[EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW] Akouo
If you haven't heard the sounds of Akouo, you should. The Tasmanian-based producer combines brilliant reverberance with hip-hop sensibilities in a way that few other can match. And after a slew of remixes for artists such as Flume, Banks, and AlunaGeorge, his forthcoming ascent is imminent. Don't believe us? His newest remix for Childish Gambino garnered over 75,000 plays on soundcloud in just 2 short weeks. But don't worry - you're not late to the party. His newest track, a solo release, is set to drop tomorrow afternoon. And trust us, you're going to want to listen. The musical guru himself took some time of out of his creation this weekend to share a some of his production insights with KKS.
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KKS: Hi Akouo! First of all, I have to say that I’ve been absolutely obsessed with your Gambino remix since it was released a few weeks back. The internet seems to have caught the same fever I have. 70,000 plays in 13 days is no small feat. Can you tell us a little a bit about how that remix came about?
Akouo I had been playing the original for a few weeks in my DJ sets, and I loved it so much that I wanted to put together a little edit for my live sets (to speed it up and suit the hip hop tempo I usually go for). But in the end, it went in a completely different direction so I decided to drop it as a free remix online. The response has been overwhelming, and it's turned out to be one of my most popular tracks to date.
KKS: The percussion in that remix drives me nuts. I gotta know - are those pre-recorded samples from sample packs or are those noises you’ve recorded yourself and worked into your production?
Akouo: They are predominantly specially made sounds I recorded. If there's one thing I learnt from Timbaland, it's that the key to developing a stand-out production style is using sounds that no one has ever heard before. But at the same time, I like to integrate some of the hip hop sampling culture because that's where my love of production started. So these days, I record drums from rare breaks on vinyl and record my own percussion/noises.
KKS: I’ve heard a little bit of your forthcoming track ‘Last Time’, and I have to say that it’s an absolute gem. Can you tell our readers a little bit about your inspiration behind the track?
Akouo: Thanks. Recently I've been singing a little on a few tracks, mainly as a subtle instrument and it's something that's still in development, but I wanted to incorporate it a bit more heavily on this track, since I had a specific concept. The track is basically about people who spend too much time trying to please the ones in their work environment and no time pleasing the ones they love. It also serves as a reminder or warning to my future self, to always put family first.
KKS: The sonics on so many of your songs have this huge, enveloping reverberant sound. I’m guessing you use software reverb, but what’s your preference on synthesizers. Analog or softsynths? That being said, what's the most vital synth in your arsenal, either hardware or software?
Akouo: I tend to use cheap or free vst/vsti's that no one cares to use, and I make them work for me with heaps of effects. Again, it's another conscious decision I make to try and differ from the pack. That said, there are a couple of synths that I've been using a lot recently including Nexus, Pulsar and Monomate. But in the end, they all do the same thing - I truly think it's how you use them that counts.
KKS: And the most important - obviously - favorite plugin.
Akouo: In recent times, I'd say OmniVerb.
KKS: Your mixes sound absolutely pristine. Do you mix your own songs? If you do what’s the hardest thing to get sounding right in the mix?
Akouo: I've always mixed my own songs but to be honest, I've always really struggled with studio mixing, even though I was a live sound engineer for many years. In the past my music was very cluttered - a lot of layers and instruments clashing but I've learnt to pull back on having so many layers and just concentrated on making those few sounds more pleasing. I use a lot of side chaining, panning, stereo widening and big reverb which collectively makes a huge difference. I've also learnt to make my drums slightly louder before sending the track off to be mastered. It's all fairly basic stuff but when you get it down-pat, it makes a huge impact.
KKS: What's next for Akouo?
Akouo:I've just finished remixes for a few Australian producers and my EP titled Mesa (which Last Time will feature on) is almost complete. I'm also heading out on an Australian tour during March, and hopefully overseas later in the year.
KKS: Who is your dream collaborator?
Akouo: I'd kill to produce some music with Jonti.
KKS: If you weren’t making such lush interesting beats these days, what is it you think you would be doing?
Akouo: Perhaps finishing my psychology degree. Maybe I can achieve both before my life is over, heh.
KKS: In conclusion, Pete Rock or J Dilla?
Akouo Dilla. I've got mad love for Pete though, they're both geniuses.