While most of us were focusing on how we were going to sneak into a club on the weekends in high school, Manuel Tur was focusing on how to create the music that we would be dancing to. He released his first EP in 2002 while still in high school and he has never looked back. Working with labels such as Rebirth, Noir, Peppermint Jam, Delusions of Grandeur, and as Manuel puts it the Freerange “family”, Manuel has built a career that those twice his age would envy. With his Remixed EP for Freerange currently lighting up dancefloors, we caught up with Manuel to discuss his beginnings and how he managed to spend a season in Ibiza without stepping foot in a club.
Thanks for chatting with us
You have recently released a slew of remixes on Freerange’s ‘Remixed’ LP, some of which are re-releases of lost gems and others are new releases. What kicked off this project? (we were definitely guilty of missing a couple of these on the first go round, but they are getting some heavy play for us now!)
I think it was exactly what you have mentioned: the fact that some of the remixes we had commissioned for my tracks over the years had remained very much under the radar. It’s difficult to stand out with a release these days and I guess with some of the remixers our timing was a bit unlucky – the Pepe Bradock remix of “Golden Complexion“ for example came out after years without a new Bradock EP and just before the new internet generation started to rediscover his classic tracks from the late 1990s. We really missed the buzz there. The same goes for Ian Pooley and Isolee I reckon, both veteran producers and certainly artists who have influenced my music a lot, who were in a quieter phase of their career when delivering their remixes, and shortly before making quite a comeback again. In addition to that, some of the remixers were simply not as profiled at the time, such as Ugly Drums who did one of my personal favourites remixes on the album. It’s great to see all these tracks on one release now and I think we’ve proven good taste in choosing all these guys to do remixes, if I may say so.
We would absolutely agree that good taste has been proven! With a discography dating back to around 2007, you are responsible for a list of releases that a 20 year veteran would be proud of. You have a rare ability to provide both quantity AND quality with your work. How do you go about deciding which of your projects to release?
Thanks for the kind words. In fact, I’ve put out my very first EP in 2002 when I was still in high school, so I have been doing this for quite some time now. In order to decide whether to release a track not I think it’s helpful to let the track sit on your hard drive for a little while and see if you still like it with a bit of time distance.
We don’t want to get into the unproductive antics of our high school days! You have had the pleasure of working with some great artists, who are some producers that have influenced your sound?
I’ve been lucky indeed to have some of the personally most influential producers being part of the “Remixed“ LP, in particular Blakkat and King Britt apart of the afore-mentioned. However, I have always been eager to discover new things so there are new influences all the time and I wouldn’t dare to pick only a handful of people.
On that note, we are very interested to get a better understanding of your work flow. What is currently in your studio and how would you describe your process?
My set-up is very simple and computer-centered. I run a Mac with various DAWs that I use depending on the project (my latest records were made in Logic). I do use a couple of analogue synths and drum machines but I’m not a total geek in that sense. I also run my music through outboard EQs and compressors as well as a summing mixer or a an old desk – but again, this depends on the project. Some projects I do entirely in the box with plug-ins only. At the end of the day it’s not about what you use but how you use it. I reckon it really helps to have a basic understanding of different techniques though.
“At the end of the day it’s not about what you use but how you use it.” – we could not have said that better ourselves! We understand that you spent a year at your Dad’s place in Ibiza, without having stepped foot into a single club. We have relatives on the island as well, so we understand how this can be done, but please explain to our readers what attracted you to the island and how wonderful it can be, even without the nightlife.
If you only see Ibiza through the eyes of a raver on a ten-day clubbing vacation you’re definitely missing out. It’s a beautiful, mystical place with a very unique vibe and environment. I can totally understand why the hippie movement would be so attracted by the island in the 1960s.
Despite having releases on a number of incredible labels, including Rebirth, Noir, Peppermint Jam, Delusions of Grandeur and more, it is Freerange that is your most well known home. What is so special about the label and how have they helped you grow as an artist?
Freerange is the label that initially gave me the chance to make music on a professional level. My first EP with them in 2007 made me break through and allowed me to eventually make a living from studio work and dj gigs. They’ve always been very supportive and it’s a pleasure every time to meet each one of the label staff and the other artists. As Graeme from The Revenge / 6th Borough Project put it rightly at the Freerange party at ADE last year: it really feels like a family.
Sounds like a great collective to work with. Outside of the studio, what were some highlight gigs of 2014?
Actually, I’ve played fewer gigs in the past two or three years and started to focus more on studio work. As for 2014 though, my highlight certainly was going back to Tokyo. It’s most DJs’ favourite place for a reason and an incredibly fascinating place to visit as a European in general.
We cant help but notice that there has not been a USA date yet – do you have any plans to tour the states? (please make sure that you let us know first, haha!)
I know, I know.. it’s one of the things I need to sort out at last, my friends from the US keep telling me to finally make it over.
We would love to have you! What is your preferred gear for a DJ set?
I’ve switched to playing mostly live sets in late 2013 actually and I’m feeling very comfortable with it now. I’ve never really been too interested in dj gear to be honest because most standard mixers and players are just very very average from a sonic point of view. However, I’ve just played a dj set last weekend with the E&S DJR400 rotary mixer and to me it’s almost an ideal dj mixer – great sounding EQs, amazing knobs, very clean and simple layout. I really loved it.
Yes, the E&S is a dream mixer. Lastly, its almost impossible for us to imagine that you spend a single day out of the studio – but when you get away from the music, what is an ideal day in the life of Manuel Tur?
I spend less time in the studio as you might imagine, but with no dates or deadlines to meet I’m already a happy person with just a comfy chair and a good book.
Nothing beats the comfy chair!