside...
Todd Edwards: And I'm not knocking, don't get me wrong, I think they're both two strong energy sources, and if you combine them properly, you can make something that blows up and can last [and] stand the test of time.
RBMA: Sticking, actually, slightly with this faith aspect, I know that you dropped out of active faith for a while, before re-finding your place, a place that suited you within a faith context. And I just wondered whether or not you were making these spiritual-sounding house/garage records, you were making this music whilst you were not in the faith, and the kind of music brought you back to it, or whether or not coming back into faith took you to the music? Like, which way around did it happen?
Todd Edwards: Uh...
RBMA: We're talking about the records you were making at this time.
Todd Edwards: You know what? How long have you been a journalist now? I mean, honestly, you ask some of the most amazingly intelligent questions. They're so challenging. No, seriously! It's like, when you've been asked questions year after year, and everyone uses the same slate, you're really challenging. I feel stupid right now. It's amazing!
RBMA: Well, I have a slight...
Todd Edwards: (laughs)
RBMA: With that question...
Todd Edwards: I'm gonna get the answers to you...
RBMA: Well, I will, but the thing is, actually, interestingly, with that question, I spoke to Zed Bias and I said to him, "I'm interviewing Todd Edwards. What would you ask him?" And that was his question. So he's the person who is supposed to be super-brainy.
Todd Edwards: OK, well, still and all, no, but the other ones before, it's like, "Come again?"
RBMA: Because his question was, "What came first? Religion, or the kind of music that sounded like they were songs in praise of God?"
Todd Edwards: I think, you know what it is, I think it kind of walked hand-in-hand. I mean, in my twenties I was a mess, I have no problem saying it. I don't even care to remember most of my twenties, you know? I think that even in high school, I started to find myself naturally starting to infuse God into my work. And it wasn't anything forced, it just kind of came natural. And then again, like I said, with the beginning of making house music, I wanted to write something relevant, you know? And you had spoken earlier, when we were just talking about gospel house music, I didn't listen to a lot of gospel house music, but there were a lot of dance tracks that would have just simple phrases, like "Freedom," or "Joy," or just like "Love," and it was just, they were so simple, that they almost became cliché to me. Or "Unity," that was another one, and they're great themes, don't get me wrong. That is house music; it brings us all together. But I wanted to get more specific and take it to a more specific love, and a specific unity. And God was that for me. I had really rough times in, I tried to write about those, again, it's almost like when you feel like you're bottoming out, you kind of throw your hands up. And even in later years, to be honest, I felt like I needed a mission. Like, I needed something to live for, to be honest. I mean, I really did hit a point where it's just like, "Why am I here? Why do I have to be here?" Not that I would ever be suicidal, but I just felt the need to try to spread [love]. I went through a healing process, and I wanted to spread that love with everyone else. Like, "Hey, this happened to me, this is what got me through it, maybe it could do it for you, maybe it can't, but at least I could try to throw that out there. If you hear the message, great, if not, the music is still good enough." You know?
RBMA: So, when you were making tracks like "The Praise," was that in response to having found faith again, or at a point where you hadn't yet?
Todd Edwards: That was still early on and I would say the first couple years out of high school, I just had that little rebellious attitude. Like I said, I had religion forced down my throat. I mean, I love my dad dearly, but it was just religious arguments growing up. And my nephew knows that one. Yeah, yeah. So I kind of kept God at arm's length, per se. But I still had that thing, like I said, I wanted to make positive messages. And it wasn't like I hated God but I just think I got more involved as years went on. I had a couple down points right before those tracks dropped. I can give you a personal story. I was working my butt off. I don't know if you know what Latin freestyle is. It kind of sounds like 2-step, but it was big in the late ’80s, and there was a certain music producer named Andy Panda Tripoli. The first track I ever really tried to shop was a freestyle track called "Rejection," it was about trying to ask a girl out. And his wisdom to me and my friend was like, "Eat, sleep and shit music," that's what he said. And that's exactly what I did, when most people were going out to college parties, I was home on a Friday night working on music, and kept trying to do it. And when you work so hard at something, and you're young, you want instant results, you know? You just think that your second record, or your second track, should blow up or something. So I had a couple things out, and I always wanted to have my music played on this one radio station that DJ Disciple had. I loved his show. I mean, DJ Disciple's show was amazing. It was college radio and everyone tuned in to hear the newest tracks before they were out. That was the other thing, too, it's like, you have the Internet, you can get stuff on SoundCloud. Back then, it was, to have a dubplate, or something before anyone else, that was like an amazing, "Oh my God! What is that?" "It's not out yet," you know? "It's Masters At Work," or something. But I wanted my track played on his show, and the first couple releases I did on 111, nothing, you know? And my friend came along, he was going out and stuff, he made one track in his bedroom and brought it to the Sound Factory Bar. Little Louie Vega was upstairs, in the main room, downstairs was DJ Camacho. Now, DJ Camacho, he passed away, but he was a really big teddy-bear of a guy, really nice DJ from Jersey. He would have a cassette deck that actually had speed control on that, which at the time, no one really had that, and would just play loads of cassettes of people just giving them their demo. So my friend gave it to him, and everyone was reacting in the room, and that was the first time I ever felt jealousy, like, this coveting feeling. I went home depressed that night. And honestly, I mean, he was my best friend, so I felt more guilty about that than anything. And I told him about it, but it was just like, I felt horrible about myself. But I was thinking, like, "I'm busting my ass doing this, and he comes along and just does this one track and all of a sudden..." You know, that was a horrible feeling, ’cause knowing how much time I'd been putting in.
