Silver Titanium is the Second Life avatar of electronic music producer Joseph McGeechan. Together with techno cohort Colin Bain he produces music as the BCR Boys and runs the Backwater Community record label. The last couple of years have seen a steady rise in fortune for the Glasgow-based BCR Boys, from the release of their first tune “Stolperfalle” on Perc Trax in 2008, to their upcoming releases on Impact Mechanics and Perc Trax (again) and ever-growing DJ support. Silver has also released solo work as iFormat and Joe McGeechan.
Olaf Quintessa met up with Silver at the United Beats sim in Second Life to get the lowdown on Glasgow techno, Second Life, playing live, and dirty electro punk bands.
When did you start DJing and producing?
I started DJing ten years ago, and got into techno in 2001 after discovering the Drumcode label. I love mechanical, clunky techno and I pretty much tried to model my DJing technique on Adam Beyer. I started producing after I became a qualified sound engineer, about five years ago.
Was there anything going on back in 2001 that drew you to techno?
The Pressure parties were the start of it for me. I liked Mauro Picotto at the time, but soon he wasn’t hard enough for me. I started listening to Beyer, Liebing, Speedy J and Lars Kleine.
Did you run any of your own nights?
We used to. I’ve run about five or six techno nights over the years, such as Drummed and Elektronik. There’s an aggressive market for it here, but now I just DJ at some smaller nights every few months.
What’s the techno scene in Glasgow like now?
We have some pretty good nights here, most notably Pressure – the night run by Slam. I’d say we have a strong scene going on here, mainly fronted by Gary Beck, Harvey McKay, Hans Bouffmyhre, Bcr Boys and a few others. There are also the more established artists like Slam, but we are the new generation of Glasgow techno producers.
Is there a Glasgow “sound”
I would say so - Quite tough and dark, more techno than minimal.
How did you and Colin get together?
Basically I’ve known Colin for a long time – We’re both from Glasgow, and we’re both into techno and DJing. We started doing tunes together three years ago. One of our BCR Boys tunes was just featured in the CLR Anniversary podcast by Chris Liebing! Crazy to hear our tune played there!
You also run the Backwater Community record label. How did that get started?
Well, originally the idea was for me and Colin to get our music out, but eventually it went artist focussed. Then we started the Transmissions label as well and we manage one each now. We want to find the best up and coming techno to regenerate the sound. Modern techno is advancing fast.
In what way?
More ideas are coming along. It’s becoming techno again and moving away from the minimal tag - That bastardized it. I would say it’s going back to its roots, to a mechanical sound, not melodic. Personally I still prefer loopy, mechanical, dark techno. I find the top ten in Beatport very uninspiring. People say I have my own sound though.
How would you describe your sound?
Deep bass, dark, loopy, intense techno. It’s to do with combining reverb and delay. I try to add atmosphere to my sounds as they are not usually very melodic. I think if people listen to our music over the course of time we haven’t changed our style, but the new stuff is more perfected and more advanced. Basically it’s down to how much I like Speedy J.
Do you play any traditional instruments?
I can play the guitar a little bit, and the keyboard – Enough for writing music. Mainly I know how to program drums and stuff like that. Actually I took a break from techno in 2007 and was in a band called The DEPT. I played the keyboard and was the main song writer.
Really? What were they like?
We were techno/punk crossover. DEPT stood for dirty electro punk techno. We made about five or six songs but never made it as far as having gigs.
I have to try Googling them now..
You’re not likely to find anything! We didn’t have a Myspace page or anything. They didn’t share my vision of electronic music merging with guitars, like Kasabian. So I left the band and began making techno again! It was only after the band split that they saw what I was trying to do. Not that I’m saying we could have been Kasabian - That was just the idea of music I had at the time.
Are you still interested in bringing guitar sounds into your techno?
Not techno, but I also make soundscape music influenced by bands like Pink Floyd, The Verve, Joy Division and Radiohead. Eventually I’ll do an album, and release it under the name Joseph McGeechan. It’s more like music for films. I’d like to get into that side of the industry.
Are there any film soundtracks you especially rate?
The Matrix. The Beachies. Donnie Darko has a pretty classic 80s soundtrack. I really liked “Mad World” - amazing piano.
How do you develop your music? Did you learn a lot from DJing?
Definitely, especially about structuring and how to keep people interested. I want people to enjoy the flow of a set, and I believe a DJ is nothing without the support of people who come to see them. Second Life is a great vessel this too – I use it as a testing place and it determines whether we send tunes to the label and stuff. There are lots of techno fans on here who truly love the music.
How did you get interested in Second Life?
I joined in 2006 after hearing about it on the news, but never used it at the time. A couple of years later I heard about it again and came back. I met a lot of like minded people here and I was really surprised by the quality of the DJs. Within a few weeks I was DJing for the United Beats guys at Code. At the time I wasn’t aware of how hard it was to get a gig there!
Do you mainly play at United Beats?
