TIP 133 – Tilt

Tilt are Mick Park and Nic Britton… But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the day, Tilt originally began with Mick Parks and Mick Wilson in Coventry, England. The focal point in the early days was a club called Eclipse; the first club in the UK to get a late licence and successfully move the rave ‘indoors’ into the club context that we know today. They became resident DJ’s and it was there that they met Sasha, who proved to be a great inspiration for the boys and gave them the confidence to go on and produce their own material. Their work as a duo (Parks and Wilson) has a long and successful history as both DJs and music producers.

They met John Graham, another like-minded Coventrian and set up a band called Tilt in 1993 as a production outfit. They signed to Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto label and the big break came in 1995 with ‘I Dream’ a top 40 hit in the UK. Other tracks were to follow in the success, such as ‘My Spirit’ and ‘Places’ and in 1998 Tilt recorded ‘Rendezvous’ with Paul Van Dyk. Its inclusion on the record breaking Oakenfold Tranceport US CD brought the sound of Tilt to a North American audience. The Perfecto deal ran its course and soon they were signed Red Jerry’s Hooj Choons, where they had more success; one of the more successful tracks being ‘Invisible’ (a tune recorded with Dom Atkins a.k.a. Grace on vocals), which went top 20. More underground tracks such as ‘What’s This’ and ‘The Seduction of Orpheus’ followed, both of which featured heavilly on dance compilations – to date Tilt have had 7 UK’s hit.

John Graham left Tilt in 2002 to concentrate on his Quivver project and Tilt became a duo again, but still working alongside Nic Britton. After leaving Hooj, Tilt released two further EPs “Headstrong” and “Left Of Centre” which built on their darker, edgier sound. Mick Park had done a lot of work with a young producer Andy Moor who is known for solo work and also for collaborations such as Leama and Moor, Sworn and Whiteroom. The combination of Mick, Mick and Andy worked so they decided to produce more songs together and subsequently the 24 year old joined Tilt. In 2004 they released their debut album “Explorer” on the Lost Language label. It was a great success and spawned three singles; one of the tracks of 2005 The World Doesn’t Know, Twelve and New Day. In 2004 Mick Wilson left Tilt to pursue his band (Broken Dolls) and solo projects. Andy left in the early 2005 and the guys carried on working with Alex Brown until early 2013.

Tilt teamed up with arguably the most distinctive vocalist of the 90s dance scene – Sam Mollison for The Hurt, the first single from a new album out in September. I caught up with Mick Park earlier this month to chat about the single, the album and the future for Tilt.

Hi Mick, its great to talk to you again, hows your day been?

Nice to be here, thanks. Today has been a typically busy day in the studio.

The history of the band is well documented, so I wont dwell on the past. What I would like to know though, of all the albums and singles you’ve recorded over your music career, which was the track that you learned the most on? Musically or in terms of the business.

Its hard to say really, it’s like choosing your favourite child. At a push I would have to say ‘I Dream’, as it was our first track as TILT which really made an impact from its debut. Mick Wilson and I had been away on tour in the USA. On our return we had learnt that Sasha had played it live on Radio 1 at Renaissance, Que club in Birmingham that previous weekend. Dave (Gardner) had recorded it on cassette and we must have listened to it about 100 times in the car, the crowd were going crazy when he dropped it. That was a very special time for Mick, John and myself.

So lets focus on the new track – The Hurt. Its out in a few weeks on the label you now A&R for. Was it a difficult decision to release on Pro-B-Tech?

It was a no brainer, we have committed long term to Pro B Tech Records and Brent Lawson has been fantastic to work with on so many levels. It’s very refreshing making your own decisions and having the team ready to support you on that. I am head of A&R, however, I still have to deal with the day to day running of things for the label, which can get a bit tricky time wise if we are working on TILT.

The Original track is, how can I describe this, …classic Tilt. Theres a strong drum/bass line and the synths and percussion shows a maturity and patience borne from years of practice. My personal favourite is the dub. I do love a bit of acid! What hardware/software do you use now?

We’ve been using quite a lot of analogue gear on this album, so we have basically gone full circle to how we used to make our music. The acid lines came from our xOx synth and the rest of came of the Juno 106 and Korg MS20. We do switch between Logic – Cubase (sometimes ProTools), it just depends on what we need for that particular project. Waves SSL eq’s and compressors sound great for most mix duties and the Bombfactory BF76 is another favourite. We also used an Oberheim SEM and the Telemark which have the best band-pass filter around. SoundToys plug-ins add extra filtering and panning effects and there are some great freeware plugins around such as Synth1 which is a Nord Lead emulator that sounds just as good as some of the more familiar virtual synths.

