Interview DOS with Dan Fur
It's been some time since ChuckW.Com had the pleasure of fostering a musical conversation with Canadian Audio Magician, Dan Fur. In the interim since our last chat, Dan's been quite the busy man - Building the client list of devotees to the Warped Oddball Studios steadily, generating his own (WHAAAT? >>>>) 'Dan Fur Plug-In', and, most importantly of course, working alongside myself in an Engineering capacity for every whimsical piece that comes to mind.
In all seriousness, the real reason why we are here is despite all that busy-ness above, Dan has a new Song coming out 7/11/2020, titled 'Lies'. I don't know how the hell he finds the time, but that's why we have the man himself to field that one.
Speaking solely from the perspective of the song sent; What was your reasoning in introducing some vocals and lyrics to your, more or less, instrumental catalog?
I've actually been wanting to work with a vocalist for some time now. Eyv has deep vocals and amazing layering, so he and I have been talking about doing a collab for a good few months now. Silver lining to quarantine, we were fortunate enough to find some time and make it happen. While I'll always love writing instrumental stuff, it's always good fun collaborating with a vocalist and just doing something different.
Was the use of auto-tune the idea of your collaborator or self? Was this new territory for you and, if so, can you explain how this is different?
Eyv actually did all the vocal recording and vocoder/heavy processing work himself. He sent me everything as one stem and I just mastered/processed that one stem to make it fit in the mix and balance it all together. So, it wasn't new territory, as I just mixed the vocals with the music and mastered it, rather than do the vocoder work myself.
I recall when we did our first interview forever ago, a big thing for you at the moment was purposefully working/playing more slowly than what’s ‘typical’ - Sounds like in that year or two things have sped up - Was this a conscious decision?
Yeah I still love writing more downtempo slower stuff for sure, but it's always fun to do things a bit differently. I think I've also found that I groove really hard around 100bpm. That's a real starting point for me in my DAW at this point.
I also definitely hear a more ‘major-y' component to this track, whereas you’re usually someone who enjoys their minor keys, am I right?
I am always a minor key kinda guy, haha. Through and Through. But, a fun challenge I like to do is make my minor keys sound happy. So, every now and then I definitely play that relative major key a bit.
With so many years and knowledge underneath your belt, what would you now deem the instrument you are most comfortable at and why?
Oh, that's a really really tough question, to be honest with you, I've been thinking about this the past few days actually, and I have different competencies for each instrument. I think for overall jamming and comfortability its gotta be the bass. I would love to say piano, as that's the instrument that made me understand theory. But, my key playing is just not quite as tight as what I can handle on the bass.
As far as understanding music theory and writing music, theres no doubt the piano is my favorite tool for coming up with new progressions and melodies.
Real name vs. Stage name argument aside a moment, who IS Dan Fur?
I am Paul Blandford. I like to garden and make my house a happy place to live.
Okay, you’re sitting down to write a new tune. Take me through your process, A-Z -
Uhmmm sit down, vaguely pick a scale and a tempo. Pick a cool sound and generally I'll start with a basic beat in the background. From there, start noodling away on the keys until I find a nice melody, bass line or progression and work all the instrumentals and soundscape right there by just continuously jamming and looping new ideas on-top of other ideas and seeing what sounds cool together. Then, after that, I have enough ideas to work that into a song with different sections. Then, I'll re-work the drums and add some spice and flare to them. And, with this process, the vocals came in with perfect timing, as I was working on spicing up the drums and adding more cool layers.
Gear Rundown! Present rig only, GO!
Got my novation SLmk3 doin' the brains and sequencing. Got a MIDI splitter so I can send MIDI out of the SLmk3 and still go out independently to my DSI, Prophet Rev2, The Studiologic Sledge (Powered by Waldorf) Novation Bass station, Roland JX8P, JP-08, Novation Circuits 2 Nova Synth Engines and the 4 channels of drums and finally my TR8. I also have Ableton running as well so I get to use as many VSTs and and software as I see fit :)
Do you consciously notice the effects your work as an Engineer has upon your own personal style?
100% it makes me much more logical about the way I do things. Especially, after realizing what some common habits I'd fallen into that were hurting my mixes. I started to be proactive in my producing stages and in avoiding these mistakes by using the right sample selection and arrangement. As a result I'm definitely much happier with the sound that I've been able to slowly carve out over the past year or so.
What lessons do you take away most from your Clients’ that you find most impactful upon your own playing and approach?
I would have to say the simple act of producing in one project, and mastering my songs in a different project. What i used to do is produce, mix and master my songs all in one project. What i realized was I would go back and change all these arrangement things while mixing and mastering. In turn, this caused me to change the way my compressors were reacting and it would just become suuuuch a big jumbled mess, I ended up hurting my mixes by doing that.
What I do now, is as soon as the production and arrangement is done, I export it for a mix and master in a different project. This makes the process much more methodological. Now, if anything needs to be fixed in regards to arrangement, I can just go back and re-export the stems. Otherwise, I don’t fiddle with things while mixing and things come out much cleaner as a result. Funny enough, I didn't do it for this song, but that's because I started working on it a decent while ago, but i don't think I'll ever go back to mixing and mastering in the same project ever again.
....And that is a wrap, folks! Let's give some hootin' and hollerin' up for this guy ^^^^ Above ...
The more and more I work with, and even speak to Dan, I find myself more and more endeared to him. There's nothing else this man wants for the whooole planet, other than to fucking make it sound GOOD. Period. No in between bullshit. It's a yes or no question which you will receive a direct answer for every time. And if you sound like ass, he's not too shy to tell that either. THAT is the marking of an Engineer you not only befriend but latch onto - because they get it. If you wanted smoke blown up your ass you wouldn't pay someone across the border any amount for this - You can go ask your Dog, or Goldfish for an opinion. What makes a true friend is someone who can tell you when your. shit. sucks. Not that Dan has much ever. He's too God Damn nice, it's not in his nature. However, I'd stay tuned to both our trajectories - Him for raw ability, mine for what he does in post to the shit I play. Ladies and Gents, one more for Dan Fur!
..... And never forget to keep on rockin' and rollin'!