todd sines talks to
interviewed by todd sines, summer 1994, transcribed dec 95 by edward luna
comments to:todd sines
t-where does the inspiration for your music come from?
c-uh...well, it's kind of hard to say. i mean, it's my surroundings,
like with every other musician or writer or whatever...like for instance,
there's a song that's called "atles." when i did that i was
the detroit river...it's all, it's a whole bunch of different factors that
can come into it, you know. like when i did my music back when i first
started, i was doing it in my bedroom, it was just kinda like, you know,
the desire to do the music.
t-when did you start music?
c-when was my first release, or when did i start?
c-well i started with electronic music around '88 i guess, and the first
record came out in '89, i think...but i had always been into music. i had
been a guitar player before.
t-what was your first record?
c-uh, first song i did that was released was "elements" by psyche...it
was on the virgin "techno 2" compilation.
t-how do you think making music would have changed for you if you didn't
have like a computer-based machine, like sequencers, or whatever?
would you have made music if you didnt have those machines?
c-well, i only started using a computer--an actual computer--about 3
years ago...and before that i was using the hard sequencer. if i wasnt
using a sequencer at all it would probably be more...uh, maybe r & b.
i'd still try to keep that electro-electronic-type feel to it, but a
computer has helped with the sequencing a whole shitload.
t-so you would still be using electronic instuments...
c-yeah i think so...but the style would probably be different. because
when i play guitar, i play more...um, i mean, i was a big prince fanatic.
t-he he. so what made you go from guitar to keyboards?
c-well my cousin had made a song with juan atkins a long time ago called
"technicolor," and it was kinda like...he had a sequential six-trak, and
like a 909 and some of the other things around there, that i played
around with a _little_ bit, and then...i had always loved electronic
music also like kraftwerk, and-
t-oh, man. you need to hear him. he's just as influential as anybody
else. he does like moog versions of debussy...that kind of thing.
he's really worth checking out.
c-i had never heard of him...but there were other things like harold
faltermeyer, "axel f," was a big influence at that time, and then...
t-art of noise?
c-art of noise i liked a whole lot...and yellow magic orchestra...that
kind of stuff. also some depeche mode, and other things that had
come--because when kraftwerk came out with "computer world" i was in
grade school. i think i was in 6th grade something like that. i mean,
it was a big deal. i loved that album. that was like the album that i
just totally loved. and then with r & b, it was like prince and
parliament...those were probably the major influences r & b-wise...
slave, that kind of stuff. so i mean, it's funny that it went this
direction because it could have gone in any direction.
t-ok, obviously you sometimes either sing a sample over top of the music
that you do, of like your own...is it of your own lyrics of some other
stuff, like..."chicken noodle soup," or-
c-oh yeah...things like "chicken noodle soup" are like-
t-like off the "psyche" album that you did, in 1990, on transmat?
c-oh, on crackdown?
c-yeah, it was just like some french that sara gregor was singing, or
talking over the top...so, most of the other lyrics that have been used
have been original. there might have been something, uh-
t-like "jam the box?"
c-well "jam the box" is original too. it was a sample of an original voice.
t-oh, i was about to say...i remember a friend saying he had the album
that was originally on. [ed. note: the album referred to here is a 12"
electro/hip-hop single from 1984 called "jam the box" by "pretty" tony
butler, on the label music specialists inc, from miami...probably not
c-no. i dont know where "jam the box" came from, if someone else used
it...as far as i know it's original voice.
t-oh, it is! ok, wow. that's just you i assume. correct?
c-(pause) uh, could be.
t-a lot of people look at the carl craig sound as a "detroit" sound, but
it's a detroit sound that's kind of truer to the classical, techno-based
stuff like what the "three greats" did, and as opposed to going into a
more mechanical techno-industrial feel like underground resistance and
plus-8 and those kind of labels who really havent touched the kind of
stuff that you do in terms of melody.
c-i mean, the things i do are like an homage i pay to the the
things that have influenced me. kevin (saunderson), derrick (may) and
juan (atkins) were influential before i started doing electronic stuff, and
then there were the other people i mentioned that were influences, like
kraftwerk and so on and so forth...it's like kraftwerk and underground
resistance went on a different angle on things because underground
resistance was in tune with things that were going on at the time, took
it and molded it into their own sound, so it was something that was a
little bit different...where i dont really say, "ok, well, you know, this
is hot today so i'm gonna to take it..."
