Self-Portrait: Sven Atterton

Essex’s own electro-boogie bastion, Sven Atterton goes toe-to-toe with fellow PPU label mates Moon B, Legowelt and Sasac but you’d be ok for not being as well-acquainted. His one and only album, released on Omega Supreme takes the same name as his PPU white label, went on to become a rare classic in modern funk. It’s been four years since its release, with his subsequent output and public performances sparing. Its meant that those who own a slice of Sven, either through a live encounter or incisive purchase, cherish every last bit; speak to the lucky few at his Gottwood performance in 2017 for further evidence. We’re struggling to find another recorded mix online from Sven so this may well be a first: all unreleased material combined with a brief chat about how he gets down in the studio.

Sven plays Ruffy’s Lab at Gottwood 2018 (7th-10th June).

Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory? 

I think my first musical memory would be messing around on a old electronic organ we had at my parent’s house. It had chord buttons on the left hand side, I would try to play scales whilst holding a chord.

Have you had any professional musical schooling? What first led you into music production? 

I did a two year course in general music theory and production at Colchester Institute then went onto do a diploma course at Berkley College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts for four years. I stayed in America for an extra year touring and playing with various original and general business bands.

Can you talk us through how you might construct a track? How much of your material is sample based and how much is original? 

I usually go about making a track starting with some form of beat. The only samples I use are drum samples. I really like to work with the Linn drum sequencer. Sometimes I’ll lay down an analogue bass part or I’ll start with some chords. I recently picked up an old sampler that I’ve been experimenting with, but mostly everything is from scratch on hardware.

Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio? Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?

I don’t have any rituals per say before I produce. Time is usually scarce so I’ll try and do what I can when I can. I would love to be in a position where I could always get to my setup and press record, but I can’t grumble about the time I get. I just need to learn to be more efficient with the time I get. A lot of the time ill try too hard to get a particular section in perfectly and then sometimes loose the inspiration.

Are you the type of producer to work and work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?

I suppose I’m a bit of a perfectionist, even though my music probably doesn’t sound that way. I like to try and retain as much of a live feel as possible unless its a real syncopated arpeggio or something. I have done tracks in the past that have been more on the fly and I’ve been happy with certain takes. I suppose I do worry too much about things being tight.

What’s the most important bits of kit that makes a Sven Atterton track?

Other than my bass it’s probably the Linn drum. I have a Roland JV1010 that has some nice go to 80s style Rhodes patches. The Moog Voyager handles a lot my bass parts. But when I’m really struggling inspirationally I turn to my Juno 6. Its the first synth I bought and I love it.

You’ve got a sound that’s strongly affiliated with PPU but no so much in Essex. How did an Essex boy like yourself a) end up making music like you do, and b) link up with PPU and Omega Supreme?

I guess my sound is comprised of all the things I’ve liked over the years, old and new. I’ve always loved funk music and became aware of Omega Supreme through a producer friend in Holland L33. He asked me if i would add some sounds to a track he was releasing on Omega and after going through their catalogue I realised they are a nice fit for my sound. I love SASAC, Benedek, Turquoise Summers, to name a few. James at Omega liked my stuff and released The Cove.

Release wise, have you got much on the way this year? 

I have a new album on the way that should be out at the end of the summer. I am releasing this one myself on a self produced label Cruise Club Records and have just received the test presses! So look out for the sequel to The Cove called The Cape.

Anything popping off musically in Essex you’d like to shout out? From parties and labels, to pub DJs and even whistling post(wo)men.

Essex has some great musicians. I try to go and watch The Fellowship in Chelmsford. Guthrie and his band are phenomenal and I always come away inspired when i see them play. Ill also give a shoutout to my friends/producer/djs Oliver Archibald and John Davis aka Dataseette. They run a great night called Waxwerk that they allowed me to play at.

This mix is comprised of 100% original material. Could you tell us a bit about its contents? Any tracks that are particularly special to you? 

This mix is mainly old demos that were lost on the hard drive. I’m not particularly proud of these tracks but thought it was a shame to not share them. The last track was on a release I did a while ago for charity, which features me on talk box. I really didn’t know too much about mixing and production back then so their all a bit ropey. Maybe I’ll get around to finishing them properly one day.

This year you’re returning to Gottwood, the location of a rather fabled live set last year. For those who missed out, could you describe for us how it went down?

Gottwood was amazing last year. I couldn’t believe the reception I got. I really didn’t expect it, it’s up there as one of the best gigs I’ve done. I’ll be doing a similar set with live bass and synth. Really looking forward to it.

And finally, what else have you got on the horizon that you’re excited about, musical or otherwise? 

I’m really looking forward to getting my new album out. It’s taken me a long time to get everything in place but hopefully Cruise Club Records will be releasing a lot more and more frequently. It’s been four years since The Cove but I’m still receiving nice feedback from it, which I appreciate so much. Thanks to everyone who’s checked it out, and hope you like the next one.

Sven plays Ruffy’s Lab at Gottwood 2018 (7th-10th June).

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