Callan Alexander (better known by his stage-name cln.) is quite simply one of our favorite producers here on CasaSwoop. He has the uncanny ability to blend a number of elements into towering electronic chords. That blend has caught our eye on a number of occasions, in fact, the first time I hard cln.’s original tracks “Better Than” and “Sideways” I was absolutely blown away by the complexity of his blending ability and the depth of his arrangements, especially in an original track. This quality transfers to his remixes, as evidenced by his work on GRMM’s “Electrify” and Odesza’s “Say My Name.” The Producer from Brisbane agreed to sit down with us and talk about everything from his personal musical approach to the Australian music scene today. So without further ado, we present cln. in his own words!
I might hear a vocal that I want to chop up or a synth line that I can mess with, then I just play until I find something I like and start to develop a song around it. I sometimes do hear a track and think, ‘wow, I want to work with that’.
CasaSwoop: Tell us how this whole thing started. When did you realize that you were actually pretty damn good at producing electronic music?
Cln.: I don’t know if I ever really realized I was good, I’m pretty critical so I think I more focus on how bad I am. Unfortunately, being critical of yourself can be difficult at times. I think I started being happier with my music in the last 6 months or so. Before that I always used to have ideas I couldn’t materialize, but now that I’m more technically capable I can actually create the ideas in my brain, which is great!
CS: What has been your most memorable experience since starting out as cln.?
Cln: I think playing my first busy headline show was my most memorable experience so far. Having a room full of people vibing off of music you have created is a pretty fantastic feeling.
CS: As we’ve said in the reviews we’ve done of your work, we’re blown away by how unique your music sounds. We particularly like how you blend some trap elements with really nice melodies and synth lines. How do you describe your style? Where do you draw inspiration?
Cln: Describing it is actually really difficult. I think it’s a mixture of hip-hop inspired drums almost, not quite trap, mixed with a bunch of electronic sounds and vocal samples. A lot of my inspiration comes from the fairly early explorers of semi-experimental electronic genres like Flying Lotus and Gorillaz.
CS: What is the first thing you listen for when you’re deciding to remix a track? Do you ever hear a track and instantly want to remix it?
Cln: Usually when I remix a track I just muck around with whatever catches my ear. I might hear a vocal that I want to chop up or a synth line that I can mess with, then I just play until I find something I like and start to develop a song around it. I sometimes do hear a track and think, ‘wow, I want to work with that’. It usually ends up in something that I love but won’t be able to release for a while. I heard Ready Err Not off Flying Lotus’ new record, had an idea then did up an edit in a couple of hours. I adore it but I don’t know if I will ever release it.
CS: Obviously, you do much more than remix. What are the main differences for you when you approach an original or a remix?
Cln: I actually find originals a fair bit harder. With remixes there is something there for you to work with and base your experimenting on. With originals there is an endless amount of sound to explore so I think the creative process takes a lot longer. Originals are far more satisfying though.
CS: We know you love to collaborate. Who have you worked with that you felt really pushed you as an artist?
Cln: I’ve just finished a track with Lou Millar on vocals. Working with a vocalist is great because you get another person’s art on top of your own. It really makes the track feel special. I think as an artist what pushes me is not direct collaboration though, but more just conversations and discussion with producer friends. Sending tracks back and forth for feedback and nerding out on production stuff is what really helps me grow. Having people around you interested in the same stuff keeps you passionate, which, in my opinion, is what really stems development as an artist.
CS: The electronic music scene in Australia is amazing right now. What do you think makes the music coming out of Australia different from what’s coming out of Paris, New York, or L.A. today?
Cln: I think Australia is in a really unique place right now. I think people are really open to exploring new types of music so our electronic scene is really starting to flourish. It’s not just one type of sound that people are into either, so people are experimenting rather than just copying each other. There’s a tonne of chilled stuff and also a lot of heavy stuff and people are just eating it all up. I think our music culture has stemmed from not being locked into a genre; as well as the presence of some really solid pioneering musical influences (I’m looking at you, Flume + Ta-ku).
CS: We really enjoyed your Noize Radio mix from a few months back. How long did it take you to put that mix together? What do you think is the mark of a really good mix? Side Question: loved the hip hop heavy parts, will we be seeing more of this in the future?
Cln: It took me a couple of hours, mostly music selection. My mixing isn’t the best thing in the world because I’m not exactly a DJ, so I wanted it to be more about the music than the mixing. I can appreciate the technicality of a really good mix, but that’s not really my thing. I love hip hop! Especially the new hip-hop/trap/electronic hybrids that are starting to develop. I’m a massive fan of stwo, Kaytranada, Mr. Carmack and Sam Gellaitry. Music like that definitely has some influence on my production, I am currently working with some rappers but that is all secret stuff I’m afraid.
CS: When are you going to make the journey over to the States for a U.S. tour? If you do, please make a stop in Chicago, we know our listeners and readers would love to see you!
Cln: I would absolutely love to. Hopefully one day!
HUGE thank you to cln. for taking the time to speak with us. As always, we’ll post our favorite tracks below so you can listen to his work while reading the interview. We’re also posting his Noize Radio mix, which is a perfect snapshot of his unique style! Please comment with your thoughts and suggestions below!