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MUSIC IS MORE THAN MATHEMATICS - EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PROTOCULTURE


Cape Town, South Africa - for some, it's one of the most remote locations on earth, practically the stuff of legends. For Nate Raubenheimer, the tip of the southernmost African country is home. Armin van Buuren has said of the man, "Everything he touches turns to musical gold." Really, there can be no stronger endorsement, nor can there be a statement more accurate.


His is a classic tale - inspired at the age of 8, it wasn't long before his life's journey led him to audio engineering school, and ultimately, to the largest festivals in the world. Protoculture's fans are filled with an almost feverish adoration, the kind of hard-earned reputation that only someone with genuine talent can enjoy. Success hasn't been all roses for the producer, however, as his hometown is one of the worst spots to travel from for an internationally touring DJ.



'Music Is More Than Mathematics' is an appropriate title for this exceptional album, and there's absolutely no formula for what Protoculture does. If "awesome" could be bottled into a jar, it would be this record. Finding better descriptors is as pointless as trying to compete with his musical talents.



Hello Nate it’s such a huge honor to be doing this interview with you, thank you so much for taking time out to do it with us.

We love our beautiful country. What do you love the most about South Africa?

Well the scenery for one. It really is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve seen in my travels around the world. I also love the chilled out lifestyle and laid-back people.

You have been in the Electronic Music Industry for quite some time how did you get your break in to the industry and what keeps you motivated and driven to continue in the industry?

I’ve been messing around with music and computers since I was like 7 years old, but I got into the industry professionally in 2000 after meeting some of the guys from Nano Records. I kinda got sucked into the psy trance scene and I had my first international release with them after which everything really just fell into place. When I made the move to Trance a few years back, it was Max Graham that really connected the dots for me, introducing me to the guys at Armada and to Armin and Markus Schulz who have both been amazing in their support. Keeping myself motivated has never really been an issue though, I love what I do and I can’t seem myself ever doing anything else.

We all have different reasons for loving trance/dance music. Where does your love for music stem from?

I’ve loved trance for years. I was always a bit of a sci-fi, technology

You are about to release your new album Music is More than Mathematics Very interesting name can you give us a little more insight on the meaning behind the title.

It was a quote I’d heard somewhere years ago and it has stuck with  me since. I loved what it implies. Music really is mathematics in almost every sense. Frequencies, waveforms, notes, melodic sequences… they’re all at their most basic, mathematical functions. Yet that doesn’t explain why we connect with music the way we do, why we get goosebumps when we hear something that touches us emotionally. Its that unexplainable link to our feelings that for me makes music more than mathematics.


We’re sure its no easy task producing an album especially with all the travelling. How long did it take to produce the album and what inspired the album?

I’ve been working on it a little over a year and a half, pretty much whenever I was back home from touring. Its a little difficult just flipping back to studio mode after being on the road so I often only get real quality work done when I’ve got extended periods back home. I didn’t really set out with any particular theme in mind for the album so I guess the inspiration was pretty much just everything for me.



How did you select which tracks made it on to the album as well as who to work with for the album?

There wasn’t really wasn’t much of a selection process… the work I finish I used on the album. I tend not to finish things I’m not one hundred percent confident in so there wasn’t much excess material. The process of teaming up with vocalists and other artists was pretty organic. They’re all pretty good friends of mine so it was just a case of having fun and doing a track together rather than me planning it out and approaching artists.

It’s no secret MIMTM has your daughter’s heartbeat in it why did you decide to use her heartbeat instead of naming a track after her and in what way did you use her heartbeat?

The first time I heard her heartbeat was just such an amazing experience, plus when they do the scan they give you the BPM of the heartbeat and I immediately thought, “How cool would it be to loop this and use it in a track?”. I think it’s special cause she wasn’t born and she’s pretty much a ‘featured’ artist on the album along with some other amazing producers and vocalists.

As humans we are never really satisfied, are you happy with the final product, if there one thing you could change on the album what would it be and why?

Thats a pretty tough question, and no, it’s very seldom that I’m completely satisfied with everything on an album, or in any one track for that matter. That said, I’m not sure I’d change anything really. There’s something beautiful about a piece of art that was made in the moment, despite its obvious perceived flaws. If you keep changing and perfecting things I think you loose the spontaneity and honesty which often makes music special.

Favorite/ Most meaning full track of the album?

I like them all but I since I started working on this album, I’ve really fallen in love with ‘Vertigo’. The vocals were really special for Ilana as well, with the subject of the lyrics having a lot of meaning for her personally and I think it really shows in the track.

It no secret that EDM is becoming more pop and mainstream orientated.  People keep saying trance is dead. What do you think of mainstream music and EDM becoming more pop culture? Why is trance “Dying out”?

I don’t think it’s dying out at all. It may have taken a backseat as far as the commercial music scene is concern, but thats fine, in fact, good for the trance in my opinion. Personally I’m pretty sick and tired of the whole EDM sound. It really has become a feeding frenzy for the greedy and talentless. That said, it has been positive in the sense that it is exposing people to dance music culture, and I think people move on from that entry level commercial stuff to discover other sounds which is fantastic.

Being a big name DJ, you’re lucky to play festivals and club size gigs, what’s the difference between playing a festivals and a club, which one is more intimidating?

Honestly, I often find small clubs more intimidating than big festivals. You’re a lot more connected to people on the dance floor and their reaction to your music is a lot more noticeable. When you’re playing to a festival crowd, you kind of disconnect slightly. People just look like a big heaving mass so you go into your own little world and just do your thing.

The name Protoculture is by no doubt more popular in the international market and only now is it becoming popular in SA. What advice would you give to aspiring South African producers trying to get noticed locally and internationally?

I don’t really have any good advice for getting recognised. I’ve always been a pretty shitty businessman and not very good at self promotion. A lot of guys out their make it big because they have amazing PR, clever social media campaigns and so on… I really always just relied on writing music that I was proud of and everything just followed suit from there.

Can you take us through your studio set up and your production technique? Do you play any instruments?

Yes, I play various instruments but a piano is my weapon of choice. My studio these days is a fairly minimal set up. I recently got rid of most of my outboard racks and analogue synths. I know everyone is going crazy over analogue at the moment but I’m totally happy with a small handful of plugins, my mac and my Genelec monitors. I’ve kind of gone through a ‘throwing out’ phase in my life where anything I wasn’t using everyday I couldn’t justify keeping and tossed out. As a result, I’ve got a small selection of tools now that I know like the back of my hand. Less is more as they say.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be and why?

I honestly would have no idea. I’m not sure I’m that exciting that someone should write a book about me.

Lastly, we’re dying to know if you have any beef with any DJ’s?

Haha. No, I’m very much against confrontation. Sure there’s people I’m not super fond of, but I don’t start feuds with my peers.

Buy MIMTM:
Available on iTunes: http://bit.ly/1iK3qfV


Listen on Spotify: http://spoti.fi/1n9ABia

Thank you Nate for doing this interview with us , Its been a huge pleasure and honor.. ☺

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