You’ve brought in some amazing remixers – Kastis Torrau and Arnas D along with Brazilian wonder kid Andre Sobota and the talented Daniel Brooks. How do you choose who to send parts to and how much of the decision is you the A&R guy vs you the artist?

Kastis & Arnas are two really talented guys, we collaborated with them both on another project called Kiss Magnetic last year, so it was great to have them involved on ‘The Hurt’. They’ve just got a great sound which works so well in a club. We’ve known Andre for quite a while now, so I had asked him to remix the track a few months ago. His remix has that great big room sound, which is what he’s so good at. TR20 are two very talented producers to look out for in 2014, we’ve done a couple of things with them this year and I just love their sound! Finally, Daniel Brooks has also delivered a cool vibe on his remix, which will definitely suit the more underground DJ.

Sam Mollison delivers a brilliant vocal for this track and I’m pleased that prog house is steering back towards a strong song based approach. How did you meet Sam and how often have you been able to work together?

Well we’ve know Sam since the mid nineties, as I mentioned before Mick and I were DJing quite a lot in the United States and we had met him through Sasha in Orlando, Florida. To date we have written three tracks for Sam and it’s always a pleasure to work with him – he’s just a legendary vocalist.

A lot of your tracks feature a vocal. What processing/treatment do they typically undergo?

Without going into too much detail, the first thing is to have a good Microphone such as an AKG 414 or Solidtube into a decent mic-pre (DBX 386 or Avalon). We often double track our songs so it’s vital we get at least two really good takes. De-essing/editing and compression is normally our next task followed by effects etc, again the Waves SSL bundle usually suits but depending on the vocalist the Oxford Suppressor and a Pultec or LA2A can work. Generally no tuning is needed but some Vari-Audio / Autotune can smooth intonation for long held notes as long as the processing isn’t too hard and obvious. We are very focused on melodies and lyrics being correct, so that can be a bit time consuming (I leave that to Mr Britton).

How is the album going? On track?

Yeah, the album is really coming together now, we’ve just got to fine tune one or two tracks before we commence mixing. To be honest its been really enjoyable doing this record. For once we have been left to our own devices, creatively and musically throughout the whole process. I would have to say ‘yes’ it’s on track for our scheduled release date in September.

Can we expect any more singles to be released before the album drops?

No, the album will be next, we will obviously be releasing tracks off that once it’s released.

How about gigs to promote the album? Any big dates you can tell us about?

At the moment we are just concentrating on just getting everything finished, once this is complete we will be definitely doing a ‘live’ tour to support the album.

The band has changed members, but the vibe and sound of Tilt has remained pretty constant. Which of the band members do you think you learned the most from, professionally or personally?

At the end of the day, they are all our friends and we got together through the love of music. We wanted to create something which is very special and memorable and I think we have certainly done that with TILT. Making music is all about making decisions, the trick is to make the correct ones and learn from the wrong ones!

You kindly made us an exclusive mix. What did you use to make it and is there a story behind the tracks you’ve chosen?

We used blood, sweat and tears!! No, the tracks we have used on the mix are a cross section of the music we are digging at the moment. I have been sent so much good music recently and I always look forward to hearing any new production.

Busy as you are, you guys are also part of a charity project too, called Underground Allstars. Can you tell us a little about that project?

It’s something we started two years ago to raise money for sick and disabled children. It’s a project very dear to me and I couldn’t do it without the producer’s & remixer’s who give their services for free. To date we have raised over £6000, which is a massive achievement. Every year is different as each child needs specific medical equipment. In 2014 we are raising money for a little boy called Sebby who needs a sensory room to help his neurological development. You can log onto the Underground Allstars Facebook page for fundraising information and to donate money.

21 Years and counting! Whats the secret to your continued success?

It sounds cliché’d, but, love what you do and stay true to it. Keep your head down and work hard at your craft, eventually it will pay off.

As always Mick, its been both a pleasure and enlightening chatting with you. The singles out on April 28th and the album is available in September. What else is Tilt up to?

Right now – making a cup of coffee and answering emails!

01// Dusty Kid – Far [Artist]
02// Pete Bones – House Squared (Radi & Keith Mix) [CitySeven]
03// Ame feat Vulkano – Den Ratta [Innervisions]
04// Dusty Kid – Escape [Artist]
05// Underground Allstars – Hail to the Seraphim [Artist]
06// Maceo Plex – Conjure Bass [Ellum Audio]
07// TILT ft Sam Mollison – The Hurt (TILT’s Back to Dark Mix)[Pro-B-Tech]
08// Che Armstrong & DarXoul – One Night in Paris [Axon]