RBMA: And had you been giving your music out as well?
Todd Edwards: Well, I had official releases, this wasn't even an official release. This was just something he did, recorded on cassette, and DJ Disciple came up and he's like, "What this?" And I'm like, "Really?" I felt horrible for both reasons, for the jealousy aspect and whatever. But that week I actually came up with a couple tracks that were out put on Nervous Records and stuff. But I got the response from Disciple, and I felt redeemed, per se. And I felt better, and I realised having faith is definitely a good place to be.
RBMA: And also, maybe a tiny bit of friendly competition, friendly rivalry can help as well.
Todd Edwards: (laughs) Well, you know what the thing is, I'm not a very competitive person. It was just like I said, I mean, I'm living, breathing this stuff, and I guess I was judging the fact that I didn't feel like he was, too. ’Cause again, we were all going out to college parties, my friends were in frat houses and stuff, but I was just jealous. It was just your normal human jealousy, you know?
RBMA: And there's nothing wrong with that. I'll think you find a few people in the room who will have maybe experienced something similar. So, what shall we hear a bit of then?
Todd Edwards: What have you got?
RBMA: Well, ’cause we were talking about "The Praise"...
Todd Edwards: Well, there's a couple, I mean, it depends what you want to hear. Like, "Saved My Life" is a landmark track in my [discography] that put me on the map. "Alabama Blues," you could, if you wanna, you have the before-and-after.
RBMA: Yeah, we've got that here. We could head to France. I tell you what, let's hear a little bit more of your music that set you up first, before we head into some foreign climes.
Todd Edwards: OK, that's fine.
RBMA: Yeah? So what we gonna go for? "Saved My Life"?
Todd Edwards: "Saved My Life." That was one of the tracks that put me on the map as Todd Edwards.
(music: Todd Edwards - Saved My Life)
(comments over music) And, funny enough, I honestly made the track, and this was after a night of listening to Little Louie Vega spin, and they did a track under Hard Drive called "Bass Tone." And it's just got this really hard, like, ’choo choo choo’. And then there was another track by Barbara Tucker called "I Get Lifted," and it was just these amazing vibes and that night influenced like two weeks' worth of brand-new tracks, and this was one of them. And then, the funny thing is I lost confidence in it. I wasn't gonna put it out, and my ex-manager was like, "No, we're putting this out. This is great."
RBMA: I tell you what, it's amazing how many people who've got landmark tracks say they really nearly didn't put it out. I think maybe that feeling of nearly not putting it out is a sign that you really should.
Todd Edwards: Yeah.
(music continues / applause)
RBMA: Actually, it just occurs to me, before we start taking it out of national, we should talk a little bit more about the famous aspect of your sampling style, and maybe play something to illustrate it, and perhaps you can kind of break down what went into a track.
Todd Edwards: Sure, yeah.
RBMA: So the thing that you're kind of famous for is kind of using tiny, tiny, tiny samples...
Todd Edwards: Micro-samples, yeah.
RBMA: ...micro-samples. You know, like, 50, 75, I don't know, however many you would have in a track.
Todd Edwards: Yeah, the earlier tracks didn't have as many, I didn't have room on the sampler to do that. But as I got more equipment, I started to go crazy, it could be more than a hundred in a track, at times.
RBMA: So I'm interested, as well, like why you would do that. Because, in a way, there'd be people who might say, "We can't do that. That's wrong. That's too many." There'd be a certain type of person or a certain type of artist that would think that would be the wrong thing to do. So, how did you end up in a situation where you just went mental and did so many?
Todd Edwards: Well, I never really read reviews. My ex-manager, I mean, all managers, they shelter you from the negativity, and I wasn't looking for any criticism, so basically I based my career on how well the remixes were coming in. Like, if remixes were coming in, I knew I was doing something right. If they weren't, there were times when things died down and then all of a sudden you do something, and all of a sudden, bam, you're back on the map. But, I don't know, I mean, people were accepting of this, of a lot of samples. Like that one in particular is a good example. If I didn't know Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, that song would have never came to fruition, because that whole choir-y sound is from the first track on that album. Well, that is to say when we released it on London Records, I had to re-sing most of the parts, so we'll just say that it was re-sung and not the actual samples.
RBMA: Of course.
