Interview with Mindset
Well everyone we are extremely excited to bring you yet another review, this time with one of progressive house’s most sought out producers at this time. Ladies and gentleman we bring you the progressive house king of Liverpool…Jay Ardrey…better known to the progressive community as “Mindset”. Let’s hear what this progressive genius has to say about his producing title, his methods of production, where his story started in music and a slew of technical and random questions that any fan will be interested in hearing about.
1.) Hello there Jay!! First off let me say what an immense pleasure it is to have you on board for this interview, we have been vying to get you interviewed for months under high demand and are ecstatic to finally have you. So to kick this interview off why don’t you tell us a little about yourself? Who is Jay Ardrey and where did this alias Mindset originate from? You previously were doing productions under the alias Soso, what caused you to have a change of heart and to go with the Mindset alias?
Hi! I love PHWW and they have always supported me and I am more than happy
I am possibly the most boring person you will ever meet sadly! I don’t drink or smoke and spend most days with my girlfriend, writing music or hanging out with friends. I keep my circle of friends very small and to people I trust, but online I seem to have made hundreds of friends through music, it’s quite surreal. One online friend I have made is a guy called Kevin from Canada who produces music under the name Lessov and he was the one who came up with the Mindset name. I did start progressive house music under the name Soso but when my first tracks were picked up by Macarize I discovered a rapper called Soso already had a position on beatport and could cause some confusion, so Macarize thought it would be easier if I changed my name before releasing any music, which I immediately did. The new ideas sucked though, so I asked Kevin to brainstorm and Mindset was in the list he gave me and it stood out. No meaning behind it, I just like it.
2.) So where does your story in music start? Do you have any main inspirations? What drove you to decide on having progressive house be your go to genre in production?
When I was around 13 my dad bought a new home computer and I quickly turned it into my own after never really using a computer and spending my childhood playing outside or staring at a TV playing a PlayStation. After about a year I somehow got talking to a guy from Scotland who made edits of tracks and I didn’t understand any of it. He sent me a cracked version of FL studio 6 and told me to just experiment, which I did. Within a month I had written a song. It had no melody, a flat bass line and consisted of only a couple of drums, but it was 4 minutes long and it was, in some ways, music. I gradually picked things up just playing around more and more and got more confident. After 2 years I finally got a good ear for pitch and could then write melodies and chord progressions. They sucked, but I could do it. I got bored of producing at one point around 2009 and didn’t really enjoy it because I felt I had hit a wall and had no idea what I wanted to make. A guy asked me if I had heard of progressive house, so I checked it out. I instantly fell in love with the complex melodies and harmonies that just sounded so warm yet so energetic. Everything sounded deep and I had no idea how any of the sounds were made but I wanted in. I made a couple of terrible tracks but kept at it and after a year, Macarize signed my first EP and less than a year after my first signing, I’m doing interviews and remixing for Ad Brown and other big trance artists, I honestly can’t describe it but it feels good.
3.) How would you describe your sound as an artist? What truly inspires you to make the incredible music that you do? Is there any immediate source of inspiration that you feed off of regularly such as family, friends or spouse?
My sound changes a lot. It bugs me, but other people seem to like it as every new track I make is a surprise. As for inspiration, I don’t know how to answer this as I never write music with something in mind; I just draw in notes and let whatever happens, happen. I suppose if I’m in a happy mood, I will write a track with a good vibe and uplifting feel to it, and if I’m worried or stressed I will write something a little darker or deeper, but that is subconscious and not something I aim for or do on purpose. I learned very early on that if you force something to happen, it won’t happen. So I just let it flow and see what comes out at the end.
4.) Now for some technical questions for other producers out there as well as fans who are generally interested in your setup. What do you use for your productions as far as software? Do you use any hardware? Are there any specific plug-ins or interfaces that you particularly like and tend to use?
PC and set up is pretty basic. Quadcore with 4 GB ram running a patched 32bit Windows 7. KRK rokit 8 monitors and an M audio FTP interface.
As for software, I was writing on FL studio up until around September 2011 and now I use Ableton which in many ways I prefer and sometimes wish I had changed to earlier. I still have massive love for FL and don’t intend to discredit it in any way; I just prefer Ableton’s layout and workflow. I mainly use Sylenth for everything, the only other plug in I use is nexus for bells and piano sounds, everything else is Sylenth. As many people say, it’s not what you have; it’s how you use it.
5.) Give us a quick idea of what you do when creating a new track. What are the processes you take and in what order do you usually work when finding new ideas and inspiration?
Some tracks are based upon MIDI files that I wrote years ago. The chords for “Yuu” I wrote about 3 years ago. Same for “Olympus”, “California” and “Lyva.” Others I make up as I go. My technique in the past was to write a chord progression, then a bass line and then build melodies into it but I started to find it turning out very poor 50% of the time. Now I start with a hook line or melody first, something nice that even on its own can be very nice to listen to. This also sets the scale of the track and makes it very easy to work around. Then I’ll add a bass line, making it harmonic and warming as possible to the melody. After that I use the bass line notes for the bottom notes of the chord progression and just build notes upon it until it is something I can turn into a track. Once I have that and a nice flow going, I will add drums, FX and then more synths such as plucks and random notes to add some warmth.
