Public Domain Producer James Allan Talks About His Musical Journey
Ready to rock with their fresh sounds and exciting new projects, we catch up with Public Domains James Allan to talk Hanger 13, Tandys and playing piano in pubs.
London is the place with all the bass! The 2000 hit Operation Blade is a firm favourite with clubbers of all ages today and the energy of their performances remain unrivalled. There is simply no other, than Public Domain.
Starting a new chapter, original producer James Allan with Neil Skinner (MC Cyclone) make their Ascension® debut with the full on Euro export, Amsterdam. Ready to rock with their fresh sounds and exciting new projects, we catch up with James to talk Hanger 13, Tandys and playing piano in pubs.
Describe your Music in three words
Acidy ear assault.
Operation Blade is one of the most loved dance tracks of all time. How does it feel to be responsible for the track that has given so many a great night out and has inspired so many to pursue a career in music?
I still get "Bass In The Place London" sometimes just walking to the shop. It is great that it has influenced people to start a career in music, as passing on knowledge to the next generation is where my passion is. We've enjoyed Operation Blade from both sides of the stage. Aye there's been a few great nights.
The Blade sample is such a great hook. How did the track come about in the beginning? What's the story behind it?
I have to give credit to Mark Sherry here, he brought the sample into the studio after watching the movie. We did some mixes and sent a club mix to a label (including a rather cheesy vocal). After a meeting with the label team, we decided to rework another sample into it, this time from hip-hop act Public Enemy. The vocal was re-recorded by frontman MC Mallorca Lee and it became the track that is know today. We also came to the decision to look at another label as the track was rapidly evolving into a beast.
What is your favourite Public Domain track or remix?
Theres a track of the old Hard Hop Superstars album called Just a Latin Groove. Thats my favourite.
After a few members have left the act it's great to see Neil (MC Cyclone) and yourself keeping the Public Domain flag flying? What does the next chapter hold?
Whatever comes next is great regardless, I am very lucky to do what I do. Myself and Neil are back in the studio working on new tracks. We've also just added Roberta Childs (Dreams) to the Public Domain line up and have tracks forthcoming with her vocal talents too, so the next chapter looks good.
We are proud to have your new track Amsterdam out on Ascension. It's a stunning track that sounds nothing like anything else out there. How did the track come about?
Amsterdam. It's been a long time coming. Being somewhat a perfectionist the making of the track has been a personal saga. You often see producer memes on Facebook that read Final mix. Final final mix. Final final final mix etc etc. I had at least twenty for Amsterdam as I was never happy with the sound of the bass. The melody was fine but the sound just wasn't sitting well, It also never helped that I changed my car at the time i was working on the track. My car stereo is my sounding board; if it sounds good in my car I know I've nailed the mix. It took me six months to get used to the new car sound. The track itself came from a late night studio jam with Neil. I stuck down simple drums and played the bass melody on the keyboard, Neil pulled the vocal together while I programmed the 303 and boom... It was easy as that. It was the six months that followed that were hard but we got there in the end. We are proud to be part of the Ascension journey.
Scotland seems to be producing a lot of talent in the trance and dance scenes. Is there something in the water?
LOL, I don't think so but who knows right?
Who are your musical influences?
How did you get into DJing?
I started like most with going out clubbing first. I was playing a keyboard in a pub and really not enjoying it. The first time I went to Ayr's infamous Hanger 13 I knew I wanted to be on that stage and not in the pub playing what a good friend described as "Shallabong", My mate had a well paid job back then and bought Tandy belt drive decks. We all started spending on records and developed from there. It was my calling and I've loved every minute since.
DJing: Vinyl, CD, laptop or USB?
First vinyl was an old hardcore track called Let Your Body Ride and yes I still have it.
What was the latest album you've bought?
The Beatles' No. 1 album
What are your five favourite tracks of all time?
Westbam - Wizards of the Sonic, CJ Bolland - The Prophet, Prodigy - Everybody In The Place, Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here and Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb.
Who inspired you as a DJ?
Carl Cox in the early 90s. He is a technical genius on any media.
What's your favourite part of the world to DJ?
Can't beat a home crowd "Moan the Scots!"
What was your best gig ever?
If you had asked me this four months ago the answer would have been different. We have a new music venue in Ayr and I'm very proud to say it is totally amazing, It has a real underground vibe. A few months ago I was asked to play there. It was amazing and just what my little Scottish coastal town so badly needed.
Any odd gigs or embarrassing moments?
Not really sorry (nothing I want printed)
Where do you prefer to play; club or festival?
I prefer to play live in clubs.
Every DJ has their pose. What's yours?
I don't pose, I clap and shout aggressively.
As well as produce you also run Infected Records and do label events. How is it going?
I have good guys running the Infected label. We get good support and a few of my students are signed on there too. The events are wicked. The most recent one we took over that venue I mentioned earlier. We had live acid house through to live trance being played on the stage with a production room for my students to get a feel of live performance, and also had another room with label artists playing DJ sets.
You also teach music production classes. How is it passing on knowledge to the next generation?
I have been teaching music production for over fifteen years now, I have had loads of my guys achieve success and getting productions signed. Previous student Calvin Logue has recently signed to Armada. I take on students with no previous musical knowledge and show them how they can do it, I've got it down to an art. We cover music theory as well as production. To really push them we test on the theory every week. They seem to s*** themselves on test day. I love it, sorry guys.
What DAW do you use?
What are your studio essentials?
My twin boys, Roland TB3 (no. 1) and Roland TB 3 (no. 2)
Hardware or software?
Both. Plugins- Spire and Sylenth1. Hardware the Roland TB
Did you have any musical training?
I trained at the School of Audio Engineering (SAE Glasgow). I knew what I wanted to do after the Hanger 13 experience but had no knowledge on how to do it. so I took myself off to learn how. My Job Seekers at the time told me to stop as it was a private run school and not fundable, I was pretty much told to take one of the Job Centre's courses, or alternatively look for work. At that point the decision was made. I signed off Job Seekers that day. It was tough funding everything but it was the best decision I've made.
How do you spend your time outside of music?
Spend time with my family. My wife and two boys are my world.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Appearing on Top of The Pops
Who do you rate as an up-and-coming DJ producer?
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the music and DJ scenes?
Hard work conquers all obstacles in time!
Public Domain's Amsterdam is out now at all good download stores. Buy your copy at;
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