Dino, aka TSAS, was interviewed by Júlio Mendes Rodrigo, in his weekly radio program “Arranca Corações”, that went live on Sunday, October 18th, at NFM Radio. The radio show starts with the song “MMORPGs” (from the EP: Rise Of Machines) and in the middle there is a small live-set. The program ends with “Dial Me” (the song from Your Argument Is Invalid, EP)
The interview is in Portuguese: listen to the full audio recording here!
If you prefer, you can read it in the following English translation.
JMR: For this program, nº159 of “Arranca Corações”, we have Dino, the artist behind the musical project “The Strange Algorithm Series”. Dino, good evening, thank you for your presence, here at “Arranca Corações”. I would like you to talk about the song we’ve just herd.
TSAS: This track, MMORPGs, is a very strong one in terms of Dubstep, exploring several rhythmic components and mainly the bass, which we have in the part known as the “drop”. It contains three drops actually. You can find some influences of Trap too, a style that combines very well with Dubstep. I think this is the most hysterical track I’ve made so far, and it gave me a lot of pleasure producing it.
JMR: When was this project, “The Strange Algorithm Series”, created?
TSAS: I’m not sure of the exact date, but I think it was on December 2012. I wanted to create something different from everything I had done, at least in electronics, a sound that I could identify myself with. I found that sound around mid 2013, and started producing some new tracks, but before, I had been making a lot of stuff that I never presented live, and probably never will, because […] it has nothing to do with the actual sound that I’m making now. Initially, I made some IDM, Intelligent Dance Music, and it had a lot of influence of ambient music. In a way, that’s good, because I feel the sound has evolved, and of course, by producing I was improving too, I think… Basically, I managed to find the sound that I liked the most and started to move from there. Picking bits and pieces from what I could find in electronic music that was being published back then.
I wanted to create something different from everything I had done…
JMR: Do you have any musical education, a specific background, at least in electronics?
TSAS: My musical education is really non existent… [laughs] Everything I’ve learned was all by myself. I remember enjoying electronic music around 99, 2000, and listening to several bands and releases that came out at that time. A bit later, I found, over the internet, some sample-based apps for making electronic music, where you could copy/past numerous samples. It was interesting, but, at some point, I decided I wanted to do more than that, like creating my own sounds. Meanwhile, I read a lot, browsing the internet and forums for ways of doing electronic music and what were the most adequate programs. […]
Most of the background I have is due to searching and learning on my own, not even in workshops unfortunately, because there was no EDM scene in my hometown or even here in Porto. In Porto you could find a lot of House, Techno, but the music that I was looking for was different, and I didn’t even new its name. Now you can find names for everything.
JMR: You’ve said that in 99/2000 you listened to a few bands and artists. Could you name any that you consider relevant?
TSAS: Yes, I remember one of the first CDs I bought. It was: “Everything But The Girl” (Walking Wounded, Album). […] I loved that one! Later, I managed to buy some “Orbital” and “Future Sound Of London” (FSOL) albums. I really like their work and I think FSOL are the ones that made me start to produce music, in a serious and professional way. Most of my initial material, that wasn’t published, was influenced by their sound.
Not sure if everyone sees it like this, but, for example, when I hear music I try to analyze all the parts of the song: verses, chorus and even other small parts, like the effects, echos, reverbs and everything. The sound of FSOL was really rich and different from everything I had experienced. With Orbital it was the same. They’ve influenced my initial sound. Of course that now, I have other bands that I identify myself with the most. In dubstep for example: Skrillex, Knife Party…, Jack Ü, but they are all recent.
…FSOL are the ones that made me start to produce music…
JMR: Have you produced only this kind of genre or do you have other experiences that you would like to share? In other genres, I mean.
TSAS: That is a funny thing to think… because usually people have the idea that an electronic artist only likes electronic music, but I’m proud to say that I hear many genres of music. Even before I started making music under TSAS, I had played many instruments. […] I was lucky to meet other musicians and had the opportunity to play in other projects/groups, from ambient ethnic to rock/metal. I’ve also played drums in a band. I love to learn other instruments.
JMR: In “The Strange Algorithm Series” you maintain a certain anonymous aura, since you develop your activities as your alter-ego of “Dino”. Could you tell us what is the motive behind this choice? Why you use a character based on an extinct animal?
TSAS: One of the things that I like to say sometimes is that I’m the only surviving dinosaur, here on Earth, that makes electronic music [laughs].
I think the Dino thing came out because I like dinosaurs and had watched several documentaries, collections… my favorite is the Tyrannosaurus Rex! But, since I’m also influenced by many anime (Japanese Animations), especially with dinosaurs, I decided to explore that line.
When TSAS was created, I already had the idea of making something relatively different and I also felt influenced by the robots of Daft Punk, the mouse head of Deadmau5, and so on. I wanted people to be able to identify my project and music once I stepped on a stage.
The name “The Strange Algorithm Series” is in the center of the creation of “Dino”, who basically is a being that was born due to a genetic mutation. You can imagine it as a computer virus, originating some sort of DNA in the telecommunication network, and from there starting to evolve, taking the form of an egg.
And it is not every day that you’re able to see a dinosaur making music.
JMR: In 2014, you have collaborated with Robyn Harriss, a north-American singer of Jazz and RnB. Could you let us know more about this collaboration and how it came to be?
