The Toronto raised and San Fran based producer ill.GATES is nearing the iTunes release date for his latest track, “More Tea”, which features 5 remixes of the original track. The Life Backstage has the exclusive details straight from the man himself, including details on what ill.Gates is all about. But first lets discuss the details of “More Tea”…
The original track brings a very unique vibe to the table. From samples of Alan Watts discussing the ceremonial tea, to the sharp notes of a violin, and to the heavy beat of drums, ill.GATES creates a very well composed track. The usage of foley throughout the “More Tea” is excellent!
One thing to note, near the end you hear the quote:
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee
I thought this was an excellent way to tie into the “tea” theme, when you think of tea, you often think of health, well-being, and wisdom. The words of Bruce Lee are words of wisdom. He placed that sample very well.
“‘More Tea’ serves as a precursor to the forthcoming album Terminally Ill by ill.Gates.
Featuring field recordings from remote villages in China, More Tea delivers a tight melody, a great hook and awesome levels of funk and bass driven goodness. Top notch remixes are featured from established talent that is known for creating some of the best mayhem on dancefloors, namely Liquid Stranger, David Starfire and Mr. Bill and then also introduces emerging artists Sonia Calico from Taipei and Jason Hou from Beijing who each deliver some of the most tasteful remixes we could have expected.
Curated and instigated by Nathan Davis and his creative work as The Tea Syndicate, the project seeks to re-consider the culture of Gong Fu Cha (traditional Chinese tea) that’s sweeping the Western world at the moment. The samples are part of a much bigger sound library — The Taichung Archives — that was recorded in China over three decades ago by now-retired Taiwanese producer Alex Peng, and includes both studio sessions and field recordings in remote villages.” [Source: Muti Music SoundCloud]
1) How did you come up with the name ill.GATES?
I’m a nerd and I love Hip Hop. I made a huge list of names and that was the one that stuck.If you’re ever trying to name something don’t try to think of the one perfect name. Just make a big list and pick the best one. These things are usually better in hindsight. Every idea seems amazing when you first think of it.
3) In your latest release, “More Tea”, what started the creative process? The sample choices?I always try to channel myself, and to do something I haven’t done before. Whether it’s writing entirely with drumsticks, playing guitar or learning to rap I always try to get outside of my comfort zone. If you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you’ve always got. I want more than that.
It all started when a fan named Nathan mailed me some tea from Taiwan. We hit it off and he set up a Taiwanese tour for my girl and I. We ripped it up on unlicensed scooters, ate squid on a stick, and became fast friends. Nathan is a tea traveler, exploring the world and mailing tea to his online supporters. He had a vision for an ‘Urban Teahouse Remix Project’ and acquired the rights to a huge archive of samples from an aging Taiwanese producer named Alex Peng. The samples were free for us to use, provided we promoted Chinese culture and tea drinking specifically.So Nathan asked to me to spearhead his Urban Teahouse Remix Project and the next thing I knew we were flying to Austin to hit the studio. More Tea was one of those tracks that just came out right in one easy piece. Sometimes it takes me hundreds of hours to finish tracks, this was not one of those ones. We drank a huge amount of tea and it just came out effortlessly, laughing and high fives throughout the creative process. One of my favorite studio days in recent memory.
If you’re not a Bruce Lee fan you’re basically racist. It’s like hating on Bob Marley or something.I grew up in a mixed White/Black/Asian household and watched a lot of Asian films as a kid. I still love kung fu films, but the shit was an obsession for a while there. I was studying martial arts and eating my lunch at school with chopsticks and shit… smh. To this day my personal philosophies are probably closed to Taoism than anything else. I have always been inspired by Chuang Tzu the most… I read Taoist poetry all the time and try to meditate as often as possible. As much as this song might seem like a departure from my normal ill.GATES style it is a return to my roots in many ways.
Sampling and audio manipulation have always been number one for me. Ever since I sampled my first farts as a child I knew that was my shit. MPCs, finger drumming, audio glitch, pitch shifting, flipping things backwards and all that. I just can’t get enough!
When I’m home I like to wake up as early as possible, disconnect from the phone and internet, eat well, write in my journal, work out, meditate and then just write until I can’t work any more.At night I am less results oriented and tend to experiment a lot more. I do a lot of my physical practicing at night, and I do a lot more of my sound design stuff when i’m not trying to write.Separating my work into what I call ‘Day Time’ vs ‘Night Time’ sessions was a huge breakthrough. If you’re a producer I couldn’t recommend it more.If you’re learning to write music I would recommend checking out this workshop video I made: http://producerdj.com/product/ill-methodology-workshop/
Check out the “More Tea” remixes that were re-worked by Liquid Stranger, David Starfire, Mr. Bill, Sonia Calico, and Jason Hou below.