Elite Force is totally at the top of his game right now. He’s been riding the success of his ‘Revamped’ album over the past year or so, a project in which all 14 tracks charted in the Beatport Top 50 across all genres. He toured the globe off the back of its success, and now — in another innovative project — he’s collaborated with Oscar-winning soundtrack composer Klaus Badelt on an album, ‘Shockland’.
Badelt composed the scores on Pirates Of The Caribbean and Gladiator, and on this new project he’s recorded a 70-piece orchestra at the legendary Abbey Road studios for Elite Force to turn into tracks for the new Motorstorm: Apocalypse computer game. Traversing several genres, tracks include gnarly breaks opus ‘Mercury Man’, glitchy dubstepper ‘Neurofunk’, skippy desert-traversing drum & bass cut ‘BRKNCK’ and mechanical tech-funker ‘Spazm’.
The album is out on 12th June on U&A, and Shack (Elite Force) is also putting together a double compilation CD of re-works and exclusives from the label's catalogue, which should be out in late July and early September. There will be two mixes, one from his alter ego Zodiac Cartel and the other as Elite Force. In between studio sessions on his farm, he’s also playing lots of festivals over the summer, including — once again — Burning Man…
How did this new project with Klaus Badelt come about?
“I'd done some work with Evolution Studios here and there on their Motorstorm series over the years, and they asked me to re-work the theme from 70s classic Bullitt to announce the development of their newest title, ‘Motorstorm: Apocalypse’ at the E3 gaming conference in LA last year. A few months down the line, Klaus was commissioned to compose some bespoke 'theme' music for the game, whilst myself and Noisia were drafted in to remix and re-work the stems to create some high impact racing game interpretations.”
Briefly describe the collaborative process involved, please.
“It was all done remotely, and wasn't really that collaborative on a day-to-day basis as the deadlines were really tight so it was more a case of us doing our own work and feeding it back to the game’s developers. I did have a tester kit to play prototype levels on, which was good to get a feel for what was needed. Since then I've been out to Paris to meet Klaus as we were both interested in taking the process much further, and we are now looking at doing some specific collaborations over the coming months — he has a great set-up where he splits his time between two identical studios in Paris and LA, and has them completely database-synced with one another to make sure workflow never suffers from the constant grind of travelling.”
Were you thinking about the dancefloor, the computer game consule or what when conceiving the tracks?
“When I did the music for the in-game use it was very much focused on the job in-hand which was to soundtrack an apocalyptically hyper-charged racing experience. The races all last a similar length of time, but there are techniques of looping, layering and over-laying that need to be used to make every racer's experience as exciting as the next, regardless of ability... so there were quite fixed 'demands' on the in-game tracks. With the album 'Shockland' that I'm doing on U&A, the idea was to refocus the music with more of an electronic head on — it's not necessarily a dancefloor album throughout (far from it), but I wanted to give the ideas more time to creep into your headspace and to breathe, be that on the dancefloor, on the iPod, or both.”
Did you actually go to Abbey Road yourself?
“Unfortunately not, I was in the US at the time. I used to get all my tracks mastered there back in the days of Fused & Bruised though — it's an amazing place, just steeped in history.”
You’re smashing it right now, both in terms of globetrotting DJ sets and massive releases – what’s the secret to your success?
“I try to push myself constantly and try to maintain a quality control in every aspect of the business, be it graphics, design, management, music or DJing. I just wouldn't be able to turn up, unprepared and go through the motions to get a pay cheque from DJing, so every tour and every set I do is a labour of love really, full of re-edits and I'm always looking to refine and improve on mixes and the relationships of different tracks in my sets. Another key part of what I do is communication — it's so easy these days to develop and cultivate a sense of family around what you do as an artist, I just find it baffling when you meet DJs who moan about how they 'have to *do*' their Facebook every day when what they're really saying is they've no interest in communicating with their fanbase.”
You played how many times at Burning Man?!
“Last year I think I played 13 different sets — most memorable was probably the Wednesday when I played a total of five times, with the last set being a five-hour sunrise set that took me deep into the heat of the day. That was so much fun, just playing dusty desert tech house and techno, bumping into the next day.”
You’ve been receiving love from the breaks scene (again) lately — Breakspoll awards, Beatport smashes — but seem happy to not be categorised in any one genre, is that a fair representation?
“That is a fair representation, yes. I think when you look around the world of music these days, more and more artists generally have moved away from genre specificity to a much more open source approach to music, which is something I've been keen to do for years... Breaks tracks dipping into drumstep, electro-house crossing into dubstep, dubstep in turn double-timing into 140bpm jungle — in the world of bass-driven warehouse music, the boundaries have come down. Yes, you'll always get very 'exercised' chin-strokers who'll be desperate to explain why so-and-such-a-record is 'TECH-HOUSE' and NOT 'TECHNO', but frankly that's guff, and no one except themselves truly cares any more.”
How many animals do you have on your farm, and where is it?
“I live down in Kent, the garden of England. The farm's set on five acres surrounded by sheep farms and vines and it's a beautiful place to live, work and bring up a family. In the summer we're pretty much self-sufficient in veggies, and we also keep a handful of sheep, some chickens, a couple of dogs and a cat, but the farmhouse is also home to a colony of bats and there are barn owls nesting nearby.”
Here is Elite Force playing at Opulent Temple, Burning man 2010