TRG: „I’m Beatboxing In My Mind“

September 16, 2008Dubstep

2008 has been an eventful year for Cosmin Nicolae aka TRG so far. His Discogs page already lists nine releases for the ongoing year (not counting remixes and appearances on compilations). This means a stunning 900 percent increase of his vinyl output compared to 2007. About time for a little chat with the man of the hour from Bucharest, Romania. (Interview date: 23/07/08)


When did you get into making music?

„I think I tried to make music using demos off a free Ministry of Sound CD back in ’98. I didn’t get very far. I needed (or thought I needed) a sampler that was very expensive at the time and I spent a lot of time thinking how I can glue bits of cassette tape to get a drum loop going or recording basslines with built-in mics… Those were the days! I guess I always wanted to make some form of electronic music since hearing the likes of Orbital around 1994. Then I got motivated and de-motivated every year until maybe 2002 when I got into DJ-ing, and making my own tracks seemed like a logical next step.“

A lot of your tunes have a strong UK garage and 2step influence to them. When did you discover that sound?

„I think it was some time in 1999-2000. I was checking out all sorts of music and came across some 2step/garage compilations. Some of the tunes were quite cheesy, while some of them were dark, urban, somewhat grimey and that’s something that appealed to me. They were essentially El-B, Zed Bias, DND, some MJ Cole, Wookie… the lines were quite blurry at that time.“

Was it difficult to get access to garage (and maybe other UK rave music) in Bucharest back then?

„Definitely, me and my mates used to rock the same CD for 6 months, now it’s hard to do the same for 6 minutes! The internet opened a lot for doors for everyone, jumping from one tune to another, from genre to genre. I was listening to all sorts of stuff, from jungle to breaks to house music, it was all filed under electronica and all good in my book. But then garage kind of went downhill and stopped being interesting so I put that on a back burner for a few good years.“

TRG @ Freak Camp Session
TRG @ Freak Camp Session, Berlin, May 2008 (© zoopersound)

You’ve been producing drum’n’bass and breaks as well. Did you start out with d’n’b or did you always try your hand at various styles?

„When I started out I wanted to make D’n’B, but my first tunes came out quite ambient, 100bpm-ish, and were heavily influenced by Boards of Canada, Gescom, that sort of vibe. I was doing everything, learning from mistakes or sometimes constantly repeating them. (d’n’b at 150bpm in the 175bpm era? No good…)“

Is this interest in various styles one of the reasons why your musical output is so versatile?

„I keep my ears peeled for old and new sounds and whatever makes my head nod transgresses in my tunes in one form or another, voluntarily or not. I can’t really help it! Some people are happy watching the same genre for years and years, I’m just not that type of person.“

What’s the most thrilling music to you at the moment?

„So hard to say, really… Let’s put it like this: Today I downloaded a few sets for my listening pleasure, a Doc Scott set from 98, a Heatwave feat. Warrior Queen live set and Efdemin’s Sonar set.“

There hasn’t been a month without a release from you this year. I know that some of the tunes had already been around for a while without seeing the light of day. Why did it all fall into place now?

„Well it took some of the tunes a bit of time to find a home and it’s up to labels, distributors and karma to get tunes out. Some tunes came out quicker than others for pure logistic reasons. At the same time more and more labels became interested and I tried to keep the pace.“

Don’t you think that it may be just the right time for your stuff now, because of the greater interest in rhythmically complex tunes that has come up recently?

„I think the dubstep ‚fan base‘ is so wide and eclectic these days. Some like it minimal, some like it polyrhythmic. I for one like most of the stylistic developments going on in the genre. There’s definitely more acceptance towards ‚uptempo‘ tunes [these days] and I guess that can make a DJ set interesting.“

How do you approach writing music? What’s the part you usually start with when building a tune?

„I’m usually beatboxing in my mind until I get to the nearest sequencer. Usually I get a beat and a melody going at the same time. Then it all goes from there: Lay out some drums, add, take out, improve the groove, add the bassline, dirt, FX, the whole charade…“

What’s up next, release-wise?

„My first 12″ on Tempa should be out fairly soon, then another tune for the Tempa Allstars EP, remixes for the likes of ex-Simian member Lord Skywave, Baobinga…“

You’ve played at FWD in London twice this year. How was that?

„Man, it was awesome, both times I played. I was a bit worried because I had never been to FWD before and I had no idea how my set would go down. But I got this warm, fuzzy feeling playing there, especially last time at Plastic People. People reacting to all sorts of sounds and good vibes… Definitely one of my best dj-ing experiences!“

First time at Forward AND playing there, now that’s brilliant! Last question: Is TRG an acronym?

„Not really, but I’m thinking of launching a contest. Best acronym explanation wins…well…something nice!“

„Decisions/Harajuku (with Dub-U)/Back In The Days“ will be out on Tempa soon. Still hot: The TRG & Martyn mixes for Mary Ann Hobbs‘ Radio 1 show. (Tracklisting).

This interview (as the one with Headhunter) was part of my research for a series of dubstep artist portraits, which will go to print in the November/December issue of Groove magazine.

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rob Booth   September 17, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Check out TRG’s mix for „ELECTRONIC EXPLORATIONS“

    TRG – In the MIX – Electronic Explorations Exclusive

    01. TRG – Ghetto Romance (Subway)
    02. RSD – Koto (Angel’s Egg)
    03. Martyn – Vancouver (forthcoming 3024)
    04. TRG – 2084 (Dub)
    05. Dubcamp001 (dub)
    06. Untold – Kingdom (Hessle Audio)
    07. TRG – Back In The Days (forthcoming Tempa)
    08. Untold – Walk Thru Walls (Dub)
    09. TRG – Everything We Stand For (forthcoming Cool&Deadly)
    10. TRG – On Tour (Dub)
    11. Subeena – Noise Trigger (Dub)
    12. 2562 – Enforcers (Tectonic)
    12. Martyn – Suburbia (Applepips)
    13. TRG – Missed Calls (Subway)
    14. TRG – Surreal (Dub)
    15. TRG – Broken Heart (Martyn’s DCM Remix) (Hessle Audio)
    16. Benga – Someone 20 (Tempa)
    17. Alta Infidelidad – Hielo (Thinnerism)

  • 2.   September 17, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Big up Danny!

  • 3. TRG&hellip   September 18, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    […] uma entrevista no blog alemo Zoopersound. Danny Bwoy troca uma idia com Cosmin Nicolae, o TRG. Nela o artista revela seus prximos […]

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