2016 will be remembered for many things, but when a future elderly Virtual Riot – wizened, wise and possibly a little weary from decades of premiership bass dominance – looks back to this year he will no doubt remember it for one thing: the year he got his American working Visa and could finally smash America’s doors in.
Already a household bass name long before he was able to make the move from Mannheim to LA; from the moment Virtual Riot landed in July his feet have barely left the road, such is the heaviness of his tour schedule.
Mercifully this hasn’t affected his proliferation. Earlier this year we had the co-lab-studded Chemistry EP, more recently he’s laid down gutter gospel with 12th Planet & Twine with Gully Squad and Nasty with Datsik. Somewhere in between he also delved deeper into slower, illustrious melodic pastures with In My Head.
Here’s his story…
2016 According To Virtual Riot
“The whole year started with the Serum preset packs and that affected a lot of different things for the rest of the year…
“Did I get negative feedback from making them? A little. But overall it’s had a much more positive effect. With those sounds out there now for anyone to use, it’s made artists try to sound different and really work on their sound design. This year we have had some really innovative sounds that are far away from the jungle of presets.
“I think in general well made, considerate preset packs have another benefit, too; they help people think more about sound design when they look at the preset and understanding why it’s having the effect it is. You learn a lot about Serum and how it works in this way. The much more more negative impact on the market of sample packs and presets is when companies create packs so people can sound like artists. I think that’s quite dangerous territory… Always keep that attitude of listening to people you admire for inspiration. But a one on one copy of someone’s sound? It isn’t going to help you in the long game.
“For me personally the preset packs also had a profound effect on my career – they meant I could finally afford my US work Visa. I came out here mid-July and since then I’ve only had two free weekends. It’s been nonstop.
“Before then I had only played in Germany, Finland, France and Sweden. So it’s been an eye-opener and I’ve seen a whole load of America this year. From Minneapolis and the Mall of America to Fargo to Albuquerque and the Breaking Bad house. Dallas, Greenville, Seattle, Denver. And so many more. It’s been incredible!
“And because of my move out here there have been more collaborations. It’s so much easier. Me and Datsik have tried to work together for at least half a year but it’s never happened – you’re far away, you don’t talk, you’re both on tour. So to have an afternoon in the same studio is so much more fun and creative. Nasty came about so quickly!
“Nasty also touches on the current movement of bringing back that rough sound. I love how Myro and a few of the other guys have brought back that old 2008 sound. I’ve heard what Funtcase has coming up and it’s incredible. There’s a few guys doing it. It’s so vibey. You can listen to it at home – it’s not just club thing which is just a hard thing to perfect.
“The middle ground is the ultimate destination; something that’s melodic enough for to buzz to in a car and at home but still heavy enough to go off in a club and get DJ support which ultimately gets you more bookings. My remix of Flux Pavilion – Emotional is a track where I feel I found that middle ground, actually.
“I was also very happy to see how well In My Head did. I want to release more of that and have been working on a lot of it. In fact I’m personally happy with how every release went this year and wish I could have done more… But, truly, I’ve never played as many shows as I have this year so I’ve not been as productive as I’d have like to be. Next year I’ll be taking some time off – maybe lock myself away in a cabin in the forest, chop my own firewood and make tunes.
“But as far as 2016 has been, I can safely say I’ve had the most fun I’ve had in my life. I suspect next year will be just as much fun…. It starts with the Datsik tour. My first bus tour. Wish me luck!”
FYI: You may want to look out for a special gift from Virtual Riot on Facebook this Christmas…