TF Archives

Interview: BT

Author: Jo Vraca
Monday, August 20, 2001
It may be nothing but machines that go 'woop, woop', computers that go 'ping' and a whole lot of knob twiddling to most, but Brian Transeau (aka BT) dispells all of the theories that your cat can make electronic music. Writing orchestral music before he managed a shread of bum fluff on his chin, Transeau has a deep understanding of the music that makes us go 'purrrrrr'.

"If I had to define what I do, I'd like to think that I make very emotive electronic music… When I first started making music, they didn't have a name for the stuff that I was doing. I remember playing some tracks from my first album for the Deep Dish guys and them going 'wow, wait, you can't have a big breakdown in the middle of a record with this big emotional thing… What are people gonna do- People won't dance.' Cut to a room full of 10, 000 screaming sweaty kids seven years later with their hands in the air in the breakdowns."

Transeau's music has been dubbed 'dream-house' - the kind of music that makes you trip the light fantastic and makes you wish you were about to take that first pill all over again. But while his latest epic track 'Mercury and Solace' may bely a sense of the retrospective - that is, a return to his early trance-inspired moments, Transeau's origins traverse the bounds of dance music, from symphonies to punk. "I was in tonnes of hardcore bands where we played loads of 30-second songs. Ali [Shirazinia], one of my friends who's in Deep Dish, we used to jam paper in the doors of a sheet metal factory when we were 13 years old and sneak in there with my boombox and drumsticks in the middle of the night and make industrial tracks before we had a DAT player or drum machines."

'Movement in Still Life', Transeau's latest offering, is an amalgamation of styles and influences that reveals an open mindedness evident with each project he embarks upon. The album is like a meeting place of sounds - through breakbeat, ambient, trance and house - as well as a meeting place for some of the most renowned electronic artists in the world today including Adam Freeland and Sasha. "I went to them with the specific intent of making something that was a meeting place between what the two of us did and all the people that I picked to work with on the record are friends and people whose work I really admire… It was just such an exciting thing to do and have it come out like it's come out. It was like chucking darts at a dart board, blindfolded and taking the blindfold off and being like 'wow!' Guys like Mike from Hybrid and Adam Freeland were amazing; some of my favourite people to work with." Another example of his schizophrenic musical tendencies is his colaboration with Sasha on Peter Gabriel's 'Real World' world music imprint - an atmospheric, dubby, ambient world music project which has allowed both artists to work with the likes of Geoffrey Oryema along with a variety of musicians singing in their native languages.

Over the last few years, Transeau has harnessed his musical talent and taken it to the big screen. While he wrote the original score to 'Go', he admits that the challenge he experienced in the upcoming (-) 'Under Suspicion' starring Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman was one he won't forget lightly. "I was writing for a 60 piece string section for the film and that was just a huge jump. But during the process of working on that I was jumping from sitting down literally with a pencil and paper and writing out parts for violin, viola, cello and concert bass to sitting in front of the computer geeking out… it's such a great change of head space. When you're writing music for an album or a club or whatever, it's like, you have this very ambiguous idea or image of the environment you're writing for whereas when you're writing to picture it's completely crystalised in front of you - it's like 'there it is. That's what I'm writing to. That's what I need to counterpoint emotionally." He may have taken a leaf out of Phillip Glass's book - a minim