Todd Edwards: So yeah, I think people were intrigued by it, I guess. I mean, I never really asked anyone why they liked what I did, I just kept doing it, you know? But I can say, at this point in time, things have gotten a lot simpler. I'm not one to just change directions just because I wanna follow... I don't like following other people's trends. But I do believe in growing from them, and again, you take what other people are doing and let it infuse into your work. Living in LA has definitely had a major impact with that. Especially, first of all, deep house in itself has just blown up again. You were gonna ask this anyway, so, if you don't mind, let's just go right into it. I have it in my SoundCloud account and you see YouTube, and I'm not dissatisfied with the amount of hits that I get, but it's like I'll max out maybe on the track about 7,000 hits, and then I'll go to some house track, and it would have, like, 50,000 hits. And I'm listening to the track, and I'm like, "OK, it's good," you know what I mean? But I'm not blown away by it, and so I'm thinking, "OK, what am I missing here?" It's like, "I don't think I'm a bad producer." So, and then I realise, it's all supply and demand. It's like the garage stuff becomes [obsolete]. There was one time where it was huge, in the late ’90s, early 2000s. Things flare up and then they go back down into like an underground thing, it's a niche market, you know? And because I was one of the innovators, you know, there's me and a few others that innovated the sound, I was continually able to still get work and DJ based on that. And I'm very blessed to have the respect, but at the same time I started to look at music as a communication more than just a musical form. So even though I want to create great art, I would like to be able to reach as many people as I can. So I was like, "How do you do that without losing your integrity and just jumping on someone else's bandwagon?" And fortunately, deep house coming back around is amazing because my roots are in deep house. And my earlier tracks were more deep house than this other direction, I took the UK garage thing into [another direction]. Again, excessive amounts of sampling. So I started to streamline my tracks a little bit in remixes. And it's paid off, smoothing it out a little bit, still has the essence of what I'm doing but reaching more house market than just the niche UK garage market.
RBMA: Well, I think it would be nice to talk a bit more about the rough stuff at some point, but I guess, we've kind of arrived at a point where we probably should, we could possibly play the new mix you just did for Jessie Ware.
Todd Edwards: Yeah, that would be great. That's a good example of how L.A. has been influencing me.
(music: Jessie Ware – No To Love (Todd Edwards remix) / applause)
RBMA: So do you want to do us a little kind of kit breakdown, or a technique breakdown of what you did on that mix?
Todd Edwards: Well, basically, with this one, usually, if you're familiar with my style, for years I kind of did like this verse-bridge-chorus. I mean, I grew up on ’80s music, a lot of music was much more intricate, I think, back then. Even back to the ’70s, if you listen to ABBA, if you listen to some of their songs, it could be four, maybe even five different parts where the music just transitions from one thing to the other to the other. So I was doing that with most of my tracks, like, the music in the verse part, or where the verse would be if there was vocals would be, it'd be bridge, chorus. In a track like this, there's still three different parts, but it was more the journey, almost more like "Saved My Life," where it starts out one way and then transitions into another way. It's still even more complicated than some of the stuff I've done over the last few months with remixes and whatnot. But I think this is a good example of a smoothed-out, housier track, still embodying the sampling style per se. Just not as crazy.
RBMA: And what do you favor kit-wise?
Todd Edwards: You know what? Look, I like to explore different things. I love complexity. But there is an amazing art to simplicity that I really stopped looking into. To a certain extent, I think especially early on, there was a bit of a cop-out, like, "Oh, this part isn't strong enough. Let me make a second, or a third, or a fourth." It's almost through my own insecurity of making music, I was starting to add more and more, just in case I go, "You’re not satisfied with this part, here's another one." You know? In more recent time, I've really kind of thought about the concept of, "Let's see if we can make good simple music." And so far the reaction's been good, and I'm like, "Well, I guess it's not rocket science." Actually, it's kind of easy. The amount of sampling I do, for those older-style tracks, takes a while. I mean, it used to take two to three weeks to make a track. As the equipment evolved, it would be quicker and quicker. And then, if you needed a track in a day, I could do, I think, a decent Todd track in a day. With house-based stuff, because you don't have to do as much sample research, it's actually a quicker process, without losing, I think, the quality. It's just, it's more about playing keys and just throwing a few samples in there. So each one has its benefits and pluses and negatives.
RBMA: So, in those two to three weeks, what would you be having to be doing?
Todd Edwards: Well, especially when I had the earlier equipment, I was building the track as I was going along. When the equipment evolved, I would build sample libraries, where I was sampling up 25 samples on the keys, then save that bank, do another one, do another one. So I'd be using, like, four banks to start with. Almost like, if you're a chef, you have all your materials, your flour, eggs, whatever, and then you just start experimenting with it. So that was the older times. In the beginning times, I'd literally build the track as I was going. So I would get the drums laid down, find a sound, start there. Then I'd go through a record, try to find an interesting sound, if I liked it, I'd sample it, try to add it in, see if it worked, if not, moved on to the next thing. So it was really just, as you're going along, you’re looking through records. Plus, I didn't have a lot of sampling time. So if I found something I liked and I was running out sample time, if it was a 33 RPM record, I'd have to put it on 45 to speed it up, so it would take less sampling space. And then play it low, which would give this great artifact sound, where, if you played it too low, it really started to sound like a little distorted.
