My second guest in this production series is a young man with great talent, an ear for funky sounds and a future star. With his funky Nu Disco sound, one would imagine him playing in a dirty, dark Parisian nightclub. After listening to a few Ptero tracks you’d be quite surprised to find out that in fact he is an American teenager hailing from Philadelphia. Have we stumbled across the ‘Fresh Prince of Nu Disco’? Let’s find out.
Hi Ptero, a pleasure to have you here. Give us a background behind your music, how did you get into production?
Pleasure to be here Jimmy.
Well, my musical background might not exactly be what you’d expect given my current style. I was probably first introduced to music through my mother who listened to 70s and 80s europop and things like Italo Disco or soft rock. My dad also occasionally played jazzy piano songs for our entertainment. I began piano lessons when I was seven. I sort of hated it. But then I kind of liked it. I really only played classical tunes and only years later began learning improvisation and things like chord progressions, playing by ear, and real jazz. I quit after seven years.
Around the last two years that I had lessons, two things happened that probably helped me get into electronic music. Firstly, I played in a jazz band thing for a few weeks during two summers. I happened to play piano and the synthesizer of course. I played some mad funky stuffs yo. And the second thing was discovering and playing my dad’s old (and awful) Roland D-20 synthesizer.
Meanwhile, I got into actually listening to my own music and the main artist that introduced me to, and inspired me to create electronic music was Owl City. I don’t like him/them anymore though. Too hipster for that. So anyway, when I was 11 or 12, I, erhem, borrowed a copy of Fl Studio 9 and got to producing. The rest is history.
Your sound is very a funky disco driven house sound, how did this come about?
I don’t know. It’s strange really. I first started out making cheesy synthpop and, I assume, when I heard music from Cherokee, Madeon, and other modern French House artists I was intrigued and began to emulate them with tracks like Time and Liftoff. Over approximately a year of seriously producing, I picked up a lot of influences, learned my DAW better, and developed my style, or rather— tendency to make groovetacular tracks. I don’t stick to one genre but they’re all usually jazzy or funky.
But overall, I’d say the sound developed mostly itself. I feel that I was just meant to make that kind of music.
Of course not all your songs are ‘French House’, there is another side to your music, a darker more experimental beat driven side. Do you prefer to make the upbeat disco tracks, or the experimental ones?
I like both. Sticking to one genre is just lazy in my opinion. Sometimes I might be in a funky, dancey mood; other times I might want to make chill moody vibes. In the future, I’ll most likely deviate more from my typical funky house style and perhaps return to it every few tracks.
A little birdy told me it was your birthday today, may I take this moment to wish you a happy birthday. At only 16, your music is outstanding. Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Thank you! Ha, birdy…. Get it? Because my artist name is Ptero, and ptero is an archaeobiological prefix that means feather or wing and pertains to birds. Ha.
Five years is a long time… which also happens to be when I turn twenty-one, so I presume that I’ll probably be ingesting vast amounts of alcohol at a college soiree or something.
In general though, I’ll definitely still be making music. It’d sure be nice to be signed to a label of sorts and have a bazillion fans by then.
You have many interesting sounds in your tracks, do you mostly synthesize most of these or do rely heavily on sampling as a lot of the Nu Disco producers of old used to?
Actually, the majority of timbres and things like percussion and synths are my own. I do sample sometimes, but’s it’s usually for things like background guitar, chords, vocals, and that general idea. And obviously, I process the sampled bits quite a bit, until I feel that it’s original enough. For example, in my track Nuit des Coeurs brillants, I sampled a 70s R&B track by Alexander O’Neal by cutting out many many slices and arranging them to make a hip-hoppy vibe that transitions into slow house, again from many slices to which I added filtering, stereo enhancing, eqing, and phaser. On top of that, I added a lot of synths, some flute I created with a free VST, and sick beatz homie.
And for the record, the synths I use the most are Synth1 and Sytrus. Massive and Sylenth be damned. I also try to employ a lot of organic instruments like strings with NI Session Strings, several soundfonts for horns and ethnic instruments, or guitar or piano that I might play myself.
You have a great selection of tracks already, but have you got any plans to release an EP any time soon?
And finally, the question we all really want to know. Do u even compress m8?
Ask ur mum m9.
Well, there you have it, a character to say the least and a wonderful insight into a young man you may hear one the radio one day soon. You can find Ptero’s music at https://soundcloud.com/ptero and all of his tracks are readily available as free downloads.
I do not as of yet have an interview for next week confirmed, but as soon as I do I will announce it here.
Peace & love, jimjambamslam.