Sabretooth, or Ben Fraser to his friends, has been making a big splash on the international psy scene over the last few years with lots of releases on big labels and appearances at major festivals. It's been no overnight success though - Ben started producing over 15 years ago and has released three albums as well as becoming a major draw on the Northern (UK) party circuit. With the release of Sabretooth's fourth album of remixes, we caught up with Ben to find out more...
How would you describe Sabretooth's sound to someone who's never heard you?
It's my unique take on the usual psy trance sound - with elements of prog and full-on. It's deep, driving and techy, a little bit grittier and tougher than the norm, with a dash of old-school acid vibes for good measure!
Can you tell us about your new album?
I've spent the last 2 years working on it. The idea came to me after doing a few remixes for BMSS and Digital Om. I enjoyed doing them so much that I thought it would be a good project. Little did I know what I would be letting myself in for haha!
How does it work - do you get the original parts and remix them - or did you have to use the actual track for any of them?
I contacted quite a few different producers in the scene. Amazing the difference responses... Some of the busiest and highest-profile artists responded positively and sent me parts within days. Others never get round to sending the parts. Some never respond! Ultimately it was refreshing to see how friendly and open a lot of producers in the scene are - and I'm over the moon with the final track listing on the album. A huge honour for me to remix some of my biggest influences.
It's interesting the variety of parts you get given. It ranges from a handful of audio files representing the key hooks and leads from the original track (20MB) to literally every single track exported in its entirety (7GB!). To be honest, the former is easier to work with!
The only remix I did without parts was Teleport which is largely based on the original track. Quite a few people have been asking me how I've done that - I may do a studio cast at some point explaining the process...
Any reactions from the original artists?
Again a range of responses - everything from a thumbs up to 'feedback' phone calls! I guess different producers have different ideas on what a 'good' remix is. Production standards are so high in the psy scene that in a few cases, I had to really raise my game to even get the remix approved.... And yes, one remix did not make it onto the album. It'll have to remain a secret weapon for my sets now. And no, I won't tell you what it was, haha!
Any particular fave tracks on the album and why?
I started work on the album 2 years ago so there's been plenty of time for me to fall in and out of love with all the remixes a few times! Teleport stands out I guess. The original is such a seminal track both for on a personal level and for the trance scene in general. In some ways I don't really feel like I've remixed it so much as updated it - I've simply given the track a new arrangement and lick of paint so it can be played in any contemporary psy set.
Otherwise, currently I like the Nocturnal remix. I enjoyed working with the dark atmosphere from the original track and I feel it's the remix I managed to stamp my own identity on the most.
You've done a reworking of one of your old classic tunes - Conga Eel - how did you bring that into 2018? Any thoughts on how your production has changed?
The original track almost never made it onto my first Sabretooth album. I didn't think the production was up to much (quite rightly lol). However it's the track that always got the most attention - something to do with that tribal vocal hook. There's a lesson in there somewhere I think, haha. Anyway, it'd always been in the back of my mind to redo the track as a result.
How has my production evolved? Not that much other than it has - hopefully - become deeper, crisper, cleaner and so on. Ultimately it all comes down to the template I use to start all my tracks - which evolves alongside my production. It gives me default FX, routing and other things that speeds up my production process hugely, as well as shaping my sound.
What’s your Ben Fraser production side up to? Do you want to explain to the readers the difference between Sabretooth and Ben Fraser?
Not much unfortunately. Though I still love the acid techno sound on the dancefloor, I've not found anything production-wise that really excites me... but never say never! I'm still keen on writing more stuff that combines the pure acid techno sound with psy production standards - I think I was halfway there when I did '2424' for Scythe Squadron a while ago...
What are you listening to just now (electronic and otherwise)
Psytrance wise I'm particularly enjoying Relativ and Out Of Range currently - the production is out of this world! I'm enjoying the new Reaky album - the guy is so talented and able to mix up so many different genres without worrying about the usual boundaries.
Non-electronic-wise, I've always been a big fan of punk music. The latest Pennywise is awesome - though it sounds like every other Pennywise album haha. I've been getting into the Menzingers recently - they have the ability to write sad punk songs which in my book is very hard to do. Otherwise I'm also a big fan of ska and dub....and anything which generates extreme emotion from me - be it excitement, sadness, etc.
Keen to get my teeth into the next big project - not sure what at this stage. I like the idea of putting my hand to a slower techier sound, psychedelic techno I guess... but something a bit funkier but still properly drenched in 303s! Otherwise I've got a collaborations album in the back of my mind maybe... we'll see!
All images courtesy of Ben Fraser, not to be reproduced without permission
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