RBMA: Hence, two to three weeks.
Todd Edwards: Yeah, exactly.
RBMA: Now, obviously you had a massive connection with the UK and with France, but France came first, didn't it?
Todd Edwards: France, yeah, I would say France came first but then England took off. France was funny, because I was listening to DJ Disciple's show, and I heard this French record and then all of the sudden they're rattling off different names and different producers they're influenced by, and then I heard, "...and Mr. Todd Edwards." And I'm like, "Wait, wait, was that my name?" And it turned out to be St Germain. And then two weeks after that I get a call to remix one of his tracks.
RBMA: But you're on "Teachers" as well, aren't you, on the Daft Punk track? You know, kind of stuck between Mike Dearborn and Romanthony, stuck right in the middle, between kind of techno and the most mysterious of house producers. So you hear this record, and then you get a call, and then you end up doing...
Todd Edwards: Yeah, well, they wanted me to do a remix for "Alabama Blues." And it's crazy because, and this is the thing, it's funny, back in that time, because I was going through so much in my twenties, you know, music wasn't being turned out like every five minutes, where you were putting out a track every week. I mean, labels were doing it, but producers, I don't think, were doing it as much. So I remember there were some dry spells where it was like a few months off and then all of a sudden a remix came in, you know? It's almost like, "Wow, I haven't really done anything in a few months. Is this gonna be OK?" The funny thing about that, too, is, again, I was dealing with a vocal mix, and I had to borrow my friend's Ensoniq EPS, because there wasn't enough sample time in my own keyboard to do the actual music and have the vocal at the same time. You kids have it very good, let me tell you. (laughs)
RBMA: Should we do a little compare and contrast?
Todd Edwards: Yeah.
RBMA: OK, so we're gonna play the original, or your mix.
(music: St Germain - Alabama Blues)
OK, that's the original. OK, then, so, we'll play the vocal mix and then put the dub as well, which I didn't have ready. And you can tell us what you did.
Todd Edwards: This is the dub mix. And again, this is one of the landmark tracks, because at the time I was still not a very well-known producer. But "Saved My Life" and this track, I think, solidified the impact and started my career off.
RBMA: And this also caught the attention directly of some other French fellows, didn't it?
Todd Edwards: Yeah, it's funny, ’cause I didn't know this was the main reason, but since I'd been spending time with Thomas from Daft, he’d said it was the vocal mix that actually grabbed his attention, and it was one of the reasons he wanted to collaborate, hearing that vocal mix. So I was like, "Wow, I didn't know that." And especially, the dub was actually the more popular of the two mixes, but that was crazy, to know that that was one of the reasons.
RBMA: So you've been part of two Daft Punk albums now.
Todd Edwards: Yes. Discovery, I sang, co-wrote, wrote most of the lyrics and co-produced "Face To Face."
RBMA: And was this the start of your singing again, or was that happening already?
Todd Edwards: Yeah, I would say it's the beginning of my singing. I used to love to sing in high school. It's amazing how you get a couple of friends teasing you about it, and all of a sudden it's enough to make you put singing in the background and just focusing on production. ’Cause I did really love to sing, but then I just used it as a tool more than putting myself in the forefront of it. But funny enough, it's only been over the last couple of years that people have been discovering that I was the voice on "Face To Face." I guess because I worked with Surkin as well, and I sang on a track that we did together. But everyone's like, "You sang 'Face To Face’?“ And, you know, people have been requesting me to sing. Which is funny, because I was getting more requests to sing than I was to produce. I'm like, "You know, I am a producer, you know?" Right? So take what you can get, you know?
RBMA: So this time round, with Random Access Memories, what's your involvement this time around? I mean, I guess some of us have seen the Collaborators videos, so we know something, but what can you tell us?
Todd Edwards: Well, again, I knew they wanted me to sing. And I was the only connection between Discovery and this album, and obviously, they asked, I wasn't like, "Yeah, I'll think about it." Of course, I was going to be onboard, no matter what they wanted me to do. And it was just great to reconnect with them, because it was years since I've actually hung out with them. And it's really cool when you know really good people and you can just pick up where you left off. That's when you're good friends with someone, it's really cool. I got out to Hollywood and they played a track that they wanted me to sing on. And it's very gospel-y sounding, it reminds me of like a Doobie Brothers-type track. It even has like some country sound to it. It's completely different from "Face To Face." So I was often wondering, like, people might be expecting this dance track, and it's not like you can't dance to it, but it's not a dance track. It's almost like more rock-based, to be honest. But it's a very contemporary-sounding song, so Thomas wanted me to see if I can put some cut-ups in there. Like I said in the video, I was adding all these spaces. I was basically doing what I would do, you know, like sampling-wise, except I had all the musical stems and then I just put spaces in between until it sounded like something I was happy with. And I really, honestly didn't know that he wanted to use it as the chorus. I didn't know until he looped it around. And they didn't play, when they edited the Collaborators video, but he said to me, "What did you think? I just wanted to use it for an eight-bar break?" I'm like, "Yeah, I didn't know. I mean, I didn't know what you wanted." So I was really honored that it became part of the track. And he gave me the biggest compliment, because he's like, "You know, you actually helped kind of save the track." Because it was so contemporary-sounding, it didn't have any vibe that was along the electronics line. So it's nice to know when you have an impact on something that's part of a bigger masterpiece. And then me and Thomas wrote the song together, we sat in a room in this studio, which, you know, recorded people like Karen Carpenter and Frank Sinatra. I mean, the funny thing is...
