Q&A Session 3: Exile

Production | Aug 8, 2005

  1. hipnotic



    42,717 posts
    Since Dec 12, 2002

    The Grid gives you the opportunity to question some of drum & bass production's most prominent figureheads. This Q&A will consist of a moderated open thread in which you can ask production related questions to the interrogated. For this third edition we happily invite Tim Exile!


    Born in Cheltenham (UK), Brighton based Tim Shaw AKA Exile has cut an unconventional path through and outside D&B for the past 7 years. Culturally inspired as a kid, Tim is a classically trained violinist and singer. His venture into audio started at the age of 16 when he began experimenting with old synths, drum machines and analogue tape, to move on to the sampler after his parents bought him one for his 18th birthday. Later on, Tim formed a strong relationship with John B, which resulted in an array of Tim's tracks being released on John's label 'Beta' and the legendary 'Moving Shadow', not forgetting appearances for 'Renegade Hardware' and 'RAM' sub label 'Frequency'. Since then his weird and wonderful career has encompassed freelance commercial production, a Masters degree in electro-acoustic composition, A/V installation art for the 'Victoria & Albert' museum, appearances on techno label 'Mosquito' and coding new performance tools to enable a unique improvisational live show (with 'Native Instruments' hiring him as a result). With his debut album 'Pro Agonist', which dropped last month for Mike Paradinas' 'Planet Mu' imprint, and an exclusive audio-visual live mix for DOA, what better time to invite the man to face an inquisition from The Grid?

    Click here for the DOA interview, mixset and video.
    Click here for his official website.

    This Q&A is closed!
  2. Jack Herer

    Jack Herer

    Jack Herer

    5,272 posts
    Since May 10, 2001
    Can you list your Liveset set-up, especially the methods with you appear to be typing the beats out on your laptop?

  3. exile .


    exile .

    1,342 posts
    Since Apr 19, 2002
    Hi Jack (oldest pun in the book)

    The kits is:

    P4 2.4GHz, 1GB RAM, 40GB HD running Reaktor
    M-Audio Mobile Pre USB
    MIDIMAN MIDIsport 4x4
    Doepfer Regelwerk
    Evolution UC 16
    Edirol PC-160 keyboard
    Korg Kaoss Pad (controller mode only)

    The typing beats bit is a feature of the Reaktor patch which I programmed myself. If you own Reaktor 5 you'll shortly be able to download a demo ensemble taken directly from my live patch which allows you to mash up beats the same way.

    It's basically based on temporarily applying sync-point or offset 'masks' to a continuous loop
  4. Lexa_Lotus High priestess of Bass


    Lexa_Lotus High priestess of Bass

    165 posts
    Since Oct 29, 2003
    I saw you doing some live vocals when you played over here in Brussels. What kind of processing were you doing on that? How were you dealing with them?
  5. man friday

    man friday

    man friday

    1,088 posts
    Since Jul 15, 2005
    nice one for doing this man :spliff:

    how do you go about writing/processing your drum tracks? what are your favorite breaks/drum synths to use

  6. Dillusion_Man Emu Abuser...


    Dillusion_Man Emu Abuser...

    10,174 posts
    Since Mar 2, 2002
  7. SEAL



    544 posts
    Since Apr 4, 2004
    Tim, first of all I want to express my maximal respect for what you do and especially on how you view music in general.


    One of my all time favorite tracks is Crise de funke, can you tell me something about the writing process if you still remember? Was that just a spontaneous thing or actually a deliberate one?

    I think it's perfect, the way you played with the sound is very firm and the structure is just amazing, how everything falls in place.

    Other than that, your current stuff is fucking complex man, do you think about returning to a more minimal, less "dense" production style in the future?

    More to come, best interview session ever :twothumbs:
  8. exile .


    exile .

    1,342 posts
    Since Apr 19, 2002
    Ello sweetcheeks!!

    sorry :blushes:

    The vocal processing is another part of my reaktor patch. It allows me to retrospectively sample anything I say through the mic, then loop it and essentially treat it the same way as I can treat breaks, basslines and any other loops I use in my live patch. I can manipulate the mic through various different FX algorithms I programmed as well, either before and after I've sampled it, and even after I've sampled it once. I can go on resampling through FX as many times as I want. All in realtime and locked to the beat...
  9. exile .


    exile .

