Interview with e:trinity [Interview Part 2 - Page 1] (2002)

      Elson "e:trinity" Trinidad is out with a new album titled "Various Shades of Blue". His music has been featured on URB and Yolk Magazine and he continues to get noticed for his unique style of blending electronic music with traditional Asian sounds.

     For this second interview with e:trinity, we wanted to focus on the technical side of his music, discussing the instruments and programs he uses to create his unique style of music and to learn more about his latest album that has been receiving rave reviews.

DENNIS: You're new album "Various Shades of Blue" incorporates different styles of music which include drum and bass and two-step. Also, something that you're known for is the use of traditional Asian instruments and sounds on your songs. What styles do you hope to incorporate into your music in the future?

e:trinity: Lately I have been getting into this sound called "broken beat". It's kind of like two-step but with more of a jazz, Latin and African sound into it. It's a little more complex musically but it's a similar tempo to two-step and sometimes broken beat and two-step crossover to each other. Some DJ's mix both styles together. So, that's kind of the stuff I'm getting into.

DENNIS: When creating your music, what is the process in which you select your arrangements?

e:trinity: The process varies but pretty much it depends on the song I do. For the two-step stuff, I create a drum pattern on my Akai MPC-2000XL (drum machine) and program the drumbeats as two-bar patterns on it. After that I would save it as a midi file and paste the midi file into my sequencer program, which is Cakewalk Sonar, and I just copy and edit it and do certain things to it.

DENNIS: Is the Akai MPC-2000XL your primary music tool that you use the most?

e:trinity: My primary music tool is my computer but the Akai plays a larger role into my music and the stuff that I have done in the new album and newer stuff that I'm doing now.


e:trinity's Studio Setup


- Alesis QS-6
- Yamaha AN1x
- Korg Electribe EA-1
- Roland JV-1010
- Korg EA-1, ES-1, ER-1 Electribes
- Akai MPC2000XL
- Ensoniq ASR-10
- DreamStation plug-in
- Pro-52 plug-in
- pipa and er-hu (played by Barbie Chien)

Recording setup:

- Self-built PC, Pentium III 850mhz, 384MB ram
- Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 (for songs recorded before 2001)
- Cakewalk SONAR 1.0
- Audiotrak MAYA soundcard
- Behringer 2442A 24-channel mixer
- R0de NT-1 condenser mic
- BBE422A Sonic Maximizer
- Behringer Autocom stereo compressor
- Alesis airFX
- Various software effects plugins

DENNIS: What was the first sampler that you used?

e:trinity: Well technically back in `86 I had a Casio RZ-1 sampling drum machine. It had the most hideous, horrible drum sounds but it let you make four of your own samples. After that my first real sampler was an Ensoniq EPS which I had for almost a decade.

DENNIS: I'm curious but do you ever get upset when people think you are a DJ and not a musician?

e:trinity: You know, it comes with the territory but it makes me laugh because I get calls when people want to book me and say that they want me to spin. I have to explain to them that I'm really not a DJ.

DENNIS: What is your opinion about the debate about if DJ's are musicians?

e:trinity: It's a complex issue because a lot of the DJ's I know have musical backgrounds. One of my friends plays jazz piano but he decided to devote his time to DJ'ing. There are some DJ's out there who have musical backgrounds but many of them feel that spinning records is more rewarding than playing music. There are also those who have a balance of both, and there are also many DJ's out there who don't have any musical training. I tend to respect the DJ's who do have a musical background.

DENNIS: I noticed that you have a picture with bt at the 2001 NAMM show. I know he gets criticized by people who say his music is still the same and I think people expect a lot of new music or something different with each album he releases. Do you have the same situation happening to you? Do you feel a lot of pressure to do something new.

e:trinity: Yes, I feel the pressure but most of the pressure is from myself. I'm thinking about what the next album will be like and I don't expect to work on it intensely for quite a while but I'm thinking, "How I'm going to top the last album?" But it's more of a bit of personal pressure.

