In the final segment of XLR8R's B2B session between Robert Hood and John Tejada—part one and part two went up earlier in the week—the artists take on the fast-evolving tools of electronic-music production and their hopes and thoughts for the electronic-music world moving forward.
XLR8R: Have the tools you use to produce changed over the years?
Robert Hood: I just evolve over time. I don't like to stay comfortable for too long, I like to switch it up every now and then. But to me, it's about what particular piece of equipment is going to identify with the way I produce music. Is it going to accent my sound in any way? Is it going to challenge me? I'm just not one of those guys that likes to pick up the latest technology just because it is. If it doesn't grab me, if it doesn't interest me, I tend to stay away from it and just pick up those little pieces of obscure equipment that not everyone is necessarily gravitating to.
John Tejada: I find myself coming full circle with it. I feel lucky that I got to start when there were no laptops or Ableton or computers that could handle plug-ins. I remember when I got a sampler and I was like, "Wow, I've got 12 seconds now!" [laughs] and that seems like such a lost thought. But so much of the records Rob and I were talking about earlier, that's how those were created and it was making the most with what you had, which I think really lent itself to that magic. Limiting your limitations and actually having limitations is just not the same thing. I've gone from a hardware set-up to, of course, trying computer stuff because it was new and fun and interesting, but now I've come back to hardware-based instruments and sequencers after realizing, "Who's stopping me from doing it this way?" That's been my personal journey of not being too afraid to make things simpler and less layered because that is a lot of fun to me. We live in a time when popular sounds are layered and over-produced and a lot of them are great and a lot of them aren't—which has all made it more difficult to stick to my guns—but I think I've reached a comfortable place where I can feel like I know how I'm going to do this because that's what I've been developing for years, and if nobody likes it, then all right, that's cool with me.
XLR8R: With that in mind, how would you like to see electronic music continue to evolve?
RH: It's not about the machine, it's about us squeezing the life out of that machine. Like John was saying before—those 808s, drum machines, synthesizers, samplers, and all that just tickled me to death. If we could could get that little-kid feeling back into it, that is what's missing—where something is so fresh and so new and at the same time so scary and so challenging; somehow, [we need to] get that back into it. I think it's going to have to be a future generation. It's going to take some technology we just haven't seen yet to get that other sound that we haven't heard in order to get that feeling. I think we've done pretty much all we can do with what is available to us now, but at the same time, there is so much further we can go—we just have to get uncomfortable. We have to get out of this man-made compartment we built for ourselves and get outside of these boxes and really dream again—to defy gravity. Because in order to take ourselves to that other world, we have to learn to get out of this box.
JT: I totally agree, and it's hard for me to put into words, but those stories about hearing Run DMC or Kraftwerk for the first time, are those even possible these days with these limitless options? I know for me, the hardest thing to do when I'm trying to better myself in the studio is to stop myself, because there is a sort of threshold where one more sound makes everything seem like you need a lot more sounds; but if you had just stopped where you were going to before, it seems really complete. And I can't do this interview without saying that Rob was able to make a masterpiece out of a kick drum and one monosynth. There's no one else that's floored me in that way, hearing sounds that are perfectly matched and truly don't need anything else. Those are the moments when you heard something and were like "Oh man!" I don't know if it was simple but now, when you hear things so layered, you're not really sure what you're hearing—maybe that's part of it. I can't really put it into words, but I think essentially we're striving for that same feeling. I don't even care if I ever make it, I just want to hear it. I just want to hear things all the time that make me that happy and get me that inspired. Whether I can come anywhere close to making something that does that isn't really the point, I just want to live in that inspiration.
RH: Yeah, that's it. John just hit the nail on the head. Even if I don't create it, I just want to be inspired by it. I just want to hear it. I appreciate what you said, John. I didn't have any money, that's all it was. [laughs] I had a $50 four-track, a borrowed DX-100, and I had just gotten a little money and bought a 909, and that's all I had to work with—thank God for that. But that's what I appreciate. It came out of desperation. We have too many options now. Where's that desperate kid that's sitting in his basement or his attic that's going to spark a change in the world?