INT.THE SOUND ENGINE - DAY
We see a small, claustrophobic room. Taking up a good half
of the space is an old, dusty computer desk. CDs and DVDs
spill over a dirty black keyboard. A large, old CRT
monitor sits next to a mess of notepads and half-written
ideas. Below the desk lies a piano-black PC tower, a faded
grey hi-fi system upon which a noisey Zip drive and Lacie
harddrive sit. There is a small rack in the far corner of
the room containing a MIDI interface, patchbay, rack synth
and a couple of samplers, long since neglected.
SANJURO77 sits on a battered office chair that is as
uncomfortable as it is neccessary. Behind him is a low
wooden table that is used as keyboard stand for his trusty
Yamaha CS1x. Network cable, audio leads and sample library
spindles litter the floor, waiting to trip up the unwary.
This is the Sound Engine. And it is in need of a MOT.
There is a knock on the door.
(lifting his headphones
from his ears)
------ enters, he looks like a cross between --------- and
an older, wiser-looking ------- -----------.
Hello. Sorry to bother you, I
know you're busy.
(taking off the
Just a few questions. For the
website, you understand.
Sorry - you'll have to stand
though. I've no space for
another chair in here.
That's quite alright. I'll
------ takes out a small Sony dictaphone. He hits REC and
places it on a solitary uncluttered corner of the computer
OK. Let's begin.
How long have you been making
I started when I was about 12. I
had my Amiga A500 for a while and
started to experiment with a cool
little program called Protracker
that came free on the cover of an
issue of Amiga Format. What was
I'm sorry - can I stop you there?
Is there a problem?
(hitting PAUSE on the
Yes. If you avoid naming
specific products and companies
that would be great.
Legal reasons. That's all I can
tell you, I'm afraid.
So I can't say Protracker?
No. You can't say Protracker.
Or Amiga Format?
Refrain from swearing too,
------ presses PAUSE again. The tape starts again.
OK SANJURO77. Please continue.
So anyway I started messing
around with this tracker-based
(winks at ------)
- it was really simple, fun
stuff. Four channels of 8-bit
samples. I started churning out
stuff. Me and <censored>, a friend of
mine made some little computer
games and I'd do the music and
sound effects. From there it
just grew. I got a cheap MIDI
home keyboard and that's when my
addiction to gear started.
Speaking of which. Do you prefer
hardware or software setups?
I would like to say hardware.
But the reality is we are in the
age of software now. The power
and quality of which are amazing
nowadays and by it's very nature,
hardware will struggle to keep up
with the pace at which the
software will evolve.
I see you have some hardware
still. How much of your music is
software based and how much
98% software now. The hardware
is mainly for show.
And I assume you wouldn't get
much on eBay for, say, your Akai
There's truth in tha-
I'm sorry. I'm doing it now.
------ stops the tape. He cues up to just before the start
of the eBay comment and continues the recording.
Wait.... OK. So, tell me how
your "sound" has evolved?
Well. Obviously I have been
influenced over the years by the
music I've listened to.
Well, my early attempts to break
into the industry were very much
Prodigy, happy-hardcore, junglist
You are referring to your time at
<censored> Records as The
That's correct. The Autodrum EP.
I was signed for two EPs but the
label owner skanked me.
For legal reasons, we should move
on. After the Inside Dealers era
your sound splintered, that's
fair to say?
Yes, I was still very much into
the breakbeat scene and continued
to produce drum'n'bass under the
Alex Frontman name but I was also
getting involved more in the
ambient and more experimental
sound of people like The Orb and
And that's where The Last Ambient
Heroes came in?
Yeah, that was great fun. It was
also good working in a group as
opposed to solo. It was very
trippy long-winded and loose
stuff - we thought nothing of
jamming for 45 mins. Some of our
tracks were even longer. It was
all poor quality stuff but I did
learn alot from those sessions.
How to structure my tracks.
Building up and breaking down.
When to restrain, when to repeat.
All of which is as valid for say
drum'n'bass as it is for ambient
epics. Would you like a biscuit?
No thanks. You've had quite a
break from music up until
recently. Why have you come back
I've been re-inspired. There are
alot of great artists out at the
moment. And I am finding it fun
So who influences you at the
Well, without the likes of Boards
Of Canada, Four Tet, Venetian
Snares, Team Doyobi and the whole
host of other great artists out
there at the moment I don't think
I would be doing music. They
have standards I can aspire to
and without someone to look up to
you run the risk of getting
complacent with the stuff you
produce. And that's not good.
And your sound is very different
now - how would you describe it?
That's difficult for me to
answer. I suppose it's just the
next logical step - trying to
make music that interests me is
the only real criteria.
And finally, we'd all like to
know - why Sanjuro 77? What does
Well. You see -
There is a click. The tape stops.
Dammit. The tape's ran out.
That wasn't very long. What
length tape did you put in?
Well I thought it was a C90 -
You're not very good at this are
Er. Just let me get another tape
from the car.
Hurry up. Big Brother's on soon.
Won't be a sec.
------ dashes out of the room. SANJURO77 puts
back on and starts nodding to a beat only he can hear.
Right, I'm done
reading this stuff. Take me back to the home page as I'm too
lazy to use the back button.