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Q&A with Steve Knots

Who are you and what is your artist name?
I’m Steve Smith and my artist name is Steve Knots

What’s your background?
Grew up in Ken&Barbie-Land and left as soon as I could. (Cheshire, Connecticut, USA) Started making electronic music in 1998 with an MPC2000 sampler and a tape deck. My first DJ setup was the MPC with one Technics 1200 turntable and a NuMark battle mixer. I took a hit of acid and taught myself to beatmatch using vinyl records against MPC beatloops, and that’s sort of where I came from electronically. Went to music school to learn recording and audio production after that.

How has your practice change over time?
it got more simple. fewer plugins, more creativity, better focus on getting my own ideas into the music rather than getting new toys into the tracks. you can make cool music with anything, the tools are the least important part.

What music genre do you most identify with?
trippy deep house

What themes do you pursue?
In my music I try to pursue themes of transformation where the song keeps evolving. emotionally I like themes of positivity, love, connection and emotional expression. for some reason I make a lot of tracks in minor key signatures with twisty weird harmonic progressions tho. Not sure I answered this question.

What’s your scariest experience?
Being madly in love with an amazing woman while living in a country where I didn’t have a residency permit and the places I worked were getting raided by the immigration police every month.

What’s your favourite art work?
Good question! I like the art of my friend Steph Wild, she takes photos of beautiful flowers and nude bodies and cuts them up into slices so they look like digital glitch edits, but they’re real photo paper.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
My friend Russel is a soundman who ran the show at the first big outdoor concert I saw (Billy Idol and Faith No More 1991). I met him 25 years after that, he had done sound with people like James Brown, Metallica, Elton John etc. We worked together for a short time in Prague, he taught me tons of stuff about how big sound systems work. Then one night he got drunk & stoned and went to sleep alone in the backseat of his car, and he passed out and vomited and choked on it and died. That was a pretty clear message for me to think about which future I wanted to be inside of, and stop partying so much.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Opening my big fat mouth and saying something dumb in a room full of people when I should have known better. Don’t ask what I said because this happened too many times to count…

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
Delivering newspapers, mowing lawns and shovelling snow off driveways. Ali Baba’s kebob shop, the SeaFarer restaurant, Midnight Tacos taco truck, Beehive Coffee, Lava Lounge bartender, landscaping in Burlington VT with a company whose logo was a pineapple. Selling comedy club tickets on the street in New York, teaching snowboarding in Alaska, bike messenger, dispatcher in the messenger service, operating the bicycle taxi in NYC, Expert Audio Repairs & Services (E.A.R.S.), teaching kindergarten, DJ’ing, live sound audio engineering, and now Mixitecture.

Why music?
it’s running thru my head constantly, so I stick close to it.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?
One time this club manager told me, “you must change this music drastically, this will not work at all.” I looked around and the only two people in the bar were FUCKING DEAF and they were having a conversation with hand sign language, so I was like, ummm yeah sure if you think it will make them happy then no problem.

What food, drink, song inspires you?
food and drink don’t inspire my music except sometimes I name a track after the food I was eating when I made the first sketch, just so I can remember what day that was. The theme song from “Chariots of Fire” inspired me when I was really small, I remember running full speed around my grandparent’s house crashing into things. They were pissed off because I knocked over a potted plant and then made a poo on the carpet under the grand piano. My mom knew I did it but she blamed it on the dog so I wouldn’t get in trouble.

What do you like about your work?
it’s the perfect blend of creative art and technical science. music theory is like that, electronic music is like that, MIDI and audio engineering are like that, DJ’ing and sound systems are like that, it’s great. I love it all.

What makes you angry?
when I work really hard on something and then totally forget I did it, then find it later and feel like, why did I forget this whole thing I did already? I think that might be a bigger situation than I am aware of but I’m not sure if I remembered it yet. Or not. Flowers for Algernon type shit.

What superpower would you have and why?
infinity healing powers so I could never get badly hurt. or like being able to grow all new body parts and stuff so I could be super healthy for a long long time and not worry about getting damage. being able to heal other people would be cool too.

Name something you love, and why.
I love all cats and dogs because they give us a direct energy connection and they understand our emotions perfectly.

Name something you hate, and why.
I hate broken tools because they belong in the trash. when you reach for a tool, it should work or it should not exist. like screwdrivers with a broken tip, or scissors where the center joint falls apart and the thing breaks apart in your hand. I mean if it can be fixed, fix it. If it can’t be fixed, make it into art or at least take it out of the toolbox. Don’t just leave it there. Intermittent broken audio cables are THE WORST THING EVER.

What is your dream project?
Mixitecture as a big company that makes it possible for a lot of creative people to work together teaching and making music with me 🙂

Name three artists that inspires you.
Josh Butler, DJ Krush, Radiohead

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t lie to the cops. Better to shut up and say nothing.

Professionally, what’s your goal?
Get my Session Lesson tutorials out to the world of Ableton users so I can make enough money to hire my friends, build a big teaching system, expand our track feedback community to help all the people who are stuck, and then start paying more artists to create cool things that they are passionate about — like video production, graphics, events, lighting and sculpture, sound systems, gardens, flowers, growing food, medicinal healing arts, a functional civilization, etc. Oh and for my personal Ferrari I dream of getting “the Box2” from API as my studio mixing board, omg, that would be so dope.

What wouldn’t you do without?
coffee and dumb jokes. How do you stay cool in the future? refrige-o-later. I made that one up, haha. shutup steve.

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