Justin Abate is the man behind SPT and End Result Productions. He was kind enough to spend his valuable time giving us solid answers about his SPT project, End Result Productions and other interesting topics. Below you can read the rest…
Please, could you introduce yourself to L.D.D. readers? What does SPT stand for?
My name is Justin and SPT is the name under which I produce techno-oriented music. It stands for Seenplatte Tunnel, loosely translated to mean “lakeland tunnel” in English. Platte more closely translates to plateau or district in this context, but regardless the term Seenplatte is used in German to describe lake-covered moraine regions. The significance I have attributed to Seenplatte Tunnel as a word pairing, however, is with reference to naturally occurring tunnels of ice that form underneath the Schirmacher Oasis in Antarctica by way of glacial erosion during the summer months.
What kind of equipment did you use for the production of ‘Expedition I’?
I used the Korg MS-20 mini and Roland System-1 synthesizers for rhythm and lead lines, as well as the Roland TB-3 for a bass line. For drums, I used TipTops’s 909 kick, toms, and clap, as well as 808 snare, hats, and rimshot. These were controlled with several hardware sequencers.
Whilst reading your bandcamp release page, I noticed that both tracks of the release were recorded simultaneously! Was this deliberate? Any specific reason behind this?
My goal in making electronic music is to record only what I can re-convey in a live setting. With no overdubs or punch-ins, my recordings can be heard to other people in the same way that they sounded to me when I originally produced them. This is prior to necessary touches of mixing and mastering, of course, but I think that this method fundamentally provides a beautiful continuity for a producer and a listener to be able to share. Similarly, it is also of great importance to me that I produce only what I can perform without employing a personal computer, so that someone seeing me perform is to able to hear everything as it is being synthesized in real time. On many levels the versatility of laptops makes them advantageous to employing setups of multiple synths and multiple sequencers, but when I see electronic music performed without the common fixture of a laptop I am personally more compelled to listen and more curious to understand how the sounds are being produced. My hope is that my performances might stimulate the curiosity of audience members in this same manner. I think that this way of producing and performing adds a necessary and more human element to music that is typically considered to be of inhuman origin, by contrast to styles which employ more traditional instruments such as the guitar or the piano.
How would you describe the SPT sound? Which are the main influences relevant to your sound?
Perhaps the specifics of the sound could be better described by someone else, as it is difficult to step back from the position of having written a work of music in order to analyze it through a more objective lens. I would describe it to have somewhat distant and spacey melody lead lines atop of succinct rhythm lines; all built upon the consistency of a clearly defined drum beat. I listened to the impLOG record and Kangding Ray very often around the time of recording these tracks, but I wouldn’t go so far as to cite them to be my influences for the SPT sound. When I write music for SPT I do not have the specific sound of another artist in mind. I begin with one element of a song – perhaps a drum beat or a bass line that I have visualized earlier that day or the day before – and after I have reproduced it with instruments I meditate upon it while it plays back through speakers. Sometimes this lasts two minutes, sometimes it lasts twenty minutes, but it is a process of addition and subtraction until I have made all of my sound sources work together in the harmony that I gradually envision. This process is not derived from other works, more so-self contained.
Except SPT, you are also involved in running End Result Productions, along with a zine imprint, could you please share some thoughts about it?
End Result Productions began as an outlet to release cassette tapes, but I have since published several zines and I have plans for several more as a part of the Summer 2016 batch release. Though I don’t put them out as frequently as cassettes, they are as much a part of End Result as music releases. There is no separate imprint for zines, it’s all under the umbrella of End Result. I prefer the word imprint when describing the company rather than “record label” or “tape label” for this exact reason, because my goal is to release a broader band of formats than just purely records or purely tapes. That’s also why I chose register End Result as an LLC under the name End Result Productions; it allows more room for variety in what I output by way of failing to be specific. In early 2015 I also began to host more events through the label. It began with my booking partner Nicki, but now it is sometimes a collaborative effort with a Philadelphia promoter called Lesser Gods and other times it is an individual effort. Ultimately, the aim of End Result is continual growth and expansion rather than attaining any kind of empirical “end result.” Attention is paid to process and detail as a way to question what the end result of a given creative process has to be; to push the envelope of where it truly stops.
