Ror-Shak began as an experiment by DJ DB and DJ/producer Stakka (Shaun Morris), two veterans of the electronic dance music scene who decided to create a track of their own together. Though it was DB’s first experience working in the studio on original music, the collaboration proved a success, resulting in the highly acclaimed single “Groupies” (Breakbeat Science). The duo continued to work together and has now released a full album, “Deep”.
“It’s really anything goes,” says Stakka on the collaborative process. “We’ve both got different backgrounds and listen to a widely varied sort of music. So the influences come in just playing around in the studio. Drum & Bass has been part of both our backgrounds for the past 10 years, so we normally start with drum & bass or something that is down-tempo and then go from there”
Ror-Shak enlisted a variety of guest musicians and vocalists for “Deep,” many of whom they knew or had contact with before. Singer Julie Cruise is an interesting case.
“We actually started out by sampling her,” explains Stakka. “Through finding out who it was and and getting permission to use it, she ended up appearing on four of the tracks on the album.”
We did a phone interview with Ror-Shak, but unfortunately equipment problems made the tape very difficult to transcript. Stakka was kind enough to answer some follow-up questions by email, and here they are:
1. You’d mentioned that the collaboration with Julie Cruise came about after you’d sampled her voice – could you elaborate a bit more on how that happened??
Stakka: Fate or faith came about after we started working on a track that had a rather naughty sample in from a Grammy winning record (I cant tell you which one) but it was intended as a track just for playing out in the club. I also had an accepalla of a great vocal that seemed to fit over the top of with what we had done, we didn’t know who it was or where it was from, but that didn’t really matter as this started out as just a club track for when we are djing. Anyway the track turned out great and we decided to pursue it further and make it all legal / legit, obviously we couldn’t clear the Grammy winning sample so we went a different direction with the music and took out that sample but as for the vocal we could get permission to use it and in doing so we found out it was from Julee Cruise. We made contact with Julee, go on great and she asked to hear other material we were working on. We played her some very rough sketches from the deep album that we had on hand, she loved them and that was the start of her getting involved with ror-shak and the Deep album. Fate or Faith was also the first ror-shak track that started the idea for the album
2. Many Chaos Control readers are also electronic musicians (or at least have an interest in the technology side of things). Could you describe your studio set-up? What would you say your most-used pieces of gear are? Software? (I’d asked this on the phone, but the connection was kind of bad at some points, and I had trouble making out everything from the recording)?
Stakka: We used Logic on some tracks and then I switched to Cubase and use SX3 so the later tracks were created using that. I use some outboard but for the processing and manipulation of sounds I generally use plugins, some of my favourite are the UAD-1s various vintage emulator plugins, Waves particularly the SSL bundle, Various Voxengo, TC Power VSS3 for reverb and many many more
3. In terms of the vocal-driven tracks on “Deep,” are there any songs where you’d say the end result was particularly influenced by the vocals? In other words, songs where you had a strong idea of how you thought the end results would be, but were then taken in a new direction due to either the choice of singer, or ideas that they brought into it??
Stakka: There are songs that were very influenced by the vocal but for a slightly different reason. On some album track we actually had two different vocalist working with the same beat. It turned out that we liked both of the outcomes, although they were vastly different. So in this instance we wrote a completely new track in the same key starting with the vocal. This is kind of a strange way to go about it but who’s to say what right or wrong, if you get the desired end result.
4. DB talked about the choice to cover The Cure’s “A Forest,” but I’m curious as to if you had a particular approach in mind when you did the track. For example, were there particular elements/parts of the track that stood out as stepping stones in creating your own take on the song? Anything about the original version that you felt needed changing? Or did you just go into the studio and start playing with the song to see where it would take you??
Stakka: The process was pretty much to start by getting a barebones version of the track down at the bpm we work at. This involved all of the musical elements from the original over a new, ror-shak-a-fied beat. Then we gave that to Chantal who we sung the vocal, recorded at DBs friends studio. After we had got all of the parts in it was time to experiment with the tracks and try to give it our own signature.
5. Is there any further news on the possibility of touring to support “Deep”?
Stakka: No news to release yet, we have been rehearsing with some singers and working out the live format, but keep your eye on www.myspace.com/r0rshak for news on the album tour.