ROGAN a.k.a. Josh Weller a Leeds UK native, recently popped up on my deep emotive bass radar (I have many radars). This young producer is influenced by many of my favorite musical realms. Perfect music for a road trip on dark highways with people you love. If you’re into artists like Max Cooper, Phutureprimitive, or Ital Tek be sure keep an eye on ROGAN. Josh and I connected recently for an email interview. Throw on his exclusive mix, have a read and be sure to follow us both on SoundCloud!
[LiS] What is your morning ritual?
[Rogan] What a great question to start with! I’m infamous amongst my friends in Leeds for my morning ritual because I always like to set my alarm super early so that I can get up and have a coffee alongside reading a book before having to get in the shower and think about work. It’s all about reading a bit of dodgy fantasy to help prepare yourself for the day ahead!
When seeking inspiration where do you normally look?
I guess I find inspiration in a number of different ways. Whenever I’m not writing music, I’ll generally have an album or a mixtape or a podcast going through my speakers. I really rate the Electronic Explorations podcasts by Rob Booth – I’ve found a lot of my favourite artists through his shows, but I also like to rummage through soundcloud every so often and downloading any mixes artists have put on there. And you can’t forget raves, I do enjoy raves!
My other main source of inspiration comes from walking up big hills. There’s some good places for walks and dramatic scenery around Leeds, and there’s nothing like a picturesque landscape to help give yourself a sense of scale and to get the ideas flowing.
If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
There are many things I would like to change about the music industry, but if I had to pick one it would be the lack of promotional support independent artists receive. From personal experience, a lot of the best musicians are very introverted and shy and so it’s very unnatural for them to try to persuade people to listen to their music rather than someone else’s.
It seems to be a bit of a habit amongst independent labels at the moment to simply release a track or an EP and leave it up to the artists to promote themselves. I’d like to think that a label should give the promotional support an independent artist needs, so that the artist can lock themselves away in their room or their studio and do what they’re best at – writing music!
If you could have a cup of tea with one person, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Bjork just so I could pick her brains; she’s an absolute genius in my eyes. Although saying that, if I ever did get the opportunity to have a cup of tea with Bjork, I’d probably end up being too nervous to say anything to her!
Give us the details on the new album.
The 10/11/12 EP is my 2nd release but has taken a different direction compared to Heavy Green Machine (my first release), and it’s a direction I think I’d like to keep. I’m a geek for hardware synths and so most of the sounds on 10/11/12 are ones I’ve created from scratch on either my Korg Radias or my Nord Lead 2X. The other production elements are mainly through sample manipulation and “found sounds”. At the start of “Hurt Me”, I was getting very frustrated trying to record rain outside my bedroom window without the sounds of cars and buses going past! Luckily I managed in the end (at god knows what time in the morning). It was also great to write a track with Isobel Helen, the vocalist in “Cruel Wonder”. It was the first time we’d written together, and it certainly won’t be the last.
It’s called 10/11/12 because that’s the date I actually finished writing and producing the tunes, and it just seemed like too much of a coincidence not to go with that as the title for the EP. It will be released as a free digital download (although any donations are welcome) this friday, May 24th.
What’s on the plate for Rogan. What’s next?
Another EP is definitely in the cards. I’ve already been chatting with vocalists and instrumentalists who will be featured on the new EP, so the intention is to give the new tunes an even more organic feel to them while still keeping very much within the sound of 10/11/12.
Alongside that, I’ve recently been doing a lot of remixing. One of my latest remixes for French electro-swing producers Bart & Baker is expected to be released on the next Buddha Bar Compilation put out by Wagram Records. On top of that, I should be out in Paris in June to have that remix, and another one I’m working on at the moment, performed in the Electric Paris with live Burlesque dancing. It’s great to know that there are professionals out there willing to take their clothes off to my music!
A gig at Moulin Rouge has also been confirmed. I’ll be DJing in the Moulin Rouge, Paris on the 7th of June and then again at a night called Future Burlesque at an Art Gallery in the centre of Paris on the 8th of June with live Burlesque dancing alongside the set!
How is life in the UK? How is the music scene, and where does ROGAN fit in?
The UK has always had a strong musical history, and there are still some great artists springing up all over the country. There is a very strong house music scene right now and some good nights all over the place to head out and have a dance.
Unfortunately, the independent scene has suffered a little from this. When I was at Uni in Leeds, we’d be going out every other night to a free party or a shisha bar to check out some nice chilled dubstep. But with the police clamping down on parties and the smoking ban shutting down most of the shisha bars, there’s not many places to play as a chilled/post dubstep DJ anymore. I play sets in cafés and arty, bars but a lot of the time I’m competing with the jazz scene and that’s a hard scene to compete with. In fact, most of the attention I’ve been receiving recently for my music has been from abroad.
How does the UK music culture differ from cultures around the world?
I guess the UK music culture can’t be that different from other cultures around the world. It’s quite diverse, there’s a large mainstream music industry which I like to spend most of my time trying to ignore, but there’s also some outstanding record labels such as Ninja Tune and Warp Records to give people some choice. There’s also a fair amount of laws and licensing that at times keeps some great musicians out of the public eye by shutting down pirate stations or house parties. It can be very hard in Britain to get your music heard, but I think the emergence of the internet has helped to make independent music international and if I reeled off a list of my favourite artists they’d be from countries all over the world.
Where is your favorite place to play on earth?
On top of a mountain. I don’t mind which mountain as long as it’s big. Once, I nearly got the opportunity to fulfill this dream with my old band in Mayrhoffen, Austria, but unfortunately there was a blizzard the day we were meant to play, so we had to do the gig as a street party in the town.
Your plane is crashing, you have time to grab three objects before you are marooned on a tropical island. What are they?
My headphones, my CDs and my decks! I don’t care if I die of starvation as long as I can have fun doing it.
Are you currently Stoked?
I am. It’s an exciting time for me with the release coming up of 10/11/12, the Paris performance and the remixes. It’s great to start having the opportunity to share my music with people, and I hope it’s just going to snowball into something bigger and better every year.
Mate or Coffee and why?
Unfortunately, I’ve not had a chance to try this Mate drink (in fact I was just looking it up on Google). I guess it hasn’t really come to the UK yet, or it has somehow slipped my attention. You’ve got me intrigued though, I always like to try new things. Saying that, I’m an enormous fan of coffee and I spend maybe a little too much time trying to find the best coffee beans and the best methods of making the coffee, so it’d have to be a hell of a drink to make me stop.
What’s your favorite geometric shape?
Probably a circle, I’ve never really thought about it before, but I guess all the best things in life are based on circles: a record/CD, a dial on a synth, a cup or a glass, a dinner plate etc.