DENNIS: When a certain style of music gets too popular, do you shy away from it. For instance, two-step is the big thing in the UK but if it became too popular in the U.S., would you stop doing two-step or would you keep supporting it?

e:trinity: I don't know. I been through a few phases. My friends have a two-step club which I go to regularly. Hearing it so much sometimes makes me bored of it and makes me no want to listen to it for awhile. But then later on I'd want to listen to it again. I don't plan to abandon two-step until it gets bad. I remember when drum and bass became popular and many artists made it sound monotonous and stale. There was no diversity in it anymore. I still like drum and bass but I'm not into the scene as much. But with two-step, you have different styles - such as the more soulful, R&B style, and the darker, break beat bass-heavy type of two-step. A good DJ can play both styles but it never comes to a point where all two-step is just one type of sound. So, as long as it stays diverse and fun, I'll still be doing two-step.

DENNIS: Is there any one song on any of your albums that you are proud of or even performing?

e:trinity: As for performing, I don't know but for making it would be "Sinulog2000". It's really what kind of defined e:trinity for me and what kind of set the tone for everything else. It's not just the song but there's a background to it. In the middle part, you'll hear a sound that I took from the Philippines that I got from my video camera, which I sampled. Also, the whole idea behind it, it really started things for me.

DENNIS: Let's get a little more technical. Let's talk about the equipment that you use. What's your favorite synth or sampler?

e:trinity: That's kind of hard. It's like asking a parent who is your favorite child. It's kind of complex because I use different keyboards for different situations. I use my Alesis QS-6 mainly as a keyboard controller in the studio but I use its sounds when I perform live. I use my Roland JV-1010 a lot for the piano sounds. I use my Yamaha AN1x for synth pads and lead sounds which you can hear a lot on songs such as "predawn song" and "the dreams that we dream". I hardly use my Ensoniq ASR-10 sampler anymore, not as much as I use the Akai, although you can do more sample-wise with the ASR-10.

DENNIS: Are you the kind of person who goes out and looks for vintage synths?

e:trinity: I have gone into that but I'm not really a vintage freak. If I had the money and had the space, I would love to get the Fender Rhodes. As far as synths, there is one called the Prophet 5 but the problem with it is that it's hard to find the parts and to find them, you have to cannibalize another Prophet 5 for its parts. But I started using a lot of soft synths such as the DreamStation and the PRO-52, which has an emulation of a Prophet 5 that sounds pretty damn accurate.

DENNIS: Let's talk about sampling. What is the most sampling you have ever done on a song?

e:trinity: It's weird now because when you make music on a computer, what defines a "sample" is becoming blurry because when you record onto a computer, you record digital audio. A sample is a snippet of digital audio. Now if I record a whole guitar track, or a trumpet or vocal line on a computer is that still a sample? But on the song "shi.bei.ju", for that I had tons of audio snippets on my computer. Track-wise, that song was the most complex. What I used to do was run the sound from

e:trinity with electronic musician and producer bt at NAMM.

hardware MIDI synths to a stereo track on my computer and mix down there, but sometimes when you want to go back, you have to record it over again. For that one song, I wanted everything to sound tight and I split everything up as much as possible and it worked. If you listen to the track from the album and what's on and listen to them side by side, you'll notice they're totally different.

DENNIS: Do you ever arrange a song around an entire sample?

e:trinity: It depends on the whole context of the song. For me, not just a single sample but other samples such as the track "focus". The key of the sample dictated the key of the song.

DENNIS: Are you ever tempted to use programs like Propellerhead's Reason?

e:trinity: I tried. It's cool to program. I've used Rebirth but I'm more comfortable using hardware over soft synths. But I find soft synths are more accurate than virtual instruments. I've used Rebirth for basic forms like drum patterns. What I don't like about Reason is the sequences. I'll always use hardware but I like to integrate both. I wouldn't mind performing live with a laptop or controller and keyboard.

Go to page 2 of interview