Being involved with music from an early age as part of bands and then starting at his first studio job in 1990, Voyager soon became submerged in the Drum & Bass/Jungle music culture. Helping other artists and labels bring their creations and releases to fruition, he soon became in demand for his engineering work in the studios. It wasn't too much longer until his own productions started to appear on a variety of well known imprints such as Proper Talent, Lucky Spin and Dee Jay Recordings, R & S Records, Good Looking, etc. As we continue to push forward and into 2021, by no surprise, there is new music out from Voyager and even the launch of his new label Eternal Soul. A true legend of this music's history and some may even say not receiving the proper recognition that he deserves, Voyager was kind enough to let us take up some of his time for a chat.
Hello Pete, it's a pleasure to have a chat with you, how are you doing?
Hey Maurice, I'm all good thanks mate. We've lived through some crazy times the last 18 months in so many ways, but hopefully we can refocus and all move forward. As always it's a pleasure to have a chat about stuff, so thanks for asking.
It's 2021 and we see that you still have music being released which is great! Starting out back in the day, you didn't really care for much electronic music when you got into the studio and engineering aspects. How has your interest for dance music changed since back then?
For me back in 1990 before I started at Monroe, "Dance music" didn't really exist. The only exposure I had to it before then was when I was kid in the hotel Disco's on holiday in Spain, and much later when I used to go a club in the late 80's in Manor House, London that played a lot of Cult, Depeche Mode, Killing Joke kinda stuff, which wasn't really what you'd call "dance music". I really wasn't tuned into what was happening in Detroit or NYC in those early days, or into the soul/jazz-funk scene, so it was something that I had no real idea about. After all, I'd been a Headbanger/Punk when I was a kid, and played drums in a band that was more Stadium Rock than dancefloor for most of the 80's, so my interest in Dance music took off in a massive way as soon as I began working at Monroe Studios. Since then it's been a massive part of my life, as a career, a musician, an artist and producer, and mainly in DnB, UK underground music. The levels of creativity, expression and technical skills that continue to come through in our music is just as mind blowing as it ever was, so yeh, nothing has changed. I'm certainly not as prolific as I used to be, but I'm still in the game.
You have a new record out as part of the Speed series by Tempo Records. This is an excellent release I must say! Are these songs older, newer or a mixture of both? How does it feel having Frodo reach out to you for involvement in this series?
I'm honored to be a part of this series of releases, especially as I'm following on from the likes of Trace, Krust and Source Direct who are all total scene legends. I had a release on Tempo a few years back as well, so to get a chance to have something out on the Speed series was awesome. The tracks were written last year during the lockdowns, curfews and whatnot. I was writing and rewriting a bunch of tracks from earlier demos,and was listening to a lot of streams and podcasts, but was totally into the tunes and vibes that Rupture and their guys were playing. The beats, soul and productions were right on point, and I got totally pulled back into those Jungle/DnB vibes when the tracks had a rawness and certain flow to them that had that original intensity and energy. So I just stripped a lot of stuff back and tried to keep things simple, which ended up working for the tracks on the EP. I was also listening to a lot of Chillhop and Downtempo stuff then as well, and felt that there were more deeper and emotive vibes I could explore in that area. The tracks were written during many of the long nights during curfews, and for me at least, it felt like I caught the mood.
Recently you released digital versions of your iconic albums from 1997, onto Bandcamp. What are your thoughts on the digital world and it's comparison to vinyl releases? Can we expect to see more of your older productions made digital?
Being able to release music on a digital only platform has enabled a huge amount of artists to get their tracks out there, and to build their own fanbase and also sell it directly which is a great opportunity for everyone. I'm really not a purest when it comes to sound quality. The whole debate about vinyl vs digital is getting a bit old now, and in a club, no one will have any idea whether you're playing vinyl or digital, it's just a personal thing for the dj's mainly. I think one of the most important things about releasing on vinyl these days is the quality of the product and the packaging. There's a lot of labels that have been releasing some amazing quality tracks, vinyl prints and label artwork which is going to make the release way more attractive for people to buy, and is something really collectible. Standard black vinyl releases will always sell, especially if the tracks are solid, but not so much in the quantity they used to for most artists anyway. So it's awesome to see so many DnB artists have been able to provide very high quality releases in all aspects, and still regularly sell out on all of them. It's a really healthy sign that more and more smaller labels are doing all of this, and doing it purely through their fan base and artists and not for the most part, with help of any major labels. I've got some plans to try and re-release some of the older stuff on the label, but it's a bit of a long process, so not sure when, if at all it'll happen.
Can you tell us a bit about what your current setup and process is like for making music when it comes to hardware and software? Any advice or specific software plugins you would recommend to younger artists?
