Saturday, August 06, 2016

Get Yer Kit Off... Julien Dyne

NZ Musician, October/November 2008 (Vol:14, No:6)By Nick Gaffaney

Aucklander Julien Dyne is another uber-talented local drummer whose multi-disciplinary skills have been on display with a broad range of recently successful acts. He talks here with Nick Gaffaney.

The varied and comprehensive skills of Julien Dyne are employed by a whole bunch of NZ’s favourite outfits. Coming from a family with a strong jazz pedigree, Dyne is best known as the drummer for Opensouls and Tyra & the Tornadoes, but he’s also worked on recordings for Fat Freddys Drop,Ladi6, Nathan Haines, Chris Cox,James Duncan, Hollie Smith, Eru Dangerspiel and Sola Rosa among others. 

Along with that he has found time to DJ for bFM’s Sunday jazz show, record and produce his solo EP ‘Phantom Limbo’ in 2007 (an album is also underway), and exhibit his intriguing sculpture and paintings. NZM asked fellow drumming whiz Nick Gaffaney (of Cairo Knife Fight and the Anika Moa band among others) to have a chat with this modern Renaissance man.

How did you get started in music?

I started playing drums when I was about 13 years old. Me and my friends began mucking around writing and recording three-chord punk songs, and shortly after that I started going to Lance Philip for drum lessons.

Your father (Paul Dyne) is one of NZ’s finest jazz bass players, what kind of impact did that have on your music?
In my early to mid-teens I guess I was the antithesis of my dad’s aesthetic – I was into punk rock, heavy metal and hip hop. I appreciated and respected jazz but it was the holy grail you know? Way up there on a higher plateau. As I progressed as a musician and my skills, ears and knowledge developed, I began paying attention to my dad’s records collection and to what he and master drummer Roger Sellers were doing on the bandstand. Subsequently these things began to seep into my playing and those ideas have shaped my musical personality immensely.

Do you still find the time to work on things in practice?
I have been studying and practising informally with my friend and mentor Chris O’Connor for the last little while, working predominately on rudiment and sticking things and musical concepts. Being a beat maker and producer I also record myself playing a lot and analyse my feels and phrasing. This is a really good exercise for any musician I think, it’s helped me refine my sound a lot and allowed me to record some crazy patterns too!
I was lucky enough to get a lesson from master funk drummer Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie in 2004 whilst attending the Redbull Music Academy in Rome, and the stuff he taught me has been hugely important in developing my style and sound.

You’re also known for your art. Do you think music and visual art influence each other?

That’s a question I’ve often asked and I have probably a million answers for. Yes in so many ways, directly and indirectly. They both sit within a certain cultural bracket on one level but on another they are very different worlds. On one level, music is more ephemeral and transient – sound sits in the air and then disappears, whereas a canvas rests on a wall, paint dried and relatively two dimensional. But then I guess that’s what a recording is – capturing sound for perpetuity.

I’m not sure if a Blue Note record would have as much aura/ cultural value if it weren’t for the design of Reid Miles and the photography of Francis Wolff, or am I investing something of my own onto it? I have been known to make light boxes out of bass drums and paint on skins, perform improvised works in a crawlspace or elevator and have my drum recordings/compositions blast out of fake rocks, all conscious attempts to fuse the two disciplines together.

What music influences you now?

I’m a huge collector of vinyl so I’m always out searching for records, predominately old jazz and funk, but all sorts really. As for new stuff I’ve been digging producers like Flying Lotus, Madlib, Jay Dee and James Pants a lot recently.

Drumming-wise I’ll check out any record that has players on it like Clyde Stubblefield, John ‘Jabo’ Starks, Bernard Purdie, Zigaboo Modeliste, Idris Muhammad, Harvey Mason, Mike Clark, Billy Cobham, Steve Gadd, Stevie Wonder, Leon 'Ndudu' Chancellor, James Gadson, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Art Blakey, Jack DeJohnette, Mickey Roker, Buddy Rich, Al Foster, Grady Tate, Chico Hamilton, Willie Bobo, Peter Erskine, Steve Ferrone, Airto, Dom Um Romao, Tony Allen, Earl Palmer, Eric Gravatt, Paul Humphrey, Alphonse Mouzon, Otis Jackson Jnr etc etc etc.
As for local drummers that I dig or have influenced me: Roger Sellers, yourself (Nick Gaffaney), Riki Gooch, Chris O'Connor, Darren Mathiasson, Redford Grennell, Ant Donaldson, Rick Cranson, Reuban Bradley, Lance Phillip, Tom Larkin, Mark ‘Hideebeast’ Hamill, Myele Manzanza, Alistair Deverick, Jarney Murphy, Paul K Hoskin.

As a hip hop and soul performer mostly do you find yourself influenced by live drummers today, or does programming inspire you more often?

It’s a bit of both really. If you take a programmer like Jay Dee or I.G Culture they’ve created a new rhythmic language in terms of the their use of the ‘rub’ –the proximity of a skip kick just before a slightly anticipated snare drum. Or placing really rigid elements against lazy elements like quantised kick and snare pattern offset with a lazy hi hat. It’s half swung, half straight stuff, and its bad ass!
I try and incorporate these elements into my drumming and production, mixed with a love and understanding of ’60s and ’70s funk and jazz players, and their kit sounds, feels, touch and note placement. I’m more into a vintage drum sound played with a good feel than a guy with a modern r’n’b or rock sound with ponytail, wrist bands and too many splash cymbals!

How do you create parts for Opensouls and The Tornadoes? Do you programme them first or improvise in rehearsal?
Sometimes if its a programmed beat that Jeremy Toy or I have created I will approximate it to suit the drum kit for a live band setting. Mostly it is experimenting with whatever best suits the music, we study the drum sounds and styles of the music we are being influenced by at the time.

With other sessions, such as with Fat Freddys Drop and Ladi6, I will record over the top of an existing beat or click track and throw a whole bunch of different ideas at it. Mu or Parks will then chop up my parts and use it to help shape the arrangement.

What sort of recording system do you use?

For my own stuff I record at home using a basic audio program and one mic, layering drums, percussion, keyboards, samples and other instruments and musicians. With the Opensouls we record mostly at Jeremy’s home studio, he’s really good at getting a sound and producing music. We are looking to record stuff all live in a studio but it’s just a question of money really.

Do you ever use electronics live?

Yes a little bit. I used to use a Boss Dr Sample and Boss Percussion Synthesizer pad live a lot, plus I have experimented with SPDS pads. Brent Park recently purchased some drum triggers that I’m going to use live with Ladi6 just to give some variation to the snare sounds.

What advice can you offer young drummers wanting to make a career in music?

Depends on the individual really. Learn your craft, study all sorts of rhythms and styles with an open mind, be passionate about making music, be willing to jam with or collaborate with anybody – especially those who are really good! Hustle! Listen to lots of recordings of great music, and have fun!

No comments: