A techno artist, cut in the original mold, dj/ producer, Noah Pred sports a lengthy discography of deep tech house that moves dancefloors from here to Madrid. After three years in Montreal, Pred has returned to the west, unpacked his studio in a small cabin on B.C.s Sunshine Coast and is launching record labels, Sentient Sound and Metapath. While the later is devoted to the dancefloor rush that Pred is known for,the former is for the cerebral technoist, a term which can well describe Pred & his philosophical approach to the beauty and complexity of the four four on the floor.
To start, please finish this sentence: Techno is like… Good techno is like a metaphor:implying its intent without stating it explicitly.
You are known for your solid and soulful tech house mixes that keep the dancefloor moving; how do you define your brand of techno?
Well, there’s actually quite a range to it, and I don’t like to limit myself – but I’ve heard it referred to as aquatech.
Are you utterly devoted to the 140-4/4-on the floor, or does your record collection hold a variety of tunes? On a rainy winter’s night after he’s finished three hot toddies, we might be surprised to know Noah Pred plays…?
known to end up there on occasion. I’ve always had diverse musical tastes, and I love spinning everything from deep, minimal house (Ben Neville/Rene Breitbarth) to experimental downtempo (Bluetech/Monolake),electronic dub (Deadbeat/Pole)
and instrumental hip-hop (Quantic /Prefuse 73) – it’s all a matter of context. I also played bass guitar in a few bands growing up, so I have a real appreciation for live instrumentation as well – everything from Miles Davis to Shakti.
You have returned to Vancouver from Montreal and are launching two new techno labels, Sentient Sound and Metapath, why did you chose Vancouver as a base for this?
Montreal is an incredible city – easily one of the best in North America – but I felt like I wanted to escape the urban environment for a while. I actually live on the Sunshine Coast, very close but just north of Vancouver. With a high-speed Internet connection, mail and courier, I can run the labels from pretty much anywhere – so I figured I might as well be in a place that encouraged the kind of lifestyle I’m interested in right now. I also guess I’m a bit of a studio hermit – I find it easier to focus creatively when I’m isolated.
What responsibilities and powers do you think musicians, djs and/or music producers have in regards to social contributions?
To remix a quote from Toni Cade Bambara, I think the goal of the evolutionary artist is to make evolution irresistible. Anyone with a captive audience, no matter how small, has the power to communicate their ideas, but how those ideas are received is another matter. Responsibility is a trickier issue, and I believe it comes down to personal ideology. Given my position as an artist and producer, I myself feel an obligation to put certain ideas out there, on whatever scale I can – but another artist might feel that doing so would be an abuse of their position. What’s frightening to me is that it seems many artists fear speaking out on issues they care about due to the harm it might cause their career – which I think is symptomatic of the personality-based media culture we live in. But the bottom line is that the music itself is the ultimate social contribution – for better or for worse. And I’m glad to live in a country that still recognizes the arts for their greater social relevance.
Creatively and/or ethically, are there any particular individuals, music related or otherwise, that have been inspirations?
Cari Lekebusch is a techno artist from Stockholm who’s consistently inspired me over the years with his uncompromising, forward-thinking vision and wide-ranging creative output – he’s released hundreds of records, from hardtechno to deep house to hip-hop over the past decade. Hearing his musi in the late-nineties on his own labels, Hybrid and Djupt, was a big influence towards the path I’m on now. Monolake from Berlin is another brilliant artist whose consistently gorgeous deep techno productions – and contributions to the development of Ableton’s Live software – are pretty astounding.
You recently produced a triple-vinyl/cd pro-peace compilation for Amnesty International called Pacific Technics, how did this project come about for you?
In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, I felt compelled to put some kind of positive message out there, urging peaceful resolution in the world. After I put the concept out there, a bunch of my techno producer friends were eager to get onboard, and the whole project came together quitefluidly. The CD has gotten a great response, and is still available through a number of distribution channels – check www.rhythmicnyc.com for details.
Is there a Canadian techno sound?
