October 23rd 2013
My Interview With Figure
I, Raji Rabbit, am happy today to be able to interview a bass music icon at quite an appropriate time of the year with Halloween season at hand & his latest release MONSTERS v.4 that just attacked Beatport. I present to you my interview with Josh Gard aka Figure!
Raji Rabbit: Hello Figure. You and I grew up in the same town, I’ve watched your career launch to new heights and I must say I have enjoyed everything we’ve seen so far! I have read many interviews of recent times about you and I am going to try to ask questions that I hope you feel are different and not something you get all the time. First off, I remember the early days in Indiana, you are no stranger to VINYL and Scratching. Did having a background in traditional turntablism help you out as you moved into production, and do you like to incorporate traditional DJing techniques into your EDM Festival gigs?
Figure: I’d say that being a DJ helped a lot when it comes to taking into consideration how to structure music at certain times. Starting out on vinyl, I really had to listen to the records beforehand and learn them inside and out before I added them into a routine or set.
RR: How long after getting into DJ’ing did you start producing tracks?
F: It actually happened around the same time. I bought turntables when I was 16 or so and bought a MPC a couple months after that. Of course, mixing music and scratching was easier than learning a MPC2000 with a floppy disk drive [laughs]. I didn’t have any examples of how to do stuff other than some CDs I would try to copy the scratches of.
RR: Do you think people who DJ make better producers?
F: I think it goes both ways. If you do one, it will help you with the other for sure.
RR: Do you think that sometimes producers wrongfully get thrown into the spotlight in EDM events and billed as “DJs”?
F: Absolutely! It’s exactly what Feed Me has been talking about lately in his interviews and posts. How you’ll produce music and somehow it leads to you DJing. Since I have been doing both since high school, I feel 100% natural in both situations; but there is something to say for someone getting put on a bill without having to pay dues first as a DJ…solely because they made a song or two.
RR: You once posted on Facebook, I hope I’m not quoting it wrong but it was one of my favorite things, “A Month of paid gigs is nothing compared to one well-produced track.” Can you elaborate more on this feeling?
F: Yeah. I can’t remember exactly if that was it or not, but it just goes back to comparing playing music (in most cases for DJs, it’s other peoples music) versus making a song that could essentially make a statement about you, your voice, and your creativity.
RR: DOOM Music is your label & Monsters v.4 just dropped on it. How do you feel having your own label and what should we expect from Doom Music in 2014?
F: I love being able to release my own music, how and when I want. I have a two EP contract with Owsla as well that is so I can spread my sound to a wider audience when the music is right. 2014 for Doom will maybe be releasing other artists music if the tunes are fitting. I have a Monsters remix EP dropping before the end of the year as well.
RR: I read in a different interview that these days you are doing a lot of the creative process on the road. how easy was it to become comfortable creating on the road as opposed to your own studio back home?
F: At first it was really hard. I have always been a studio guy. I have always had a basement set up. But now, to be honest, 95% of everything I make is in headphones – the entire Monsters Vol.4 album was made in headphones on the road. I use a couple different pairs to reference. Everything from a $2500 pair to a $20 pair of sh*tty every day.
RR: There are a lot of things out there to distract entertainers. Was there anything that you used to do too much, like play Xbox or some other draining habit that you sacrificed to become more productive?
F: Honestly, no. ONLY because most the music is made on the road and there isn’t much on a airplane to distract me! Normally, when I’m home, I don’t have a ton of music to finish.
RR: I believe anyone reading this should know that you are a huge Horror movie buff. I saw on your Facebook that you met horror and sci-fi legend Bruce Campbell recently, how was that?
F: [Laughs] Yeah, that was awesome! I was taking a piss next to him at this award ceremony and just asked for a picture while we were both holding our boom sticks. The pic happened outside the bathroom, of course.
RR: You have tattoos, what was your first tattoo and why?
F: My first tattoo was the wings on my arms – they take up almost my entire forearm. It really, at that point, was about me using my hands for music, beating on a MPC pads, cutting records and all that. They are a symbol of escape.
RR: What is one of your not so commonly known guilty pleasures? For example, mine is still watching Pro Wrestling.
F: [Laughs] That’s rad. Watching TV series you wouldn’t think I would .. like New Girl and sh*t like that.
RR: You have collaborated and associated with the legendary Tommy Lee! Did spending any time with him change anything about the way you program drums?
F: That was actually done just trading stems and .wavs over email! Still fucking bad ass I got to work with him though. He is a really cool guy.
RR: How do you like Ableton 9 vs Ableton 8?
F: I have both and still choose to use 8. I just started my new EP and am going to start on 9 soon. I don’t have a real reason for still using 8, I just haven’t switched.
RR: Have you tried Ableton’s Push controller?
F: Not yet.
RR: Top 3 Favorite plugins?
F: Ozone, Trash and FM8.
RR: Do you own any Analog Synthesizers in your recording studio?
F: Not right now. I do have a Neve mastering rack that I use a little bit.
RR: Do you have any tips for up and coming producers?
F: Just spend time finding your own sound. Don’t let the charts dictate what you do.
RR: The new tour is the “ALL BLACK EVERYTHING” Tour with CRIZZLY. How did you first link up with Crizzly and how much awesome should we expect from your new live shows!?
F: I met him a couple years ago and we clicked – we just get along well. I just can’t wait to get back out on tour and play all this new music from the album and all these other new remixes and sh*t I have finished!
RR: Josh, aka Figure, my old chum! Thank you for taking this time to do the interview with me! Everyone reading this should check out and buy MONSTERS Vol 4 on BEATPORT right now! And add Figure on Facebook, Twitter @ImFigure and Soundcloud and make sure you check out his live show! He’ll be in San Diego, November 17th. It will be a hell of a show. We all look forward to it.
Thanks for reading! See ya next week,