    1,342 posts
    Since Apr 19, 2002
    My Pleasure Mr Friday!

    I generally work on my drum tracks in audio. When I moved over to an all computer environment I pretty much gave up on samplers, mostly because the version of Pro Tools I was running didn't support software instruments. I used very old fashioned techniques actually. I've never used reacyled or any automatic beat chopping software... I'm so used to Sound Forge and Pro Tools now that I just do it all with those two... I guess it's like old engineers getting hooked on cutting up tape with razors. It seems crazy with todays tools but hey, it works for me!

    I tend to do very little in the way of severe processing when I'm starting out writing a track... although I do go to town with the compressors, and also editing and crossfading little bits of the beats etc... such as editing out background noise before an important hit eg a kick/snare so the compressor has a decent chance to get back to unity gain before the next smack. once I've got all the elements I think I'll need for the drum track I'll work out a series of patterns with alternating combinations of the elements, then bounce everything down to maybe 3 audio tracks max (partly cos Pro Tools only has 16 stereo audio tracks, partly to simplify stuff), so then when I'm editing the beats afterwards, which is all done by hand in audio, no randomisers or anything, just me, a mouse and the odd offline plugin.

    I don;t really knwo much about breaks or synths. I generally make my own synths, although I do often use the built in ones in Reaktor... the simplest ones are the best for macaroni cheese sounds... occasionally you want a caviar sound and I';ll use something like Photone, then go to town on tweaking it out. A lot of my synth lines are actually done in audio in Pro Tools though... pitching stuff up and down with the offline processing... then you can really tweak each not out and animate it.
  10. exile .


    exile .

    1,342 posts
    Since Apr 19, 2002
  11. exile .


    exile .

    1,342 posts
    Since Apr 19, 2002
    Well both really! It's all the same thing. Feeling/content is the most important though... there's a lot of turd polishing in dnb I reckon. Some music lends itself to a loose production sound, some needs to be tight and honed... it depends what you're trying to achieve. Generally I think the poetry vs grammar thing illustrates it well enough. You can use anything as a tool, even bad grammar/bad production so long as it works. Check out some of the mashcore stuff... the production's all over the place but the music's ace. Then check some really deep loopy techno where it;s very sparse but the production's incredible... enough to carry the music in its own right.

    As far as perceiving other people's work... I used to have a sort of bare minimum production standard under which I wouldn;t be able to hear any music in it, but I've got through that now thank god, and have discovered some wicked music as a result.

    Doing the live show taught me that... the quality of the production on my live recordings is fucking shite... shiter than a shite novice producer producing shitecore using shiteSEQ lite and shitesynth. But I'm beginning to be able to see through that and listen to the ideas behind it.
  12. exile .


    exile .

    1,342 posts
    Since Apr 19, 2002
    Crise de Funke... definitely a vibe track. I actually wrote it at almost exactly this time of year. 2001 I think. I finished it just before I went back to stay for a week in the house I'd grown up in but not seen for 4 years. Thinking about going back to my roots really made me feel like a child again... quite comfortable and at ease, and it made me feel like writing something quite nano... it's in the same vein as Undergrowth, a track I did a couple of years before that. It's got the pixy/fairy vibe. There's so much spiritual energy in the place I was living in at the time... near the Wiltshire downs. I used to go on long walsk up to old iron-aged forts & burial mounds etc, and Avebury stone circle... I'd suck up some history, some mystery, some rolling hills and that strange electric pink you get in the soil there, then come back and pour it all into a track.

    I do think a lot about returning to more minimal stuff. At the moment I feel like I have to prove myself by being complex. Dunno why. Maybe it's because my cock's not as big as yours. But I can feel a change coming though, definitely. And I love minimalism... I love techno. I think I need to get a girlfriend, that'll make me make more minimal music I think.
  13. radioactive Banned by DOA


    radioactive Banned by DOA

    13,340 posts
    Since Jun 5, 2002
    Tim ,
    can you pls post the most important 10 tips that you can think of,
    about playing Live on stage, i mean technically and philosophically.