Are you involved in any other music projects?
Yes, I drum in a band called Drowse and I do vocals in another band called Disinterest. I also released a tape of noise around two years ago under the name Ventriloquist, and since then this is the name under which I have performed live with noise-oriented sets. Several other projects are in the works but I will not speak of them prematurely.
Which techno artists/projects from the past and present do you respect?
As previously alluded to, I do greatly enjoy the music of Kangding Ray. Though it may not be evident in the style of the current SPT recordings, I like ambient and minimal styles of techno such as those produced by Gas and Maurizio. This covers the past, and at present I greatly respect the work of Echospace Detroit artists such as Intrusion and DeepChord. Abdulla Rashim’s albums are also on heavy rotation for me, as well as the Pop Ambient compilations and the work of Ñaka Ñaka.
How would you describe your live shows? Do you use visuals as most electronic artists do?
To date I have performed seven live sets, they are seamless and range in length from 20 to 1 hour. I have used the same hardware for them that I used for ‘Expedition I’, but the delay and reverb modules produced by Make Noise are now integral parts of my setup. I have also gotten into the habit of recording my live sets to tape using a Yamaha MT100. I do not own any type of audio visualizer or video synthesizer equipment, so I do not provide my own visual element to my performances. With the exception of the Rizumu presents Subrealization party on which I performed on 2nd April ( visuals projected from above onto a drop ceiling display), the places where SPT sets have taken place so far have not often been outfitted to support projections. There are many talented VJs in the Philadelphia area, though, and I aim to employ them for End Result Productions events when possible.
Except for the digital release, ‘Expedition I’ was also released on C16 tape. Why did you choose this media type? Did you want to follow the last few years’ tape trend?
To release new music in 2016, the four main formats available are digital, CD, vinyl record, and cassette tape. Personally, I am much more inclined to buy music in a physical form than as a folder of audio files, so I made a choice upon starting the label to work in primarily physical release formats. CDs serve a purpose of convenience for how easy it is to pop them into a car stereo, but in my experience this can sometimes lead to passive listening. I’ve tuned out many CDs while driving unless it’s an old favorite or something that I’ve frequently listened to before. With tapes however, the last car to be manufactured with a tape deck was a 2010 Lexus, but to my knowledge cars began to be made without tape decks as early as 2000. What that means for me and many other people is that tapes must be played back with home stereos or other personal equipment in order to be listened to. The same process is required for vinyl records; both of these formats require playback which demands that the listener be in a more attentive state. In essence, formats such as tapes and records necessarily require more active listening than CDs or digital audio, by virtue of relative playback accessibility. I have no opposition to releasing vinyl records for this reason, but the advantages that tapes have over records are in the consideration of production cost and time requirements. It is not uncommon for the production time of a U.S. pressing plant to last 14-15 weeks. The Mountain Man record that I released in the fall of 2015 took 20 weeks ( pressing order was placed in March). Contrasted with the ability to duplicate audio onto cassette tapes using home equipment, the idea of self-production in real time seems immediately more attractive to me. The combined cost of a good tape deck and raw materials for many releases is a fraction of the cost to do one record release, and with proper duplication good audio quality on tape can be achieved. Tapes are my favorite choice of format for all of these reasons. This stance is without consideration of trends in underground music, it is simply what makes sense for me with End Result right now.
What future do you visualize for SPT?
Following ‘Expedition I’, ‘Expedition II’ was released 19th March 2016 as a part of the End Result Productions Spring 2016 batch. ‘Expedition III’ is currently in the works, and the next live performance I have is scheduled for 25th June in Baltimore, MD, US. Beyond that I aim to perform often and record often –as many musicians do-in order to get my music out there.
The last words belong to you…
I will be living in Queens until September of 2016, and as such I am available to perform locally in the New York City area during this time. firstname.lastname@example.org is the best point of contact to reach me for this. I am also seeking submissions to be released through the IOEPR subsidiary of End Result, about which more information can be read on the End Result Productions website. The best point of contact for that is email@example.com.
I owe many thanks to Christos for taking the time to ask me these questions, as well as for assembling the interview article, and I owe additional thanks to anyone who has taken the time to read or expressed interest in my work.
Photo Credit: Rachel MacDonald