I mix down my projects as I go and usually set the arrangement up first, do some basic mastering, set the automation points and then re-tweak the master. If I’m feeling creative, I can do all this and finish a track in around 4 hours. (I’m pretty bad at procrastinating, so it usually takes me a couple of days!)
6.) What is a normal day in the life of James Ardrey like? Are there any hobbies or sports you are into that tend to peel you away from the computer screen on a regular basis?
I used to go to the gym and play squash about 3-4 times a week. It kept me very fit but around October my car insurance was due and I couldn’t afford it, leaving me without wheels and being too lazy to walk to the gym, I have stripped muscle and put on some weight since then. I keep trying to motivate myself to jog more or eat better but I just don’t seem to be able to do it. I only spend time on my music 3 or 4 days a week, the rest I spend with my girlfriend who doesn’t like me sitting in front of a PC all day being loud so if we have money we go out, we shop, we go for food, we have a nice time. If we don’t have money we sit in and watch movies, so I’m not always in front of a PC, but I really should get out more!
7.) For the short amount of time that you have been in the music industry you have really made some headway with your productions and have attained a good name for yourself so far. What can we expect from you in the near future?
Things happen so fast that I can’t really predict anything. I have just finished a remix for Ad Brown and a Dutch DJ who supports my tracks often who I am really happy about working for, but all this happens randomly and I’m confident I will grow, but I have no idea what will happen.
8.) If you had to choose 5 different DJ’s that you admire and respect the most, who would they be?
1. Eric Prydz. He is one of my favorite artists and his live sets are full of different genres and masses of unreleased tracks from himself purely made for him to use as dance floor weapons.
2. Deadmau5. I’m not a fan of his music anymore since he changed his style but he aims to put on a good show for his fans and he seems to do a pretty epic job at it and from what I know all of his live set up is paid for out of his own pocket!
3. Sadly this is where the list runs out as I don’t really follow the DJ scene much and don’t listen to much electronic music! When I see people starting off in house music there are so many DJ’s that they all just blend in together and everything is emotionless. These DJ’s are simply trying to choose the cheesiest tracks to fill the dance floors, which understandably is a lot of a DJ’s job. In progressive though, a lot of DJ’s go into a lot of depth with their sets and it becomes more about playing what they enjoy and love, blending genres and creating something unique rather than just aiming to please people. It mainly is people who focus on DJing over production that truly stand out to me, and the main two that immediately come to mind for me are Max Dillon from the USA and a Croatian guy called Denis Horvat. They really put a lot of heart into their sets and always aim to find new producers; I know they definitely gave me support when I was very new and I have always appreciated that.
9.) Now the same question but pertaining to producers this time, who would they be?
1. Matt Lange, as his music is just perfection. Whatever it is, it always finds a way to connect with you.
3. Prydz as Pryda. This goes without saying really.
4. Michael Cassette is my favorite duo by far. Everything they touch turns to gold!
5. David Folkebrant because his sound is always reliable for something that can fit into any set and just carries so much energy.
10.) What are the top 5 tracks that you are truly enjoying right now?
1. Aleksey Yakolev ‘Space Odyssey’
2. Aleksey Yakolev & Kristoffer Ljungberg ‘Reverie’
3. Lessov ‘Komodo’
4. Beeloved ‘Shoegaze’
5. High Society ‘Frequency’ Aduro Remix. A friend who lives near me that started producing. It seems bias but I really enjoy the track.
11.) As many of us already know you also are a DJ as well as a producer. You have a radio show on Pure.FM titled “Mindset Midnight”, could you tell us more about the show and what direction you have for it?
I got into Djing a few years ago, but got tired of it as the club scene is very poor in the UK. I got offered my own show around September last year and jumped at the chance. I’m not a big DJ myself, so I give my second hour to another DJ as a guest mix and chance to showcase their own music or show what they’re loving right now. I don’t plan much for it other than to keep it going and hopefully keep playing some good music!
12.) If you were given a glimpse into the not so distant future, where would you see yourself? What accomplishments would you like to see if given this glimpse of yourself?
Well in Just 10 months I went from releasing my first EP, to remixing for Ad Brown. I have thought about this and it is impossible for me to answer as things move so quickly for me it just leaves me blown away. I’m confident things will change for the better but I really do have no idea and I would probably jinx it!
13.) Well that about wraps things up here, we truly appreciate your time in completing this interview with us. Are there any final words you would like to say to all of the fans at PHW?
Thank you for supporting me and supporting progressive as a whole. It really is the best scene I could imagine and the fans keep the scene going just as much as the producers and the dj’s with what they do…thank you ALL.
Once again thank you so much for this amazing opportunity to do this interview, we wish you the very best of luck in all of your upcoming goals and accomplishments and we will be behind you every step of the way!!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mindset’s work check out the player below for some amazing selections that are available now!!
April 2nd, 2012