The well respected duo of Paul Greenhalgh and Paul Smith, aka Total Science, are one of the UK’s most respected Drum & Bass acts having recorded for labels such as Good Looking, Basement, Digital, Metalheadz, Reinforced, and True Playaz amongst many others. They recently released a sample pack as part of Loopmasters’ Artist Series so we caught up with Jason (aka Quiff) to find out about their production techniques…
Hi Quiff, first a quick of background question for those of our customers who aren’t so familiar with Total Science… how did you get into producing electronic music?
Total Science are me, Jason Greenhalgh (Q Project), and him Paul Smith (Spinback).
It was the love of all things hip hop back in the mid 80’s that brought me and Paul together as friends and even back then we knew we wanted to be involved in some kind of music production.
Him as a dj and me as a producer, I at that point already had a little set up of a Roland SH101, a Oberheim DX and some other bits and bobs but it was so hard to be able to afford to get a proper set up together until the early 90’s by which point we had turned into hardcore ravers and I’d sold all my stuff for party funds. Luckily I met a guy called Graham Mew who had a Cheetah sampler and after a chance meeting at an Oxford free rave I convinced him to let me come round and do a track. The fourth tune I ever came up with round his little bedroom set up was Q Project ‘Champion Sound’, which went on to be a big early Jungle tune so we started a label called Legend with two other close friends to release it.
Me and Paul originally recorded a few 12s as The Funky Technicians until around 1996 when we decided to start recording as Total Science as we had a new sound we wanted to push so, with the aid of another friend, we started C.I.A our flagship label. Since then we have written 3 albums, recorded for loads of key drum & bass labels and remixed everyone from Goldie to Arthur Baker. We are now old but act like children and still love creating music on a daily basis or whenever real life allows.
You recently released a sample pack for Loopmasters Artist Series, how did you become involved with this?
We got involved through Hospital records with whom we’ve worked with on and off for many years.
How did you approach the task of putting together the sample pack?
From the off we wanted to give the CD the Total Science feel but, as we use quite a lot of samples ourselves, mainly classic sounds from our vinyl collections, we had to go back to the drawing board and get the old analogue synths out, with the drums that meant building them up layer by layer from scratch.
Which software and hardware was particularly key to the creation of the collection?
We use Ableton Live 8 and Logic 9 as our main DAW’s, we also have a vast selection of zips full of samples from our old EMU e6400 which is where we sourced a lot of our drum hits from breaks we’d made over the years. For the musical parts we mainly used the Access Music Virus C, Roland JV 1080 , Oberheim matrix 1000 and various soft synths including the reFX Vanguard, Native Instruments Massive and various Ableton synths.
What other software do you find yourselves using most frequently when producing your tracks?
Each week there seems to be a new synth to fiddle about with, we are currently enjoying Spectrasonics Omnisphere, as for creating we are in love with Ableton at the moment, we are still very much beginners with it but as a creative tool it seems to be just what the doctor ordered and I’d never be without Logic for getting a finished product sounding how we like it.
Which of your studio hardware could you not do without?
Me personally, my Mackie 824’s, they have been with me for some years now and seen me through four different studio space changes.
What’s on your hardware and software wishlist?
Everything lol, too many old analogue synths to mention but as for fresh stuff Paul has just bought a Native Instruments Maschine and I want one too, also really want a Access Music Virus TI Polar Whiteout, in fact I must have one soon!
Advances in technology, download speeds and the availability of affordable software has meant we have seen a surge in new sample library brands, which obviously means more choice for the customer but not necessarily more good quality samples. Having released a sample pack yourselves, what advice would you give to someone who is thinking of creating their own libraries to sell?
I’d say if you’re an established artist try as much as possible to keep it in tune with your own style. If you’re not, then make it in the style that all the kids with disposable incomes are into.
What’s coming up for Total Science in the next few months? Any more sample packs on the horizon?
Total Science are back on a roll and have a nice selection of tracks out or about to drop including 12s with S.P.Y & Lenzman on Subtitles and on our own Deep Kut label. In May, the Massive Total Science & S.P.Y “Ghostrider” EP on our C.I.A , plus tracks in the pipeline for Critical and a few other key players, lots of DJing around the globe as per usual. Now we’re almost settled in our new studio the long awaited 4th album will be our next major project. As for sample packs we would defiantly be up for doing another at some point .
And finally… Quiff, what’s happening with Q-Project these days?
Phew, there’s an interview all of its own right there! The long and the short of it is since we had to start a fresh for our new studio base camp (my spare bedroom a couple of years back) I’ve been concentrating on all things Total Science to keep the dream alive but rest assured I’ll be back very soon.
Click here to find out more about the Total Science sample pack
More information about Total Science can be found here