NMR Artist Spotlight: Music Producer Dee Kaph Creative Crossovers

Dee Kaph
Dee Kaph is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, poet and philosopher living in Kamloops, BC. 

Although his productions are generally “electronic”, he has recorded some 300 original songs under several different names ranging in style from progressive trance to dubstep, triphop, ambient, fast-fusion, drum & bass, atmospheric, classical/chamber, folk, industrial, pop, indie dance, house, breaks, and fusions all in between. 

After taking a hiatus for several years to focus on raising his children, Dee Kaph is again ready to share his unique vision of creative crossover.

NMR: Share your musical journey. What made you decide to create music?

DEE KAPH: Making music was never really a decision I made, not any more than a fish decides to swim. It’s something I have learned that I have to do or I really start to go nuts, it builds up and then manifests in unhealthy ways otherwise. I’m intensely creative in whatever medium I can get my hands on, and growing up my parents had a piano and one day I thought “it’s just buttons, I bet I could do that” so I sat down and started pressing the keys in different combinations until I figured out which ones went together. It was really trial and error… I drove my dad totally crazy. 

"Making music was never really a decision I made, 
not any more than a fish decides to swim."

I did the same thing with guitar and bass and drums and started experimenting with reel-to-reel 4 track recording because recording is the next obvious step once you’re making sounds and can’t play all the instruments at the same time. I used a microphone in a laundry bin that was flipped upside down as my first recorded “beats”. Shortly after that digital multitrack became possible on a home PC and I got into synthesis because it could be done with software and therefor didn’t require expensive instruments or soundcards which back then were still not that great. That was fifteen or twenty years ago, depending on when you start counting.

NMR: What is your musical inspiration behind the album Tranzhop and other projects? Where do you find your ideas? What equipment do you use?

DEE KAPH: I don’t sit down and say “I’m going to make an ambient/trance/triphop/industrial track” but rather just sort of let them manifest as whatever they want to be, so I’ve got to wait until I’ve got several that are in the same vein before I can put them out. I lament the digital loss of THE ALBUM and want to bring it back – kids these days consume “tracks” they get individually and are missing a whole experience. I remember getting a record because I liked one song on it and then dropping the needle at the first groove of side A and absorbing every song while I read the liner notes. Great albums told stories – think Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, Moody Blues… most of those bands songs were inaccessible on the radio, but were made accessible  by singles which brought the listener to the album. I still hear “Us and Them” start playing in my head after every time I hear “Money” on the radio. That’s my inspiration when I do an album, to make it a memorable collection from a cross section of space and time.

Ideas for songs come to me in bursts, I hear them in the knocking of a washing machine and in the chirp of train wheels on tracks. I like to think of songs as energetic entities looking for a way to manifest in our reality, so when one chooses me, I listen and try to fascilitate its manifestation rather than forcibly composing it, which is why my music tends to be all over the map.

I’ve used many different pieces of equipment and software over the years.. my current setup has a triple monitor Core i5 3450 with 16GB RAM and Reason 6.5 as the primary synthesis/sequencing application and M-Audio Fast Track C600 as the soundcard. I have a Korg SP-170 stage piano, M-Audio Axiom 49 midi controller,  a Tapco MIX260FX 12
Dee Kaph Home Studio
channel mixer, Traktor Kontrol S4, Native Instruments Maschine, TC Helicon Voicelive Touch, Boss GT-8, Apex 460 Tube Amp'd condensor mic, Yamaha Electone organ, Camillo Maestro accordion, Epiphone mandolin, a couple of Les Pauls and acoustic guitars and a bass guitar and a 12 piece drum set. There’s also about 3000W of sound in my studio – the reference monitors I use most of the time are KRK Rokit 8’s with a Yorkville Elite LS720P subwoofer, but at the back of the room is a wall of vintage 3-way speakers and 18” bass bins powered by three different amps. All that power is necessary for tuning the low end.

NMR: What are some of the challenges of being an indie musician today? Any advice you'd like to share with other indies?

DEE KAPH: I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with some outstandingly talented musicians over the years, many of whom you’ve never heard of. This is the challenge of musicians these day, being heard over the cacophony of other people. The emergence of home music production technology has made music making accessible to all sorts of talents who, fifty years ago, never would have had a hope of making a record. The problem we face is that it’s almost TOO accessible – everyone and their dog makes music, there are even video games about it. There’s too much, so setting yourself apart from the seething masses of mediocrity is almost always a frustrating exercise in futility.

"This is the challenge of musicians these day, 
being heard over the cacophony of other people." 

My words of inspiration would have to be traditional: don’t give up. If you really love making music, then treat it as a hobby you’re good at and make music for the love of making music. I’ve seen some amazing people dig themselves into the pit of despair because they “haven’t made it” after ten years and the bitterness that arises when cheeky new fads find mass audience approval while their high quality productions are overlooked. Who cares? Did you make the song for people to ask for your autograph, or did you do it because it’s what you had to do at the time? Speak your truth quietly and clearly and do it for the right reasons and your intentions and eventually you will find success. I mean, what else are you going to do? Lay down and die?

NMR: What are you working on now? What does the future have in store for Dee Kaph?
DEE KAPH: My sound has really evolved, I’m working more with traditional instruments blended with electronica now. I’ve started a collective of like-minded producers and we are starting a label called Sudohuman to release our music under, we have a marketing strategy and some investment dollars and are growing an ethical business with several different income strategies. I’d like to do more collaborations with other artists.

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