I've used Cubase since I started on Pro 24 and then onto Cubase 1.0 and now use SX9.5 as the DAW. I was going to jump on SX11 but I'd have to upgrade to WIN10, and to be honest I couldn't face having to go through a total reinstall and the agg of blacklisted plugs and Windows drama so I'll stick with Win7 and SX9.5 for the time being. I've just moved into a new place and have a dedicated room for the studio, it's un-soundproofed and has a 2 mtr ceiling so it's not ideal, but I've plenty of space for the electronic kit and guitars etc to jam on, and I never monitor really loudly anymore, so I can't complain. I'm still using my Event 20/20's which I've had for years, and would love a set of Adams, but noise levels would mean I'd never get them out of first gear. I've hardly got any hardware, and certainly not here with me in Belgrade. I've got a Korg Trinity sitting locked up in a flight case back in London that I used to use for the live stuff I did, and my acoustic drum kit which totally breaks my heart everytime I see it in the flight cases back home. Hopefully I'll get them both over here at some point, but I'm not sure the neighbours would be too happy about it. I use a lot of software, and mainly Kontakt, as a lot of my stuff is sample based and I've got such a huge library of sounds and samples. It's pretty much the industry standard soft-sampler, but I wish they'd make a proper upgrade as it's not really evolved that much. I grabbed the Slate Digital package last year and like the range of processing plugs they have, and have also been messing about with Serum which is pretty cool. I was also using Arcade for a while as well, but it just wasn't working out for me as it's mainly geared towards Trap, and it just wasn't the vibes I was after. I also use Splice and LoopCloud and am still thinking about Planet Roland.
As far as writing goes I'm usually sample mining, looking for those hooks or sounds to bounce a track off of, so it can take a lot of hours listening through to stuff and catching anything interesting that comes along. It's a labor of love for sure, especially when you're never really sure what you want until you hear it. For advice, and this is all from a really personal perspective. I'd say to know your DAW system like a book, have some "go to" plugs that you know really well and bring the sound you want. Have a clear idea of what you want, what you need to do it, reliable monitors or top end headphones to mix on and meaningful file naming is a life saver.
Please give our readers some info on the new label you're operating called Eternal Soul. The first release, "Aurora" EP, is excellent all around! Have you wanted to do this for a bit, but just felt that now is the right time? We can expect to see material from both established and new artists?
I'd been thinking about setting up my own label for ages, and it felt like the right time to do it now. I had about 5 or 6 tracks that I'd been working on for ages, and after releasing all my stuff on other people's label's for so long, I decided it was time. I'd already spoken to Frodo about the release on Tempo and he took two of them, and I'm keeping the rest for Eternal Soul. The Aurora EP was all written last year, and really caught the vibe of how I was feeling locked away in curfew, and the general sense of isolation for all of us I guess. I wish now that I'd released it on vinyl as well, but there were some scheduling conflicts and as I'd been sitting on them already for about 6 months, I went with the digital only release just to get them out there and launch the label. I've got stuff written for the second release which will be another Voyager EP. I've hooked up with Tina Murphy again who did the vocals for me on the Future Retro Lp, so I'm just waiting to get those back and finish them off and get some other mixes done. I'm also working on some other remix projects and have got some collabs coming up as well, all of which will be for Eternal Soul. I'm always on the lookout for new music to release, and there's just so much around at the moment. I've got a few artists who are sending me some new bits all the time, and I'm sure I'll have some new artists to release in the future.
Any other news or updates that you want to share with readers?
As I mentioned earlier, I've got plans for some re-releases, which would be the tracks in collaboration with other back in the day artists, or some of my older stuff, but it's a long process, and I can't promise anything at the moment, but I'm working on it.
What have you been listening to recently, in any music genre?
I'm checking a lot of podcasts and mixes like Rupture, Seekwhence, Jay Cunning, Nookie, Swerve, VNR, Brian G as well as anything else that gets recommended. The lockdowns have given everyone a huge chunk of time that probably wouldn't have happened normally to really up their game, so the quality and vibes of so much new music these days is insane. It's like every week or every new podcast is dropping some amazing tunes, so I'm catching up with a lot of those. When I need something a bit different though I'm normally listening to 6Music, if you've got an eclectic taste, which I think a lot of DnB people have, they play some really cool music from right across the spectrum.
With being involved in music for so long now, what helps you stay motivated and interested? How do you like to spend your free time when not busy in the studio?
I'm constantly motivated and inspired by my peers and so many of the new artists and producers coming up. The bar is set high and a lot of music is reaching it and pushing it forward constantly, so I can't help but be inspired. Binging shows on Netflix is always a move, PS4 Valhalla or Tsushima draws me in, and just having some mates over for a jam and a sesh is always a winner.
Any closing thoughts or shout outs?
I've gotta send love out to everyone who drops a message or an email to comment on any of the tracks. After 30 years, I'm still humbled and proud to hear about how those tunes are still resonating out this far, and all the support for the label and the new tunes keeps me motivated and moving forward. Gotta send mad love to all the day one crew still setting fires and proving that our music is still as on point as it always was.....all my family, and especially out to everyone who has supported the music, the label, bought the tunes and dropped some love, big ups every time!! Pete Parsons - Voyager.
Keep updated with Voyager at any of the following links.