RBMA: So where's this?
Todd Edwards: Well, I don't know if it's supposed to be a disclosed location.
RBMA: OK, OK, somewhere.
Todd Edwards: I'd have to kill you all.
RBMA: That's a lot of people to kill.
Todd Edwards: Well, I can tell you where the studio is. Well, whatever, it's a really well-known studio, there's a lot of people that passed through there. But it was really cool to know that the microphone that I was singing on, aside from being more than my car is worth, it was the actual mic that Frank Sinatra sang on. So not even just one of them; it's the mic. So I'm sitting here, that's a crazy feeling.
RBMA: Did you think, "Ha! Take that, people who laughed at me in high school"?
Todd Edwards: (laughs) Yeah. No, the funny thing is, it was my best friends that teased me all the time, so really I have a vendetta against them, then. No. No, it's cool, because it made me think, actually. Like, why did I give up something that I loved so much early on? It just shows the vulnerability of being human, especially, I think, as producers, part of being a producer you want to be loved, you need an audience, and I've been in it for 20 years and it's still not easy to hear negative criticism. You know, no matter how much success you have, you wanna be loved, you know what I mean? You need that connection and have joy from your work. So to have people picking up on this now, it's almost like I'm doing something later on in my career that most people do at the beginning of their career, whether it be DJing or just singing. It's kind of like a renaissance for me.
RBMA: I saw Nile Rodgers saying, offering you free, unfettered access...
Todd Edwards: How sick was that?
RBMA: ...to his full archive. What was his exact words?
Todd Edwards: I don't even remember off-hand, it was just like, we found all these old jams, he’s like, maybe "Put your touch on it," to paraphrase it. But that's amazing. You know, even just in the Collaborators video, it's like you have Giorgio Moroder, then mine, then Nile Rodgers. Like I'm sandwiched between two titans from the ’70s and ’80s. I mean, it's a complete honor to be part of that.
RBMA: So is that archive access gonna happen, then?
Todd Edwards: We're definitely going to pursue that. Definitely. I would love to get my hands on that. You know, I mean, the thing about it is, like, when you hear the track I did on Random Access Memories with Thomas and Guy-Man, it's funny, because you can hear the cut-ups, but it's very smooth. It's not like it's this overt, sloppy, chopped thing. It's very polished, and I think it's one example of how my style can fit into different genres, which I intend to show further as I'm going along in my career.
RBMA: So, France obviously led you to some interesting places, culminating in a kind of very interesting place right now. But England, London in particular, took you to you some other places, maybe in a more intense way? I guess, you've talked before how you found out, you started to hear that people in London were into your tracks, but what was it that made you realise that something significant was happening? That a new sort of version of UK street music was basically being based on your sound?
Todd Edwards: It really happened in a very subtle way. Because, again, there was really no Internet at the time, or at least, I wasn't connected to it, and I had moved on with my sound. I was always taking my cues from Masters At Work. Masters At Work did these, like I said, slew of remixes in the early ’90s, and then started to incorporate live bass players into their work. And they were almost making disco-based tracks. And then there was also the Basement Jaxx, that was another thing, being introduced to their sound. They were doing these disco-y, Latin-y sounding things, and that was really inspiring, so I had moved on to almost less cut-ups and more taking the samples and trying to make it sound like a disco band when I was doing these remixes. And I had a lot of success doing that. I did a track, a remix, on Nervous Records, called "Panther Party." And that hit Number One on the dance charts, at least in the magazines, like DJ Magazine. There was a track called "Jump To My Beat," by Wildchild, that I had remixed, and that was the first one that really hit off. And again, it's just like it starts a slew, a chain reaction of remixes but they were all disco-based style. And then all of a sudden my manager's like, "There's something going on in England. People are picking up on your older sound." And my first thing wasn't even joy, it was like, "Man, I gotta go back?" You know? "I gotta go back and do this again? I've moved on!" You know, it's like, "I'm evolving into something else." So I almost had to relearn my own style, which was difficult, because when you're in one mindset and then you gotta go, like, reverse gears, it was a little frustrating.
RBMA: That's an interesting conundrum for an artist to find themselves in. That hadn't occurred to me that that would be the case. I guess, from a UK perspective, suddenly you were the person that everyone was referencing. And not just kind of people from one style, it was grime people and your kind of what would be grime, and garage-y people. It just seemed like across the board, everyone was looking to you. But they were making so many different types of sounds, but for you, you were having to revisit something.
