After his studio was broken into in December and hundreds of recordings were stolen, electronic music architect BT had to take his upcoming album in a different direction.
“This is a very emotional album,” BT said Sunday backstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (see “Review: Bjork’s Pit, Beck’s Set Among Few Surprises At Risk-Free Coachella” ). “I’m singing a lot on this album. The collaborations are with people I really care about, like Peter Gabriel and the Roots and Guru from Gang Starr. It’s a really special record. I’m already proud of it and it’s not done.”
The still-untitled follow-up to 2000′s Movement in Still Life would probably be released by now if not for the break-in, which crushed the normally sky-high spirits of the producer (see “BT’s Collaborations With Sarah McLachlan, Peter Gabriel Stolen” ). But BT said he has fully recovered and is feeling better than ever.
“I just re-centered myself and reminded myself that I am really fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living,” he said. “There’s got to be a reason some of the tracks disappeared into the ether, they must not have been meant to be heard. I just made peace with that.”
Over the last few months BT has written several new songs, which his friends have told him are the best he has ever written.
“They’re just really emotional, like on the tip of ‘Satellite’ from the last album,” BT said. “They’re sort of Sigur Rós, Radioheady type electronic-rock music. And the stuff that is more breakbeat-oriented, that stuff is particularly aggro. It’s hard to describe, … but it’s starting to make sense as an album.”
As for collaborations, BT said he lost the Sarah McLachlan track in the burglary and may not have a chance to re-record it. “Tao of the Machine,” his song with the Roots, appeared on the “Blade 2″ soundtrack earlier this year (see “Eve, Ice Cube, Redman Go Electronic For ‘Blade 2′ “ ) and will also show up on BT’s album remixed and longer. And along with Guru, dance music luminaries Sasha and Paul van Dyk will make guest appearances, pleasing BT’s longtime trance fans and retaining a bit of his signature sound.
“Stylistically, in terms of beats and things, even on the rock songs, I’ve been taking the aesthetic of proper techno stuff that I like, Autechre and Richie Hawtin, the really clippy-style computer-type beats, and mixing it with stuff like the hip-hop and R&B I listen to, like Timbaland.”
“Our Loving Silence,” the collaboration with Gabriel, features BT playing seven-string bass over “mental beats.” “They sound like a typewriter with epilepsy,” BT said. “It’s kind of like world music meets Autechre, with Peter singing over the top of it.”
BT said his work as producer in the pop world last year with ‘NSYNC and Britney Spears has not influenced his own music (“There’s not going to be dancing in my videos,” he insists). The work did inspire BT to continue producing for other artists, and he has a major one lined up for the summer that he’s keeping tight-lipped about.
Meanwhile, BT just finished remixing the new Korn single, “Here to Stay” (see “Korn’s Jonathan Davis On New Video: ‘This Is What Kids Are Taught’ “ ). Korn’s record label loved one of his versions but passed on the other.
“Jonathan [Davis] sounds like Timmy from ‘South Park,’ so I made it a duet,” BT said, laughing. “The label said, ‘Ah, no dude.’ I’m playing that tonight, though!”
Also on BT’s plate are two film scores, though he won’t reveal the title of either one. His past projects have included “Go,” “Under Suspicion,” “Driven” and “The Fast and the Furious.”
“I want to do an independent film, like something that’s for the art of it, and then something I can write strings for a 120-piece orchestra for,” BT said. “You can’t do that on an independent. I get to use all of the classical training I learned as kid. I don’t even get to use it on my own record, ’cause it’s so cost-prohibitive. When I have done it, I’m like, ‘Don’t show me the bill!’ “