Brighton-based producer Mark Dobson aka Ambassadeurs is definitely one of those prolific acts from the UK electronic scene to keep an eye on. Starting out learning his craft on an 8-bit Amiga computer, Ambassadeurs has been developing his sound through the years drawing influences from hip-hop, dub, bass and jazz, pushing his works to brand new landscapes. His latest E.P. ‘Alone In The Light’ has just been released on Pilot so we interviewed him asking what’s the story behind his music.
Hi Mark, how are you?
Hi! Yeah I’m good thanks! Going through a creative streak and writing and producing lots so feeling good! Also my new EP has just been released so very excited about that!
For those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?
I’ d say my sound is a mash of all the sounds I am influenced by throughout all the genres of music I listen to, combining synthesised sounds with real world foley sounds and melodic elements…. I guess.
You’ve just released your second EP ‘Alone in the Light’, out on the 30th of September. How long have you been working on it and how has it been the production process?
This EP has been in the works for a while. Most of the tracks were born quite a while ago and have been incubating on my hard drive, being added to as time goes on, quite a slow process, which is sometimes necessary to let a sound mature. Ive tried to keep a nice balance of organic and synthesised sounds and incorporated quite a lot of vocal elements. The entire EP was recorded in my studio at home but I’ve also been recording lots of foley elements from outside. I also experimented with making my own impulse responses to use as reverbs so some of the spaces you hear in the EP came from places like the stairway at our house, our bathroom and even the inside of our washing machine haha.
Is there any specific piece/s of gear you now consider a must for your music?
Using Logic is a must. It’s where I’m most comfortable and is the place I feel like I can create freely and has a transparent feeling kind of like it’s not getting in the way of my creativity. I think this just comes down to how long I’ve been using it really. Also my microphone is an absolute must. It’s always set up and plugged in so instead of searching for a sample on my hard drive I can just hit record and make the sound that I’ve envisioned in my head. I prefer recording my own samples as it enabled me to feel much more connected with the process. Also it’s an excuse to stop staring at the computer screen for a moment which is the least favorite part of producing. Also my monitors are very important (Focal Twins). I bought them earlier this year and they are incredible, they also go extremely loud and go down to 40Hz which I love!
You keep giving away free music every month from your website, ‘Hyper Color’ is the last of your free-download tracks. How did it all start and is there any specific reason why you are doing that?
I built up my initial fan base by just releasing music on SoundCloud for free. I really enjoy the excitement of finishing a track and and 30 seconds later uploading it for people to hear. It makes the production process feel so much more exciting and almost feel like a live performance in the way that it’s spontaneous. Enabling the tracks so that people can download them is for a few reasons. Soundcloud only streams at a measly 128kbs which is ridiculous in this era, so enabling people to listen in high quality feels much better. Letting people download from Soundcloud let people play my music much more easily on their devices etc. I don’t mind sacrificing losing some play stats to make it easier for people to enjoy my music cos enjoying the music is what its about.
What are your thoughts about UK music scene?
I think the UK music scene is great although with the rise of the internet and cheap flights I feel like music is becoming a lot more cross-pollinated and global. Now its pretty hard to tell where a producer comes from just from their sound. I do think that the audience in the UK is very open to new sounds and its great to be able to come up with something that could be considered challenging to some audiences and see that people are feeling it.
Is there any other artist you really like at the moment?
At the moment I’m listening to lots of Machinedrum, Vapour city is an amazing album. I really love 813 at the moment, such a great producer whose music is really great musically and production wise. Ive also got DJ Paypal’s ‘Why EP’ on rotation too. I really love music in that tempo range and all the mad sample chops in it, it just feels fun and not too serious.
If you could choose any artist (dead or alive) to collaborate with, who would it be?
I would love to work with Amon Tobin, been a big fan of his for ages and am always having my mind blown by the sounds he manages to create. I’m really into this orchestra called Alarm Will Sound at the moment and would love to work with them. They have an album of Aphex Twin tracks played by an orchestra which could sound awful, but they are arranged in an amazing way and have done an amazing job of converting the sometimes unmusical sounds he creates into sounds that really do the original justice. It would be really cool to do an orchestral arrangement of one of my tracks.
Talking about music genres, what are your thoughts on the following: Classical, Blues, Folk, Disco, House, Trap, Footwork.
I love classical music, melody and harmony are very important to me so classical music has always been a big influence either directly or indirectly. I love Blues, I used to play a lot of guitar so this has always been an influence, I wouldn’t say my songs are bluesy but listening to old blues artists and listening to the gritty recordings has been an influence. I enjoy some folk but not much, its not a very innovative genre sound wise so therefore isn’t of much interest to me. I can’t deny that Disco has been a massive part in the creation of a lot of electronic genres so gotta thank it for that! I don’t listen to much of it now though. I enjoy some house but mostly I do not. I can’t listen to music that has basic or boring drum patterns and find a lot of house very formulaic. I do like some trap and I can’t deny it has influenced me, as with all genres that blow up a lot of it is pretty terrible but every now and again… I love footwork at the moment and have done for quite a while! The drum patterns are usually incredible and the tempo just seems to synchronize with me at the moment as stupid as that sounds, it just feels right and you can chill to it at 80/85 or if you feel like it nod manically at 160/170
What are your plans for the rest of this year?
I’m gonna finish this album, keep writing, gig lots and have loads of fun doing it.