Todd Edwards: Yes, yeah, it's crazy.
RBMA: How did that that revisiting, like, what did that do to you? Or do for you? I don't mean so much in success, but creatively.
Todd Edwards: No, I know what you mean. No, I'm glad it happened, because I embraced it once I got back into it. I really did. I think that's where I started to get very complicated, because I realised that with sampling, it's an art form. You can make a really great musical collage. I don't know, you listen to Mozart and you just hear how many notes he puts in his work, and I loved that complexity, to have everything make sense in a track but just to have so many things going on but still work harmoniously through it. And that was something I wanted to evolve into. So, for me, it was just continuously exploring new samples. I started sampling from the ’60s instead of the ’70s. I learned more about music through sampling than I did from actually just sitting down and listening to music.
RBMA: But, from your point of view, which of your records were the ones that had the most impact on what became 2-step?
Todd Edwards: Well, as far as 2-step, the funny thing is is people associate me with 2-step, but I had nothing to do with the onslaught of 2-step. I forgot the name of the producer, he did a remix for "Never Let You Go." Go on.
RBMA: So, if it wasn't that bit then, the question really then is which track, for you, is the one that you think had the most impact in the UK?
Todd Edwards: I would say there's several. There's "Saved My Life," "Alabama Blues," which you heard, and there was another track, I did a remix for Sounds Of One called "As I Am," and I think that's considered a classic. I mean, I get to play it and it still gets a really good response, even to people that don't really know the earlier UK garage stuff.
RBMA: And what kind of connection did you have with those artists?
Todd Edwards: Well, "Saved My Life," obviously was me, St Germain I didn't really know, like I said.
RBMA: I mean, the people in the UK that were being picking up on your sound and being inspired by it, what connection did you have with them?
Todd Edwards: With them. Well, I got to know best, I knew Tuff Jam, which was Karl "Tuff Enuff" Brown and Matt "Jam" Lamont. We developed more of a rapport. And then after that, who I consider to be my biggest supporter, is DJ EZ. Which, if you don't know him, look him up. He has a Boiler Room out, and he's a massively inspiring, technical DJ. And I don't want to say underrated, because I hate that term when people use that.
RBMA: Hugely influential.
Todd Edwards: He's hugely influential. I think that, again, he's so known in the UK scene that there might not be people that know him as well in the American scene. But you watch him DJ and he plays CDJs the way you'd play a drum machine. It's amazing to watch. I'm dumbfounded, you know?
RBMA: So what kind of connections did you make with those people? Was it just, like, if they had come to the US, they'd come and find you? Or were you in the UK, or were they writing you postcards?
Todd Edwards: Well, I mean, I winded up going to Karl's studio. We collaborated on some tracks there. They also came to my studio in Jersey, so the first time I actually met them face-to-face was in ’98 at the Winter Music Conference. Again, you talk on the phone, with the Internet, even more now, it's just like everything brings you closer together. One of the first times I got to hang out with DJ EZ is he brought me over for this 4by4 gig at Time & Envy. And that was the first dose...
RBMA: And when was that?
Todd Edwards: I think that was around 2002, 2003, it might have been a little later. The years are just running into each other.
RBMA: In the mid-2000s.
Todd Edwards: But the thing is, what do you call it? That was the first dose of knowing what a huge audience was like. I mean, I knew it was popular, but the reaction I got from these 1,500 people was epic, you know?
RBMA: How did you cope with the accents?
Todd Edwards: I pretended I understood what they were saying. Nah, I mean, some of them are really strong, and even just the slang, it's just like I needed an interpreter to understand what the hell they were talking about.
RBMA: I wondered where there were any UK garage records you wished you'd written, that you had made.
Todd Edwards: No. I mean, I have my own agenda. I mean, like I'm looking to just make great art, so I don't covet anyone. I think, to be honest, if there's anyone that I put as a role model as to what I would like to accomplish, even on an independent level, is Daft. I mean, they put on an amazing live show, they've scored a film. Like, these are things that I still want to put together a live show, I just haven't done it. You know? And even just to get into scoring is something I'd really like to do.
RBMA: And is the live show going to be happening in any shape or form?
Todd Edwards: Well, right now I'm putting together a vocal album, and it was Thomas' idea. It's like, "Your vocals should be the center point of who you are and connecting the past and the present." He's like, "You know, I think you should focus on songwriting." Scion AV is backing me for an album, so I'm going to be releasing with them. And Peter Franco, who's the engineer for Random Access Memories, mixed down the album, he was like, "I wanna work with you." So it was, like, "Of course, I'm gonna say yes, he's an amazing engineer and a great producer." He also produces the group Jamaica. So I'll be writing songs, we're gonna work on polishing them up and then making the productions enhance the songs and then basically I'll probably remix the album myself to make it dance-y, but the album's gonna be more of a vocal album.
RBMA: Cool. Lovely. I think we should pass it out to questions from you fine folk. Do we have the microphone to hand? Excellent. So, I didn't really give you any warning. Does anyone have a question ready, or should we continue here for one minute.
