Everyone in drum & bass and beyond lost their minds when the video for Current Value’s “That Smile” dropped last week, and with good reason. The single was well-received when it debuted on CV’s Deadly Toys LP on INVISIBLE but apparently both artist and label felt the track had more to say. They were certainly right.
The video, directed by Dan Frantz, is a sort of pre-apocalyptic sci-fi flick homage which used the 80s synth pop in the intro and break of “That Smile” to create a story before the bass takes off. From there the visuals take off with the bass and match the madness that is Current Value’s sound design. It all syncs up perfectly and the video drives both the melodic emotional and mind-scrambling bass elements of the track even more than was possible with the track alone.
Audio-visual collabs like this are likely a large part of the reason why Current Value is no stranger to mixing media in his studio work and live sets, and indeed he has been doing so now for a while. With a successful multimedia tour in CVAV where he partnered with MethLab under his belt, Current Value has been working once again with the label on a second run of CVAV for his Sentinel tour.
MethLab is also releasing an LP to go along with the tour, featuring a multitude of artists which the label hopes to incorporate with visual media as well. The first two teaser tracks off the SENTINEL 001 LP released today featuring a track called “Split” by up-and-comer Missin and, not surprisingly, a new banger from Mr. Value himself.
With “That Smile” still blowing our minds and more neurologically shattering madness on the way, we thought it was a good time to sit down with the man himself and chat about all that’s gone on with both his music and his mixed media, all that’s yet to come and what makes Current Value so…well…valuable. Check out his two cents:
So first things first, since everyone’s going mental over it: how did the idea to do the video and download for “That Smile” come about?
The idea kept floating about for quite some time since it adds significance to the music on a much larger scale. The tune was very well received and was the perfect candidate to make a video. By happy chance Dan Frantz, the very talented American director behind the video, had a conversation with my management with a desire to create something for the track. So, after connecting and discussing it with INVISIBLE we all decided to go down this path and see where it would lead.
Who came up with the idea in the video to pair those sort of idyllic, dream pop-style images with the crazy, explosive digital visuals on the drops? Was it meant to match the theme of the track or was it more conjured from the track?
I think this (the result of the video) is what the tune demands: to create an 80s flair and reflect these contrasting high-tech moments. Dan Frantz had a vision of how to establish this and conceived the story. The guys have delivered brilliantly!
Re: the Sentinel tour, you’ve obviously worked with MethLab before on CVAV so you have a little insight on how it all works. How much were you involved in the visual side of the upcoming shows?
I am involved mostly on the tech side of things as audio and video go hand in hand and are working interactively, with the audio influencing the video in an increasing number of ways. It has been a constantly evolving concept and is becoming more and more technically demanding. For CVAV // Season 2, we’ve integrated quite a few new pieces of software and technology, including Touch Designer, more Max MSP reactive and manipulatable patches, depth-mapping live feed with Microsoft’s Kinect 2 and also a bespoke and exclusive version of Fragment:flow that’s being created for use with a number of MethLab AV projects, including SENTINEL.
So Jef (MethLab) and myself are continuously learning and experimenting in order to explore the many possibilities of the tools. It’s turning out to be quite a journey. Also for Season 2, we’re working with a wider range of visual creators this time, which means an increasingly dynamic journey. So far, in addition to Greenaway & Greenaway who conceived the original season 1 visuals, we’ve added material to the show from an inspiring array of creators including Cocoon, Julius Horsthuis, Benjamin Bardou, and Adam Pizurny. As we’re not directly creating the content ourselves, the focus is on careful curation and a toolset that brings everything to life in a dynamic and reactive a way as possible.
Will there be other artists involved in this upcoming tour? If not, do you think it’s in the cards to coordinate and do an AV show with a bunch of different artists?
Well at the moment there’s no plan for touring with other AV acts, SENTINEL has a bespoke set of tools for the concept and is fed with MethLab’s growing visual library. It would be great to perform as part of a night of other AV acts though and I’m sure that will happen in future. It would be an interesting night to have CVAV vs Mefjus’ Cube project I think!
Your track “Isotropy” is on the first teaser singles ML is releasing for the Sentinel LP as well, along with Missin’s “Split”. “Isotropy” seems to also have that sort of dreamy 80s synthpop quality in the intro and the breaks before the drops go back to melting faces. What about juxtaposing those two styles against each other are you really feeling at the moment?
I like contrasts in music and see it as a challenge to make them come alive in a tune. It’s not entirely new for me to do that but it is such a wide spread field of possibilities and combinations that it keeps me going. I also like the surprise factor and to make people feel and understand there is logic beyond the obvious. This synth poppy stuff really delivered back in the days and still does today because it’s a bit timeless. I love it and like to hear it in my creation.
Your style changes so much in terms of genres, beats and even sound design but there’s always something about all your work that makes it instantly recognizable as CV. What do you think it is that sets you apart but allows people to recognize your work?
This kind of picks up on the question before. To find logic beyond the obvious is what I think is happening. This results in a drastically different approach to making music/producing. To get from A to B in no time in a project as a necessity, to use a VERY limited amount of single tracks/instruments. To not follow what others have done a million times and find your own ways to get there even if it’s unconventional. It’s all possible if you develop superpowers like I do (laughs)! No, but seriously, if you work (with tracks) like a good instrument using hearing, skills, et cetera, you eventually get there. Noisia described it once saying “to create your own little bible of music making”.
Regarding the music being recognizable, I would say I have a taste for dense, high frequencies in a mix to enhance “speed” as well as a certain “aggression signature”. Every other producer has their own more or less or at least falls into one or another signature group. This would take it too far to explain in an interview, but that’s the gist.
In terms of new tracks, you also have a collab coming up with T>I for his EP on Souped Up. How did you come to work with T>I? What did you enjoy about making the track?
When I came across T>I’s music I instantly had the feeling that ”this kid’s special” with his innocently sparse sometimes dry and very reduced and spacey mixes and there’s that certain T>I sound design. I started digging a little deeper in that direction and little later decided to work with him.
Any other releases you’re currently working on that you can talk about?
Yes, two big releases coming early 2019 of which one is in the finishing process and the other is on a great path to concluding. That’s as much as I will say for now.
Any other show dates or plans to come to the US?
Roughly yes. It’s currently in planning.
Who would you love to work with on a track that you haven’t already?
Someone Godfather-like such as Ray Keith for example.
Current Value’s “Isotropy” is out today, December 25 with Missin’s “Split” as the first set of sampler singles from MethLab’s upcoming SENTINEL 001 LP and can be purchased on MethLab’s Bandcamp or Beatport. Be sure to look out for dates on the Sentinel AV tour coming up in 2019 and if you haven’t seen the “That Smile” video yet please, for the love of all that is bass, watch it above or on UKF’s YouTube channel.