I think techno is, by nature, both a global and a regional sound. Everyone’s buying records from other artists around the planet, and that’s going to be a primary influence on production techniques and aesthetics. But then in any given city, techno producers will, to some extent, gravitate to one another and then influence each other in the local sphere. So it’s possible that, for instance, a producer from Vancouver will have a distinct resonance with a sound from Cologne, or say, Stockholm, if that’s primarily where the records they’re buying were produced. But then that same producer will have different levels of resonance with the regional producers they interact with on a regular basis. I find that Toronto or Montreal has more of a distinct sound than the entire, geographically vast country of Canada as a whole. But the global cross-pollination of styles and genres is so constant that it all turns into a big techno soup, and national boundaries are rendered meaningless.
Since you have just recently returned from Montreal, do you notice a distinct west coast and east coast sound?
Yes, definitely – but those are more general musical leanings that are less genre or city specific; I think they have more to do with the cultural flow of larger regional groups.The east coast is much closer to – and more interrelated with – Europe and a post-modern, urban take on electronic music. You also have a nexus of metropolitanareas that have much more traffic between each other than with anythingwest of the Rockies. Then on the west coast, you’ve got this Pacific Rim thing going on, with kids going to vacation in India, Thailand, and Australia – lots of psy-trance and ‘organic’-influenced sounds. And you’ve got all the cities up and down the west coast, from San Diego to Vancouver, connected by the I-5 and relatively cheap flights, which has helped propagate the stereotypical west coast identity of funky breaks and progressive house.
So how is it being a techno wunderkind? It is amazing; you have accomplished quite a lot at a relatively young age? What is the secret, superior genetics, driven parents, focus, obsession, genie in a bottle.. ?
Ha – I certainly wouldn’t refer to myself as a wunderkind. But I think the key to success in doing anything you love has a lot to do with hard work and dedication.
Noah Pred’s essential piece of studio gear is..? Ableton Live 4
What do you see as a dj’s role in today’s electronic music industry? Is it inevitable or necessary that a dj turn producer?
It definitely seems to help DJs with bookings if they can back up their skill on the decks with a decent discography. The two forms of talent don’t necessarily equate, but they certainly relate to and feed one another. Personally, I was producing music first, and came into djaying later on. Deepening my understanding of one practice has definitely aided my development of the other.
You have both a dj and a live set; what’s the difference in what each offers the dancefloor?
Well, the live set is 100% my own original material, so that offers the opportunity to hear all kinds of new and unreleased tracks. However, my potential for improvisation is by the same token restricted to my expanding (yet far from limitless) database of original productions and remixes. I love djaying too because there’sso much amazing music out there that I want to share with people – but even then I suppose the improvisational potential is directly proportional to the size of my record bag. The ultimate set, which I’m working on putting together right now, combines the two mediums.
Future directions in music? Have you noticed any interesting trends and/or explorations in contemporary electronica?“
Electronica” represents such a huge collection of divergent musical streams that it would be hard to pick out any distinct overall trends. The only constant across the board is that production standards seem to be continually improving. And that’s one of the ideas that really inspired me when I first got into electronic production: that the music would continue to evolve as long as the technology did – and the technology certainly shows no signs of slowing down.
Pred on the hit parade?!? Should techno be mainstream? Are there things which impede it from being a more accessible musical form to the general public?
Techno – it is what it is. I don’t think it “should” be anything it isn’t, and whether or not the mainstream picks up on it is another matter – though honestly, I think techno will remain underground for at least another generation or so, until it becomes more accepted as a relevant form in the wider cultural cannon. And at the moment, I don’t think it can viably compete for mainstream attention with the current music industry machinery and popular melodic sensibilities in place.
If you could have dinner with one person in the world living or dead, who would it be?
Han-Shan, the reclusive Taoist mountain poet of 9th century China. Fernheads and wild mushrooms cooked over an open fire on the misty peaks of Tien-Tai.
Finally, knob or fader? there are two types of people in the world, the free sliding futurist who appreciates the full-finesse and flare of the fader and the nostalgic knob twiddler who is attached to the rotational status quo? Which are you and why?
“ Suckers try to fade me…”
I like to follow the middle path: both rotational richness and slippery sliders have their time and place in the growing pantheon of DJ and production tools…
by Romina Wendell – June 2005