Dj, Producer and Artist – Vince Watson talks tech and reveals his current 5 favourite studio items
Vince Watson is a well respected and highly gifted electronic music producer, DJ and live performer. From Glasgow originally, he now lives in Amsterdam (Netherlands).
Growing up in a family where both music and art were prevalent, he first ventured onto stage with his dad (a folk musician) at the age of 4. By the time he was in school, he took to the turntables with a selection of hip-hop and early house records filling his box, playing at local club nights and discos.
In between visits to the Royal Academy for Art, Music and Drama in Glasgow for piano lessons, he built up quite a large record collection early on, before electronica and ambient music really grabbed his attention. Taking influence from some of the genre’s greatest composers like Herbie Hancock and French legend Jean Michel Jarre, his work always transmits warmth, elegance and a level of seductiveness: ever putting a focus on emotional ambience.
With a deft skill for bringing complex multichords and dense melody to life – Watson started his journey honing his skills through experimenting with a new technology – MIDI – in his bedroom as many were out raving in the summers of 88 & 89. Slowly gathering the necessary equipment needed to record his own tracks, it was Dave Angel that picked up one of Watson’s first demos and signed him to his label Rotation in 1995, where he released the 1st Innovations EP. As his profile grew, he played a prevalent role in the house-techno crossover sound that took hold at the end of the Millennium. Releasing his debut LP Biologique in 1999 and with it, the classic sounds of ‘Bubbles’ and seminal track ‘Mystical Rhythm’ – a certified classic on dance floors across the world.
With the release of his latest album DnA in August 2019, we put a few questions to him:
What’s your Overriding musical philosophy?
“Don’t hide behind what’s expected of you and express yourself to reveal the true you.”
Magic vs Accident, how do you see it?
“Isn’t the same thing? One is conscious and the other is not.”
Who were your biggest influences on you way back when?
“Jean Michel Jarre without a doubt completely ate me up. One day I was listening to ‘This is Music 1981’ (aged 7), and the next day I discovered Oxygene… my mind was blown.”
What was the first studio set up you had?
“I had my dad’s old guitar amp and had a Casio keyboard with a sampler where I used to sample sounds from… yup you guessed it ‘This is Music 1981’ and play along with it. My grandmother bought me my first synth, an SH101, for £50. Shortly after that I got a TB303 for £70 from my mum. I had zero clue what to do with them/2.”
How has it evolved since?
“I’ve had more studio setups than the BBC! I’m never 100% happy anything, I always evolve it somehow. However, I’m currently having my very first custom studio build in my garden, exciting stuff! However, it does mean I don’t have one for another 7 or 8 months, so I’ve become a Bedroom DJ again :)”
Is there anything you desperately want to acquire at the moment?
“Not really, I’m not desperate for anything. Things come and go in life. However, whilst I am certainly not filthy rich with gold, I’m rich to have all the most important things I could ever ask – my health, family, SH101… I’m grateful for that.”
What item do you regret selling the most?
“Jesus! I’m such a hoarder…I barely let go of anything….its a problem. I now have 2 garages full of ‘stuff’ in 2 countries. lol I do regret selling my ultra rare promo of Aphex Twin remix of Radiohead ‘Kid A’.”
Talk us through your 5 favourite studio items at present:
1. Roland SE-02
“The SE-02 is such a fucking beast… I love it, it’s just so fluid and lush, such a great little synth for jamming.”
2. Spitfire Audio Albion V Tundra
“Albion V Tundra is the most sensual delicate mesmerising string plugins I’ve ever heard. Its exquisite! YYou have to hear it to believe it. Who ever thought a sample library could sound this good 20 years ago. €450 isn’t cheap but if you’re serious about composing for TV and Film, or creating soundscapes beyond the reach of most sound libraries, it’s so worth it.”
3. Omnisphere 2.5
“Omnisphere was already a bit of a master in terms of sound sources and experimentation, but 2.5 is so amazing. The new hardware integration modelling is awesome. How the hell does Eric do that?”
4. Roland TR-8S (Custom)
“My Tr-8S is such a beast. The internal engine is already pretty sweet, but having all my own tracks drum kits installed to jam on the fly with is so cool.”
5. Sonarworks 4 – Headphone Edition
“Sonarworks has quickly become an industry standard and for good reason, it levels the playing field to some degree (although there is no substitution for a perfect room and some Barefoot’s). It saved me countless hours of work and allows me to identify issues before they become a problem. The best €99 you could even spend in the studio… oh and €300 on headphones.”
What have you got coming up?
“It’s about to kick off in VW headquarters after a quiet start to the year release-wise.
My 12th album ‘DnA’ just landed in August not forgetting the 2 singles before that I put out in April and June. DNA is an 18 track Detroit Techno album… going back to my roots a little after exploring many other styles over the last 10 years or so.
I’m also releasing a single with Joe Claussell on his Cosmic Arts label. He asked me to do something different for him and to be brave. So, I made a 13min track with a 5min intro 🙂 I’m so happy with it, it’s called ‘Teardrops’. As well as that, I have a remix for Kiko Navarro of a vocal track called ‘Vuma’. I don’t normally do vocal tracks but this was lush, and it was a pleasure to make a house track around the vocals. My 3rd single for Yoruba is also going to be released towards the end the year. I’m also planning a couple of singles on my own Everysoul label and am currently working on material for Cocoon and Planet E as well.”