London born artist DOKTA is a name not all of you will be familiar with but he is certainly one to keep a keen eye on. He was signed to Ralph Lawson’s 20/20 Vision Recordings in 2017 and has already racked up four impressive releases, ‘2nd Nature EP’ (featuring remixes from Seth Troxler & Bas Ibellini, and Jay Clarke), ‘Baby Powder’ (produced with Leonidas), and ‘London Nights’, (featuring remixes from Burnski, Ralph Lawson, and Jason Heath) and of course his latest debut album. His music has already gained huge support from the likes of Maya Jane Coles, Seth Troxler, Laurent Garnier, Francois K, and many more.
With the release of his debut album, ‘Metronomic’ 2018 is shaping up to be a very good year for this very talented producer. I managed to grab some time with DOKTA to talk about his new album, what he has planned for 2018, and his huge collection of hardware that he uses as his live setup.
DOKTA is a man that appears to keep interaction to a minimum on social media which is, by all means, no bad thing from my point of view. I was keen to find out what it was that first got him into electronic music, “Acid house, it just blew my mind. It’s that simple really. Once I heard that sound that was it. I then went in balls deep and engulfed myself in the process of learning piano and how to make music… and the rest is history.” Can’t ask for a more honest answer than that. We went on to speak about some of DOKTA’s earliest influences and he added “Orbital, LFO, Pink Floyd, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Thelonious Monk to name a few.”
Having just listened to his new album we quickly moved on to that very subject. His album spans multiple genres, so I went on to ask DOKTA how he would describe his sound?
“My music is exactly that, a mish-mash of my favourite genres all thrown together as one. We had this conversation in 2016 with Ralph Lawson and Bobby Pleasure, the question was put “What is this music?” – and Ralph Lawson was like, “It’s more like an oil painting, like a work of art”. It’s techno but a bit different.”
When Ralph Lawson refers to your music as an oil painting or work of art you know you are doing something very right! Whilst on the subject of production I had heard that DOKTA had a unique one take process when it comes to productions. DOKTA went on to say “it’s not really a unique process, it’s just how it was done back in the day. You get the machines all working together and then you record to tape. These days, the tape has been replaced by the computer/DAW. So I have to say 15 different machines doing whatever I want, then when I am a set to go, I do a performance (like a dance) and record the parts into the computer where I can then do whatever edits I need to do in the computer. I do use a lot of analogs so it makes sense for it to go down in one take.”
With DOKTA now on his fourth release for Ralph Lawson’s 20/20 Vision label I asked DOKTA how his relationship with Ralph and the label first came about…
“I was working with Remi Mazet & Clive Henry in their studio in Hackney Wick when I was introduced to then 2020 Vision label manager, Bobby Connolly. A few months later I sent Bobby 28 tracks. Once he had a listen Bobby got on the blower (London slang for telephone) and called Ralph and told him about this demo. That was a Sunday, on Tuesday I was offered an album deal with 2020. I accepted and then went out to celebrate.”
If you ever read or find out more about DOKTA it soon becomes clear that he is a massive collector of hardware. We spoke about his collection, and I asked how it first began?
“My collection has been something that’s been growing over the last 30 years. I have some bits of kit you won’t find anywhere else. Some pieces I have acquired needed lots of work done to them to make them work properly. One such item came straight out of the BBC sound design lab (a Sequential Circuits Six-Track) 0 I purchased that unit 5 years ago and is only now just fixed (going to collect it today with my Roland SRE-555). So my studio is always changing – new items get introduced and some go off for servicing.”
This lead me on to ask how he manages to incorporate so much hardware into his live sets… “It’s actually not that hard. If you understand how MIDI works and CV/GATE then you find a way to make them gel together. I think the hub of this is the Midas desk I have on stage. It allows me to send anything to anywhere I want it to go, at the flick of a switch. It looks mean, I know, but really it’s not that hard. Once everything is running in sync, I am then free to focus on the performance.” I asked DOKTA what his favourite piece of hardware is… “Haaaaa, that’s easy. My Akai MPC 4000+. I squeak and arrange everything with it.”
I was keen to know more about this mans complete love for hardware. I asked, “What is it you prefer about hardware over software?” He replied “the sound. I think that recently, people like UAD have brought some serious shit to the table that’s very close to analog. I don’t believe that digital is quite there yet when it comes to synthesis (sound creation) but for processing (compression/EQ etc) they’re really on point. So for me, analog does sound much more natural than digital.”
I had heard on the grapevine that DOKTA was due to play a special live show in a record store very soon. I wanted to find out more so asked the man to divulge… “Nope, you just have to keep your eyes and ears open for news. I don’t lie to talk about where I am performing or who I’m performing with. I like to see the look on people’s faces when they hear my music for the first time, I get a real kick out of it. We’ll have some limited vinyl of the album available for sale (probably the only way you’ll get to own the album on vinyl).” It is refreshing to meet an artist that is just happy to let his music and performances do the talking. All to often, as many of you are aware, this industry can be full of overinflated egos and too much talk.
Since DOKTA’s first release on 20/20 Vision, he has certainly been getting all the right recognition. I asked him “What have been some of the toughest lessons over the past few years whilst breaking through into the scene?” He went on to say, “patience and not talking about my music.”
“Most of us expect things to happen straight away. In this, I have learned that there is no point rushing anything, it’s better to plan and to make sure everything is in place before you present your work to the world. Why do something in half measures? If you’re going to do music, do it well and do it right.”
I went on to ask DOKTA about what else we could expect from him over 2018… “The album (14th May), and in the summer a track on a special compilation on Lewd Trax (a new label connected to the new venue in Tottenham, ‘The Cause’). Also, I think most of 2018 will be about the live set! Anyhow, I have about 8 new tracks that need to get released, so I’m excited to find homes for them.” I cannot wait to hear these new tracks!
Finally, I asked DOKTA if he would like to mention anything before we went our separate ways… “I met these young producers just before I met Bobby that inspired me. I was going through a massive depression, no tea, no prospects, and complete writer’s block. One of the guys (Nemah) said: “Hard work beats talent if talent dissents against hard work”. This got me thinking hard and I had to check myself and re-evaluate my future. This was exactly what I needed to hear.”
I would like to thank DOKTA for his time and this great chat, and we here at Decoded Magazine wish him a great 2018 and a superb career in this industry. I am sure our paths will cross again in the future.
You can buy DOKTA’s new album here.