t-so music is not for the moment?
c-no, i try to make music for a while...for it to be where you could
listen to it five years from now and go, "yeah, you know this is a
really good song."
t-well if you listen to stuff off your first album...
c-right. so that's the whole scoop...just like you can listen to
"computer world" and say that's timeless, or if you listen to "one nation
under a groove," they still play THAT here in detroit, and that's
timeless, basically. "flash," that kind of stuff.
t-do you do music that people don't hear that is more along the ambient
lines, like the "a.r.t. ep" that you did?
c-right. i mean, i experiment with a whole lot of different things,
there are things that i haven't released that would probably just make
people wonder WHY did i do it...it's a situation where i dont try to get
attention held down to one type of genre. naomi daniel, who i produced,
is a little different...it's more housey, [whereas] with "paperclip people"
it's different...with whomever. a carl craig project, or a psyche
project, or whatever...it's going to be different. actually there's
tons of things that only close friends of mine who are like dimitri from
amsterdam who plays at the roxy, and derrick, and some other
people...have certain tracks that are only on acetate that will probably
never come out. no one really knew that was me until it was out...until
someone says, "yeah, that's carl craig," because it doesnt really sound
exactly like everything i do.
t-where do you want music to go, and--you'd be richer if you knew
this question--where do you think electronic music will be in 5 years?
c-i dunno. that's a real funny question because if you look at
technology, "electronic music" to me, is the type of music that we do...but
it's also rap, and it's also ambient..._r & b_ is even electronic music,
you know? so...what i was reading just yesterday, about the people who
produce en vogue and toni toni toni & those guys...sampling used to
be big, everybody used to sample james brown cuts. but now everybody's
gone to where they bring in their own musicians, and have them jam, and
then sample the jam. same thing with the beastie boys, they sample their
own jams and then make them into their own loops. and i think that's
probably where...some of the music has to go _back_ before it can go
forward more. like with the type of music that we do, it's going to have
to go backwards maybe to some of the sounds that were being done...well
it has been going back to like acid house days, but it might even have to
go back further.
t-well some of the ambient music, like the david morley ep.
t-his stuff is sort of like earlier tangerine dream...
c-yeah, david morely is real good.
t-where do you want planet e to go? as far as like the future is
concerned...do you want to keep it like it is, or expand it more to do
different types of things?
c-well i always want to expand, but the main thing that i _don't_
want planet e to be is commercial. i mean i'd like to put out more records on
planet e. as more come through, if they pass the restrictive, hard measures-
t-which i'm trying to get through! (laugh)
c-(laughs) you know, if it's something that i feel will be good,
and be good for the label, then i'm going to put it out.
t-what do you think of internet, and the recent surge of people who
want to have information given to them _right now_?
c-it's real funny because, before, information was a big deal, but it
wasn't AS big a deal...
t-why do you think that has happened?
c-it's sort of like tabloids have made it where information is
more...everybody wants to know "what's going on." like when 69 came out,
everybody's like...or when planet e came out everybody wanted to know who
it is..."who's doin planet e, and who's doin whatever." and now, with
internet, labels are giving information like what's going on and so on
and so forth. i'd like to get involved in internet, but i just dont
have the "know-how" basically.
t-what would you get out of using the internet?
c-well the first thing i heard about internet was that you could get
sounds. like chick corea might-
t-put up a patch...
c-yeah. that's the first thing that came to mind about it. but now,
there are different organizations...like i heard about an underground
network for musicians...
t-the IUMA...internet underground music archives...
c-yeah...uh, i guess that's what it is. there's a whole shitload of
opportunity that it looks like internet can come with, and i am sure
there's going to be something very soon now to fuck up internet.
t-well, i think things like america online...the more commercial
who are making money at something that was supposed to be free and
non-commercial...it's like, i dont have a problem with smaller companies
like your own...but when people who have tons of money, they just like
advertise it...it taints it quite a bit...
t-people are actually happy to see labels like iridal and kudos
pop up on the net because they know they are respected in the community...
c-isn't black dog on there also?
t-yeah, actually they sent me some email last week!