"It's Time" To Interview Sean McCabe
Bristol-based producer Sean McCabe has had plenty of time to develop his own sound. Famously, he released his first tracks in 2003 at the tender age of 17 and has spent the last decade fine-tuning a trademark sound that is effortlessly soulful.
McCabe made his name in house, developing a long-running relationship with legendary US garage label King Street Sounds and remixing the likes of Dennis Ferrer, Evelyn Champagne King, Roy Ayers, Blaze, and Todd Terry. Since then, he’s amassed an impressive discography, delivering inspired reworks for labels like Z Records, Local Talk, Strictly Rhythm, Vega Records, Tribe, and Quantize.
Sean’s first big solo project featuring a wealth of international collaborations has been in the works for almost three years & it’s now available to the world, here on Traxsource. With so much time & work put into this project, we caught up with Sean to chat about the album, it’s inspiration & much more in this EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW.
“It’s Time” available now on Traxsource via Z Records.
1) Hey Sean, let’s dive right in and discuss your new album “It’s Time” – tell us in your words a little bit about how it came to be and what you were trying to convey to your listeners…
It came about from when I started remixing a song from the Z Records back catalogue as an idea for Dave Lee to hear (aka Joey Negro). He asked if I wanted to do an album instead of more remixes. I was happy putting ideas together for them so I guess it was ideal timing to work with the label in this way. That remix never got finished, but it served it’s purpose in making this project happen. The idea behind it is about creating an quality listening experience from start to finish with a variation of sounds, tempos, grooves and vocals, while drawing on all kinds of influences. It’s also about positive and uplifting messages, which is something I’ve always loved about house music.
2) You have some great artists featured on the album – how do these types of collaborations differ from producing remixes?
Collaborating with other artists is very different. It’s lots of fun, but in some ways more challenging. So with a remix, the song is already there, making it easier to come up with chord progressions and hooks etc. I worked differently with all the singers on this project though. Some tracks began with an acapella over it to inspire the music, then I muted the acapella and sent to the singer to put something down on. Some started off as very basic backing tracks and then when I had the vocals back I’d put completely new music to it, a bit like remixing actually. I did that with ‘Tomorrow’s Another Day’. A lot of the others built and progressed very gradually too where we were bouncing back and forth with ideas. The music would inspire the vocals, then the vocals inspired the music again, and so on.
3) Tell us a little bit more about the album. What was the main inspiration behind it and what prompted its musical direction?
I saw this as an opportunity to explore my sound further than I’d normally get to with remixing, which can sometimes be restricting. I think this crosses genres more than usual without losing the core soulful feel that people expect from me. You’ll hear a bit of hip-hop, deeper grooves, disco and boogie, along with straight up soulful vocal house. Every track is different and I’m finding that everyone seems to have a different favourite which is really great.
In terms of inspiration, that’s come from albums like NuYorican Soul which is an extremely varied project and every track is unique. I’ve always liked the concept of an album taking you on a listening journey and that’s where I was trying to go with this. It doesn’t sound anything like NuYorican Soul as a style, but definitely it’s a blend of everything that’s influenced me over the years. Also, using more analogue synths for pads, chords, basses, and leads has inspired certain tracks, and using real elements too like horns, live bass, guitars, Rhodes to give it a more organic feel.
4) Any interesting, funny, inspiring, memorable moments during the album process you can share with us?
Only the points where I thought I was losing my mind with the amount of revisions I was doing of certain tracks. There was about 30 x final mixdowns of ‘Something About You’. I was tweaking things right up until the end on a lot of tracks. Even when I thought it was completely finished and it had all gone through mastering and pressing, I was still making more changes and resubmitting tracks! A friend of mine suggested I should call the album “I left my brain on the studio floor”, would have been very true actually lol.
5) What is the one machine, program, sound, drum machine, technique that characterizes your sound?
A machine that characterizes my sound is probably the Korg Poly-61 at the moment because I use it on almost every track. If I need to find a sound that’s quirky but always adds that bit more character to a track, it’s always that keyboard!
6) Share a few artists that have influenced your sound?
7) What are some of your personal favourite cuts from the album and why?
‘Love For Life’ is one of my personal favourites as it’s one of those tracks I’ve always wanted to make, but never imagined I could. It’s completely original disco with authentic sounds – NO SAMPLES!
8) Where can your fans catch you playing over the next few months and what is next for you?
I’m doing a launch party for the album in Bristol at the Plough Inn on Saturday 15th November with Nathan Adams and Sabrina Chyld singing some of the songs from the album. I’m also planning 2 South Africa tours this year, one at the end of November and one at the end of December. I’m also regularly playing gigs around London. People can find out more info on where I’m playing on my website
What’s next? I never really make plans, just to keep making good music! :)