On his debut EP ‘self-care,’ Brooklyn’s bad tuner sees how the pandemic-era blues will sound when combined with upbeat EDM production.
Stream: ‘self-care’ – bad tuner
With the height of the lockdown now in the rear-view mirror, all of us youngins are eager to hit up the nightclubs again and party hard. And while loneliness and isolation aren’t as globally omnipresent as they were a year or so ago, those themes can still make for some moving and affecting music if properly treated in the studio.
Those are the conditions working in bad tuner’s favor as he gets down to business as a Brooklyn-based electronica producer. Since entering the game in 2018 with his dual-single release, “Orizia/Camero,” bad tuner has churned out a thorough melange of both his own music and remixes for several far-flung artists, including L.A. producer TOKiMONSTRA, London duo Two Another and CLAVVS of Atlanta.
On his debut EP, self-care (released August 20, 2021), bad tuner keeps the globetrotting going strong by bringing aboard Senegalese singer Marietou Kouyate for the single “Relationship Is.” Her vocal sample, which is performed in the West African language of Mandinka, speak to the song’s theme of reclaiming human connection in the wake of all of this soul-sucking isolation we’ve had to put up with lately.
The rest of self-care features more of these pandemic-appropriate, along with further showcasing bad tuner’s production skills and knack for blending EDM beats with more traditional instruments like the piano with ease. Here, he shares more insight into what he’s been cookin’ in Brooklyn with Atwood Magazine.
Stream: “De Tecidos” – bad tuner
A CONVERSATION WITH BAD TUNER
Atwood Magazine: In the three years since you started releasing music, how do you feel your artistic craft and identity have grown and strengthened?
bad tuner: When I first started releasing music, I didn’t know much about the technical side of production/mixing. I was focused on the emotion and sounds that I could create using my laptop, a synth, and a microphone. Since then, I’ve been learning more about why to use certain types of gear or plugins to achieve the sound I hear in my head. Now I’m getting back to the start of the project with this new knowledge, concentrating on the emotional response to the music.
self-care was conceived and recorded during quarantine, and now being released outside of it. How do you hope listeners will connect with the themes of this album now that the world has become far less isolated than it was last year?
bad tuner: I hope listeners will be able to listen to this body of work together, whether that’s in a bedroom with friends, a car, or at the club. Listening and sharing music can be a powerful social tool in building connections. While the EP was created as a means of personal self-care for my isolating time in Brooklyn, I hope the music transcends time and place.
Of the many songs in your stash, what made you go with the four that appear on self-care? What sort of cohesive statement do you make by stitching these songs together into a 14-minute EP?
bad tuner: I felt like these four songs showed a wide range of my sound, from the lively and raucous De Tecidos to the nostalgic breaks of “Back to Me.” The EP is a collection of songs that incorporate collaborations with vocalists around the world, as well as the manipulation of found vocal samples. When listening back I hear this music resonating from a bedroom to a festival stage.
What was it like collaborating with the vocal artists that appear on self-care (including Marietou Kouyate)? In what important ways did they contribute to the music?
bad tuner: I love working with vocalists using the internet as a medium, it allows for totally new interpretations of the song. Traditional same room writing is great, but working over long distances offers some very cool perspectives and choices. My favorite collaboration on this EP was working with Marie Black (Marbl) on ‘Back To Me’ – she had actually written the vocals to another song I was working on at the time, I transposed them lower (changing the key) and put them over Back To Me. This is a perfect example of something that wouldn’t happen in a normal writing session. ‘Relationship Is’ actually crafted from a sample I chopped up using Marietou Kouyate’s vocal – rather than a collaboration, I am definitely interested in working together in the future though.
How has living in Brooklyn influenced you as an EDM producer?
bad tuner: Brooklyn has an awesome electronic scene and community. There are huge warehouse spaces as well as boutique high end sound rooms. I’ve been going out a lot recently and have been listening to different types of DJs and different sets – having a great time and doing my homework too! It’s cool to see what translates to a dance environment and what is more enjoyable in a listening type space.
What does releasing this represent for you as an artist? Do you think you might follow through with a full-length LP some time?
bad tuner: Releasing ‘self-care’ was an awesome experience for me. It’s my debut EP and has gotten some great feedback so far. As an artist, putting out a body of work helps solidify your artistic vision — it’s not a one off but a statement. It’s important to create worlds, and moments – a body of work is a perfect medium for this. I will definitely put out a full-length, only time will tell when.
Anything you'd like to add?
bad tuner: What if I remixed the full EP?
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