Todd Edwards: The natives are getting restless.
RBMA: (laughs) OK, so I'm gonna be putting it out to you lot in a minute for questions. I'm sure you'll have some ready. In the meantime, is there anything else that you've got coming up that we should know about?
Todd Edwards: Like I said, the vocal album is definitely something I'm looking to release around September, October. After that, I really just want to do more collaborations. I worked on a track with Para One and I'm looking to do more with him. I would love to work with Surkin again. And there's just a lot of vocals I'm looking to work with. Also, I saw DJ Falcon, who also has a track on the album, and honestly, I'm at a point where it's like I've proven what I can do. I really just want to enjoy myself and have some fun collaborating with friends in the industry. I also want to take the sampling thing to a different place as well, and maybe we'll reach a mass audience or just a small group of people, but it's a personal creative goals, and then there's the concept of keeping the dance thing going. I have a small label called Nu Trend Music. Honestly, I did it more as a hobby, and I've been so tied to i! Records for so long, I just wanted something of my own. I haven't really developed it, or even promoted it, and I've made some money off of it already, which was cool. But it's probably gonna be for the diehard fans, release, like, UK garage stuff that the diehard fans want. So that's definitely the future as well.
RBMA: And didn't you want to make a jazz record as well?
Todd Edwards: Yeah there's an album called Jazz Love Spirit, it was me and a couple other producers: Kevin Yost, who's on i! Records. Unfortunately, there's a lot that are under fake names, which I didn't come up with, but it was just to make it seem like that it had more people involved. But it's Jazz Love Spirit on i! Records. And it was basically no samples, really. There's only one track that I sampled. The rest of it was just all e-playing and just jazz solos and stuff. I can do a lot more than people know. It's just a matter of taking the time to showcase it, putting more music out.
RBMA: Excellent, excellent. So what do we have, question-wise, from the people?
Participant: Hi. It's a real pleasure. I would like to know if there is any logical process involved during sample searching, and how to figure out a way to match the key, ’cause sometimes samples come from different stuff, with different keys, different tempos, and if there can be a strategy to figure out how to meld them together in an organic way.
Todd Edwards: Part of it is your ear, your ability to hear when two things are in key. Also, a lot of the sampling time, I'm usually looking for certain textures. I'm a big fan of female vocals. I also like the way organs sound with cymbal sounds on top of it. Almost like that gives you this scratchy sound with organ. Again, sampling is really more about what you're using for your palate of colors. Like, if you like to work with red, black, blue, whatever. So it's the same thing. As far as matching the keys, like I said, it comes from your ear. You know, having your ear. And then, on top of that, what gets frustrating sometimes is if you have a track that's in a key, and you have a sample that's off by more than three half-steps, the sample loses its quality. If you pitch something up five or six notes, it starts to sound almost like... even if you used the formant to break it down, it just loses its quality, if you pitch it down too low to match with the key that you're in. So, it's usually samples that are within three notes of the key that I'm playing in, but there's no beginning strategy. I literally just sample libraries and just have them ready when I'm working on a remix or if I'm starting a track. I used to start with just four libraries of 25 samples each, and now I do like 16, so I'm starting out between three to 500 samples, just so I don't have to go back the drawing board to find more when I'm working on a remix or a track.
Participant: Thank you.
Todd Edwards: You're welcome.
Participant: Do you work on a DAW, or do you use more the sampler? And if you use a DAW, do you work in audio, or do you trigger things from MIDI?
Todd Edwards: Did you say a "door"?
Participant: DAW, like a digital audio workstation.
Todd Edwards: For the longest time, I've been using Digital Performer, and I used a AKAI S6000 sampler, which still used the zip disks, so I was still buying those off of eBay. I just switched up to ProTools, and I just invested in Kontakt Komplete. Only for a sampler, until I heard all the sounds that came with it. It was better than anything that I had, with the exception of a Juno 106, it was better than anything I had in my studio. So we're definitely streamlining the studio. I also bought Melodyne; I've been using that. But, you know, ProTools is the replacement, as far as what I've been using.
Participant: Cool. Thank you.
Todd Edwards: You're welcome.
Participant: You said that there's a lot of ups and downs when you're doing what you love, and I think we've all experienced highs and then you can go way down low and just feel like, "Why did that just happen? I don't get it." And when you're in the low part, do you feel the need to change anything, or do you just kind of stay on the course and wait to come back up? Or do you feel pressure to, "Oh, am I doing something wrong? And should I change, or just stay true to yourself, pretty much?"
Todd Edwards: The thing is, I don't think that you should just jump on a bandwagon.
Participant: Well, I meant, like, within your style, specifically. Not like, "Oh, I need to do something completely different." Like, "Do I need to change my style a little, or ...?"
