Focus on Keith Carnal

Keith Carnal Photo © Fotografie Groen

Keith Carnal established himself as one of the main Affin acts in just one year. Time to review the development of the recent months…

Joachim Spieth: Since your first EP “Analysis” on Affin things have developed quite well for you. A lot of known DJs supporting your music. Some time ago you told me that at one point (after already producing music since some years) you took a step back to rethink your music. Do you think this break was helpful?

Keith Carnal: Very much so! I really needed to overthink my direction and my true passion. I stepped into the game as a house/electro producer. Reason for that was that my friends only listened and played house and electro. So I was really influenced by that. I also was very naïve back then. I released all my productions on any label that would release it. It was mostly exciting and I never really thought about what I was doing career wise. I thought I would be well known in no time, but that turned out quite differently. After a couple of years I started hanging out with techno minded people again. Went to more raves and techno festivals. That’s when I started producing techno. Again I released some stuff to quickly and that’s when it hit me: I need to really define my goals and really have to work on my skills and course (sound wise). So that’s what I did, I really started working on the technical skills. I read a lot of books, forums, sites and watched a lot of Youtube clips, in order to gain skills. After a year of trying and adapting new learned stuff, I made the “Analysis EP” tracks within 2 months. So if you asked if it helped me, definitely. I can recommend it to anyone who’s making stuff, but not really feeling it. Take a break, overthink things and learn what you would like to achieve.

JS: A trademark of your sound is to arrange recognizable melodic lines. Can you explain the process of creating “Untold” from your actual 12” “Instantaneously” as an example ?

KC: I mostly start out with the Kick and Bassline, to get the groove going. Add some hihats and percussion to that and I just listen to a loop for some time. In this case I had a melody in my head, which I then played out. That melody is always altered and before I know it, there’s a whole track playing out loud! Afterwards I can’t tell you what I did where or how. I think that’s called complete focus ;)
If I don’t have a melody in my head I just listen to music for a day sometimes. After a while I get inspired and start producing again. Sometimes that helps, but last winter I didn’t really come up with anything for 3 months. Call it a writers block.

JS: Do you have a synth or plug­in in your setup that you wouldn’t like to miss?

KC: Yes, I often use Omnisphere by Spectrasonics. It has perfect textures for every track! Love that thing! The diversity of the sounds is absolutely amazing. You can get any kind of ambient sound with that thing, I love it. Combine that with the standard plug-ins in Ableton and it works in every track. The one I use on every sound is the EQ Eight of Ableton. That really helps to filter certain frequencies. Simple, yet very effective! Also I always get the question: “ what do you use for production”. I don’t think it really matters which software you use, as long as you know how to work it. Of course there are distinct differences between Logic, Ableton, Reason and Cubase, but in the end, they can all do the job properly (when it comes to only producing).

JS: What are the key components for you of feeling touched by music?

KC: Good question! I think it’s all about the groove and the hook combined. I can hear it in 3 seconds, whether a track is golden or not. When I receive promo’s I listen to the first 3 seconds and then I skip to the middle. If it’s a good track, you hear it in an instant. So then I listen to the full track. If it’s shit (or less good), I don’t bother listening to it for very much longer. Percussion is also an important element in tracks and not to be underestimated. I don’ t mean that you have to make every track as if it was a tribal song, but the finesse of it, can make it really special. I really like how Jonas Kopp and Kwartz use their percussion. Very original and that makes the tracks very special as well!

“Instantaneously” 12″ is already released, digital find below