Yes, Code and Contrast. Apart from United Beats I also play at the Drome. They are my favourite clubs in SL. I played at Code every month for the first six weeks I was here. I got to know Jade, one of the owners, and we became close friends. I even made a song for her. It’s called “Coded by the Girl in Red” and it’s going out on Perc Trax. I did it as a tribute to her for helping me progress as a DJ and find direction. People have given us really good feedback and often ask about the tunes when I play them.
Are there any particular songs you’ve played in Second Life that you decided to push on with because of the reactions you got?
Mainly the Synewave EP. A lot of people said to send it to Drumcode, but Synewave came in for it. I really wanted it on Synewave anyways – It’s a better label for techno at the moment. Fee Nitely, Claude Fizz and CeeCee Deschanel have heavily influenced my direction too. I made a tune for Fee called “The Parisian” that has been signed to DLRM. Claude and I kind of inspire each other. She totally influenced my iFormat sound. It was her that made me do it at 130 bpm as she said she would like to hear me do harder techno!
Sounds like you’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the people you’ve met here.
Yes, loads, especially the United Beats crew. I couldn’t tell if I was getting any better but they really helped me. If I hadn’t come to Second Life I might not have ended up on Synewave, or back on Perc Trax. They made me believe I could do this stuff.
Can you tell us a bit more about your iFormat project?
It’s more off-the-cuff techno, no boundaries with regards to the style. It’s still early days for iFormat but it’s getting good support from people like Cari Lekebusch, Norman Nodge and Joris Voorn. Actually Cari inspired the latest BCR Boys track, “Format”, and he used my “Ode to Mila” track on his new Soundcloud mix. “Ode to Mila” is another track inspired by someone in Second Life, in this case the DJ Mila Wozniak.
Have you done any live sets in Second Life?
Yes, at United Beats. It’s something we’re still getting used to, but here is a great place for it. The sets we did at Code and Contrast were recorded and posted on SL Bootlegs. Before that we’d also done two RL live sets in Glasgow. One was with Berghain DJ Marcel Detteman, and the other we warmed up for Mark Broom. I really liked playing live, but I prefer DJing.
What was your setup like?
Basically we have three laptops, a Faderfox, Novation Nocturn, MC307 Groovebox, Korg Micro and a midi keyboard. We use Ableton Live for everything.
Are you into hardware synths, or are you more into software?
I mainly use VSTs. I like being able to take my laptop anywhere and do a tune, it’s like a mini studio, but hardware also gives us an extra edge. “Delete” took me two hours to do. Lucky day!
Do you usually work that quickly on a tune?
Sometimes it just happens like that. The new one , “Format”, I worked on for four days and it’s still not finished!
What have you got coming up next?
We have the Coded by the Girl in Red EP coming out on Perc Trax in April, with remixes by Perc and Sawf. Also a Proper NYC EP with remix by V1nz, another Synewave EP with a limited vinyl press, and an EP on Impact Mechanics with a Submerge remix. I’m also doing a mix for a local radio show that specializes in techno. It’s called Subcity Radio. It’s only 30 minutes but I think I’ll do a live set for it, with all the parts from seven of our tunes. Something unique!
One last question – Where can you see things going in Second Life in the future?
I would like to see a super sim that could hold over 150 avatars, a proper clubbing environment. I think Second Life is a great place, and I can see it happening over time. I’m trying to get Gary Beck to play here. Cari is here, Luke Slater has played here, we are here and so is Pascal Mollin. Until you come here you don’t really understand it, but it’s great for people who love techno.
BCR Boys chart March 2010
1. Tommy Four Seven & Chris Liebing - “Bauhaus (Sledge Mix)” (Bauhaus)
2. BCR Boys - “Open Source” (Impact Mechanics - forthcoming)
3. Terence Fixmer - “Electric City (Speedy J Tool)” (Electric Deluxe)
4. Motor - “Autokill” (Shitkatapult)
5. BCR Boys - “Coded by the Girl (Perc Remix)” (Perc Trax – forthcoming).
6. Miro Pajic - “Noon Moon” (Lazerslut)
7. Mark Broom & James Ruskin - “Hostage” (Blueprint records)
8. Adam Jay - “Open Wheel (Mateo Murphy remix)” (Impact Mechanics)
9. Speedy J - “EDLX Tool (Chris Liebing Edit)” (CLR)
10. Norman Nodge - “NN 8.0” (Marcel Dettman Records).
Table Manners, Proper NYC (Mar 2010)
Factory Ballroom Dancing, Brilliant (Feb 2010)
NYC Diesel EP, Synewave (Feb 2010)
Relapse EP, Aenaria Music (Aug 2009)
Soundshield EP, Backwater Community Recordings (Jan 2009)
Stolperfalle, Perc Trax (July 2008).
The Others, Backwater Community Recordings (Feb 2010)
Fear EP, Backwater Community Recordings (Aug 2008)
Machines Must Break EP, Backwater Community Recordings (Mar 2008).