Kris Menace’s prodigious influence on contemporary electronic music is well documented, with Kris becoming one of the most respected producers, known for a string of acclaimed releases including four LPs, remix and production works for LCD Soundsystem, Depeche Mode, Metronomy, Royksopp, Air, Underworld, Moby, Benni Benassi, Martin Solveig, Pnau, Paul Weller, Kylie Minoue and Lana Del Rey, just to name a few, or his side projects such as Black Van (DFA), Cut Glass, Jaunt, WeAreAreWe, Love On Laserdisc or Stars on 33 (Eskimo).
In 2013 he unleashed the incredible MTV presented 'Features' album collaborating with Julian Hamilton (The Presets), Miss Kittin, Robert Owens, the late and great Romanthony (Daft Punk's One More Time), Xavier Naidoo, Chelonis R Jones, Dodgy and MTV award winner Simon Lord, with whom Kris has recorded and incredible new Project named Menace & Lord for 2014.
His latest concept Album 'The Entirety Of Matter' comprises of 12 instrumental tracks, each one with its very own futuristic animated Video designed by Mr Div aka Matt Divito, a Boston (USA) based motion GIF graphic designer.
Kris' works have been signed to some of the most influential labels in the world and have in turn become treasures of the world's electronic dance community for both fans and pioneers alike.
Akai recently had the opportunity to interview Kris:
In 2013, you had several consecutive releases, including the purely instrumental 'Electric Horizon', as well as the internationally praised album Features – your first vocal album, with artists such as Miss Kittin and Unai. Now in 2014, you already released various remixes, a ground-breaking work titled 'The Entirety of Matter', soon to be followed by the eagerly anticipated 'Menace & Lord', a collaboration with MTV Award winner Simon Lord. With such an enormous output: What is your inspiration?
I'm inspired most by sounds and emotions. Everything I write, every studio production is attributed to intense emotions that I transform into sounds. Sometimes a sound triggers a certain feeling that I then try to capture. I often work with the translation of visual imagination into sounds and vice versa. In the end, the inspiration always comes from life itself, impressions that I process and put into tracks.
What is your current set up?
I mainly use Steinberg's Cubase as a sequencer. Akai's Renaissance has become my drum station, one that I hold very dear. I use all kinds of synths, from different hardware to Access' Virus to old analogue devices. As mics I use mostly Neumann in combination with a Neve 1073. As compressors, I utilize lots hardware such as Urei, Pultec, but also Plug-Ins, like Waves. I try to combine the analogue and digital world in my productions and use everything I can to get a sound that I can feel.
How do you utilize the MPC Renaissance in your studio?
In a very basic way, I must admit. I don't like to fiddle around with something and I don't have the patience to deal with all technical options. I like to work intuitively without getting lost in the technology. The MPC is ideal in that way as I am able to program and select sounds quickly. It's a smooth workflow and it's fun. I have my own little sound bank that I use in conjunction with the MPC, full of samples taken from my original analogue drum machines and old LPs.
How do you play your tracks live?
I play melodies over an existing frame, where I'm able to step in live and manipulate at any time. Anything else wouldn't make sense as my electronic music consists of so many pieces that a pure transition into live music just isn't possible. I use the Akai APC for this.
What do you look for in an instrument?
I need to be able to control the instrument without having to study the manual. The sound is essential, of course, and the feeling you get while playing the device. Aside from an ease of use, I also place great value on the feel and build quality. Furthermore, an instrument should match the needs of the user and not the other way around. Fun must always come first. An intuitive feel instead of user guide memorization.
Are there any MPC-related secrets you would like to share?
You're not supposed to tell secrets!
How do you create new tracks? Are there any certain patterns you have developed over time?
No, I actually approach each track differently. Sometimes with a beat or loop, other times with a melody structure. There are so many possible approaches and options, and I want to avoid resorting to the same monotonous patterns.
From which kind of sources do you take your sounds?
I love playing around with Access Virus and lose myself in it. I can create every sound with this device and use it for my own purpose. Other devices have great sound characteristics, too. It always depends on how I feel and what my goal is. A Juno sounds different than a Jupiter and a Rhodes has a certain charm that no digital sound bank could ever replace. Sometime I just record a Live Shaker, cut it into samples and edit it with the Renaissance or leave the flawed version untouched, if I like it. Everything is allowed if I'm having fun doing it.
A look into the future. How are we going to make music 15 years from now?
Even in 15 years, music will still be an emotion that you can create in all kinds of different ways. That is what it's really about, not sync buttons. That said, I can hardly wait for the era of streaming!
What does your future hold? What can we expect from Kris Menace in the near future?
My album The Entirety of Matter has just been released and the next project is already lined up. We are currently preparing the release of 'Menace & Lord', a project I have been working on with Simon Lord and, personally, I'm really ecstatic about...
Artist's Akai Pro Gear
Music Production Controller with Iconic MPC Sound