TREI is playing at Sandwiches as part of mawsa Orientation 2012 Saturday, February 25 from 10:30pm – 6am. Massey students can purchase specially discounted tickets for $10.
New Zealand drum & bass has gone from strength to strength over the years, at first producing world class DJ’s and parties that international acts would go home raving about. In more recent times, local producers have made an international impact that belies our small population and geographic obscurity. One of those producers is Wellington-based Trei, whose discography of more than 20 vinyl releases and the acclaimed album Innuendo have seen the hard-working musician gain the worldwide success his output deserves. Paul Berrington spoke to him about how he got started, how he managed to make a career out of what he loves, and what happens when you miss your flight in China. A guitar player first and foremost, Trei says he was turned on to “the likes of Jeff Mills and Adam Beyer by friends – Dan Morgan (a Wellington DJ) pushed lots of stuff my way”.
The Wellington music scene at the time was a hot-bed of underground electronic music, with techno, house, and a new form drum & bass all finding willing and enthusiastic audiences. Like others exposed to this scene, the logical progression was to give “making tunes a go, and having a go at production at a mate’s house, essentially just hanging out and having a jam”, he says.
While many got on with their day jobs, Trei started successfully applying his “self-taught” musicianship to making drum & bass, using the local scene to showcase new tunes at club night Bass Frontiers, or on Radio Active’s Future Funk show. This led to his first release, on local imprint Random, and others followed on Samurai and Commercial Suicide.
“There is a real focus on the musical element”, he says in response to my queries about the success of New Zealand drum & bass throughout the world. “A lot of the producers come from an instrument-based background, from bands, and maybe that lends a certain sound”.
One thing that is certainly true of the New Zealand scene he sums up perfectly. ”We definitely punch above our weight”, and that has seen the likes of Concord Dawn, State of Mind, and many others find their music in the hands of DJs the world over.
Despite this global awareness, there is sense of community about New Zealand drum & bass, and that has seen an enormous amount of collaboration and passing on of ideas, something from which Trei gained “a proper understanding of tools like compression”, adding that, “guys like State of Mind are just such insane engineers”. This sense of sharing the knowledge has obviously helped up-and-coming producers to fine-tune their sound in an environment that is professional and challenging.
Trei remembers a time when “you listened to albums from start to finish”, and without endorsing cliché, speaks of “the journey, a listening experience”. This is something he tried to achieve on debut long-player Innuendo, and is the inspiration behind his follow-up. “The tune with Tali is sounding awesome”, says Trei of the album, “and there is a massive response from the dance floor” to a track with Thomas Oliver.
There is calmness in his voice that suggests he is happy with his new work, and you sense this promises much for the upcoming release. You can expect to hear “lots of the new album” at his Orientation performance.
Trei says a tour to Europe lasts about “one month”, yet feels more like, “two weeks, a whirlwind”. On one occasion, fatigue from this tight schedule led to him getting stuck in Beijing overnight, after sleeping through the crossover. This in turn led to “days of snow” which prevented any flights leaving, and missing his next assignment in Italy, which he says regrettably is “the only gig I’ve ever missed”.
No wonder he enjoys coming home for some hard-earned “down time”. Yet you sense something when talking to Trei, and that is he wouldn’t have it any other way.