“Accomplished musician, artist, composer, DJ and music supervisor of fine electronic, jazz, soul and soundtrack music. Often collaborating with known and emerging artists and musicians from around the world.
The Scotsman now based in France has quite a long background. As a young man it was Vince Watson who inspired Ross by teaching him the studio basics. This increased an interest which lead Ross to attend Stow College in Glasgow to study music technology. Before this period Ross performed in 2 orchestras and later worked with indie bands, funk bands, film-makers, and voluntary music projects.
Although a musician Ross actually collected vinyl before investing in hardware and owned his first set of turntables as a teenager and began DJing in and around all the clubs in Glasgow holding a few residencies along the way. Since then he is often guests at parties, festivals and radio stations around the world playing live or recording his DJ sets with an impressive knowledge of music throughout many movements and eras.
From 1999 Ross has went on to release and feature on over 50+ vinyl releases, 6 albums and many remixes which included many styles like house, techno, jazz, semi-orchestral, soul and funk. The more notable releases include “Subculture”, “Red”, “Distant Galaxy” (As Solab) and “Get By Me” which featured Detroit artists Davina Bussey (Underground Resistance) Niko Marks (Planet-e, Underground Resistance) and Andrés (KDJ, Mahogani Music).
At present Carlos is focused on releasing music for many respected labels around the world who are known for being tastemakers and artistic over hyped. These labels include the Parisian labels Circus Company and Skylax and also his collaborations for Planet-e and Deetron’s new label Character. He regularly collaborates on music with Detroit artist Niko Marks and Chicago based visionaire Keter Darker.
Hello Carlos, how are you? I read you moved to France with your French better half, how have things been over in France for you lately? Half the Backdrop crew went to Edinburgh university and have incredibly fond memories of Scotland, your homeland, do you miss it?
Hello, let me first say thanks for inviting me to record this mix for you, its always nice to be asked. Oh and, I really enjoyed Santi’s mix by the way!. We go back a bit!
I miss my family and friends the most. I think that go’s without saying! But music-wise, I miss being part of the community. Although I’m getting on a bit, I miss going out with my friends to Subculture, the Arches and other underground parties like the Unit at the black loch. Great memories that will stay with me forever.
How did you find leaving a global dance music scene like Glasgow behind? Do you find it affords you more time to focus on your music, with less distraction of endless parties?
I think moving to France is like starting all over again if I’m honest. I’ve been asked a lot to play at festivals and lots of different clubs which is great Its interesting to immerse into another cultures music scene and have a taste what other artists and DJs are up to. Its different though, People seem more open minded to styles of music and just go with the flow.
With such a varied back catalogue of musical projects, from film and video game soundtracks, to classical compositions, jazz and then house/techno, how do you divide your time? Did you always want to DJ for dancers or did you start pursuing the other genre’s first?
I started buying house records when I was still in high school and played records at the prom and small clubs in Glasgow in the late 90s, before that I was learning music theory. Since then, the two desires of eclectic and electronic music have just been running parallel ever since. I just create music on how I’m feeling.
With the current wave of club closures in Britain, namely The Arches (Glasgow) and Fabric, a major issue arising is the lack of understanding from those outside club culture (often those main the decisions) about quite what goes on inside. A fear of drug abuse and thuggish behaviour from those that have perhaps never even set foot in a rave, makes it difficult to persuade people why nightclubs are critical to our lives.
Closing down these clubs will not solve the drug problem. People will just go elsewhere, perhaps to a less safer environment. I think testing kits should be given out like in other EU countries.
Even though it will never happen anytime soon, I think the UK government should listen to the scientists and advisors about drugs.
I have been enjoying your “Midnight Chronicles” record very much, it is one of those records which has a track for different stages of the night so justices its place in the bag many times over. Was that your intention? Were the tracks written with this release in mind or part of a back catalogue of your own work you pulled together?
Thanks! Ornaments, the label who release most of these concept albums (Subculture, Cupid & Psyche, Midnight Chronicles) give me complete artistic freedom. In the case of this one we included Cab ride from my label Paris Metro. Most of the time there is a theme running through the records. I try to make them tell a story. Subculture mini album is about influences. Its dedicated to Harri and Domenic and the Subclub. Cupid and Psyche is about love and the future. MidnightChronicles is a continuation of these stories.
Any recent or not so recent gig highlights? Do you play your own records when DJing out much?
Yeah some of the parties in France are really cool. I sometimes play with Arno Gonzalez who is an aritst/DJ from Angers. He has invited me to play at some of the best parties here in the west of France. I pick my gigs wisely though as I don’t have an agent. Other highlights include the Character label night with Deetron and Ripperton where we all showcased our record in Glasgow last year.
Sometimes though anything can happen, good or bad. last year I was actually caught up in the Paris attacks, I was to showcase live with Niko Marks for Detroit Love in Paris, The first time where would meet after releasing countless albums and records. We were going to showcase our tracks for Planet E. The promoters broke the shocking news as we were sitting at the top of the Montparnasse building that the city was under attack. Things got real bad. Kevin, Terrence Parker, Octave One, Carl Craig, Niko and I all playing together could have easily been a target.
But on a postive note… Niko and I are planning to play some gigs together in the future. He really wants to ramp up the live stuff we do and he has this album coming out on Planet E where I feature on. I have other stuff coming out too with a legendary Detroit artist and also a release coming out on one of Chicago’s most famous labels.
Gig-wise I’m playing with Mome in Nantes again at a place called Le Nid which is a cool venue on top of a Skyscraper. I think the last time I played one of my own tunes was when I played in Macedonia a year ago. The tracks called “Pride” I was really surprised to see a thousand people dancing to it. As you can tell, I don’t really play my tunes at gigs, more so on podcasts!! But it could all change soon! I have a few really special releases coming up soon!
How do you find most of your new music these days? Any labels or producers that you buy on release without even needing to listen?
I check Juno a lot and listen to all the stuff that people send me. There is so many great artists out there that it would take forever to list them. Claude Young, Carl Craig, Deetron, Ripperton, Andrés, Vince Watson are maybe among the electronic artists I would recommend.
In an era where a lot of young people want to be DJs, and seemingly most need to have productions to their name in order to do so, i feel sometimes it encourages either substandard club tracks being released or great producers getting booked for main dj slots and under-performing. You manage both with great success. What advice would you give to people trying to get into the game now?
Never sell yourself short for anyone, and don’t worry about what other people are doing around you. Real respect takes decades of trial and error, pain and happiness. Overnight success is something that can be taken as quickly as its given. Always stay true to yourself when making music.
What still excites you most musically?
When I see people succeed with music that don’t normally get the credit they deserve.
What three pieces of musical equipment do you cherish most and could not be without?
My Roland MC307, Its really old and has been in my collection forever, Credit to Marco Bernardi who sold me it years and years ago. The sounds on it are a bit crap ,but If you dig really deep into the settings you can get some beautiful sounds out of it.
Akai MPC, Its all in the swing!
Ableton Live. An incredible powerful sequencer. It totally blew my mind with the possibilities when I was just releasing records using just a drum machine, a yamaha sampler and a minidisc recorder