    Thnks in advance.

  14. skylove



    309 posts
    Since Dec 30, 2004

    what tips do you got about arranging your track? How would you go about this process? Any thoughts behind what you do and why?

    What would be according to you the biggest misstake a novice producer could make? Any tips for not falling to the path of that misstake? And what would your most important tip to a novice producer be?

    Thank you very much for doin' this.
  15. double J i need an adult

    double J

    double J i need an adult

    41,181 posts
    Since Nov 5, 2001

    1) were you born kicking ass? :slay2: :teeth:

    2) have you ever considered doing collaborations with any non-dnb artists? (i was thinkin something along the lines of autechre & exile would fry my brain :wtf:)

  16. exile .


    exile .

    1,342 posts
    Since Apr 19, 2002
    Oooh... tricky. Can I just be a bit general?

    Make sure you have a sound check and a jam to get to know the room you're playing in.

    Make sure you remember all your leads... specially if you're playing abroad!

    Don;t drink too much or your hands stop working

    Do whatever the fuck you want to do

    Don't get scared too quickly if people stop dancing, else you'll freak out and fuck up

    Make loads of mistakes cos it's really funny



    Don't plan anything

    Don't try to change your setup right before a gig. Shit will go wrong, even if you;re confident it won't.

    Don't drop your laptop, check it in on flights or worse still hit it (I have paid the price for all 3 of these)

    Don't be a demanding diva, be cool with people, firm but nice... Until 15 mins before you go on when you have carte blanche to be an arsehole until everything is how you want it and you're comfortable!! :devil:

    If people ask you what software you use say you made it yourself... then they generally don't ask you any more questions

    Drugs don't make you play better, they just make it sound better.

    Don;t have any preconceptions about what you're going to do on stage. Just get up there and do it. Don;t rationalise it, don't wonder whether what you just did was good or not, just do it... move on!
  17. exile .


    exile .

    1,342 posts
    Since Apr 19, 2002
    Ummmm... I just do whatever feels right. It's the arrangement bit that has no rules for me really. I just start at the beginning and push on through. I try to create a strong narrativein my tracks... I don't like blocky arrangements, I like things that flow... that grow at various rates rather than going from one section to another to another... although sotimes harsh changes can work really well though.

    The biggest mistake for a novice producer would be to give up. The easiest way to avoid this is not to give up. The second most important thing about being a novice producer is not to listen to anyone. Do it your own way, it'll pay off in the end. Artistic vision and tenacity always gets its just desserts.
  18. exile .


    exile .

    1,342 posts
    Since Apr 19, 2002
    Hey man, how;s it going!! :)

    1) I'll ask my Mum... ;)

    2) I have actually yes, in fact Leafcutter John and I went to a house in the country at the beginning of the summer with the express intention of writing some kick-ass music. It didn;t work at all. We started loads of interesting stuff... like recording bees we captured in bottles, interactive generative pieces using the bee recordings, a proper track etc, but we never realy got into it. Shame really! Jamie Lidell and I are meant to be having a jam at some stage. That'll be fun cos his live shows are incredible... but he's a busy busy lad at the mo touring with his album. Autechre would be awesome but it ain;t gonna happen!



    2,626 posts
    Since Oct 20, 2004
    thanx 4 doin this man :slayer:

    firstly, whats on your head in the pic :teeth:


    what would you call your most influental d n b track of all time ?
  20. exile .


    exile .

    1,342 posts
    Since Apr 19, 2002
    Hey... my pleasure as usual! :)

    1) Hair

    2) Bunnit, after my cat that died last year
  21. hipnotic



    42,717 posts
    Since Dec 12, 2002
    since (as i understand it) fake is a dead project, would you consider wacking (any of) the back catalogue online, 320 style?

    (explanation for the uninitiated: fake was a project @ uni with tim, bassist/keyboard player/songwriter chap johnny, and a circle of guest 'session' musicians. sorta jazz/lounge/hiphop/downtempo area.