Todd Edwards: Early on, I realised there was no logic in music. James Bratton on 111 East said, he's like, "There's no logic." And he's right. There are tracks that I'll do that I personally love. I think they're amazing and get a minimal response. And then there might be a track that I do that I absolutely think is just "Enh," and it gets an amazing response. And I'm like, "I don't get it. I just don't get it." So I try to make crap music, it's usually the crap music that does well. No, I mean, honestly, I think that the hardest thing but the thing that's most important is to have a thick skin. To be honest, in my twenties, I wanted to quit every five minutes. Honestly, I really believe God intervened, because every time that I wanted to quit making music, a door would open. A remix would come in, or even the potential of a remix to come in. And I honestly believe if I didn't have the success that I had, I'd still be extremely unstable and insecure about it. I think that my confidence probably came from the success I had, which isn't really healthy, but we're artists. We're all a little bit nuts. The one thing that I really learned from just working a regular job for two years and being miserable at it is I'd rather be poor and do what I love than to... I was dying a little and I was making good money. I mean, I literally could’ve had the stable life after that. But I'm like, "I don't want that." I mean, think about it. I've had a lot of success, and there's still a lot of financial stress up and down. I've had a lot of money, I've had no money. It’s like, it is, this is part of the life that you're living. Just do it because you love to do it; don't do it because you're looking to be famous. Don't do it just for the money. Do it because you're looking to make art, and that you wanna have an audience. And I think if you stay true to that, you'll find your audience. And I think it's great now, I mean, that's the beauty of the Internet, it's like, even if you're a niche market, you can pull people from all over the place to make up a market. Like I said, if you could put out a track and you have people downloading it, you're making 800 here, 500 here, 200 there, it all adds up, even on a small level. Does that answer the question?
Participant: Yeah, thank you. I also wanted to ask you about, you had brought up that you had a manager at a lot of points, and I've been asking a lot of artists how they feel about managers, because it seems to be either they love them or they hate them, and so I can't really grasp which one...
Todd Edwards: I was a very weak person, and I had very little connection to the rest of the world. My ex-manager basically was my bridge to the music world. And I wasn't really big on the Internet. I was late in getting on that, so he was the gatekeeper. I wouldn't recommend having it that way. Not to get too personal, but he was a very negative person, and as I matured I saw it for more what it was. You know, when you're stuck between a rock and a hard place, like, even if you recognise the negative situation, you don't really know where to go. I literally had to bottom out on a musical scale and get that job before I actually left the situation. And again, there's a lot of negative things that could happen. I think that it can go either way. But I also believe that, now, on the flipside of everything, my manager, Alexis Rivera, who throws the party at A Club Called Rhonda in LA, four months with him and there was already a major buzz with working with him. I think it's good if you can be a good judge of character, if you can read people and know what they're like. Everyone around me had said negative things about my ex-manager, and I defended him at points and stuff. When you're young, you don't know any better, you're immature, and again, it was different. Now, at least, even if you don't have a manager, you can go searching for one, you can do stuff through the Internet, whereas before, that person was making all the connections for you. I think longevity, you need to have a good team behind you. Since I've had Alexis, I've gotten a European booking agent, Belinda Law, who's done amazing work; I'm always in London, every three months. He books my North American gigs, and he's connected me to a lot of different people. I owe him a lot, and I always sing his praises in interviews and whatnot, so, I think a good manager is definitely necessary for longevity.
Participant: Cool, thank you.
RBMA: ’Cause I had something else I did wanna just quickly ask you, before we wrap up then, and that's: I wonder sometimes whether or not you hear artists and feel like they're almost children of your sound. You know, are there people that you hear where you think, "Ah, there's a bit of me in there"?
Todd Edwards: Well, I mean, there's a lot of UK kids that... It was funny, DJ Q, from England, he did a mix of all my stuff, and it got really big, it got covered by FACT magazine, and he's a great guy. He did a dub mix of one of his tracks, and he literally sampled a sample from a group that I've sampled from, I'm like, "Wait a second." It's an English boys choir. I'm like, "There's no way that he would’ve just found that on his own if I didn't sample it." And there's other people I've heard over the years, people sampling my drums, people doing the cut-ups the same way. But then again, I took my sound from MK, so...
RBMA: And I don't mean that in a [negative] way, I mean it like, in a way of you seeing what kind of your thing has created in a completely different environment. You know, the way Burial sampled saw all those female vocalists of YouTube or whatever and turned them into something else. Do you hear a little bit of what you did in those things?
Todd Edwards: Definitely, definitely. I mean, I've heard some dubstep things. But it's hard to pinpoint, because there's a lot of different people that take their influences from different areas, but it's definitely recognisable. It's kind of funny, ’cause sampling isn't as big in house music, but I think you can hear it in a lot of different other forms of electronic music, whether it just be piano riffs or whatnot. Like, Guy-Man had mentioned, he's like, you know, you hear Sebastian, he did the cut-up thing, and then Justice took some stuff from - at least this is what I've heard - it's like Justice learned from Sebastian, so it’s like this branch that just trickles out. I'm glad to be part of the tapestry. It's cool.
RBMA: The ever-modest Todd Edwards. Thank you so much.
Todd Edwards: Thank you.