TSAS: Well, I’m glad I met her. I wanted to collaborate with several artists I knew and I had a lot of difficulties reaching out to them. At that time, Robyn’s song proposal fell into my lap. […] As you can imagine, from someone that came from Jazz and RnB, she not only has a very good diction but also a powerful voice. She worked with some big names too, like Herb Reed, and I was amazed that she had contacted me. We started to talk, exchanging ideas, and it was challenging for both. […] The process was interesting and I’ve learned a lot with it. (buy “The Beat” single at iTunes)
JMR: I know that you’re also collaborating with other two artists, Tai Wo, a rapper from Brooklin, United States, and also with, Nadine Zureikat, a Jordanian singer and actress. What exactly are these two collaborations that are still in process?
TSAS: Yeah. These two collaborations, although they’re in an electronic music style, are very different from one another. One has trap style influences, with some dubstep elements, but the other is much more like EDM/Electro-House, made for dancing, the kind of style that a lot of people are listening to now, from artists like Hardwell, Martin Garrix… this one I’m having with Nadine Zureikat (one of her music videos “Sweet Escape”). The song I’m producing with Tai Wo has a lot of influences of Skrillex, Knife Party, Diplo, Jack Ü (check Tai Wo’s music video “Something To Prove”).
The most difficult thing for me is when I finish working in one of the songs, I have to stop for a while, before working on the other one, because the sound is so different and I try to differentiate the two. I like to work with many styles of music, and by working in these two at the same time I have the tendency to approximate the styles, even the effects that I use… going to my comfort zones. So, I try to avoid that as much as I can, and avoid producing the same sound.
…it is important to work with several labels and being able to produce many kinds of electronic music.
JMR: You are represented by three labels. Could you name those and why three instead of just one label?
TSAS: Sure. Many people find it strange, working with several labels, but at least in electronic music it’s very common, especially in today’s EDM, where most of the fans hear a lot through the internet and in many different zones/countries. For example, I have some fans from the US, France, the UK… I know this through Twitter, Facebook messages and the control sales that my labels send to me. Given this, it is good to be represented in several countries, because a label from Spain, which is Brimotek Music, deals closely with the Spanish market, helping me promote my music there. Noize Bangers, an Italian label I’ve been working with since 4-5 months ago, started to promote my music in Italy, which is great. Brimotek Music, for example, works with several styles of EDM, and I have the liberty to send them Electro-house, Dubstep, and so on. With Noize Bangers, I have to keep a more close attention to their style. I can’t send them anything too out there, or maybe I can, and maybe they would accept it, but it would be very different from what they’re used to publish. A label I started to work with, Firespace Recordings, one month ago, is based in Netherlands and Electro-House is a very common style there, especially in Amsterdam and many known DJs come from there. So it doesn’t seem right to send them Dubstep or something like that. Even if the label likes it, it is not the ideal sound.
Anyway, it is important to work with several labels and being able to produce many kinds of electronic music.
JMR: These labels work with physical or digital format?
TSAS: It’s everything in digital formats. Nowadays it’s complicated to work with physical formats. I, for example, like to buy the albums, being able to touch the Booklets and CDs, and even for me it is hard to find the physical albums from artists I like. Many labels, not only in EDM, but in Pop, Rock and Jazz too, have chosen the digital way, mainly because the physical formats are very expensive, and only with a huge number of sells could they manage to cover the costs. That or they’d have to raise the prices, and nobody would buy. Which is what is actually happening…
Instead of buying digital, through the internet, some people are also doing illegal downloads, due to the high prices, and then a cycle starts… the market is starting to suffocate.
JMR: Is there space on the Portuguese market for the EDM?
TSAS: Yes and no. Yes, because I know a lot of people that like EDM, and I’ve been following several blogs and portals, like 100% DJ and EDM Portugal, for example, that have been supporting this kind of music. But unfortunately, and I also say this from personal experience, I think many clubs and agencies are afraid to invest and support electronic dance music or EDM. We have Techno and House, of course, styles that are still very much alive in many Portuguese clubs since the 80’s, I think. But the electronic style I’m working with, EDM/Electro-house, Progressive-house and Dubstep, all these styles and artists are a bit outcast.
During the festival season, in the summer, there are a lot of EDM international artists that come to Portugal to play, but it’s a shame that Portugal doesn’t support those styles the rest of the year […] the same with new/emerging artists. I know a couple of artists that are having the same problem as I am. It’s very hard to get booked, and there are a lot of… people that pull strings for somebody… It’s complicated to grow without having an insider in the industry, club or agency.
I think many clubs and agencies are afraid to invest and support electronic dance music or EDM.
JMR: Dubstep and Electro-house are very popular genres in the United States. Have you ever considered the possibility of going there and continuing your career?
TSAS: I’ve thought about that several times. I would love to go to US and tour. I believe my music would be welcomed, because their market has a bit of everything. You can find groups that listen to a bit of everything. The only problem is the big ocean between us.
An incredible thing that happened is that I was lucky enough to be contacted by two agencies that reached out to me, one through Twitter and other through email, saying they would like to work with me… but if I was there, living. It is good to hear that, but it is not possible right now.
JMR: We have time for playing one song. Could you present it to our listeners?
TSAS: The song you’re about to hear came out recently. It’s part of a progressive-house EP, released through Brimotek Music. In this EP I explore several video-game sounds, that people call 8-bit or classic arcade sounds, and with some influences from other styles and artists. When I started this EP, Deadmau5’s sound influenced me a lot, and Eekkoo too, who has a similar work. Hope you enjoy.
A special thanks to Júlio Mendes Rodrigo for the pleasant conversation.
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