    "natality"was a breezeblock bomb and then they did a breezeblock session... which i still have but horrible off-the-radio quality. likewise i only have crap 128 mp3s and lost the cds of most of it...

    so the question is partly selfish :D but also evangelical, when i see threads like this i'd love to spread the word but there's no means atm ;)
  22. Muttley



    12,567 posts
    Since Oct 24, 2004
    hello tim, many thanks for doing this:thumbup:

    question 1:
    how much do you find your living environment affects your approach to the studio? does living in the relative countryside give you more ideas to work off, or do some come to you naturally without your surroundings affecting you? a bit of both?

    question 2:
    how do you feel about the combining of genres within dance music? seeing as formulaic tracks are ever so apparent now in the d&b mainstream do you think this could be the way forward? people are starting to do this more but it's nearly always at d&b speed [what i mean is house/techno 4/4 beats, breaks-speed breakdowns and the like]. for me the only reason for less experimentation is the dj aspect-is it easy to mix, we'd better not do that and all. how do you feel about this?[note iv'e only listened to a small portion of your work so i can't comment if youv'e done this in any of your tracks].

    question 3:
    i know your proagonist lp is available as mp3 download, but do you plan on making your whole back catalogue available as mp3's? any download sites lined up as yet?

    question 4:
    do you make a prolonged effort to finish one track before you start the next? iv'e always found your work to be very spontaneous so is it a case of having a creativity burst and then pouring your ideas into one track, or being flippant and adding new ideas to multiple tracks at a time?

    final question, and extra clich'e:
    what were your earliest influences in terms of wanting to make music, be it visual or aural, or anything inbetween!?

    again many thanks for doing this, your'e an inspiration. please keep up the good work.

    :smil: :thumbup: :slayer:
  23. djdudgy



    9 posts
    Since Jul 31, 2004
    EZ mate, loving the tunes!:slayer:
    Do you spend alot of time collecting/making sounds (bass, noise etc.)? before you actually sit down and write a tune? any hints on staying sane when doing this over a long period of time(infact, doing anything over a long period of time)? Spliffs & alcohol?
    Cheers :twothumbs:
  24. cubist space cadet


    cubist space cadet

    476 posts
    Since Jan 21, 2005

    did you used to work at tk maxx?


    what program is your voice running into for when you loop it like 5ms after you said it?


    noice juan.
  25. speedballaone [email protected] 0n @ 8udG3+


    speedballaone [email protected] 0n @ 8udG3+

    1,172 posts
    Since Mar 24, 2004
    Big up Mr. Exile !!

    What artists do rate at the moment? DNB or otherwise?

    devils chimney - what film did that lil girl sample come from? Or is it some creepy lil girl that u know personally :teeth: ?

    I'm diggin your music keep it up!


    Ps that clown shirt your wearing in the knowldge mag article is teh shit!!
  26. djdeadman klax


    djdeadman klax

    318 posts
    Since Nov 16, 2003
    hey man, respect for all your hard work in music and for doing it your way.

    1. Where do you get inspiration for your music?

    2. Living in Brighton, how come you don't play out down here much? Any sets coming up?
  27. mistabishi INACTIVE ACCOUNT


    mistabishi INACTIVE ACCOUNT

    9,382 posts
    Since Feb 10, 2002

    do you still feel the pressure to work for a man in a suit for money and stability, or has it mostly subsided since your penis started chiming?

    do you find it hard to support yourself, and do you think it's possible to do both? work/music

    also, why D&B?
  28. radioactive Banned by DOA


    radioactive Banned by DOA

    13,340 posts
    Since Jun 5, 2002
    thnks very much for your previous reply, and i would like to
    ask you another couple of questions, about live PA's once again.

    1) Do you have any "backup" when you play a gig, i mean
    something like a CD player with athmospheric noises on
    pause, or a dj who can back up if someshit fucks up?

    2) What about the "moments of silence" on stage?
    Did it happened to you? And how do you deal with those situations?

    p.s. sorry if the questions are a little bit disturbing.:teeth:
  29. brendan you what


    brendan you what

    7,261 posts
    Since Apr 12, 2001

    what are you favourite methods of glitching/raping sound and such (tune wise that is, not necessarily your live pa), are you a manual edit or buffer override man, or perhaps something completely different? i'm always intrigued by this

    also, any reaktor ensembles you want to share? :teeth:

    bigups for taking the time out