Interview – Screamcatcher

Screamcatcher is a Chicago based electro & dubstep producer. M3 caught up with the man behind the beats to talk about file sharing, SOPA and the future of music distribution…

M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Screamcatcher – My name’s Robert, I’m from Chicago, I produce, I perform, and I make people dance. I like to believe that the art of music is in the translation of emotion and thought into sound, so that’s what I do.

What inspired you to form Screamcatcher? What is your own musical background?
For the last 13 years I’ve been playing piano, 9 years I’ve been drumming, 3 years I’ve been composing professionally, and last year I started producing. It was just for shits and giggles at first, but I started to realize I really enjoyed doing it, so I gave myself a real name and got to work.

Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
I try not to let money get into my head. I imagine once I’ve got everything all set up with touring my show and I take it on the road, maybe I’ll make a few bucks. Maybe I won’t.

Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
I grew up with computers, so maybe I’m just speaking as the tragic face of a cultureless generation, but I’ve set foot in a record store about 3 times. I’m not really qualified to talk about what’s happening with record stores. I can say, though, that I’ve always thought being able to find anything you wanna hear just by searching Google was an intrinsic part of the internet. You can fight the tide or ride it.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
I honestly prefer to hear songs live, and everything else is on the same tier below that. You can turn up an iPod as loud as you want, you can blast your favorite CD until it wakes up the whole block, but all the mastering and retakes kind of homogenize the music.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
I don’t think the artists have forgotten at all, I certainly haven’t. I can listen to a lot of new releases, and recognize that all these other bands and other producers are putting in that effort to making it cohesive, giving it flow, and conceputalizing it, but I think your average music listener these days is reading a different story. There’s a lot of people who just window shop and grab a few songs they like off any given album on iTunes. The day the concept album dies, well, I guess I’ll just stop listening to new music.

What is your take on the current SOPA/ACTA controversy?
DMCA Part 2; this time they want even more. I find the race to extend copyright laws is really more beneficial for the suit-and-tie goons than actual artists. Even if someone did use my song unfairly, I wouldn’t have the cash for a lawyer or understanding of legalities to do much about it. I think these new pieces of legislation would only make a roadblock for independent artists, not to mention all the other pretty terrifying authorities they give the government over the internet. If I get on some filesharing site, or people are torrenting my music – that’s awesome! That means more people hear my music, and that’s pretty much how you win.

In a few decades time, what genre or sound do you think will come to define the 2000’s?
What I find interesting, at least over here in the States, is not how electronic music slowly settled into niches, but more how the mainstream audience dived head-first into dubstep the first time we all heard the drop in Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. I think what’s amazing is that we’ve finally really publicly begun embracing computers as instruments, on such a large scale. I had a friend tell me, “with enough time and effort, no sound is beyond anyone’s reach”. As for the next big thing? Definitely moombahton. Count me out on that one, though.

What do you personally believe the future of music distribution will look like?
Bandcamp, CDBaby, Tunecore, all these independent distribution services are blowing up, and I don’t think that’s a fluke. You still can’t get to Lady Gaga levels of fame without some big Sony or WMG conglomerate throwing fat wads of cash to your music videos, but you can get to much greater heights independently than you ever could before. I think more musicians should take their whole career into their hands, because well, it’s 2012. You can print shirts, you can make electronic press kits, you can distribute worldwide, and you can do it all from your armchair. I think for a reasonable survival in this age, musicians are gonna have to make little mini-businesses, bite-sized record labels of their own.

Finally, what does the future hold for Screamcatcher?
I’m putting out my sophomore LP, “Do Without” on March 29, and from there, it’s anyone’s game. I just wanna play shows, travel the world, and make some friends. I guess these aren’t terribly lofty ambitions, but dreamers can keep themselves busy dreaming forever. Probably better to just see what happens and not get tangled up in what-ifs.

For more information on Screamcatcher, check out the official Facebook page and visit their Bandcamp page.

About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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