The Littlemen

Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been a working musician?

We are a DJ / producer duo from Nottingham, England specializing in deep underground House music. We‘ve been DJing for almost twenty years now and have been making music for around 11-12 years.

What is your educational background? Are there any schools, courses, or books you recommend?

Gav’s had some classical guitar lessons at school and got up to grade 3. Apart from that, we’re pretty well self-taught apart from Steve having a handful of piano lessons. A bit of general music knowledge is pretty helpful but not essential with House music.

As far as music production goes these days you can pretty well teach yourself anything with all the online help that is available on YouTube tutorials, etc. You can always pick up cool new ideas or tips trawling through them even if you know your gear really well.

What hardware are you using?

We both got a MacBook Pro last year and made the jump from PCs. It's expensive but worth it for all the grief you save from programmes not crashing as often, and the sheer speed of the machines. It can be so frustrating to have a great idea then have your computer prevent you from getting it down.

We have a range of Korgs (microKORG, MS2000 and Delta) which are cool for arpeggiators and bass. Also a Nord Rack 1 and Nord Modular for chunky, techy stabs. There is also a Novation Bass Station and K-Station which is good for bass, ravey sounds and FX. Finally there is Steve’s favorite, the Jen SX-2000, everything phat. Then there is a Korg digital piano and a Yamaha CS1x. Sounds are run through a TL Audio Valve compressor and EQs. The most recent addition to our studio is an Akai APC40 which has been great for mixing on Ableton Live.

What software are you using?

Generally Logic Pro is our main piece of software, although we’ve been having a bit of fun with Ableton Live this year. So many people have recommended it over the years that we gave it a go and have loved messing around with it. Don’t think we’d ever use it for DJing live as we love the hands-on angle of having a CD-wallet and can't get into flicking through a hard drive — probably a hang-over from the old vinyl days. Ableton is excellent for spot-on, effect-heavy studio mixes though.

What would be your dream setup?

We’d love an automatic inspiration plug-in. Basically most things exist now — if they didn’t we’d have invented it and be millionaires now.

Can you describe your creative process? Is there a particular routine or schedule you stick to?

It’s best to have a fairly focused approach to writing, to have a good idea in your head of what you want your work to sound like; maybe working a certain rhythm or vocal for instance. We sometimes need to reign in the tendency to just muck around, which can be fun but doesn’t really produce much quality end products.

It’s also best to avoid treating writing like it’s a chore. If it’s no fun and feels like a bore then do something else and come back later when you got the funk! It’s best to write when you’re buzzing with excitement about what you’re creating!

We each tend to have a different style and approach to writing as we often write solo these days. Steve works from vocals and keys looping for melodic angles while Gav is still working the samples more, on a more spacey tip.

Where do you shop for and discover music?

There’s so much music around these days it’s simply overwhelming sometimes. As well as ploughing through all the promos we get sent, we also try to skim through the weekly recommends on Traxsource, Stompy, Beatport and Juno. It’s also worth going to the effort to chase up tunes you really love on a mix or on the radio.

These days it’s also useful to edit tracks yourself, cutting out a vocal you hate or extending a bit you like. This adds to the uniqueness of your DJ sets.

Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?

It’s always a bit quiet over the summer house-wise, although we’ve had a few cool promos so there are some good bits coming soon. Over the last year Gav’s been playing quite a bit of Phil Weeks’ dirty house music, plenty of The Revenge stuff, some nice deep Dyed Soundorom. Steve has been digging Random Soul from Australia, Freaky Behavior, Lucas Keiser and always digs 1200 Warriors.

We’re also excited about some of the remixes from our new album, Retro Resources, which is out on general release in October, as we’ve used some of our favourite producers on the scene, like the Lawnchair Generals and Inland Knights.

Any production tips & tricks or advice you'd like to share?

You’re asking for trade secrets! We would advise people to just try and write the music you like to hear, it sounds a bit trite and obvious but it can be easy to get caught up writing the stuff you think other people will like or you think will sell. Best to try and do something personal, that way you might just do something original and cool.

Also keep it simple and don’t overdo it on the EQs!

Where can we find you on the web?

The Littlemen / SoundCloud /